First Olympic Distance Triathlon

Race Report for the OBX Olympic Distance!

obx finish 5

This was the longest event I’ve ever done. It was just over 5 hours from start to finish. I almost quit after the swim. But Jason pushed me to keep going and I finished, which was my goal. I had three big ones for 2017 – The April race in FL, the Half IM swim in June, and this one – my first Olympic distance. I finished them all. Last year in 2016 I could not have done any of these events. I was also really glad to wear the TriMafia kit and rep for Velocity Sportswear, love that company! This past weekend really challenged me – here is what happened…

Before we left, I had to get my nails done. I forgot to do it last time & felt weird! So, Jason does my nails…really. These are the colors of the race logo and they were super cute! I also had to get my Velocity tats on as well. Those things are important too!

obx scarf

I learned how to “finger knit” this past week out of the blue. Then I realized how much of a good distraction it could be so I bought some yarn and knit several infinity scarves in the car on the 3 hour drive from Raleigh to Manteo. So….if ya’ want a scarf, lemme know.  : / It was a great distraction from how anxious I was. This shows 3 but I did 6 total!

obx water

Find the green one…that’s what I was swimming towards/around. 

The weather seemed really good on race morning. For whatever reason the swim buoys seemed really far out, farther than they should be. And the swim was going in the opposite direction around the buoys than last year. I’ve done a few open swim events now so I knew what to expect. Or, I thought that I did. I underestimated how hard that swim would be. I heard from someone that the buoys were set out further than they should be – so a 1500 swim was really more like a 2000 swim, and I totally believe that was true. I’ve heard horror stories of swims being really aggressive and dangerous. This wasn’t quite that, but it was the most aggressive swim I’ve been in. My goggles got kicked off my face (not completely off my head) which could have been really bad…I nearly missed an elbow to the head….and people were swimming over me. There was one person who would go fast, then do the breaststroke, then go fast, then do the breaststroke right in front of me. That’s a horribly dangerous way to swim in a pack. The kick in the breaststroke is powerful and could really hurt someone. I couldn’t get around this person. Then after you turn the first buoy you’re swimming straight into the sun and there are NO sight buoys along the way. NONE! They set them out for the Half distance but not for the oly distance. So the sun is in your face and there is no way to sight. And at this point the wind must have picked up so there are waves constantly in your face and I’m taking in tons of water.

During the last half of the swim I started trying to think of reasons why I couldn’t move forward in the race. I could say I got kicked in the water, that’s a good excuse. I could say that I felt dizzy, that’s a good excuse too. I was trying to come up with reasons why I should stop and take a DNF. (Later Jason tells me that several people got pulled and rode the kayak back in. I heard later that someone got a concussion, probably from a kick to the head.) I finally got out and looked at Jason and said…”I don’t know about this.” Meaning, I don’t think I can continue. I was exhausted. And knew 26 plus 6.4 miles were still ahead of me. That was just the first mile. He said something brilliant to me: he said, ‘Just take a walk up to transition & figure it out there. Just start walking.” As I’m walking, one of the volunteers asked me if I needed a medic. So, obviously, I did NOT look good or give any indication that I was excited about moving forward in this event. It was the hardest swim I’ve ever done.

Oh, I forgot to mention that I did this on the same weekend as my 45th birthday! So I also didn’t want to have a DNF on my birthday. That would really suck and make me feel like a loser. So there was some added pressure to keep going just for that alone.

obx 45

I get to transition and something clicks as I’m putting my cycling shoes on. I make the commitment that I’m going to finish this damn thing. The swim is over, I’m not going to talk about it, or think about it, or dwell on it. It’s over. Time to move forward. I’m heading out and the bridge is coming soon. It’s several miles of a bridge over the sound. Heading out I’m holding close to 18 mph and having  a great time. I’m also aware that coming back will be a head wind and it’ll be slooooow. I get to the turn around point, switch my water bottles, and head back. When I get to the bridge again I’m going about 8-10 mph into the head wind. Sooooo slow. The last mile on the bridge was torture. But I did it and I made it back in. All 26 miles are done. I could have pushed harder if it was just a ride, but I still had a 10k to walk/run so I intentionally kept it slow.

The run. The 10k run. It was hot. I was really glad I had prepared with water & gels on the bike. I was glad I had bought that $30 hand held water bottle with Nuun tablets and some extra gel in the pocket. All the practice this summer had paid off. I walked most of it but I did run some. And all of a sudden at 2 places on the run, Jason shows up to say hey! He was following along in the car to greet me at a couple of places. I started crying when I saw him & told him I almost quit at the swim but I didn’t come this far to ONLY come this far. I was really glad to see him. The end of the run takes place on a dirt/grass/weird path along side the airport. It’s just a big field and it’s the worst part of the whole thing. It’s wide open so you can almost see the finish line, at least you can see the finish area, but it’s deceptive how far you still have to go. It feels close, but it’s not.

Finally the finish line! I did it and crossed the finish line! I finished my first Olympic distance triathlon at the OBX. Last year I did their sprint and this year I did the Oly. I learned a lot from doing this. It’s crazy to think that the next step up is the Half Ironman distance….which I will NOT be doing any time soon. I will one day. But not soon, for a lot of reasons. I want to keep this fun and right now the longer distances won’t be much fun for me. I’ll finish the season with my 20th triathlon next month, where it all began, at the Ramblin’ Rose in Chapel Hill. One more to go!

obx finish 4

My favorite cheerleader, Jason – the reason I didn’t quit. 

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Diving into fear

Unicorns and diving boards

This has absolutely nothing to do with triathlon but I *must* share this with y’all. I’ve been going to Optimist pool for a while now, and they have that deep dive pool with the 2 diving boards. One is quite tall, but the shorter one is about 3-4 feet off the water. It’s been my nemesis for the past 2 years. See the pic below? There’s the tall one, and then the one to the left of it which is the smaller one. Doesn’t look scary at all until you stand on it. 
optimist diving pool
 
I keep seeing it and thinking to myself – “you can do it! You did it over & over when you were a kid! It’s not that tall, just do it!” But as you know, fear can be immobilizing and paralyzing and speak loudly in your head saying “nope, not todayyou cannot do this!
 
At the beginning of the summer I did jump off the board, feet first. But I could NOT convince myself to dive. Perspective is everything, and looking at the board from the concrete is like, meh. But standing on its edge and looking down into the water is a completely different perspective. It feels very high, and very uncomfortable even though it’s the low board.
 
On Sunday we took the kids to the pool and I told Parker (6) that if he was brave enough to jump off the board, I would dive off the board. He had been wanting to for a while – sound familiar? – and if he did it I knew I had to step up. He did it!! And there was a part of me that was like, aaaaaaaw crap. Because now it was on me. Once he did it he loved it & couldn’t get enough.
 
This was the day before the pool closed for the summer and there was a short line. So there was pressure knowing people were behind me. So I did it! Even though I was scared I dove TWICE off the board! The second time gave me a headache 😉 but I did it. I’ve been chasing that unicorn for two years, thinking about it and getting pissed at myself every time I didn’t do it. 
unicorn from pinterest
Fear can be such a road block for doing things we want to do – whether it’s a physical challenge, mental block, relationship thing, or something related to work. I was SO glad I did it, especially knowing it was the end of the season and I wouldn’t have another chance until May 2018….and that was just way too long. Unacceptable to let something like that get in my head. Really glad I did it. Hope you can catch your unicorn soon, too!

The gift of time off and unicorns

Unicorns and time off

 

This summer I’ve had some unexpected time off. Most of my time has been focused on finding my next career path, also known as finding a “unicorn” – one with growth, good co-workers, a great balance of autonomy and collaboration, a work-life balance, benefits, a place that has a collective growth mindset, a great supervisor, supportive colleagues, people who find solutions rather than problems, solid pay, flexible schedule when needed, paid time off….ya know, a UNICORN! I’m convinced this exists somewhere and I am determined to find it.

However, it’s literally impossible to spend 12 hours a day looking for and applying for jobs. Not only is it impossible to do that, it would be completely crazy and obsessive to even try. In thinking about what my word is for 2017 – INTENTIONAL – makes me want to use this time in a way that’s productive and intentional. What IS possible during this time is to use the other hours in the day to do things that are ways to use my brain and feed my natural curiosity doing things such as…..

  • worked out a lot – extra swims, rides, runs, gym dates…no surprise there
  • took the initiative to clean up a stretch of the greenway that I’m always on
  • started a book on nature & brain science discussing the research on why it’s good to be outside, from a neurological perspecitve
  • taught my kids how to swim – woohoo =)
  • rode single track with my husband a few times, good date for us
  • cleaned the fridge – I’m not a cleaner, so that’s a big deal
  • changed battery in the remote. I mean, that’s a big deal. You should change yours.
  • wrote numerous draft & new blog posts
  • spent time with my very old dog, Tina, who won’t be with us much longer
  • reconnected with several friends I haven’t seen in a while
  • tried new recipes
  • did several art projects with the kids including painting rocks to hide on the trails
  • took a few beach/lake trips to connect with nature


I’m excited about the next chapter. I’m glad I’ve had triathlon goals during this summer to keep in front of me as a good distraction. I’ve known people who were in between jobs to fall apart and drift into a deep sadness for years that they can’t climb out of. I’m glad I’m able to treat this time off as a break to recharge & refocus on what’s important. I feel like the unicorn is at my fingertips…

unicorn from pinterest

taken from pinterest/G images