The last race that almost didn’t happen!

My triathon season for 2017 is over. It’s been a long one (since April 2 and through Oct 8). Yesterday I did the Ramblin Rose in Chapel Hill…that’s where this whole journey started back in 2009. I’ve been talking about this particular race with some friends since the beginning of the year, literally since January. I had signed up for several events and just ASSumed that I had also signed up for this one since I was planning on being there. This pic shows that I finished, but this is how it started…

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Well, come 3:30pm on Saturday I go to check my bib # and it’s not there. All my friends have a bib #. But not me. So I start checking my emails to confirm my registration and there are none. Nothing. The time of 3:30 pm is important because packet pickup ends at 4pm and it’s in Chapel Hill, about 45 minutes away from me if I had left that second. They had said that you could still sign up at packet pickup. There was literally NO way for me to get there and sign up in person. There was also literally NO emergency contact info (name, email, phone, etc) to find anywhere. On Saturday afternoon, a few hours before the morning of the race, I did not know if I was going to be able to participate in my last race – and one of my favorites – of the season.

I was freaking out!! The only thing I could do was to send a message via social media on their FB page. I did. And I waited. I kept trying to formulate a Plan B in my head. IF I can’t race tomorrow, I’ll cheer for my friends. I’ll take pics. I’ll be the best cheerleader ever! But I’m super F pissed at myself. How could I NOT sign up for something I’ve talked about since January!? Just how crazy AM I!?

Somewhere later the people at Ramblin Rose message me that yes, I can sign up at 6:30am onsite. (No cost mention, just that I can.) So for the bargain price of $100, I’m back in the game! My friends meet me at 6am, we drive over, I sign up paying nearly double what I thought I was going to, all is good.

Swim? good. Bike? good.

WAIT – it was good until half way through and I get a flat. Thump thump thump thump thump thump thump thump. Damn. I have no tools, no tube, no nothing. Shit. It’s over. I just paid $100 to swim 5 laps today. Awesome. My first DNF.

I tell a rider passing me while I’m on the side of the road to let the next volunteer know that I have a flat. Maybe someone can help or at least give me a ride back so I don’t have to walk it 4-5 miles back. Then an athlete named Shelley stops & says she can help me fix it! …really?? Well, she could have – but the tube was totally gone. Neither of us had a tube even though she did have tools. She tried putting in air with the co2 cartridge, but it wouldn’t hold air. So, after some time, I thanked her profusely and told her to finish her race! Don’t waste any more time here, it’s over for me but go!! I call Jason from the side and, still cheering for others passing me, I tell him it’s over. I’m totally flat, no extra tube, no tools, no help. Lots of cussing. I’m so pissed. IMG_2274

And then, someone from the sag/helping crew shows up. Her name is Sophie & she has tools AND A TUBE. She was like an angel mechanic. While she’s working on it I call J back and tell him that I might be back in the game…if he doesn’t hear from me again then I’m back in! She magically fixes it like the badass that she is, and soon I’m on my way. I thank her as I’m riding away. The kindness of strangers at this event was really amazing. Such support and genuine concern for everyone on the course. I ride away. Come into the transition & see J with the boys! This is the first race they have been to so it was exciting and also very emotional given the way things have gone with this event.

rose 2I’m off on the run. About half way in, someone calls my name – it was Shelley, the one who helped me first on the bike. She recognized my TriMafia gear/shirt. She runs up to me & high-5s me, saying she was so glad to see me and that I made it back, got help, etc. Then, as I’m coming back I see Cathy starting the run. And then as I’m rounding the finish I see Parker and he wants to run me in through the finish line. I told him I needed his help & he was ready! So for the first time, I ran the finish chute with my youngest.

 

I know ONE thing I’m doing during the off season. I’m learning how to change a tire! For real this time. No messing around.

But here are some pics of my first 2009 Ramblin Rose. I printed everything out, making sure I knew everything and was prepared. I found this folder when I was looking for something else this summer and it made me smile. This is also my first little one, Ethan, at 11 months. This is how it all began!

 

 

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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. 

2018 already?

It’s already time to think about 2018 triathlon plans!

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I have two events remaining this year – one big, one small. Then, BOOM, it’s gearing up for 2018. Already!

Here is what I’m thinking for 2018. I’m gonna’ keep a few sprints that I really like doing and try to intentionally improve on my times. Then, I’m going to do a few bigger sprints with open water. My initial thoughts are…

May 2018 – Beaverdam sprint tri – 750 ows, 15, 3
June 2018 – Rose – I’ll do it with someone if they are interested
June 2018 – Smile Train, 5th year – can’t miss it!
July 2018 – Little Uno (one mile ows swim)
Sept 2018 – OBX – distance tbd
Oct 2018 – Rose in Chapel Hill

I’m also looking at doing one or two Half IM distances as a team, doing the swim and/or bike legs. My first tri was in 2009, so it seems like a good goal to do my first Half IM distance in 2009 – 10 years later. I’m on the slow track but moving forward.

Anyone else got plans for 2018? Already signed up for the big race? I need to think more about what my specific goals are – beyond just finishing. Nothing wrong with finishing, but it’s time to get better. Focus on quality, not quantity.