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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Own that $hit!

Perspective is everything, right?

Who you hang around – in person or virtually – determines where your “normal” is, right? If you hang around people who drink a lot, that’s normal. If you hang around people who exercise a lot, that’s normal. If you hang around people who are creative, that’s normal. If the people in your life are kinda’ jerky, that’s your normal. If you hang around people who are Ironman triathletes, that’s normal. On & on & on & on…  The idea of normal becomes very relative to where you are in your life journey. It’s also easy to forget that not everyone shares the same normal as you, or will see you as you see yourself.

Normal

Today I went to my ear doctor and figured since I was there, I should ask about ear plugs that are better than what you get at the drug store. So I mentioned that I swim 2-3x a week and do triathlons. This had not come up in previous visits. She asked me how long of a swim I was doing (since I mentioned I had one coming up & wanted to get my ear problem fixed before then). I told her the swim was just under a mile, but that I had done the Half IM swim back earlier this summer as well.

Silence & shock. More silence. The sound of silence.

Silence-header

Finally she said, “…WOW! those are real triathons!”

It’s easy to forget that most people DON’T swim regularly, don’t train for swims, or do triathlons at all. We’re a strange bunch. But it was a good reminder that even on days I don’t feel like a badass, it really is pretty cool that I can swim a mile. I wanted to jump off the table & say “Yessssss, I get it, I might not look like I can do that but I can!!” It was one of those moments where her medical degree and my triathlon experience felt equal. Sometimes there’s a big disparity between a doc & a patient…like they are so much better than you. I could almost feel the equality gel between us, nearly tangible. It almost made her more willing to help me with the ear plugs now that she knew I wasn’t just piddlin’ around in the water. I was a “real” athlete so she should give me some legit options with my ears. It didn’t make me mad or offend me, but I did notice the dynamic between us shift a bit. Very interesting. I’m guessing that as a female ENT, with a very pretty presence (hair, makeup, heels, thin, kinda’ sparkly) she has felt that exact shift once or twice herself.

I def left there feeling awesome about myself. Own that badass $shit about yourself! Anything that makes you feel powerful, strong, resilient, and a badass….own that $shit every single day!

earplugs pink

So I left with a cheap pair to try out before doing custom plugs that are almost $200. I’ll see how it works! Hopefully that will help with my ear issues. In the meantime, I’m gonna’ own it! =) Hope you do too!

training day 1

Very tired after a long training day. Doubtful & hopeful, all at the same time. 9/4/17

 

Be Brave Today!

I recently watched Losing Sight of Shore on Netflix. Sooo good, great documentary. Anything that makes me think is something I want to see/hear more of. There was also a podcast from SwimBikeMom speaking to one of the six team members, so I listened to that today and got some inspiration as I was driving to a practice lake swim this morning. They literally crossed the Pacific, but one of the things that came out of it is the idea that everyone has a Pacific to cross… and you should find it! Whatever that means for you.

Here is the link for the podcast – it’s also on iTunes & other places…

http://thesame24hours.podbean.com/e/27-natalia-cohen-losing-sight-of-shore/

That documentary wasn’t a fast pace, lots of created drama for ratings type of thing. It was just a beautiful experience documented by 4 women (6 total) who rowed a long boat across the entire Pacific Ocean. From California to Hawaii was their first leg of three on the trip. Flying from CA to HI takes a while, so can you imagine rowing a boat with no motor the same distance? It’s hard to grasp the vast and open amount of space between those two land masses. They rowed in pairs…2 hours on, 2 hours off. For 9 months. I watched it last week, and heard the podcast this morning. It made me think about a lot of things. I don’t know what “my Pacific” is, but I knew one small thing I could do that would be scary, make me a little uncomfortable, but also make me grow…

The lake swim was choppy – more so than I had seen out there. I was also with a friend and it was her first time intentionally swimming in a lake for distance & practice. I had decided earlier today that I was not going to wear my swimsuit that I wear for laps. Instead I was going to be brave and wear my tri shorts and…….just a sports bra. (GASP!) Out in public. With other people around. With my stretch marks that surround my belly ring I got way before kids and somehow has stayed in place all these years.

ows clothes

…You know what? Nobody cared. Really. And neither did I! It was pretty great to be out in the water without feeling the need to be covered up completely in a conservative one piece suit for laps. The women who rowed did so totally naked sometimes. It helped prevent chafing and was just easy, and liberating. And just better. So I figured just having a sports bra & my triathlon shorts was totally doable. Thin, skinny people don’t really understand how cumbersome it can be to have boobs or curves. I know that people of all sizes can have body image challenges. I definitely don’t hate my body or get on the crazy train about it. But being half naked with your belly in sight isn’t something that comes easy or naturally for me. So that was a big deal…to do something that was intentionally uncomfortable and not easy.

I guess today that sports bra swim was “my Pacific to cross”. I hope to keep this mindset for as long as I can. I want to keep growing, challenging what I see as normal, and doing epic things – even as small as being brave enough to not wear a bathing suit at Jordan Lake.  =)

Oh, and if the women who did this expedition do something else that’s epic, fun, and crazy – I soooooooo want to join them!