It's hard to believe Triathlon 2011 is now over! There were definitely some ups and downs, but overall it was an incredible experience. I am the third of my friends to blog about it, so I worry it'll be hard to find a new angle. But here goes:
Last Friday Esperanza, Alisa and I set out for Sarasota, FL. It was an 8-hour-turned-9-hour-because-there-was-lots-of-crazy-jungle-rain drive. On the way there, we passed a town called Camilla, GA. Can you believe that?! Camilla! (I just looked it up, and apparently their annual Gnat Days festival is fantastic. You read that right...gnat days).
Anyway, due to some lack of planning and inability to leave on time (I know...weird!) we missed the pre-race clinic on Friday morning. But we got to take a glance at the course, and the beach was utterly breathtaking. Definitely the best beach I've ever seen outside of the Caribbean. (sigh...)
We stayed at an awesome hotel because my roommate, Alisa, knows a guy. Actually she works at a Hampton, so she gets a great deal. That was awesome.
Saturday morning, due to more lack of planning and inability to leave on time (I know...weird!), we arrived so late we risked missing packet pickup (and thus, our race). I don't remember the last time I felt the urge to wet my pants so strongly. But...I didn't. And the triathlon worker people, who had just shut the registration table down, begrudgingly gave us our swim caps and told us to get our bikes in the transition station. My wave was supposed to begin at 7:08, in just a few minutes.
Because I was running around so frantically trying to pick up my packet late and set up my bike and not pee my pants (oh, and I ran down to the waterside with my paper number safety-pinned to my front before realizing I shouldn't swim with that on, and had to run BACK to the transition station and BACK to the starting line), I forgot my goggles up in the transition station (a little jog away from the starting point for the swim). And since I had just arrived breathless at the starting point, and there were only 1 or 2 minutes to go before race time, I decided I'd just have to suck it up and go without goggles. Which I did. And yes, it burned. Salt water. By the end of the 1 mile swim, I couldn't see much. But I did it! Yay.
Okay, but aside from my being a jumbled bunch of nerves and adrenaline and hyperventilation at the beginning, the race was WONDERFUL. The swim was great. The bike was great. The run was great. I loved the bike portion because it was totally flat and easy and I just flew. The run was hard-packed sand next to the ocean, and it was beautiful. It was just starting to get hot as I ran. I had a serious goal to run and not walk for the entire run portion. When it got hard, I remembered how I used to feel as a little kid forcing myself to run the entire Pioneer Day 5K in Grand Junction, and I decided I could keep going. And then when it got harder, I decided I would be everyone's personal cheerleader. So when I passed people going the other direction, I would tell them good job. (I don't know if I helped anyone, but I DO remember last year at the Scofield Tri when some family in a van decided to make me their little cheer project and they kept following me down the road and yelling at me to keep going--that was awesome, if a little weird).
Anyway, perhaps the best accomplishment of all is that I swiped a gargantuan 43 minutes off last year's time! I finished in 3 hrs 12 minutes. I swam my mile in 40:39, biked the 40k in 1 hr. 24 min, and ran the 10k in an hour and 17 seconds. I am really proud of how much I've improved, even if I'm still pretty slow compared to a lot of people.
The time spent with Alisa and Esperanza was really wonderful. We ate at an amazing Thai restaurant, lounged around and slept in the hotel, and were basically on top of the world after our feat. I'm so proud of both of them, too! It was their first tri and they both made their time goals. It's satisfying to get a couple more people hooked on one of the best sports ever.
It's kind of a let-down that the tri is over now. I so looked forward to it, and so enjoyed the training and race experience. Can't wait to do another one!