Where to even start with this post? There has been so much leading up to this I feel like this one is gonna be HUGE. Bear with me. I'm gonna try and just tell the whole story from beginning to end, and hopefully I don't forget anything awesome.
Tri's start early so I was up at the house at 4:30am. I usually don't really need the full allotted time listed on race sheets for pre race stuff, at least with MTB, but I figured seeing as I had no idea what I was doing this time around I would show up bright and early and wander around aimlessly. I started off by finding what I thought was a pretty killer parking spot in an empty lot for the Waterville Conference Center. It was a short walk/ride from the transition area and when I got there the lot was empty.
turns out it was also completely empty when I left as well. Apparently I picked the dumbest spot to park ever.
I continued my bumbling as I entered the transition/registration area and tried to pick up my race packet. The woman asked my what my number was and I was all like "uh I don't know I haven't gotten my race packet yet, don't you give me my number?" and she was all like "no you are supposed to get your number before hand and that is how I find your packet" and I was all like "oh I didn't know that, was the number sent to us in an email or something?" and she was all like "no its on that huge god damned board you walked right by to get into this tent you idiot."
It may not have gone just like that but pretty close. Finally got my race packet, got my body all marked up with sharpie and then I tried to get into the transition area and I get a not so fast from a race official. You are not allowed into the transition area until you put the bib sticker on your bike apparently. Learning stuff every 2 mins at this rate I find my rack spot and rack my bike and start to get unpacked. Then I get yelled at again. Another race official informed me that I racked my bike incorrectly. So far I am owning the transition area. (and of course they were not literally yelling at me, a few could have been a tad more friendly about explaining things to a newb but all in all it was a very civil affair)
I then started taking the customary pics of the transition area and wandered around the start area a bit.
Looking towards the Run start
On the other side, the Bike start/finish
Swim start/finish at the pond
about half of the swim course
Sightseeing complete, I set to actually making sure I knew what I was doing for my transitions. As I did this I slowly realized that we had a run bib that we needed to be wearing during the run that was supposed to be pinned on. Most experienced racers took care of this issue with a fuel belt that they just pin the bib to. Or a different jersey or shirt that they put on for the run that has the bib pinned to it when they enter the transition area. I was rocking my onesy so there was no other shirt to use and I don't have a race belt because I'm not an experienced racer. BUT I do own 7 seasons of MacGyver. GAME ON.
My timbuktu messenger bag has a strap used to keep the bag from slipping to the side while riding. It is not designed to be a belt by any means and if I didn't have the waist of a 12 year old girl I would have been screwed, but I do so this worked:
Used the velcro closure and clipped it to itself and it literally just barely fit around my waist. Crisis averted.
Ok now to the actual racing. We lined up at the swim start in a huge line for a time trial start, you enter the water one person at a time with a new swimmer every 5 secs. Bibs only went up to about 378 or thereabouts so I was pretty far back. The time trial start was nice because it seemed to keep traffic very manageable but it kinda sucked because I was standing in line waiting to go for probably 25mins. Plenty of time for that race anxiety to get my heart rate and breath rate increased, which I think was my undoing in the swim.
Finally my turn to get wet and off I go. Things got going ok. Water temps were nice (race organizers said 73 degrees I think) and being that far back traffic was good and I had plenty of room to do my thing. My thing worked for a while, maybe until about the first left turn which was only really 100-200m into the swim. My breathing rate was just too fast for the rhythm of my crawl stroke and the lack of oxygen caught up with me. I switched to the breast stroke because it is a faster stroke and easier to breathe faster. But breast is pretty inefficient and it was starting to wear on me a bit. Then I saw a woman doing the back stroke and I was on the long straightaway of the course so I figured it would work at least for a bit. Flipped over and went to town. That actually worked really well for me. I could breathe fine and felt like I was making up ground or in this case water. Couldn't see where I was going at all but I didn't really care at that point and it didn't matter so much in the straight portion of the course.
Switched back to breast stroke around the final two turns and then got bear hugged by an old guy. No idea how he got as close to me as he did without noticing me but he basically put me into a headlock as his arm came around for a stroke. Surprisingly didn't affect me much, he apologized and we both continued to flail for the last 50m. I suppose I limited my losses as best I could but I was out of the water in about 11mins which was quite a bit slower than I was capable of in the pool. But race jitters got me and I couldn't stay settled enough to stay with freestyle and those are the things you learn to deal with over the course of time I guess. According to results my swim time was 273 best haha.
T1 went pretty well. Kept it under two minutes at least. We had to run pretty far with the bikes before we were allowed to mount and get going at both the start of the bike and they also made us dismount about 30yds before entering the transition area. Kind of annoying but I guess lots of triathletes don't really know how to get on and off a bike so they have to do that for safety reasons. The swim affected me a bit more than I thought it would but not horrible. Took me about a mile or two to get into my groove. Then I set about to passing just about everyone. If you think about the numbers, I started at the end of the field and put up one of the worst swim times so entering the bike I was behind just about everyone...yet I finished in 88th out of 338 finishers. So I completely lost track of how many but I was basically passing people constantly for the full 15 miles.
But really only one of the passes really meant anything to me. I passed a lot of guys with full aero gear (which was nice) but one in particular took the cake. Full triathlon club kit, full aero gear setup, an Ironman logo tattoo'd on his calf and I blew by him like he was standing still. P'WND. So yeah, not much to really report on the bike, it was a straight out and back and I rode it fairly well, and posted the 67th best time on the day.
Again T2 was ok, kept it under 2mins squeezed into my race bib belt and got to it. The run was actually a bit of a surprise. In a good way. I had thought it had gone fairly well yesterday and that I had paced well, I managed to pass a few more people and I finished strong. But checking results and split times today it turns out I posted the 55th best time in the run. Huh?! My strongest leg was the run? What the hell is happening here? Very pleased but also somewhat confused, maybe the field wasn't that strong in the run? My best guess is a superior recovery rate. Mountain bike racing relies very heavily on being able to recover quickly from hard efforts. Maybe I can get up to my top run pace immediately after the bike whereas many others struggle to get into form? No clue. But again not much to really report from the run, no issues, felt pretty strong. The two aid stations that provided a gulp of water with the rest being poured on my head really helped.
So yeah pulled into the finish with a 1:25:59. Good for 88th overall of 338 finishers. My goal had been more like 1:20:00 but considering my issues in the swim, I'm very happy. I beat more people than beat me and I can guarantee a decent amount of racers I beat consider themselves 'triathletes' and are not first timers. I also enjoy scanning the results and seeing how bad my swim time is compared to everyone else in the top 100. I have the worst time BY FAR.
So the 60 million dollar question, will I ever do a tri again?? Probably. Will it be my new thing? Nope. It was fun, challenging, required me to exit my comfort zone. All good things. Who knows maybe my breathing rate was more mental than physical and now that I have a swim under my belt I can get over that hump. If my swim was good I would be dangerous in my onesy....