After months of thinking about this day and many hours spent training for this event, the day dawned with much excitement and fear. Yes, it is possible to experience both at the same time. (sidebar: the short version was the previous post. ALL the details are here, so you might wanna grab a drink and a snack!)
As I drove to the Triathlon, I told myself, “Kim, you are just going for a swim. You know how to swim. That’s all you have to do. Later, you will go for a bike ride. You know how to ride. That’s all you have to do. Then you will run and goodness girl, of all the events, you KNOW how to run!”
Yes, I know, the big difference is that I am doing all three back to back and as fast as possible. But ultimately, what I was reminding myself was to enjoy each event as it is, in the moment, and while I am swimming, don’t think about what is next. Just swim and enjoy swimming. Then bike, and enjoy it. Then run…and enjoy it.
The thing that is so great about doing Bostwick Lake as my first full triathlon is all the support and encouragement from a small (120 person) event. But more, this event was organized by some people I know from my church in GR. Therefore, I actually KNEW a lot of the people there. Mitch, Clint, Tyler, Coach, Holly, Ann, Katie, Kellina, Sara, Bob, Craig, Rudy, Spud…and probably a bunch more that I am forgetting. Then of course a few friends came out just to cheer me on…Thanks Carol and Aaron! And now, someone whom I have heard of, who is kind of on the fringes of the people I know, managed to find my blog, without me sharing the address with him. So far anyone who knows me in real life who knows about my blog, knows because I gave them the address. I guess my sense of anonymity is about to be blown up!
Anyway, back to the race report! Coach, after several weeks of physical therapy, was cleared to do the triathlon just a few days before. Fortunately, he knows people, and was able to still get in to a full race. YES! I was excited to be racing with Coach! I had Aaron on deck for special towel duty, which means he stands ready at water’s edge with my towel so when I get out I have something to hide things as I run to transition…because I planned on running, not walking! He also doubled with camera duty, until Carol got there with her camera.
With everything in place it was time to set up my bike on a rack. I had no idea if there was a special order things should be placed in or if there was a most efficient way to do this so I just kinda spread out a towel under my bike, because that is what other people were doing and I pulled my running/biking gear out of my bag and just kinda made every piece visible to me, so hopefully I wouldn’t forget anything. Helmet, extra water bottles with glutamine(1 for bike, 1 for run), capris, tank top, socks, shoes, biking gloves, and SHOT BLOCKS. I think that was everything. Once that was all set, I wasn’t quite sure what else to do and I was quite nervous and yet not feeling my normal pre-race chatty self. This was a whole nutha level of nerves that actually rendered me quiet (relatively speaking).
I had woken up at 5:00 am and ate breakfast at 5:30 ish. So now it is 7:30 and I am quite hungry again. There were donuts available for all racers, but I couldn’t imagine how a donut, while delicious, would be any kind of helpful 15 minutes before I was about to race, so I skipped it. Instead at 7:45 I headed over to the pre-race meeting where they reviewed the courses, acknowledged the sponsors, and allowed the charity to speak. Then they prayed for us. Yes, this is a race in the Bible Belt of Michigan, where they still acknowledge God before a race.
Once this was over, I headed to the beach. At this point I hadn’t seen Carol or Aaron yet, but I was not worried about Aaron missing towel duty at all. Even if he was a bit late, he would have figured out which towel was mine and been at the ready. I am certain of it. And if I am wrong, just let me believe it…ok?
The water was quite warm as I stepped in. The men were going to head out first. So pretty quickly Coach was off and the women were spreading out in their place. I surprised myself at this point. I knew I had a pretty good chance of NOT being last out of the water because I actually did a practice run of this swim with another girl a few weeks back and could have easily beat her. (Easy being relative folks). However, I wasn’t taking any chances. I saw this girl in the water and she said she was too close to the front of the pack and wanted to move back. Not a problem! Go for it! I looked around and realized, this was a small crowd. Not much chance of getting swam over here, and I stepped to the front! I had to increase my odds of NOT being last out, especially since that was the only real measurable goal I set for this race.
As I headed out, adrenaline kicked in and I realized, I was starting out far too fast. I could not get my breathing down, so I slowed down a bit, at least until I warmed up. Pretty quickly I had a kayak next to me. Grrrr!! I looked over and said, “Seriously?? Seriously, I ALREADY have an escort! Tell me I am not last already!”
The man in the kayak assured me I was not last, but I didn’t believe him. He assured me there were several behind me. Then I saw one pass me. Heeyyyy, he wasn’t lying. So I paused and looked….and sure enough, I was NOT last! Yahoooo!!!! I kept going, feeling the strength in my arms as I paddled, focusing on using my legs but also trying to NOT use them too much. They had ALOT more work to do today and I needed them to not fail me. Overall, I simply noticed how different the swim felt from last year. I noticed the strength more so than ever.
Surprisingly, and yet not so surprisingly (as I was warned this would happen), just as I was DONE with swimming, mentally, that is, it was time to stand up in waist deep water and begin to wade and then run through the water to the beach. I began attempting to run. As I did, several things were happening. I couldn’t breathe, I was searching for Aaron while trying to stay upright on legs that felt like wet noodles and my HRM was beeping like crazy to lower my HR. The HRM annoyed me so I yelled at it to SHUT UP!!! DON”T YOU KNOW I AM RACING AND I AM NOT GONNA SLOW IT DOWN!!! It didn’t care.
I found Aaron or rather he found me and handed off my towel. As I held it in front of me, I staggered up the hill nearly taking out an old couple who were sitting off to the side watching everything. It felt like I was trying to run while severely drunk. My legs would NOT cooperate. It was hilarious and frustrating at the same time.
As I got to my bike, my only thought was, “You have to hurry and get on the bike.” So I did. However, 9 minutes later, I was still not on my bike. For the record, it is extremely difficult to put socks on wet feet. It is also difficult to stand on one foot and put said sock on said wet foot on legs that don’t want to hold you up with 2 of them on the ground! Same thing with the running capris. They just don’t slide up a wet body like they do a dry one. Note to self: Next year, get a tri suit. Something you can swim, bike and run in, without having to add or remove layers. Finally, with my socks half on, I shoved my feet into my shoes, put on my helmet and bike gloves and ran out of transition amidst a lot of cheering.
I go to the spot where I was allowed to mount my bike and can you believe that they put THAT spot right at the bottom of a hill. No running start. Just get on and crank your way to the top. Ay yi yi! I did it! Yep. I thought briefly about running my bike to the top of the hill, but fortunately and unfortunately, I have too much pride for that. If everyone else can start here, so can I!
The bike route was a straight out and back described as being “relatively flat”. The last time a course was described in such a way, I was shocked to find a LOT of hills. So, I trained on hills. Busted my but on them actually, for weeks. Come to find out, people just don’t know how to describe race courses. This was FLAT! Even Coach said it was a long slow uphill. Really??? I think I should be the one writing course descriptions.
As I rode, I saw all the other cyclists coming back. So many people shouted encouragement to me to keep going. It was so much fun to see Coach and a bunch of other friends passing by. Pretty early on, I passed a guy on the side of the road with his tire off. That was my worst fear going into this. Mechanical problems. I do not know how to change a tire or can’t seem to get my chain back on by myself yet nor do I have a pump attached to my bike yet. But hey, I have some crazy tool thing that I don’t know what to do with and some tire levers. Anyway, I shouted out and asked if he was ok. He was, just needed a pump. Hmmmm can’t help ya! I kept riding.
It felt like I had been riding forever when I saw some volunteers up ahead. As I approached, they watched traffic and told me to turn around. “Really?” “Already?”, I asked. Yes….you are halfway done with the bike.
YES!!! It was seeming like soooo long and yet sooo not at the same time. Like a horse heading back to the barn, I got renewed energy and picked up my pace. Soon I passed the guy on the side of the road again and he was just now getting his tire back on and pumped up by the support crew. I have a slight chance of NOT being last now…he is quite a ways behind me.
Up ahead I saw a bright orange shirt. I wondered if it was a racer or just a man on his bike. As I rode, I noticed I was gaining on him and as I got closer, I noticed he had numbers written on the backs of his legs. He was riding REALLY slow. Is it actually possible that I am about to pass someone on the bike? For real??? I stood up and cranked it out a bit and then shouted, “On Your Left!” and whizzed past him. As I did though I shouted for him to Keep going of course. Of course I was not going to let him SEE how excited I was to pass him. Which means I with held my fist pump as well. HA!
As I passed different intersections where volunteers were waiting and cheering, I noticed that as I approached, they actually got up from chairs to cheer and direct. It was funny! I was sooo far behind and it was a scorcher that day, so I am glad they got to rest a bit!
Soon I was heading back into the transition area and I saw Coach. I shouted, are you about to run? No, no, he was DONE. With all 3 legs. Then I really headed into the actual area where I need to dismount and I hear shouts of, “Biker coming in, Clear the transition area!” It looked like EVERYONE was done already! But they were still there, cheering for the last of us!
I got off my bike and started running with it to rack it…sort of. I thought it was funny going from swimming to running. This was even funnier. I had NO control over my legs and people were in my way. I remember thinking but am not sure if I actually said, “Ummm you might wanna watch out, cuz I don’t have much control over my legs right now!” And people started moving out of my way and cheering more for me.
I racked my bike, took off my helmet and bike gloves, grabbed my fresh water bottle, put on my Nashville hat and forgot my Shot Blocks and headed out. Only problem was…I had to pee. So, instead of heading straight for the run course I changed direction and headed for the Port-O-Potties. Oh yeah, there was NO WAY I was gonna make it if I didn’t stop. Everyone started shouting at me that I was going the wrong way. “Yeah, I know but I gotta pee”, I said. They didn’t hear me, and continued to get louder about how I was going the wrong way. So I repeated myself a little bit louder. They still didn’t seem to get that I know exactly what I am doing. I am a woman on a mission who is clear of her destination. They got louder in their shouts so I just got really loud and shouted, “But I gotta Pee!”
Oh. Oh. She’s gotta pee guys clear the path, let her through!
So, I peed. Just note, there is no quick way to do this when you have running capris and a tank top on OVER a bathing suit and the faster you try to go the more tangled you get up in all of the material.
Soon though, I was heading out of the little blue plastic hot box and heading back out with shouts of encouragement at my back. I was trying to go as fast as I could but before I even really got out of the transition area I could no longer breathe. So I started walking. Really, I just needed to catch my breath. As I concentrated on controlled breathing, suddenly there was a young boy next to me. If you recall 2 summers ago, in one of my first posts ever, I was helped out of the water and propelled up the hill with the help of my friend Todd. Well, this time, his 13 yr old son showed up at my side.
“Come on Kim, you are almost done. You are gonna finish this. You are not quitting now!”
No Tristan, I am not quitting, I just need to breathe.
After a minute or 2 he was still there and I asked him, “Tristan, are you running with me?”
Yes, I am Kim.
Now I happen to know that this young man has told him mom and sister that he CANNOT run 3 miles straight and that running is NOT something he loves to do. So I was surprised, but I was not about to talk him out of it. If I had to run this alone, I am not sure what would have happened and I am glad I didn’t have to find out.
For now, I had a running buddy. One who gave encouragement and energy the whole way. As we ran, he kept an eye on the lake (we were running around a lake) and guesstimated how much further we had to go based on where our almost starting point was. I thank God for this young man. Seriously.
Soon though, I was seriously frustrated that I forgot my shot blocks and that I chose to NOT put Gatorade in my water. The Shot Blocks were simply missed because they were right next to the water bottle. The Gatorade though was a decision I made before I got there. I have not been able to get the mixture right for intense workouts. It seems that if it is too sweet then it upsets my stomach during intense training stuff so I didn’t want to mess with that today, of all days.
I was noticing the fatigue in my body and the draining energy. I KNEW I needed some calories in me. MY HRM was reading 2500 burned so far and I KNOW I had only eaten a max of 500 for breakfast at 5:30 AM. It was now 5 hours later. As we passed the one aid station they asked if I wanted water or Gatorade. Gatorade. No question.
Those few calories helped, but not for long. I tried to stay aware of my body and to drink a lot of my water. Soon, Tristan was telling me we were more done than not and this lady was walking towards us with her number on her. I thought, “oh she must live around here and is walking home or something.” Tristan and I were walking at this point. She walked and talked with us for a bit and finally, I told Tristan it was time to run again…all the way back, no more walking.
So we started and she ran with us. It was about this time, I realized this woman had come out to run in with us. But who is she? Does she know me? Is she just a very supportive co-triathlete? How did she know where I would be? So many questions…and yet how cool is that!
Pretty soon, we passed the marina, which meant that I was pretty much at my car and just a short way away from the starting line. As we headed up the final stretch of road leading into the neighborhood, I saw Coach walking towards us.
AWWWWW Coach came out to run me in…So now I have Tristan, the stranger lady, and Coach running with me. Coach made sure to note at this point that whenever I do a race, I end up with an entourage. Can’t help it, I don’t ask for it, it just happens!
We approached the final set of volunteers who told me where to turn into the neighborhood. Then they said it was just around the corner. LIARS! I know this route and I KNOW it is 2 more corners 🙂 However, they then began running in with me too!
Seriously. I now had 7 people running in with me. I came around the first of the final 2 turns and I started to kick it up. I knew I only had a couple hundred more yards to go.
I heard Coach say, “Oh OH…There she goes….”
I couldn’t breathe, but I grinned.
Then I heard Mr. Volunteer man say, “She’s got some kick now guys, let her go, she’s got this!”
I grinned again and turned the final corner to see a huge crowd of people waiting there cheering. I ran down the hill, huffing and puffin and right into the crowd.
I was done. I was hungry. Seriously ready for a nap. And quite frankly there was no time better than right now for one…so I headed for a grassy area and laid down. Eyes closed and everything. When all of a sudden, this man says, “NO! NO! NO! You cannot lay down right now, you need to walk.”
“No, I am quite sure I need a nap.”
“No, You will cramp up. You need to walk!”
My eyes were closed. I was already half asleep and suddenly my hand was grabbed and this man picked me up off the ground. I went from being flat on my back to being completely vertical in about 2 seconds. (those who know this weight battle, know that this does not happen to the likes of us and can understand how shocked I was!) The man grabbed my hand and began walking me around the cul de sac and talking to me, explaining why I had to walk.
I argued with him. I kept asking him how far we had to walk and telling him I was quite tired and just wanted to sleep. Then I said, “I don’t know if you know this, but I just did a triathlon, so I am kinda tired!”
The man laughed and left me to my own devices after he had seen that I had walked sufficiently.
Quickly I found Aaron and Coach and Carol. They asked how I felt and of course I was hungry.
Well what do you want? they asked.
I just looked at them and told them that I do not have any abilities to make any decisions right now and that I am simply hungry and they just need to decide and tell me where to go and what to do.
Then the lady who ran in with me, came over and congratulated me and said it was great to meet me today.
Hmmmm, did we really meet? I still don’t know her name…but no matter, I couldn’t think to form that question so I just nodded and smiled and agreed.
The next day I realized who she was! She found my blog earlier this year. She is a blog friend who also managed to find me on FB because we have some mutual friends because she lives in GR. I felt horrible, but as you can tell, my brain was not fully functional by the end of that race. Sorry Kellina!!!
My final time: 2:19:40
and….I was not last.
My friend Bob was….he forgot his shoes so technically did not finish and my friend Clint says that I have to claim that and declare that I beat Bob in a triathlon! So I am! 🙂
Oh and the biker who had mechanical problems? He passed me within the first mile of the run. And the other guy I passed? Never saw him again, so either he quit or had a relay person run for him.
And that’s all I got to say about that….are you all still awake?
Pictures coming soon….