Well, it has been a month since I last posted. A month since the last big brewhahaha with my Road Warrior crew. And I will admit, there has been a slump. Work hit a combination of crazy and busy, the weather went all Michigan-y. I developed allergies (???) and in the mix was also my first triathlon.
As most of you who know me know I research everything. I researched and researched and decided to give the Grand Rapids Triathlon a shot. Over and over I read that it was one of the top tri’s for beginners. That was important to me. Then, the race staff offered numerous info and training clinics that encompassed everything not only a newbie, but also a veteran needs to know. And while some of the info clinics covered the same information, there was always something new I learned.
At the last info clinic, about two weeks before the event, I remember thinking, “what in the world have I done?”. In trying on the wetsuit I remember thinking, “what in the world have I done?”. When I went to the training swim I got in the water and remember thinking, “There is no way I can do this.”.
Of course I did not sleep well the night before. Was up early enough to make sure that everything was packed up. Race numbers places on my arms and legs, bike, helmet and onto my race belt. When we got to the venue I was able to get the end spot on the bike rack and set everything up. Then it was just time to wait. Sit and watch all the different people come into the transition area and set themselves up. In all honesty, there had to be about $500,000 worth of equipment there if not more.
The swim looked longer than at the practice swim. And according to my TomTom it was. Not by much, but still. I started getting leg cramps about halfway through the swim which slowed me down. Once out of the water, thanks to the assistance of race volunteers, I had my experience with the swimsuit strippers. That was fun! Once I made it to transition to my bike I started to realize that I had not properly prepared myself nutritionally for this race. I am so used to participating in running events, and in the midst of everything, only ate enough for that. So I took my time in transition. I sat down, put on my socks and shows. Consumed an energy gel. Then slowly just walked my bike out of transition. I figured that the bike would be good because at least I could take the time to rehydrate. The course had some small hills, but nothing major. I quickly learned the sound difference between an oncoming vehicle and an oncoming bicyclist. And by the time I hit the halfway mark, I was convinced I was not going to make it. My tailbone hurt so bad from the bike seat. And I wanted to stop so many times to rest, but just kept going. Even though it looked like I was on a Sunday afternoon ride with no care in the world.
Once the bike course was done and I was back in transition, I realized I did not have enough nutrition at my station. I got my race belt on and started out onto the run course. I literally could not feel my legs, and my left hip was on the verge of cramping most of the bike course. The aide stations were wonderful offering water, Gatorade, Pepsi, bananas, oranges, grapes, pretzels and Hammer Gel. The people along the way, for all the course, were wonderfully energetic and supportive. I did not run as much of the run course as I would have liked, but made it, and crossed the finish line at 2:57. I had set a time for myself at registration of 5 hours, mainly because I had no idea how long it would take. So in that regard I kind of be my expected PR!
All in all the GR Tri was FABULOUS! I would highly recommend it for newbie triathletes who want to get their feet wet, pun intended. I cried when I crossed the finish line. It was legitimately the hardest thing I have ever done. There are many things I would do differently next time. Some I should have known before hand, some I know now that I know what it is like. But the next day, while it still hurt to stand up or sit down (lol), my mind was already on what to do next time.
So, while this race season is a little less event planned as previous years, it holds harder and longer races. 2016 is my “up the ante” year. I ran my first 10k in May. My first triathlon in June. I will do the Girls Best Friend Triathlon in August (sprint distance). I have registered for the Olympic Distance Duathlon of the Michigan Titanium also in August. I will run my first Half Marathon in October. Many “firsts” and many “extensions” of what I have learned. If it all goes well, watch out 2017!