Day before: I had a relaxed day. Worked for 2 hours in the morning, went for an easy 1-mile run, and had an hour midday nap. I’ve been maintaining a 100% raw lifestyle throughout the past month, so I continued that. I didn’t go to bed until 10pm. Although it was later than I had hoped, I was just too geared up to relax. I wasn’t nervous…just psyched.
Saturday called for scattered thunderstorms, continuing through the night, on through Sunday (race day), with a high near 75 degrees. Saturday was a gorgeous day. We all were hoping the excellent weather would continue on Sunday. This race is notorious for being HOT, so we were looking for a happy medium. We awoke at 4am to find that although it wasn’t currently raining, it was damp outside. Upon arriving at the race location we found some serious waves rocking in Lake Erie. Ugh. Thankfully we bit the bullet 2 weeks ago and had a training session in the same such waves. At that point although we didn’t prefer the conditions, we knew we’d survive. The question: would they allow us to swim? At 45 minutes until the race time the buoys still hadn’t been placed in the lake. Finally it was announced that there would be a 30 minute delay and the swim would be altered. Instead of being a counter-clockwise course it’d be a straight shot. In addition, the Olympic length would be the same length as the sprint (1/2 mile). Of course everyone had the option to change to the duathlon. My thoughts: Heck no! I signed up for a triathlon. I’m doing a triathlon.
Prior to race time I was calm and centered. I wasn’t going into this worried about anything but enjoying the experience. I am not a competitive racer and quite a slow runner to be honest. I don’t do it to win (not that I could!) The girls I “raced with” were in a separate wave so I went at it alone. I liked the atmosphere. We were athletes among athletes, encouraging each other. From 5Ks, to the Cleveland Half Marathon, to the Columbia Muddy Buddy, and now the Vermilion Triathlon…each vibe is different. The athletes, sport, and race length makes each experience unique in it’s own. I love them all.Due to the conditions no one was allowed to run in the lake, which in my opinion made my first experience less stressful. I stayed to the back of the pack, made sure there was enough space, and then took off. I had a bit of a problem with my goggles fogging up (the lake was warmer than the air). I only got kicked a few times. With that being said, I would consider my swim a success.
The transition went just as smooth, if not better, than the swim. My biggest fear of triathlons was not performing 3 sports, but dealing with the sand. Like I tell people, I do sand, I do water…I don’t do sand and water. (Although I’ve dealt with this “fear” and have overcome it.) The run between the lake and transition area allowed my feet to clean themselves and the tubs with water provided worked wonders. I had little to no sand to remove from my feet at the actual transition area.Onward to the bike portion! Although I expected this to be the easiest part, it was the hardest. I had an issue with my front brake rubbing the tire last week. I thought I had it fixed, but found out during the race that this wasn’t the case. After a mile of working against the rubbing brake I decided to hop off my bike to see if I could realign the front tire in hopes of fixing it….which did last time. After hopping on and off 3 times, wasting much time, ultimately I couldn’t fix the problem and just dealt with it. One of the friends that was in the heat behind me ended up passing me and was having the same problem, so I also assisted her. Of course I could fix her bike, but not mine. At least I was luckier than the guy that busted a tire! Other than that I’d say this was my favorite part of the race. Me, the road, and no one around. I loved it. I was at peace. I couldn’t wipe the smile off of my face. Of course this was also when I realized that I was probably dead last in my heat, which was fine with me. I finally passed one person. Woohoo! Although I’m not fast I usually can pass a few people during my races. This wasn’t the case today. Transition 2 went just as smooth as Transition 1. No biggie. Next up, the run! This was the leg where the most support was, which I expected. There weren’t a ton of people, but it was great feeling the “race vibe”. Athletes encouraging each other instead of continuously hearing, “on your left!” like on the bike. There were slight inclines with one steep, short incline. My smile was still plastered on my face. I was in my happy place. It’s been awhile since I’ve been in my happy place. Not to mention I don’t think I’ve been in my happy place ever during a race. (Not that I’ve never enjoyed a race). It felt awesome. I needed that. I even had a photographer say, “That’s the best shot of the day!” Ha! Dunno if he told everyone that, but I’ll take it as a compliment.
After ½ mile swim, 12.8-mile bike, and 3.2-mile race it was time to finish this up. I came around the finally corner and the first person I saw was my dad and heard him hollering at me. My smile got even bigger. Thinking back it brings tears to my eyes. Having my parents support means the world to me. Then came my friend Wendy, an experience triathlete. She was hollering at me to kick it out. So I kicked it up a notch. Then I saw my mom with her bright neon pink sign shouting for me. I could hear the family of my friends yelling for me. My husband came into view, taking pictures of me at the finish line, along with my mother-in-law cheering. Then I heard the announcer say, “I hear some noise! Must be someone coming across the finish line! Number 70! Heidi Henry!” Ha! I’ve never had that happen. That’s what happens when you come in all by yourself!!Following my finish I ran back to meet up with my friends, who were also running their first triathlon, to encourage them to the finish. That in itself was a memorable moment and I am so very proud of them. I finished strong. I finished with a smile on my face. I want to do it again. I’ve been bitten by the triathlon bug and am ready to take on another one. This time around I’d like to be more “competitive” and not just take the backseat while the others kick butt.(Side note: the temperature ended up being about 75 degrees, overcast. Small rain drops few and far between. In other words, almost perfect weather. The skies opened up about 2 hours post race. Whew!)