Step by Step

Disclaimer: this truly is a step-by-step view of my day, thoughts, etc… Read (or don’t read) whatever you want… won’t hurt my feelings!

So I think I’ve been bitten by the tri-bug. The reality of all that I accomplished yesterday really never sunk in until today. I really completed the entire triathlon without stopping in only 1 hour 43 minutes. Not bad for a first time triathlete who had never completed even a 5k without walking prior to training for this event… and all I wanted to do today was sign up for another tri. Which actually, I tried to sign up for the Fingerlakes Triathlon on September 20th, but registration is already closed out. Bummer!

Anyways, yesterday I promised that I would write about the experience of the Iron Girl and actually post a few pics…

Ok, so now for the Play-by-Play breakdown of the day… and night… leading up to the event.

Saturday evening was pretty low-key and calm. I had a nice dinner with my parents that we cooked at my house. Then I practiced my transitions (so basically practiced putting my socks and shoes on and off – sounds stupid, but definitely worth practicing…). After that we just watched a movie and I drank what felt like 5 gallons of water and Gatorade to make sure that I was fully hydrated in preparation for the event.

Miraculously, I somehow managed to get a halfway decent night’s sleep. I went to bed around 10:30 and only woke up once during the night, but fell right back asleep. I had really expected an awful night of tossing and turning, but somehow I managed to keep calm and get some decent sleep.

4:45 – Alarm goes off. It’s SO Early! – BUT – Time to get EXCITED. I got dressed for the day – with some deliberation on which top to wear. I did not end up wearing my tri-top that I purchased, because I discovered that the extra material under my arms bothered me Monday night after the swim. I did wear one of my other sports tops from Target, which did not have any extra material, which turned out working really well. (This I was thankful for since they tell you that everything should have been “tried and true” before race day)…

5 am – breakfast. This did not go very well, it’s early, and I was really nervous about over-eating and not being able to get everything digested before the swim. I ate about 1/2 bowl of cereal and was able to drink about 1/4 cup coffee.

5:20 we leave my house.
5:40 – arrive at the park. Lots of other people here already. Go to transition and get my body markings… #454 was written on both arms, and hands. Then they write your age on the back of your calf…

6:05 – I’ve got my transition area all set up. Had a small problem with my front tire taking air, but figured out that the valve on the tire had gotten messed up. Fortunately I fixed the valve and everything was set!

6:10 – waited in EXTREMELY long line to go to the bathroom… I am definitely well hydrated.

6:20 – Now I just needed get some more nutrients into me. I managed to eat part of a granola bar, but my stomach was not really feeling to great (darn nerves!). I was feeling really thirsty and I could have drank the entire bottle of Gatorade I brought, but I knew that was a bad idea. The last thing I needed was that sloshing around while I tried to swim.

6:25 – back in the transition area, wanted to double check on things. They shut this area down at 6:30…
6:40 I was looking around and most people were in their wetsuits. This was a little unbelievable since we still had 20 minutes, and the wetsuits are great insulators, but I had nothing else left to do, so I ended up putting mine on.

6:50 – down by the beach and taking in the scene. I say goodbye to Mom and Dad, walk down to the shore. Then I realize that spectators are allowed down near the start line, so I go get Mom and Dad. Find out that Mom is getting a little emotional – which was bad because I was already kinda high strung and my nerves are all over the place.

7:03 (the event started late) The Professional triathlete starts the race. We watch her take off and start swimming to the first buoy.
7:05 The first wave goes.
7:10 the second next wave. I go out in the water and dunk myself in.
7:15 The third wave. Time for me to line up. I’m next.
7:18 – Found Meghan, squeeze in next to her. We comment about the 3 girls up ahead of us. Ages 14, 16 and 16. Crap.
7:19 – Getting nervous. Wondering if I have placed myself correctly in the lineup. Meghan comments that she’s thirsty. I realize that I am too…
7:19:30 – ok, really – can we just start this thing. The waiting is killing me.
7:19:45 – butterflies galore…
7:19:55 – Countdown, 3, 2, 1 – Aflac! (corny, I know…)

SWIM – We’re off running, splashing, and then comes the dive into the water. Start dolphin swimming the first few yards. And then the madness ensues. I decided to be pretty aggressive. I knew I was in a competitive age group and I was near the front. I’m not letting anyone jump on me or swim over me. It took forever to get to the first buoy. We had to swim straight past the first buoy, to the second buoy turn right to the third buoy then turn right to come back in to shore. There was one girl who would just not get out of my space. I even tried slowing up for a second to redirect but it seems she just kept coming back. I started my breast stroke strategy around buoy 1, but soon realized that my age group was much faster than the practice swims that I did last Monday and the previous Thursday. I decide to push it out in the front crawl as much as possible. I get around the second buoy and tell myself I just have to get through this. We start catching up to yellow caps (swim wave before us) The third buoy came quick. It was only 100 meters from the second buoy. Now 350 meters back to shore. I see Meghan start to pass me. I decide that I am going to keep up with her the best I can. I notice a pink swim cap. She has a life guard float. I think she gave up – looks like she is swimming to shore. We’re now passing the 4th buoy, Meghan is ahead of me. I try to trail her. Time to really get swimming. I start my fast front crawl. I’m only breathing every 5th stroke. Suddenly we’re near the shore, I can tell the water is getting shallower but I keep swimming. I want to swim in as far as I can. And we’re up and running. I’m really out of breath, but I want to get on that BIKE! I strip off the top 1/2 of my wetsuit as soon as I am on the beach. Cap and goggles in hand I’m running up the beach into the corral that leads to the transition area. The nice volunteers tell us great job and hand us a nice Aflac Towel to wipe down with.

TI – I run in, 3rd rack on the left – near the end. Strip off wetsuit – it got stuck a little, but not too bad. Sit down, roll on socks (thank you to Julie Rosa for the tip!), strap on bike shoes, sunglasses, helmet, grab bike go! Running towards the front of transition down the carpeted path to the Bike mount area.

BIKE – I look at my watch after I mounted my bike. Time is 15:44. Holy crap, this means I swam MUCH MUCH faster that I knew possible. Now time to focus, this is my strength. We had to use a service road from the park to the bike course. The road was pretty crappy, and difficult to pass people on (potholes etc). I get out on the road and I immediately start passing people. As I come to the first corner, I wonder how it’s going to go. I’ve always stopped at intersections and never had the chance to just go fast through them. I round the corner without crashing (which was a concern for a moment…)

As I approach mile 3 and I wonder if I am going to fast. I start to worry, will I be able to maintain this pace?… and finish the 18 miles strong?… and still run?… It seems like I am just yelling “on your left” repeatedly as I pass each biker. I notice that most of the bikes that I pass are mountain bikes or hybrid bikes. I do pass a number of road bikes as well. Mile 3.5 RR Crossing. I slow down a bit and get across with no issue.

Mile 4.25, here comes the Professional Triathlete, Rachel Sears Casanta, on the home stretch of the 30k bike course… her bike is amazing… she yells “Great Job Everyone!” as she passes, I think this is totally cool that she took the time to encourage others. I continue on my biking, passing, yelling. One girl is completely blocking during the course by riding out to the right of all the bikes even when she is not passing. I decided that I had to get beyond her, so I push harder. I keep focusing on my cadence. I keep it between 80 and 90 rpms for the majority of the course.

Mile 9, we turn onto the black (?) swap road. This road is not paved as nice. Glad they have bumps and rough patches marked with orange paint. I decide to take a bite of my granola bar at this point. Bad idea. I can tell eating on the bike is not going to work for me. I sip some of my drink. Then I keep pushing. I figure this is where some bikers are going to start to feel tired. I’m really glad I have the bike shoes that clip onto my pedals, I start to focus on pulling up instead of pushing down all the time with my legs.
On this road, we have the infamous steel deck bridge to contend with. As I approach the bridge, someone comes up on my left and passes, then I go to pass the person in front of me. Unfortunately the girl that had just passed me, never gets over and she is not going up the incline very well. I keep yelling that I am on her left, but she was ignoring me until the official at the bridge yells at her to get over. I get over the bridge, and I am on my way.

After the bridge, a handful of bikers pass me. I notice that all but one are geared with tri-bikes. I just want to try riding one, to see the difference. I bet I could go faster… I also notice that 3 or 4 of these women are part of the CNY and Ithaca Tri-Clubs. I think I should join the CNY Club… but anyhow back to racing… as I narrowed in on 14 miles, I see a biker with a motorcycle that has a flashing light following her. Must be the final racer. She’s quite a way behind the rest of the bikers.

As we turn onto the final road of the course I am passed by a girl on her bike, I wonder if I should push for a strong finish on the bike or save the energy for the run. I decide that since biking is my strength, I should try to finish strong. I start passing people. I also start thinking through my second transition, what I will or will not grab. I have a visor and and extra shirt I can put on, but I decide that I should skip both items to save time.

As I approach the service entrance and I am stuck behind someone going pretty slow. I keep looking for my chance to pass and she keeps slowing down. The official starts yelling to keep pedaling and I scoot around her to enter the park. We have to come in on a gravel course, round a corner and ride toward the back of transition. The dismount area is kinda jumbled up and I am yet again stuck behind someone who’s not moving too quickly. Running with my biking shoes on the cement walkway is not fun…

T2 – I run in, rack the bike, unclip and throw off my helmet, peel off my shoes, jump into my sneakers, tie my laces (and wish I had spend $8 on the stupid bungee cord ones that you don’t have to tie…), clip on my race belt with my number, and I’m off!

RUN – As I start running through the chute towards the start of the 5k, I can tell my body is wondering what the heck is going on… I hear my mom yell “Go AMIE!” Which I was grateful for, I really needed the encouragement at that point since I was wondering if the run was really necessary… but honestly, I only entertained this idea for a second. This is what I have been training 12 weeks for! I look at my watch, 1 hour 16 minutes – WOW. I have really cut some time from my race. I might actually finish this thing well under my 2 hour goal!! BUT, I have to get through the 5 k run.

Mile 1 was by far the worst. It felt like it took FOREVER (and it kind of did, if I read my watch right, it took me almost 10 minutes to get through that first mile…). I was so glad that I had driven both the bike course and the running course the day before with my parents. It really helped me mentally to know how far it was. The running course (both in the car and as I ran it) seemed REALLY long… but I made my way through. I think one of the bad parts was the fact that you were just running along one side of the road then returning down the opposite side of the same road so you just looked at everyone else the entire time. I was SO glad to reach the 1/2 way point.

On my way back, just before mile 2, I hear “Oh my god, Amie, you’re doing great!” It was Meghan, she was on the opposite side of the road just before mile 1 of her run. I told her she was doing great too! – She had not yet stopped to rest either! At this point, I start to wonder if I can pick up my pace… I decided to keep my current pace just to be safe.

As I turned the second-to last corner of the run, I could see the finish line. It seemed SO FAR AWAY. You could also hear them announcing each finisher from across the bay. Nearing the entrance back into the park, I started to pick up the pace. I just had to get across the little parking lot, across the volleyball court area, then down through the chute. As I entered the chute I started to sprint. I heard someone yell, “Kick it! That’s what we want to see!!” I was trying to pass as many people as I could. I see my Mom as I finish. I am WAY too tired to do anything cool as I crossed the line, but that’s OK. I get my lovely medal, grab some Gatorade and water and have my timing chip removed. I am officially a TRIATHLETE!!!

And I beat every goal and smashed all my expectations! 1 hour 43 minutes. 84th overall of 460. And with more experience, I know I could go faster!! 🙂 Now when do I get to do this again?!?!


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