The day began early after a crappy sleep from excitement, nerves and hectic dreams about the race, but I was in a state of happy excitement. I choked down a little oatmeal with PB, blueberries and walnuts and headed out the door at 5:30am with all of my gear in tow. We scored a sweet parking spot right out front of the bldg which made carrying my gear and bike much easier. I am still giddy over our new car, and this was my first real trip with her so that put me in a really great mood from the start of the journey.
I arrived early at Harriman State park, I think I was one of the first 10 cars in the lot because I wanted plenty of time to check in, set up, freak out, calm down, etc. I collected my bib, t-shirt and swim cap, got my arms marked and strapped on my timing chip before getting my bike out of my car. I settled my bike onto the rack in the section labeled "290-300" and just followed what everyone else did as far as setting up. I layed out all of my shoes, gu packets, socks, and whatnot on a little towel and readjusted everything a few times before being satisfied. Our section was at the end of a long line of racks and right near the bike exit/entrance which seemed like an advantage because I wouldn't have to fight the crowd to leave the transition area. Score 1 for me.
Just before walking away from my car with the bike and gear, I noticed a little yellow paper tucked into my rearview mirror and smiled, my friend SF had mentioned something about my rearview mirror yesterday so I had a feeling it was from her. In my state of nervous excitement, the note was exactly what I needed. I read it, smiled a huge smile and my anxiety melted away. Thanks Sally!
Thanks to my good friend Peter, (aka RussianBear) I planned out my transitions last night and wrote them out step by step ahead of time so I'd feel a little more organized. That really helped me slow down and make the switch smoothly and without feeling rushed. I took a shot of Gu, strapped on the Garmin and HR monitor and sent G on the hunt for satellites right away. I slipped on my socks, shoes, gloves, sunglasses(even though it was very cloudy) tank and helmet. I had taped a stick of gum to my glove and to my bike so I popped one in my mouth and then I was off! Wow, that was surprisingly easy! I was off for the "scary" part. It turns out, the bike wasn't scary at all! In fact, it was SO MUCH FUN! The course was hilly and tough as I'd expected, but I wasn't prepared for how quiet it was. I guess I'm used to running races where you hear footsteps and huffing the whole time, but not during the ride.... the silence of the surrounding woods was surprising, only broken by the occasional clicking as people switched gears (which I did a LOT). A few friends had given me advice about the ride, especially about the part where you make a 280 degree turn at the bottom of a 2.5 mi downhill and turn onto an immediate and steep uphill, so I was prepared for that. It wasn't nearly as scary as it sounded on paper. In fact, that crazy downhill portion before the turn was GREAT FUN! The wind was so loud in my ears that I couldn't hear a thing, not even my own laughing. I switched gears before the bottom of the hill into an easy gear so I was ready once we hit the turn and hill. I was in a little pack of cyclists on the hill and everyone was just laughing at the cruelty of the switch from flying to inching along. It was fun, but I quickly switched into climbing mode and was working hard up that long, long 2.5 mi climb. It took me from about 500 ft to 1100 ft over 2 miles before a little downhill and plenty of other rolling hills for the rest of the course. There were a few women near me and we went back and forth passing each other over and over, but I tried to just maintain a solid effort because I wasn't sure what to expect further along the course. There was one woman in a black top working hard to pass me a few times and she kept riding by with a very determined look on her face. Good for her, I thought. More on her later. As I hit mile 12 or so I found myself alone on a stretch next to Lake Askoti and I was so elated that I'd made it this far that I let out a big ol' whoop of excitement. Hehe, I was really enjoying myself. As I cruised down into the transition area, I could hardly believe it was already over (partly because my Garmin only said around 15 miles), I had survived the ride without incident or falling over!! The grin on my face was huge, I could tell by the reaction of the crowd.
The second transition took all of a hot second, quick shoe change, helmet off, gu shot and then the gloves came off (literally and figuratively!) haha. I grabbed some water on the way out and noticed the woman in black from the ride ahead of me. As I trotted past her, I took a swig and slam-dunked my water cup into the trash with a little "whoop!" and took off. I was having some annoying tightness and pain in my right foot and anterior tibialis (flashback to Haiti run) but I wasn't going to let it stop me so I was swinging my foot around, trying to loosen it up as I ran. Did I mention that my toes were numb from the bike ride too? The first mile was a bit uphill but I tackled it in 8:15, cool. I felt sluggish on the 2nd mile because I thought I was running downhill (duh) but it was actually a great mile considering we were going UPhill, 8:00. Once we turned at the 1.5 mark, and I realized that we had been going up and the rest of the run was downhill, I took off, passing about 15 people on the last mile or so. Boy, I was having so much fun and everyone else was so... blah. I was cheering for the runners coming up the hill that I'd just tackled, but they looked at me like I was goofy. The only one who smiled back and said, "Thanks! You too!" was #69 :) I couldn't help but cheer for her with that #. I cruised back towards the finish line at a sub-7 pace, but the last mile wasn't a full mile, according to Garmin it was either 0.81 or 0.94 and I ran it in 5:35 at a 6:53 pace. That's how excited I was!
As I crossed the finish line I let out a big "woohooo" and once I took off my chip I jumped in the air and punched the air, I was beside myself with excitement. I DID IT!!! I finished a triathlon!!! The best part was that I LOVED every SECOND of it! There were no "ugh" moments or "wow I'm tired" moments. The anticipation of another event coming up kept me excited the entire time.