Sunday, June 13, 2010

Swim Bike Run

Two short weeks ago I decided that a sprint tri would be good practice for the upcoming NYC Tri in July, so I signed up for the SBR Series Sprint Tri in Harriman State Park! I immediately began stressing and worrying about it, I had no idea what I was getting into and I wasn't sure if I was ready or not. I was certain that the swim would be no problem and that I could easily complete the 3 mi run in a decent time, but the bike.... I've only been riding for 2 months and I've never done any sort of "race" with other riders before. I had no way of knowing whether or not my bike times were respectable (Coach Jeff never really comments on them in that way). I was going back and forth in my head for 2 weeks "I'm totally ready for this!" or "Crap, I have no idea what I'm doing." It was torture up until the last minute, but all of my doubts were unfounded as I discovered today.

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.

Note from "Secret sender"

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!

On to the race!
Calm before the storm of swimmers

We were warned that no one would be allowed into the water before or after the race, but when I walked over to the beach, everyone was already in the water wading around and a few were swimming! I stepped in up to my knees to feel it, even though I heard the lifeguards say it was 70 earlier. The bottom was mucky, squishy lake goo, and I squirmed a bit before getting back out to stand on the beach. 99% of the people there were wearing wetsuits, but I was in my bike shorts and a sports bra style bathing suit top. I didn't see any need for a wetsuit in 70 degree water, nor did I want to deal with taking it off in the transition. Standing on the beach thinking, wow I don't know anyone here, I was taken by surprise when I heard a familiar voice behind me. Although he called me "Pam" at first, (haha) I turned around to see BG, a fellow Inwood Hill runner! We were both doing this for the first time and it was nice to have a familiar face nearby just before the start.
BG and I after the race with his snazzy bike

The first two waves entered the water 3 mins apart, 100 people in each wave before I entered with wave 3. I ran in as quickly as I could to get past the gooey bottom and dove in as soon as it was deep enough to swim. I took off and it wasn't too crowded at first, I was able to swim smoothly without being kicked or smacked upside the head for quite a while. I forced myself to slow my breathing and settle into a rhythm of stroking, breathing and sighting every few strokes. I love those giant orange buoys! I swam hard and was making great progress in fairly quiet water before it got busy again.... I didn't realize it until after, but I'd caught up to the wave ahead of ours! At the turnaround I was pretty psyched because it felt like no time at all had passed and I was already halfway done. It was a bit murky and I could feel the weeds at times, but the water felt great otherwise! I swallowed a few mouthfuls here and there when I attempted sighting and breathing together, oops. As I ran up the beach through the little crowd, people cheered and one woman said, "13th female out of the water and no wetsuit to slow you down in transition!! GO GET YOU SOME!" That put a huge grin on my face that stayed there through the entire race. Wow, how was that possible? :)

T1 and the Bike

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.

T2 and the Run

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.

Well there you have it.... I did it! I couldn't be happier with the results too... even though I don't have anything to compare it to and I don't have the actual results yet!! I'll be sure to post them as soon as they are up, I've been stalking the website all day!

Did you get your tickets to the gun show? hahaha.

Representing Inwood Hill Runners


  1. Awesome! I'm doing my first sprint tri next Saturday so I've been reading everyone's blogs for inspiration. Thanks!

  2. Congrats on a great race! I know where you are coming from as that race is a blast and was super satisfying when I did it last year.

  3. Sweeeeeeeet! I could feel your excitement in each sentence - glad it was as much fun and then some:) Can't wait to hear how things continue to go as you inch towards NYC Tri! :)

  4. Congrats! It is a very addicting (see: expensive) sport. Great report and way to go staying so positive the whole time!

    When you're ready and if you want, I have a few tips for NYC. Lemme know if you want to discuss the race!

    Congrats again!

  5. Awesome amazing incredible super wonderful TRI Aimster.

    Cannot wait to read your NYC TRI race report!!

    YOU ROCK!!!!!