Today I completed my 4th triathlon, the Spring Sprint. It was a 400 meter swim (1/4 mile), 9 mile bike ride, and 3.1 mile run. I was really looking forward to competing today after my last wonderful triathlon a few weeks ago. This race was special to me in a way that all my other triathlons hadn't been: my husband, J, and my son, D, came to cheer me one! Usually D has Sunday School during my races (actually he did today, too, but we let him skip it for the the occasion) so they aren't able to come. My mother-in-law is visiting, so she stayed home with my daughter, A. I was so excited to have my husband and son there!
The day started bright and early (well, dark and early!) when I got up at 4:30 to get ready. I was being picked up by some friends at 5:15. This was a first for me; usually I drive myself. But a married couple that I know who live nearby were also doing the tri, and offered to pick me up. I happily said yes; not only would I have company on the drive down, but the woman was in my age group so I knew we could rack our bikes together and hang out until the swim.
We got down to Mission Bay, parked, went into the transition, and easily found a spot to rack our bikes in our wave number. I quickly set up my gear (it gets faster and faster with each triathlon I do!) and got body marked. I ran into another friend of mine who was doing her first tri; it was awesome to see her to give her a good luck hug! In fact, there were MANY first-time triathletes there today. There are usually lots of first-timers in sprint triathlons, but this one had tons; there is a charity there in honor of Chelsea King, the high school runner who was murdered last year, and lots of newbie triathletes raised money for the charity and competed in Chelsea's honor.
Soon enough it was time to get on my wetsuit and head down to the water. Even though my wave didn't start until 7:40, the race officially started at 6:45 and that's when the transition area closed. I headed out and was thrilled to run into J and D! I spent the 45 minutes before it was my wave's turn with them and my friend who drove me. It was so nice to be with my family and friend! When the wave ahead of me went, I got into the water. I was so happy that it was warm (or at least not freezing!) I spent a few minutes getting warmed up; during my last race I had a terrible time in the water, not being able to breathe for the first half of the swim. I wanted to follow advice I had received after that race to warm up beforehand, which really seemed to help me today.
Finally it was time to swim. I tried a different strategy this triathlon, which was to line up in the front of the group (this was a water start, versus the beach start my previous two triathlons had had. I much prefer starting in the water than running in from the beach). The announcer told us to start...and I began my swim. I had no trouble breathing this time, and quickly settled into my bilateral breathing. I also was able to stay clear of most of the swimmers in front of me (lots overtook me quickly) and was in no danger of getting kicked in the face. However, once again I tired easily. I'm not sure what it is about open-water swims....but I get tired very quickly. Not cardio-wise, but muscle wise. My shoulders were aching. This is odd, because I can do up to 3000 yards non-stop in the pool during training, and this was only a 400 meter swim. I suspect it might be my wetsuit. I have a full-sleeved wetsuit, and it might be constricting my arm movements, making it hard for me. I'm not sure what to do about this, as I am too much of a wimp to go without a wetsuit in cold water!
After what seemed like forever (in actuality, more like 10 minutes. although my splits won't be posted until Wednesday) I rounded the final buoy and got out of the water. I was happy to see my family waiting for me; D had one of his posters he had made for me that said "Go Mama!". I unzipped, ran into transition, and got out of my wetsuit. Again, I don't know my split time for this transition yet (T1) but it was long. I just know it. I hobbled to my towel (the ground was full of pebbles and hurt my bare feet!) and plopped down on my towel to get my wetsuit off. A quick drying of my feet (no rinsing required this time!), socks, shoes, helmet, race belt and sunglasses on, and I was ready to go again. I ran my bike out of transition, saw my family again cheering me on, hopped on my bike, and was off!
The bike segment consisted of two loops around Fiesta Island. I had a great ride! I didn't pass anyone, but held my own. I am still so happy with my new road bike, True Blue. In fact, this past week I had a private class at my local bike shop on basic bike maintenance, and now that I know how to change a tire, I feel more comfortable than ever on her. I had a great time, even with the headwind that was on me for a good portion of the ride.
I finished my two loops, went to the dismount line (where J and D were again waiting for me, D with his "Go Mama" sign up!) and ran my bike back to my rack. I took off my helmet, slipped on my headband, and was off to run! I was happy to see my family yet again as I headed out.
The run consisted of two loops, and this is where my race fell apart. Almost immediately (1/4 mile into the run) my left calf seized up and started cramping very badly. I also started to get an intermittent pain down my left leg from my hip to my foot. I stopped a few times to stretch and re-tie my shoelace, thinking maybe it was too tight, but that didn't help at all. I decided I just needed to grit my teeth and HTFU (harden the f*ck up) and get through the next 3 miles. I took more walk breaks than I should have in the first mile, but was in so much pain that I really needed to. My running, however, was fast; I try to run between an 11:15-11:30 mile (yeah, I'm that slow) but according to my Garmin I was running at about 10:30. I couldn't slow down, except to walk. I just wanted to get through it!
Soon I finished the first loop of the run and saw my family again. This time D was holding up his poster that said "Run Mama Run!" When he saw me, he was so excited that he literally couldn't contain himself; he started to spin around with happiness! Ah, to have the energy of a 7 year-old boy!
The second loop of the run was much better for me. I still had the cramp, but ran with a guy I met for about 3/4 mile, which helped keep my mind off the pain. Soon enough I was nearing the finish line. With about 50 yards to go I broke into a sprint (there was a woman in front of me and I was determined to pass her!) and finally crossed the finish line.
It was awesome to reunite with my family. They were both so proud of me, but I was especially happy that my son saw me compete. I really want to be a good, healthy role model for my kids, and having him witness me racing was amazing.
I am looking forward to getting my split times, but regardless of what my times are, I am proud of myself. I had fun and really pushed through some tough times in the water and during the run. My next race is the Rock 'n' Roll San Diego Half Marathon in June, and my next triathlon is the San Diego Classic in September, which is an Olympic-distance race (gulp!) I have a lot of training to do between now and then!