Wednesday, May 23, 2012

TRI-Curious? Be careful what you get yourself into.

So.... this last Sunday I did the Bluff Creek Triathlon - my first tri. I ended up second in my age group and 14th out of all the women who did the age-group Olympic length (1.5 km swim, 40 km bike, 10 km run).

The race started shortly after 8 am after we'd been standing in the cold for about 35 minutes. I was freezing and hadn't been able to force myself into the water to do a warm-up despite my sleeveless borrowed wetsuit. The Olympic distance women were the last wave to go off.

The starter blew the whistle and everyone ran as far into the water as they could and then began to swim and arms, legs, backs, elbows and feet were everywhere.

Then panic hit. I felt like I couldn't breath at all -- like I was choking and the water just kept hitting my face. I pulled at the throat of the wetsuit, but it didn't yield. I stretched toes for the bottom, but it was too deep already, and the observer in my head noted that this must be how people drown. I rolled to my back and took a few deep breaths and considered my options. I could quit or I could make some adjustments and see if I could finish. I opted for the latter as a canoe pulled near. I held the side for a moment then quickly stripped off the wetsuit and tossed it in the boat. Immediately, I felt better and told them to stay close for a while because I was going to try again. By this time, the pack (school?) was mostly out of view and my new objective had nothing to do with placing and everything to do with simply getting through the swim. 

I went into freestyle mode and in less than 10 strokes was so motion sick that I had to stop, tread water and keep my eyes on the bank. I was extremely disoriented. If you've ever been driving in a whiteout snowstorm or heavy fog you might have a sense of what it felt like. I believe the technical name might be the coriolus effect, where motion is seen and felt, but they don't correspond.

At that point, I knew it was going to be a long swim and with a combination of side and backstroke along with periodic blocks of freestyle during the latter third, I finally made it to the end of the course -- second to last out of the water, but I felt just fine about it. I'd beat fear and although seriously hampered by the motion sickness, I could tell that I could conquer it in time and with practice.

The bike went fine and it simply felt wonderful to power up my TT bike and hear that Zipp disc making its whoomp whoomp sound. As fun as it was, I played it conservative. Nonetheless, the bike finished way too soon and it was with some reluctance that I parked the bike and reached for my running shoes.

The run was fine, especially since I'd taken time to stretch my hamstring and put on some extra body glide under the arms and my HR monitor. Yes, I know a proper tri-geek would be appalled at a 3 min+ transition time, but after all I'd been through I wasn't going to crown it with chafing.

Finally, I reached the last turn and I heard my name. I looked up and Grindcore, Berly, Laura and Rafal were shouting. What a fantastic surprise. I'm sure I grinned ear to ear. Shortly thereafter Megan and Jen finished as well. It was pretty cool and the atmosphere was so welcoming.

I love the mult-sport training and have a plan to address this open-water issue. Next up...I hope to get a "you finished!" medal or t-shirt at the Lawrence half-ironman. ;)

If your TRI-curious, send me a note and consider coming to the Midtown Trek Store this Friday (5/25) at 6pm. There's a wine & cheese women's meet & greet along with product discounts.


Laura said...

You did so great! It was my honor to come along for the ride and watch you at work.

Coach said...

Good to get the first one out of the way. We are working on trying to figure out an open water swimming time.

Anonymous said...

AWESOME! Congratulations on beating that swim, girl! YOU ROCK!