On Saturday, June 18, I completed my first triathlon.
Why would I try this crazy concept of three sports in one race? It's simple, really...peer pressure! Okay, not really. I was talked in to the idea by one of my best friends, Coop. She's done several different levels of triathlons and I've enjoyed watching her train and complete her goals. She encouraged me and assured me I could do it. So I took a leap of faith and agreed to "TRI".
I began my training in the spring, late March, early April. At that point I was only proficient in one area, running. So I started biking once a week and continued to run twice a week. It was still too cold to hop in our pool, so I put that part off for a few more weeks. It was early May when I started swimming. I got in our (COLD) pool and started by swimming laps. I have no formal swim training, so I was guessing at what I was doing. But as Coop reminded me during our swims, the goal was to get my heart rate up so I could see what it would be like during a race. Later I worked on my form and strokes, which never were that great.
I continued to bike, run and swim through the end of May and three weeks in to June. I did my first ever open water swims (OWS) while training. An OWS is swimming in an outside body of water like an ocean, lake or river. I swam in some interesting places including the Gulf of Mexico, Lake Oliver and the Chattahoochee River. (If you're a local, you're making a face right now. It's okay, I did, too!)
I signed up for a Sprint level Triathlon. This means 500 meter swim, 9 mile bike and a 2 mile run. There are other, longer versions of the race; Olympic, Half Ironman and Full Ironman. The Sprint was a great distance for me to start.
The day before the race I was excited and ready. The morning of the race we left home at 5:30 am. I was nervous, but still excited. We set up our race gear, got our race numbers and chips and shared our pre-race jitters with our friends and fellow racers.
This picture is with my soul sisters. Heather and Beth woke up very early to come support us. This was about 25 minutes prior to the start of the race.
All the racers were corralled to the starting point. The first event is swimming. It was very crowded in our wave, lots of arms and legs kicking around us, but we managed to get through it and I still felt pretty good.
Drew took this picture of us coming out of the water. From here we ran to the first transition zone.
As quickly as we could, we took off our swim caps and goggles, wiped down our feet with a towel then threw on socks and shoes. We put on our bike helmets, sunglasses and ran our bikes to the point where we were allowed to hop on our bikes.
Then we were off for a nine-mile bike ride around Callaway Gardens. There were several hills on the course. To me, the biking was the hardest portion. I was so ready to get off the bike!
And thankfully that time finally came!
From this point, we hopped off the bike, ran back to the transition area. We racked our bikes, threw off our helmets, grabbed a visor and took off for the final leg of the race, the 2 mile run.
A lot things were running through my mind at this point. I was excited because I was 2/3 through the race, but running 2 miles after swimming and biking, well it's just plain hard! My thighs were tight and my legs felt heavy. Thankfully the heavy feeling went away pretty quickly, less than .5 miles into the run.
One really important factor to me was that the morning was overcast. I felt SO lucky to be racing on a cloudy morning. I know if the sun had been beating down on me, I would have been wanting to quit.
And best of all I had Coop with me to talk to and encourage me. The first mile seem to take forever. There was a water station after the first mile. Coop said, "We'll run up to the table, grab some water, walk for one minute, then finish this race." And that's what we did. Mentally, that second mile was much easier. I doubt I was running any faster, but I knew the finish line was the next stop. So I ran.
We saw the crowds and the finish line through the trees and we bolted the last .25 miles!
This picture is when I spotted our fans. Drew, my girls, Coop's family and our friends.
What a great feeling!
The last few strides...
Thank you, Jesus! We did it! We finished!
Post-race selfie :)
I really enjoyed seeing Drew, Libby and Georgia Kate at each transition. The girls would squeal with excitement when they spotted us. It motivated me each time I saw them!
My hope is that they'll remember that Mommy tried something that was hard. But she did it...and they can, too! #girlpower
After the race with Jorja, Coop and Morgan. Great job, friends!
My sweet and supportive family. I was a proud Mom this day!
And of course with my soul sisters. We've always got each other's backs. And we share our post race snacks...ha!
This selfie makes me giggle, but it's a moment I had to document. I set a goal. I had no idea if I could really do it. I finished in the middle of the pack. Lots of people were faster. Lots were slower. My goal was to finish and have fun. And you know what? I did both. And I can call myself a triathlete and know my hard work paid off.
Whatever you think you can't do, I dare you to push yourself a little harder. You might be surprised at what happens. My goal is to compete in this race again next year. I sure hope I do!
Triathlete Beth signing off...