Thursday, July 31, 2014

Challenge Olympic Triathlon relay race recap

I am so sad to see this summer winding down.  I have gotten the chance to make cross-training (swimming, Body Pump, core class) an integral part of my training, and I have honestly loved it.  With school starting up, I am very worried about fitting in even a quarter of what I've gotten to do this summer.

I won't dwell on that, though. I actually had a race this past weekend!  I competed in my first triathlon as a member of a relay team!  My best runner friend Jen asked me back in the spring if I'd be interested in competing on a team as the swimmer, with her husband (who is a super speedy sprint triathlete) as the cyclist and her as the runner, and I immediately said yes.  I knew I'd need some time back in the water, as I hadn't swam in almost two years, which is why I signed up for the adult swimming fitness class at the rec center this summer.  I only got in two open water swims (one in the lake in Delaware, and one in Lake Erie on our vacation last week), which worried me a teeny bit, but I figured I could wing it.  My sweet runner/triathlete friend Melissa let me borrow her wetsuit for the race, so it was nice that I truly felt like a triathlete at the start!

There were storms predicted for the morning of the race, but thankfully it turned out to be a gorgeous sunny day, at least for the swim portion.   

Alum Creek Beach at sunrise

The race start was overwhelming for me.  I've never even watched a triathlon, so to see all of the people... all of the bikes racked in transition... it was exhilarating!  Jen dropped her husband Curt off at the lake because it was a point-to-point race, meaning I'd swim, then he'd bike to her, then she'd run a loop to the finish. 

Pre-race selfie, before Jen left to drive to transition 2

Curt was a fantastic "tour guide", telling me everything I needed to know about triathlons.  He is such a cool person and loves the sport so much.  I really enjoyed watching the many waves of athletes start their races. The best part was watching my sweet childhood swimming friend, Meredith Kessler, who is a professional triathlete.  She competed in the half Ironman race that day, and just to chat with her for a minute before the race, and then cheer her on through transition 1--totally inspiring!!!   Another friend from my swimming days was also competing in the half as an elite amateur; I got to talk for a bit with Amanda Wendorff at the expo the day before.  I love seeing my former swimmer pals! 

Back to the race, though.  I was in the very last wave of athletes to start, since the half Ironman competitors went first, and the Olympic distance ones went second.  They had the Olympic relay participants in the final wave, along with the mens 50+ age group.  I made sure to position myself at the front of the pack for the start so that I wouldn't get caught up and dragged down by slower swimmers.  It was almost surreal when the race began... I haven't raced in swimming in almost 16 years!  I was confused when, after around 200 yards, I started catching several women.  Then I realized it was the wave that had started 3 minutes before me--the women's 35+ age group.  The rest of the race was spent trying to keep the buoys on my left, and not swimming over top of the people I was passing.  That was totally the hardest part of the race--all of the passing!!!  I estimate that I passed at least 50-70 people.  Other than that, though, things felt great and soon enough, I saw the final buoy and the transition area.  I ran up the beach through the transition, and found Curt easily.  I had to pass off a velcro anklet that had our timing chip on it, and he was on his bike and racing within a minute or so.  I chilled for a bit in transition and was lucky enough to see my marathon friend Stephanie come in from her own swim and head out on the bike. Then I headed to my car to wait in the long line of vehicles headed to New Albany, where the bike portion of the race would end, and the runners would start and finish.  It was an adventure in and of itself getting there, but I made it eventually and found Curt, and we watched Jen finish the race.  Jen knew that we were one of the top relay teams, and we found out shortly after she finished that we were the #1 co-ed relay team.  Woo-hoo!  I was super excited to find out that we'd placed. We all came back later on in the day to receive our really cool (and heavy!) champion medals.  My split time was a 29:02 for the swim (1500 meters).  I have no clue still if that is any good, but I am just happy that we came out on top and that I had such a fun time!

Getting our cool medals for 1st place!

All in all, it was an amazing experience.  I had a lot going on during the weekend with my oldest son Hunter, who was at the hospital dealing with a behavior crisis, but I was able to channel my anxiety into my race, with him on my mind constantly as an inspiration.  I really would like to do an individual triathlon, but it probably won't happen till next summer.  As a former swimmer, I have an advantage over other athletes... it's just the bike portion that will be my stumbling block. 

My next race is in less than 4 weeks. I'm running in the Emerald City Half Marathon.  Last year I raced the quarter marathon at this race, and that was my plan this year as well.  However, I decided last month that I really want to get in a fast half marathon before I run in my next full in October.  I have a half in late September, but it is only 3 weeks from my full, so I won't be racing it--just running it for fun.  As long as the weather cooperates, I will use Emerald City as a way of seeing if I'm on track in my training for the Columbus full.  I've got big goals... those will come up in my next blog post, though!

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