Monday, October 6, 2014

Intro to Triathlons: Osprey Sprint (well MY intro into triathlons and we all know what kind of luck I have) (post 2)

The Silver Lining Sexy Bitches (mostly) of SOMD
Look at those waves....
Trying to tri is very new and different for me, unfortunately I'm still me so I have a certain set of expectations for myself.  When running a race you can control MOST of the race day factors, not so with triathlons.

When I am running a race my list of things I cannot control are:

  • Weather;
  • Other Runners;
  • Unexpected Illness, Fall or Injury; and
  • Misleading Race Descriptions/Course Malfunctions/parking and transportation/traffic (or a ½ Marathon that was 12.7 miles or so, whoops).
In Triathlons the list of things I have learned I cannot control based on my *VAST* experience of two tris include:

  • All of the above listed but replace Other Runners with Other Athletes;
  • Water conditions (too cold, hot, or choppy);
  • Jelly Fish
  • Forgetting equipment needed in the transition area;
  • All equipment functioning and in perfect working order;
  • All replacement parts for said equipment packed and on board AND in working order; 
  • Not drowning;
  • Wetsuit not coming unzipped;
  • Swim cap not falling off;
  • Tire not getting a flat;
  • Air compressor not getting stuck and over inflating/popping the spare inner tube; and
  • the list is freaking endless....
A sea of people.
Photo by Nicole McGee
The Osprey Sprint Triathlon was to take place in Snow Hill Maryland on October 4, 2014 and a group of us signed up and began our training in June.   I had had my eye on a triathlon for a long time but had never had the "perfect storm" of circumstances to get me motivated to try and tri.  Working with a group of women who were mostly new to the sport was a huge motivator, my running partner always wants me to train with her but she holds a very high USAT ranking and does full IronMans--training with her sounds super scary (although she has spent a lot of time convincing me to try to tri). 

October 4th is also the anniversary of my postpartum hemorrhage and hysterectomy or "PTSD Frenzy/Flashback Day" (think multiple blood transfusions and being awake in the ICU on a ventilator with a 3 day old baby) as I usually call it.  It's a very hard day to get through with any amount of sanity and I always try to have something fun to distract myself with or I literally fall apart, it's a day where everything has to go perfectly or I lose my shit.  So clearly signing up for a triathlon with the above list of non-controllable factors demonstrates my ability to make great decisions.

Fuck Logic!
Yes, I did. Don't Judge.
Luckily the group of women that I trained and travelled with are dynamic, kind, PATIENT, and incredibly supportive sexy bitches.  We all drove up the day before and had dinner together at a SUPER LOUD cabaret show/restaurant (which I chose (hanging head in shame) as I had been there for lunch and thought the food was yummy) but it was way too loud and long for folks who had to get up and race in the morning.

When we got back to the hotel my roommate and I prepared our race day gear and read through the race description one last time.  I actually slept incredibly well and after spending Sunday-Tuesday with a high fever I felt extra well rested and surprisingly healthy and ready for race day.  

No race is complete without a pre-race selfie.
We arrived at the race start with just enough time to get our transition areas set up, port-o-john visit, wet suit on and get to the open water swim start.  

The Swim:

The water was ROUGH, it was a ½ mile of giant waves tossing you around and each time you went to get a breath you got a mouthful of the Chincoteague Bay instead. Spoiler alert--it did NOT taste good.  My swim cap got kicked off my head about 3 minutes into the swim but I managed to hang on to it--why? I'll never know.  I magically finished the swim in 14:46 which is about 6 minutes faster than I had anticipated even BEFORE I saw how rough the water was.  I think I swam faster because I was desperate to get out of the water as I was terrified of drowning.  My transition time was a smooth and easy 1:43.
All of this, yes.  Tasty too.

The Bike:
The first two miles I felt like someone had put a jet pack on the back of my bike.  I was cruising at 20 mph and feeling amazing I was passing people younger than me and was in total shock at how strong I felt.  Then it happened.  FUCK.  Flat Tire.  

So, I've changed one inner tube in my life and that was only so that I would know how to do it in a pinch--NOT for time.  I pulled to the side of the road and got the tire off and was able to discern that the inner tube indeed had a puncture so it had to be replaced.  FUCK. Put the new tube in, attached the CO2 charger and filled it but the attachment WOULD NOT come off no matter how hard I pulled so it popped the tire with too much air.  FUCK.  It was at this moment that I lost my shit.  I had just wasted 10 minutes and did not have an extra inner tube--this is when I realized I was getting my first DNF on my PTSD day to boot, and the tears came, unexpected and unbidden.  Someone asked me if I needed help and I just said tell them to send someone to get me when you finish.  About 5 minutes later a van pulled up and I was getting ready to pack my bike in the back. But Buzz (who will forever be referred to as "Buzz Lightyear to the Rescue" in my mind) came flying out of his van with an inner tube and a pump.  He had my tire ready to roll in under 5 minutes, I introduced myself, got his name so I could remember my hero, and pedaled off as fast as I could.  

It's entirely possible I overreacted.
My Garmin shows a break of 21:23 on the side of the road but there is no way to calculate how that rest for my legs improved my time for the remainder of the cycle and then the run.  I finished the cycle portion in 1:12:30 with my 21 minute break included and averaged (per my Garmin) about an 18.5-20 mph pace.  Transition two was 1:17 but I was definitely starting to have a little pity party for myself.

An event like this might play to my strengths.
Plus, wouldn't this count as a brick workout???
The Run:
I just ran 3.1 miles on an out and back course.  My pace was just under a 9 minute mile but given how I had just over extended my legs to try and make up lost time on the cycle I'm totally OK with that pace.  I met a young athlete named Jason along the run who encouraged me to keep running and it helped, a lot, he was like a drill sergeant.   

Photo by Nicole McGee
My final time was 1:58:07.  I wish I could just subtract the 21 minutes and say OK, that's what my time COULD have been but I do not think it's that easy.  No matter how I try to reason it in my mind I know that the break my legs got gave me a lot more power in the cycle and run than I would have had otherwise.  More importantly the setbacks made me realize that even when things go wrong triathlons are incredibly fun, the extra challenges and unknowns make the sport that much more intriguing to me.  

On the drive home it also gave me something to focus on besides ventilators, blood transfusions, a missing uterus, and a gorgeous baby that came home from the hospital weeks before I was healthy enough to.  Triathlons as PTSD therapy--this could seriously be a thing.

As for the "Silver Lining Sexy Bitches" I hope we return each year and try to tri.  Maybe the same race, maybe new challenges, but definitely the same group of tri-warriors (different restaurant FOR SURE).

I had to show the pumpkins I bought on
the way home.  Tri-Season is over--let the
training for my spring races begin!


  1. Can I steal that logic GIF? I love it so much.

    1. I was actually worried it was one you must have used in the past. It screamed your name. So, if I did not in fact use a gif you have already used then by all means, steal away.

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