2013 is truly shaping up to be “the year of the tri” for me. I am registered to participate 3 sprint tri’s this summer, the Jax Triathlon Series presented by DRC Sports. How’d I get into this? Well a while back they made me an offer I couldn’t refuse (said in my best GodFather tone) so I registered and started coordinating family to help me out during the series.
The first race took place on Saturday, June 22, 2013 and my mother-in-law came down for the weekend to help with the kiddos (my dad will be here for the July race & my mom will be here for the August race). I chose this series because Troy’s Aunt lives in Jacksonville and is kindly allowing us to stay with them for the race weekends.
Ok so shortly before the first race I realized the bike was 16 miles (my longest bike yet) and that the event wasn’t as close to his Aunt as I thought! Oops – meh oh well I’m already registered, no turning back now! On Friday we traveled down to Jax so I could pick up my packet and also go to the cloth diaper store (I got a new baby carrier I’ll have to blog about that soon). It was pouring rain so badly the majority of the drive down that it took much longer than the normal 2ish hours to get there! Luckily we safely made it and I started sending good vibes out to King Neptune that the weather for the race would be decent.
Friday night into Saturday morning I slept like crap! I was in a state where I was laying there trying to will myself to sleep but no dice! I don’t think it helped that I had a little girl wanting to nurse all night either. When my alarm went off at o’dark-thirty (aka 0430) I didn’t have any issues getting up. I walked into the bathroom and started getting my gear on. Just before 0500 my mother-in-law moved into the room the kids were in and I headed downstairs to be greeted by Carol. I filled up my water bottles, grabbed a couple of granola bars and headed to my van. I checked the weather before on my phone and it was looking to be in our favor – thank you God! I had an hour drive ahead of me so I plugged the address into google maps GPS app and hit the road. I forced myself to eat the granola bar and drink a bottle of water. I always get a nervous feeling in the pit of my stomach before an event but I knew if I didn’t force myself to eat and drink that I’d be paying for it later!
Just before 0600 I magically arrived at my destination! I also get very anxious that I won’t be able to easily find where I’m supposed to go for an event! I didn’t have to hunt too hard to find a decent parking spot which was nice as well. I took out my bike, blessed myself and pumped up my tires praying that I wouldn’t have any issues like I did at Jekyll – luckily things went smoothly and I also came prepared with spare tubes and a few bike tools just in case (I learned my lesson at Jekyll). I want to send out a HUGE KUDDOS to DRC Sports for how well organized they were on race day – it was the best yet (though I will say I was a little disappointed and confused before the day of the race because I couldn’t find details on the swim start). I had put my race number on my helmet, bike & race belt before I left my van (this is something I learned to make habit of to help race day go smoothly back when I volunteered for the Jekyll Turtle Crawl Triathlon) then they had three lines with plenty of volunteers for body marking. I got marked and once out if that zone they had the timing chip board and volunteers asking your number and handing you your chip. I put my chip onto my left ankle as the official checked my bike before entering the transition area. I found my spot to rack my bike and began setting out my gear in transition. Shout out to my amazing 31 rep, Amber because I loooove how cute my stuff looks in transition and how functional these bags are (I’ll have to get better pics next time so you can see all of the gear and how cute my custom pocket-a-tote looks).
After talking with some people in my area I started looking for some familiar faces and texting my friend Lisa to see where she was. As I was wandering around I found information about the swim start (finally) and also bumped into my friend Jillian. Then as I was wandering the transition area getting anxious because I still hadn’t seen Lisa, Jillian helped calm me down a bit saying that she recently saw her at packet pickup. Then finally a few minutes later I spotted Lisa (which after that it wasn’t too hard to spot each other with our bad ass matching Epix Gear Tri Suits)!
After one more potty break, some more forceful sips of water and a final check over my gear in transition we headed out to the race meeting. The race meeting was good but once we were on the beach I was still confused by where exactly to go for the swim and the site of the waves made me nervous as well! We all discussed the swim on the beach and decided to follow the rest of the red caps and well we figured it out. Yet as the heats in front of us went off I got more and more nervous because the waters were rough and there were some big waves out there (remember, I may be a swimmer but I still don’t consider myself an open water swimmer)!
When the siren went off signaling the start of our heat I held back a bit and anxiously got into the water (hindsight is always 20/20 and looking back and looking forward to the rest of the series I know that I need to just run right in and get ahead of the crowd). For tris I am a strong swimmer but being caught up in the pack was very tough! The swim was brutal! I’m glad I’m a good swimmer because there was a time where I had to swim breaststroke underwater for a bit because I couldn’t get to the surface, every time I tried there was someone literally on top of me! When I finally surfaced I got knocked upside the head and had to tread water for a moment to fix my goggles. The whole swim was brutal – I fought waves and was getting hit or hitting others left and right! I didn’t feel relieved after going around the last buoy because I still had to navigate the crashing waves to the shore. I got a decent ride on the first wave and when I thought it was ok to stand boom I was knocked down by a big wave! I regained my footing and struggled running through the rough waters to reach the shore. Once my feet hit the sand I was so happy! Apparently it showed too because I caught site of the amazing open water swimmer, Jennifer in the crowd as she cheered me on and the pic that she took of me came out pretty good!
I ran through the refreshing fresh water shower and into transition. I quickly wiped my feet a little, slipped on my swiftwick socks, my new Pearl Izumi tri bike shoes, took a swig of water, put on my helmet and Tifosi sunglasses, one last swig of water then started running out of transition and mounted my bike. At the time I felt like I kind of dilly-dallied in transition because I messed with a water bottle that was in one of the cages on my bike and looking forward I really need to practice hydrating during the ride because I was thirsty! Out on the bike I felt decent and attempted to stay above 16 MPH. Cycling is the weakest part of the tri for me. I very much kept to the right and in the bike lane. I dropped into my aero bars a few times and for me I felt like I made some improvements on my cycling yet I know I have plenty of room left to improve here and thanks to all of my seasoned tri friends for tips on how to improve here. The bike course was fairly flat and it was an out and back that went around 4 rotaries (traffic circles). I did not like going through the traffic circles and need to find a place to practice turns like this (actually my own neighborhood would be perfect because it’s full of traffic circles). On the way back I spotted Lisa and gave her a shout out! Everyone on the bike course was very nice and many of us exchanged encouraging shout outs in passing. At the end of the bike my dismount was much smoother than at Jekyll – it’s amazing what new cleats will do! I ran my bike into transition, slipped off my cycling shoes, slipped on my newtons, unclipped my helmet, tossed it into my 31 tote, grabbed my race belt and clipped it as I ran out of transition. I felt like it was an overall decent transition.
I hit the road and took the turn into Ft Clinch. The run course was a smooth, again fairly flat, up and back through a gorgeous area covered by beautiful live oaks and Spanish moss. I saw Jillian on the run and we high-fived (I love this part of the run it’s so much fun). The encouragement from those around me and the beauty of the course helped the time go by quickly. I slowed down and took water at the station that was just before the turn around point. I would like to get to a point in my tris where I don’t feel the need to take water on the run. I think if I work on better hydrating during the bike that this will be doable. As I hit mile 2 I picked up my pace (I’m terrible about knowing exactly how fast I’m going and am still very torn about getting a GPS watch) and as I came out of the park I met Lisa and we exchanged a high-five as well. As I neared the finish line a guy wearing a Rent shirt said 100 meters to go and in my head I sang “NO DAY BUT TODAY!” then I could hear the ringing cow bells and hear the shouts of my name by Jillian, Jennifer & Lorraine as I crossed the finish line! I stopped my watch 1:32:25 (my official time was 1:32:38). I was proud of my accomplishment and started thinking of what to do in order to improve on this course over the next couple of months.
After the finish, a volunteer took off my timing chip and I was handed two drinks a water and some other drink I had never heard of. I opened the other drink because I wanted to get the nasty salty taste out of my mouth. The bottle read lemon-lime and I took a swig and felt like I was going to vomit so I quickly opened my water and chugged that instead! I grabbed more water and met up with my friends. We chit-chatted about the race and cheered some other people we knew into the finish and also cheered Lisa in. I love the camaraderie I’ve found at these events lately! After checking results, eating some food, seeing friends stand on the podium and exchanging goodbyes I grabbed my bike out of transition put it in the van and then went to change. I felt like a banana as I peeled out of my tri suit. After I changed I grabbed some more water and snacks for the hour ride back. I texted with a few friends that had sent me messages of support and then I attempted to call my mom and dad. After no answers from them I began to cry; I felt so alone – everyone else had either their kids or husbands or friends at the event and were going out onto the beach for an afternoon of fun. I was alone and wanted nothing more than to call Troy, I miss him so much and it sucks that he won’t see me race a tri this season. I wiped my tears away as I answered my phone, my dad had called me back. I am so blessed to have such supportive parents! My mom and dad have seen me race and are so proud of my accomplishments and always comment about how they look forward to visiting again to see me race. I’m no Olympian but my parents make me feel like one!