I have so many thoughts and feelings on this race that I am afraid this post is going to be a long one. I typically try to keep them short so I apologize that this is a thousand page epic novel. Without the Hobbits.
The day before the race me and some tri buds headed over to check our bikes into transition, grab our race numbers and chips, hit up the expo, and drive the bike course. During the drive to St. Pete I texted and spoke with Red. She is amazing at calming my nerves and making me laugh. I texted her that I was super nervous and wanted to cry a little. She responded with “There’s no crying in try-ing! Lol!” And that made me laugh.
Having never ridden more than 21 miles I knew I wasn’t ready for this 25 mile bike ride that lay before me. It’s my own fault and I’ve learned from that under-training mistake. More on that later…
We drove the bike course for what felt like an eternity and I was panicked by the sharp turns, u-turns, and speed bumps I’d have to ride over on race day. And let’s be honest, I was just panicked about the race in general. But at least during the ride I had some pre-race fuel to calm my nerves (a little).
After we drove the course we headed to the expo and race check in. We cruised the expo and joked about the wetsuits not getting sold since we certainly won’t going to be wearing them on race day. I took this opportunity to do some more panicking and try on some goggles.
This is a good look for me, don’t you think?
We then racked our bikes and I tried to remember where mine was located amongst the sea of bicycles. Seeing all them only intensified my nerves and I felt like such a newbie out there with all of the tri bikes that made Dolly look a little like the Coat of Many Colors.
Per tradition, we all jumped into the water for a pre-race day dip. I felt much, much better after this little swim and was glad I did it, even though I didn’t really want to mess up my hair. Haha. As soon as I got home that evening I had to quickly shower and head to my sister’s for a housewarming. I felt bad for not being able to stay longer and the food she had set out was like “I’ll take foods you can’t eat before a triathlon for $500, Alex.” It all looked delicious. Ok, so maybe I sampled a chip or two…
With the triathlon, it doesn’t matter when your wave starts, you have to be there to get into transition before it closes. Thus, at the very early time of 3:40 AM, my alarm went off. I slept surprisingly well and was out the door and headed to St Pete again by 4:30ish.
As soon as I got out the car the first thing I noticed was the wind. HOLY CRAP! Who plans a damn tri during a Cat 5 hurricane? It was bananas. The weather was polar opposite of it was the day before. It was windy as shit and cold. What the hell?
Me and my fellow racers were told that the swim was shortened and moved over to allow a beach entrance and exit. I think normally the swim exits on steps a bit closer to transition. This year the swim was going to be 1,000 meters as opposed to 1,500 meters. And the transition to the bike area was about a quarter mile or a little more. All sidewalk.
I got capped and goggled up and chatted with some friends. I had met a new tri buddy the week before at a group swim and we lined up together. We were joking and laughing up until the race started. I have a feeling she’ll be in more of my posts cause I enjoy her company so. I’ll call her Little Bit, since that’s what she told me her nickname was when I told her mine was B.o.B.
The Swim (1,000 m):
Since the swim was shortened, I was feeling pretty good. I kept reminding myself that I needed to get in there and go since I was certainly not going to be going fast on the bike. And that’s what I did. I swam as fast as I could and hoped that I wasn’t in the back of the pack. Fortunately, the wind had died down and it warmed up a bit (it would get much hotter though, trust me). The water was a little choppy, but not anywhere near some of the OWSs (Open Water Swims) I had trained in. Take note other newbies: the rough OWS’s will help you during a race!
There were a few bumps of hands and feet and a few gulps of saltwater, but no there was no panicking and in general, I felt good.
I got out of the water and ran. I hit that sidewalk and ran as fast as I could to transition. It was not a short run like the other races I’ve done. We joked that this race was a swim-run-bike-run.
T1 (Transition 1):
As I got to my bike (thank GOD I remembered where it was) I noticed a lot of bikes still racked and felt good that I had the small lead that I did. “I won’t come in last!” I thought.
I was pretty quick getting my shoes, helmet, and sunglasses on. And this is pretty much where everything with the bike went south.
The Bike (40K):
Dolly and I headed to the mounting area (sounds dirty, hee hee!). I went to hop on and noticed the chain had come off the back cassette (basically the back sprocket thingy on the bike). I had zero idea how to put it back on. I mean, not a clue. I pulled at it from every direction as bikers zoomed passed me. I started thinking that this was it for me and St. Anthony’s. I would have to tell you all how I was such an idiot and didn’t learn proper bike maintenance and had to quit this race.
But, fortunately, a kind soul stopped to help me. She yelled, “Hey athlete!” I ran up to her and she put that chain back on in about 30 seconds and jokingly told me thanks for the lead. I wish I had gotten her race number to thank her because stopping to help me added time to her own race. *Note to self: Learn basic bike maintenance and how to change a flat cause I now know that this crap happens.
“Sweet relief!” I thought, “back in the game.” Until…I clipped in my right foot as I always do and as I lifted myself onto the seat my shorts got caught on the saddle and I lost my balance, over corrected, and yep, fell right over. In front of all sorts of spectators. My worst race fear had just happened. And you know what? It wasn’t that bad. Of couse, I was frustrated, but I was so happy that my chain was back on I yelled to concerned spectators, “I’m ok!” and finally got pedaling.
And then I got going. I pedaled about a mile when I shifted and the damn gears got stuck. Or something. I’m not quite sure what happened here. I couldn’t pedal forward. I could only back pedal and as I tried to shift and re-shift I still couldn’t pedal forward. Aggggh! I pulled off to a parking lot off of the race course and did a few circles to get right. I finally did something that got me going again, but I of course, kept losing more time on the ride. Sigh.
Finally, back on the bike course and riding as fast as I could, I knew I was not trained for this distance. The furthest I had gone was 21 miles and winging 25 was not going to be easy. The miles ticked by and I laughed as I got passed over and over. Ah, what the hell, I thought. I’ll finish this race and know better than to do this again. Me and Dolly shall become one.
Pedaling along I saw many sights of St Pete and was happy when Little Bit came up behind me. We joked about paying for this lovely bike tour and that people passing us were not getting their money’s worth. Little Bit was strong on the bike and I watched her fade into the distance ahead of me.
As I mentioned before there were some sharp turns, u-turns, and a few speed bumps. I handled each one with caution and noticed that I was getting tired by mile 15. The miles continued to tick by slowly and I have never looked forward to running more in my entire life. At mile 20, I thought it would never end. I got passed by three of my lady friends who started before me and this is always humbling. First Little J zoomed by and shouted encouragement, then Cay-See did the same, followed by Speedy Jess who called me the prettiest cyclist out there. I’ll take it!
When I finally saw the cobblestones, I knew I had done it. I rode 25 miles for the first time ever. During a race. LOL!
T2 (transition 2):
I was so happy to be putting on my running shoes that I’m certain I smiled throughout this entire transition. I gobbled up some Shot Bloks and drank some water and headed out to run. Of course, as I got to the run entrance I noticed I had forgotten to put on my race number and had to run back to get it. FAIL. Oh well, Little J (who got 2nd in her AG cause she’s that bad ass), said she did that once and it taught her never to do it again.
The Run (10K):
Ah, the run. My happy place. Sort of. I say sort of, because it was HOT by the time I got off the longest bike ride ever. I told myself I could walk through the water stops if needed and was completely grateful to the folks outside of their homes with hoses. They squirted runners down as we passed and it was a fun touch for the end of this race. In my head I was whining until I saw an athlete with a handicap and limited ability to run and I felt like a jerk. She was out here with a disability and she was looking strong. I felt happy for her to be kicking butt and reminded myself how fortunate I was to just be able to race. It gave me the pep I needed to finish that final few miles.
The Finish, Stats, and final thoughts (AKA damn this crap is long):
I crossed the finish to see my friends from the BRA and managed a big smile. I was done. I was tired and I was so glad it was over. I walked over to get my medal, take my finisher’s photo and then headed to our tent to pass out.
I felt queasy and dirty (thanks to that bike chain incident and mucky water and sweat) so I decided I needed to take a breather and a quick dip in the ocean. I needed to gather my thoughts and just be for a few minutes before laughing and celebrating. And so I did.
The cool thing about the tri is that you can get your race results immediately. My stats were like they normally are: good swim, terrible bike, and great run. I was disappointed at first, but the more I think about it the more I realize that I can only get better and what’s the point of doing these races without the ability to work harder and train better and achieve more? Not a whole lot if you ask me.
65th out of 114 in my age group
Swim time: 19:11
Bike: 1:38:09 (15.2 mph)
Run: 50:59 (8:11 minute miles)
Total time: 2:57:43
Thanks for reading my novel.
Great job!!! Although, your stories of the bike chain coming off and not knowing how to change a flat reminds me that I have NO idea how to do either and I have a bike race on the 4th of June! EEK!
Great job! I've had both the bike chain come off and fallen off my bike in a race so don't worry about it you recovered quickly. Just wait til you get a flat in the middle of race! I appreciate your humor during the race it's the only way to go!
You should be so proud of yourself! You did awesome and you looked great while doing it. 🙂 Congrats on the new PR!!
Great job! I'm impressed with all that you overcame on the bike. I would also have no idea what to do if something happened to my bike. I also admire you for racing an Olympic tri, I'm too nervous about my poor biking skills to commit more than a sprint.
I am so proud of you Boo! You did great and you made the best of a very tough race. I'm glad you are able to take away from this experience a lot of lessons for future use and for all you think you sucked on the bike I'd just like to remind you that you still FINISHED it, even after all the mess of falling and chains! Which translates to: you are my hero! And as for those swim and bike times… damn girl you totally destroyed 'em! Can't wait to see you NEXT WEEK!!!!!!! And don't forget to pack the bathing suit so you can teach me to swim. Please and thank you. 🙂
Great job on the tri! Your swim time is really solid.
And please remember that this is the modern age and YouTube is your friend. Watch some videos about fixing a dropped/jammed chain, changing a flat, etc. and then practice a couple times. Once you figure it out a chain will never take you more than 20 seconds – frustration avoided. So, when's the next tri?
I loved your race report. Sorry you had so much trouble with the bike, that sucks. I definitely need to take a "know how to work your bike" class because I can totally see the same thing happening to me. But I'd have to call my husband to fix it and it would take him an hour to get there. 🙂
I BEG YOUR PARDON. None of that was slow. You might be comparing yourself to the winner of the race if you are so bold. YOUR DID FANTASTIC! Not even close to last place. I hope you realize that and just know every minute on the saddle will result in a faster bike. KEEP IT UP!
Well hot damn you should be proud! I hope you took Dolly out back for a stern talking to after that charade. BUT she did teach you a few things you need to know for next time.
You got lucky this time Dolly……
It sounds like a tough race that you rose to meet. And with aplomb, I might add! Those mile times are nothing shy of awesome at the end of a tough race. Congrats!!
Great recap – very compelling – and despite your bike issues it looks to this unqualified bystander like you did great. Good time on the swim, banged out your first 25-miler along the way, strong run (as usual), smiling in the photos, knowing what you can do to improve and knowing that you can execute on those things …. pretty awesome. Way to go!
Congratulations! One of my swim friends was telling me this morning about the beach entry. Glad you survived the bike. At least I am not the only one who has those kind of issues! So nice of the other person to help you out.
Great job!! I would totally be with you in the bike technical difficulty area. I've now added learning that crap to my to-do list. Sounds like you took a lot away from this experience and that's what makes you better, right? Right? 😉 Amazing, you're super inspiring.
You Rock! I didn't read the whole thing, as a matter of fact, I just looked a the pictures…………… LOL
You are awesome! I loved your description of everything, from the choppy water to the fall on Dolly, the chain issues… arg! You did it! An Olympic distance and you did so well! The run was a great time especially considering all you did before! Great job! You are my hero.
lol! falling over in front of everyone. well, i guess you got all the issues out of the way with this tri so they'll all be smooth sailing from here!
congrats! you rock in my book… i don't even try to tri 🙂
I'm doing a sprint tri in Sept, so I've been training since January. Swimming, good. Biking, good. Running, BAD.
My race won't be as long as yours, but I enjoyed reading about your race. It helped me mentally prepare for all sorts of problems that could arise.
Although, my bike chain came off on my last ride. So maybe that will be the only trouble it causes for me?? Hopefully!!
Congrats on your race!
Congrats on your first Olympic-distance tri! You did awesome, as expected! We'll go back next year and blow those times outta the water! Great job! What's next? Augusta? Augusta? Do I hear Augusta? 🙂
you survived! no where to go but up from here, and honestly, that bike split isn't that bad at all!!! congrats on finishing! also, that's a bombass 10k split.
Congrats! I like your race recap and it made we wish I would have come out to cheer you on. I have no glue either when it come to doing something on the bike. Maybe we should learn together…
Good for you! You will only get stronger.
I am so impressed with you. My first Oly wont be this good. I might have just given up. Yay! I am going to have to read this the night before my Oly to encourage me! YOU ROCK!
Way to persevere! Nothing like having trouble on the bike before you actually get on the bike. My first ride ever I had 3 chain pops. It's not a fun experience let alone during a race (I can only imagine since I've yet to have my first)! Keep at it tho! the bike will get better, you will get faster! So sprint tri… check, oly tri… check, Half Ironman… mmm???