A triathlete is writing this post. How ‘bout that sugar?!
If you missed my Monday post, I officially completed the Iron Girl Sprint Triathlon this past Sunday!
I wanted to do a recap of the race and then next week I will go over some things I learned during my training/actual race day, what I wore and what I would do differently.
First, a little about triathlons. They come in a variety of distances and can vary for each race, but the basics are:
Sprint- 1/2 mile swim, 12 mile bike, 3.1 mile run
Olympic- ~1mile swim, 25 mile bike, 6.2 mile run
Half-Ironman/70.3- ~1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run
Ironman- 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 run
The Iron Girl is a variation of the sprint triathlon with a 1/3 mile swim, 12 mile bike and a 3.1 mile run.
How I Picked the Iron Girl
Last year I volunteered at the Iron Girl. I was in the thick of losing weight and getting into fitness. This seemed like a great way to see some real women in an athletic event. Something that, up to that point, I had only dreamed about. As women at every stage in life crossed the finish line, I felt overwhelmed with jealousy. Some of it because I wasn’t able to hand out medals but also because I wanted to be getting one of the medals. I just wanted to be on of those people finishing a triathlon! I told myself that day that I was going to do it the next year.
I picked the Iron Girl race because I was familiar with the area and the set-up after volunteering. I also really liked that it was a women-only race and seemed to be really supportive of all athletes involved. I know I am only doing this for me, but it helps to see some non-pro looking women right there along with me. Call me vain.
Side Note: Why isn’t it called the Iron Woman? Seems a little silly to call it “girl”.
What I Did to Prepare
When I decided that I wanted to do the tri I realized that I was going to really need to train. I have been successful at losing weight and getting involved in a variety of fitness classes, but I’m neither a biker, swimmer or runner. Apparently Zumba and Yoga are not part of triathlons. I’ve spoken of my love for the Tone It Up ladies and Karena, one of the trainers, is a triathlete. She has participated in several triathlons and most recently a half-Ironman. On the TIU site she posted an 8-week and 12-week training schedule. The 8-week would be for a sprint distance and the 12-week for the Olympic distance. Since I am a super newbie with little to no background in any of the areas, I decided to use the 12-week to train for the Sprint.
The training schedule is like almost any other training schedule out on the internet. Swim two days a week, bike 2 days a week and run 2 days a week. Some weeks required a brick workout.
Want to know more about my training? Check out some of my older posts including this fun one about my first swim lesson!
Doing the triathlon was a bit iffy right up until that weekend. I have a knee problem that has to be resolved through surgery. I wasn’t sure if the risk to my knee was worth competing but in the end I did and I’m so glad I took the chance!
The day before the race I drove up to Webster to check-in and “rack my bike”. I wasn’t really sure what the meant other than bring my bike. It was actually a great chance to get a lay of the land, check out exactly where my bike was going to be in the transition area and just get a better feeling of exactly what I would be doing the next morning.
I also got to check out all the bike eye candy. I have never wanted a road bike so bad after seeing all those slick looking bikes!
The morning of the race I was up bright and early at 4:14am. We had to leave the house by 4:45 and drive an hour to get there in time for me to set my transition area up before it closed at 6:30.
I decided to do the minimum needed for transition. I watched this video from TIU with professional triathlete, Jenny Fletcher, to get some tips on how to set up my transition area. I went with the basics and I will go over everything in another post when I tell you about what I wore. This girl has to do a fashion post for everything, right?!
Then it was time to get ready for the swim!
When I get nervous my stomach starts to hurt. This time was no different. Right after this photo I felt like I was going to be sick. Like knots in my stomach and have to go the bathroom sick. I had ordered a wetsuit to wear for the race, but the water was really warm and they said that anyone who wore one would have to go in the last swim wave of the morning. I irrationally wanted to be a part of my age group so I decided to not wear my suit. Good choice! The water was super warm and I started to sweat immediately.
Mostly because I started to panic. I’m not afraid of open water. Apparently I’m afraid of being kicked in the face or having my leg grabbed. Both of which happened several times. No one was doing anything malicious. Its just chaos when 80+ women fling themselves into water. Immediately I felt overwhelmed and started to hyperventilate.
I’m one of the white caps in the back. Just as I rounded the yellow barrier cone up in the corner, the next wave of folks caught up with me. They started 3 minutes after we left the shore and have to be the fastest swimmers in the world. I’m serious! Again, I was being grabbed and hit in the face with a whole new crop of Iron Girls. At this point I had to roll onto my back and backstroke for a few minutes so I could catch my breath a little and relax. I also started to worry that I wasn’t going to finish. Finally I decided to roll back over and just focus on getting to the next buoy. One little piece of the puzzle at a time.
Everyone tells you that you should swim until your fingertips hit the sand and then get up to run out of the water, but the minute I could stand, I did. I immediately felt better and started to get out of the water.
That is me in the white cap. Coming in with the folks in blue caps who were a wave behind me. Nice.
As I was coming ashore I saw the BF’s face and his huge smile and I instantly felt better. I had finished the part of the race I was most worried about!
Swim Time: 19:36 (I was the last of my age group. Whomp, Whomp!)
I ran into the transition area and got all my gear on. I was pleased with how smoothly it went! I took a breath of air, sipped some water really quick and then got my bike out of there.
T1 Time: 3:24 (30th in my age group and 185th out of the whole race!)
The bike started out pretty well. I was moving along quickly for the first mile or two. I was excited to even start passing a few folks! Then we hit a hill. I have no way to describe this hill other than it was straight up. I got as much momentum as I could to get up about 1/2 the hill but then I had to get up and walk my bike the rest of the way. I was NOT alone doing this. The minute I hit the top I was back on my bike zooming off. There were quite a few hills in the middle of the 12 miles but I was able to stay on my bike for the rest of those. A road bike that didn’t weight 100 lbs like my mountain bike would probably have come in handy at some point, but I was super proud of myself for making it through those hills! As we coasted into our last 2 miles I was neck and neck with another woman. We kept passing each other in a little game of leap frog. It definitely pushed me to keep going and hopefully she felt the same way and not just super irritated. I didn’t go as fast as I would have hoped but given the hills I’m pleased with the results.
Bike Time: 57:32 (12.5 mph)
I was back into transition and off pretty quickly. I don’t clip in on my bike so there was no shoe change. I only had to take off my helmet and throw on a tank.
T2 Time: 2:29
As I was leaving the transition area I saw the BF again. I love this photo because you can see how excited I was to be doing the tri. I knew at this point that I was going to finish.
The run was fine. It wasn’t pretty but it was fine. I told myself that that my main goal was to just finish and not have any additional injuries. There were cones lining the entire run so I just ran to one cone and walked between the next set of cones. I kept one particular woman in my sights and just made sure to keep up with her. Next thing I knew…the 3.1 miles were done and I was coming into the finishing chute!
Run Time: 41:35
I crossed the finish line with a smile and a total time of 2:04:36 as they announced my name! “Erin, You are an Iron Girl!”
I realize that this post seems pretty flowery and pretty for my first triathlon, but honestly…it was SO FUN! The excitement of being there with all those people watching and participating was just really, really awesome. In between my smiles I didn’t have much time for my usual self-depreciating humor and sarcasm.
I was on a finishers high for…well I still am! If you had asked me 2 years ago, heck even last year!, if I would participate in a triathlon I would have laughed in your face. Fat girls with bad knees don’t tri. As I crossed the finish line every single bit of that smile was real. I felt great!!! In the end I didn’t care what my time was (other than out of curiosity!), but was just thrilled that I finished.
I learned a ton about myself during the whole process. Not just the actual race day, but during the training period too. I have come so far in my fitness adventure, but I still have so much to learn! But my biggest lesson learned was that with a positive outlook, persistent attitude and consistently showing up…anything is possible.
Is there another triathlon in my future?
I mean, not in the near future, but definitely again. Ha! By this time next year I should be several months out from my knee surgery and ready to tackle this challenge again. I’m coming back stronger, better and faster. You can count on that!
Thanks for cheering me on in real life and on the internets. I had tons of support from the BF, my parents, friends and all of you. I can’t thank you enough for the encouraging words over the past few weeks!
#1 on my 34 While 34 list…DONE!
Are you ready for what is next?! YES?! Let’s do this!