At certain points in my three months of training for the Nathan Tempe Triathlon, I was convinced race day would never actually come! But on Saturday, I found myself dropping my bike off at the Tempe Town Lake and on Sunday morning, my excitement for the race woke me up 4! I stayed in bed for a bit, but then got moving so that I wouldn’t feel rushed. Famous last words.
I left for my parents’ house to pick up my cheerleader (my mom) and ate my PB and banana tortilla before heading out with a good amount of time…until navigating the road closures left us cutting it kind of close! When I arrived at the lake, they were announcing the transition area was closing in 10 minutes!
This is where I’m so glad I volunteered at a tri put on by Red Rock last spring because I knew exactly what I needed to do. Almost. I ran into the transition area and stopped by body marking and dropped my gear, pulling my bike stuff out for easy access. I grabbed my cap and goggles and ran out of transition.
Then I started looking around and seeing something on everyone else’s ankles that I seemed to be missing – a timing chip! Numbers and the swim cap were provided in the swag bags the day before, but they don’t distribute those until the morning of the race. Since I kind of wanted a time for the day, I decided to go get mine!
Back into transition for my bib (because the numbers on my arms just wouldn’t do), picked up my chip, back into transition to drop off my bib and out of transition! It wasn’t really THAT close because they closed the area early and I still had about 10 minutes to wait for the start and almost 20 to wait for my start as part of the third wave. It was enough time to chat with the women around me and find out that a handful of them were first-timers as well.
The swim start was a ways out in the lake, so we had to swim there, then tread until it was our wave’s time. My arms were getting tired, I was convinced I was going to lose that anklet chip and my breathing was getting a little short because my nerves were overwhelming me.
Finally, with the buzzer, my group was off and there was no turning back! There were arms and legs everywhere! With it being my first lake swim, not being able to see anything + the idea that there’s no bottom or walls freaked me out. I’d read that after the first 200 meters, it gets better, so I kept moving with a bit of an ugly combo stroke, tried to calm my breathing and waited for that whole better thing.
I eventually found some room and reminded myself it was a race and yes, I wanted to finish, but I wanted to finish well, so I started the freestyle I had trained for, breathing every three stroke until I ran into someone, repositioning and starting again. It’s actually a very calming rhythm and I settled down pretty quickly. Soon enough I was at the turn-around and then before I knew it, I was being helped out of the water and running into transition.
750-meter swim time: 17:41 (6/22 for my age group and 33/182 overall female!)
Let’s just say now that transition #1 is NOT the time to realize your shirt and socks are inside out or to care.
T1 time: 4:08 Eek!
Biking is not my strong suit and I know it. Let’s be honest, I’m not even entirely sure how the gears work. Eventually, I got the hang of it and caught a little groove. I had stashed a pack of pre-opened Shot Blocks in my suit strap and had two about 3/4 of the way through the ride. I was concerned about riding in a group, but everyone was pretty well spaced out and followed the “pass loudly on the left” rule very well, myself included once I got the nerve to start passing.
12.3-mile bike time: 48:42
Transition #2 was much better! I just swapped my helmet and Shot Blocks for my visor and Garmin and stopped for some water before exiting. My legs didn’t really know how to react from the transition from bike to run, but by the time I officially started (my bike rack was on the complete opposite side from the run out), they were okay.
T2 time: 1:54
My goal for the run was a 10-minute pace, but I started off at 8:30! Unfortunately I couldn’t maintain that (although I’m not entirely sure why and think it was largely mental) and ended up with some walk intervals. Finally, I reminded myself that I wasn’t bleeding, puking or dying, so I was going to run. The end of the route was a bridge over the lake park and then a turn back into the park to the finish line. When I got to a certain part of the bridge and could hear the announcer welcoming athletes in, I turned on the turbo power! Finish hard, finish strong!
5K run time: 29:30 (still got my goal pace!)
Total time: 1:41:58 (14/22 for my age group and 101/182 overall female)
For my first triathlon ever, I am so happy with that! I was a little shaky and sweaty, but was quickly handed water and Powerade and practically tackled by a guy trying to take off my timing chip (gotta love those volunteers)! I grabbed some food before exiting the athlete finish area to recoup with my cheerleader. I picked up some Muscle Milk – Cafe Latte, yum – chowed on some fruit, a breadstick and animal crackers and was good as new.
My first goal was to finish. My second goal was to finish in under two hours. My third goal was to finish in under 1:40. Check. Check. So damn close.
I’m so happy I tackled this monster because I realized it wasn’t really a monster at all, it was just a really great experience! I learned a lot about the tri experience, about my strengths and opportunities for improvement and have a mental list of training adjustments and race day tips for next time! Oh yes, there will be a next time!
I’m a triathlete…and that’s pretty badass if I do say so myself!