I thought marathons started early! Sunday I had three alarms set for 4:00, 4:10, and 4:15… AM! (The first one worked.) My triathlon advisor, Deann McIntosh, told me she’d be getting to the transition between 4:30 and 4:45. Being my first triathlon, I wasn’t going to argue. I was determined to get to the transition by 4:45. I was up and out of the house by 4:25. I ate a bagel with peanut butter on the drive to the finish line where I was parked my car. I was at transition by 4:45. What a cool bike ride with all your gear. It’s only a half mile, easy ride, completely dark. The guy in front of me had a headlamp. He didn’t need it, but just having it meant we were up early! And it meant he was prepared. That was my recurring thought all morning: “am I prepared?”
My yellow wristband from the expo registration allowed me into transition. It’s a pretty secure area because everyone stores their bikes there, and there is a lot of money in those bikes! I found my spot which was kind of cool. Again the early start and the personal spot is so different from marathon races. I put my towel down and got everything set up by 5:10. When I say “got everything set up,” I mean I set it up in about 30 seconds and re-checked it about 15 more times. “Am I prepared?” It’s pretty simple. You wear your tri shorts, goggles and swim cap. Get out of the water and put on shirt, socks, shoes, bike helmet and glasses. Get off the bike and put on running shoes. That’s it. But on my first tri I couldn’t stop checking my gear.
I went to get body marking – no. 983. They put it on both arms, left hand, and then age and “S” (for sprint distance) on your right calf. I got back to my bike and had another half of a bagel and a banana. I figured that was plenty of fuel other than the planned Gu packet before the bike and maybe right before the run. But I’ve never fueled for a triathlon, so again I was asking myself if I was prepared? This is where my previous experience with running kicked in. I was figuring on being out there from 70-90 minutes. I takes me longer to do a half marathon, and I’ve fueled for that plenty of times. So yes, I was prepared. Just to make sure everything was set, I called over Deann to check my gear. She made one adjustment and put me at ease. She asked if I was nervous and I said, no – just excited.
It feels good to compete. It also feels good to try something new. I’ve been competing in half and full marathons for over six years, but this new sport is fueling those competitive juices. I’ve been learning how to swim since February, and that training has really paid off. My weakest part of the triathlon is the bike. It utilizes different muscles and I just haven’t put in the time. The run would be a breeze. I could run 3.1 miles backwards if I had to. The only issue was it would come on the back side of a swim and bike course which I’ve never done before. Katie challenged me to do one trial run, a mini-triathlon in preparation for this, so I had a decent idea what it would feel like.
Back in transition I looked things over one last (16th) time, went to the restroom, and did a little warm-up run. Transition closes at 6:00 and the race starts at 6:15. I got in the water to swim about 100m. The water was amazing. My arms and legs felt great. 50m out, I turned back to the shore and got really jacked up seeing all the fellow athletes ready to compete. I swam back to shore, walked out of the water and was bursting inside with excitement. Yes, I was prepared – and now I’m ready to go!
Tomorrow I’ll take you through my entire first triathlon. Thanks for reading.