Thursday, October 2, 2014

I am an Iron Girl

Towards the end of last year
my best friend suggested that I do a triathlon this year.
I had thought about it before but was always hesitant.
I do enjoy swimming,
AND running.
But something was always holding me back!
I bounced the idea off some friends that have done triathlons
and was reassured that I could do it.
They even gave me some "beginner friendly" race suggestions.
Each year I have tried to tackle something new-
first it was doing a 5K in 2010.
followed by a full marathon in 2013.
Why not make 2014 the year for my triathlon?
In January, I traded in my old mountain bike
and got a new performance hybrid bike
and a trainer so I could ride at home throughout the winter.
The lady at the bike shop said it would be perfect for
my first triathlon
and biking trails with my family.
Shortly after getting my new bike
I took the plunge and signed up for Iron Girl Pleasant Prairie.
This was the race suggested by multiple friends
and came highly recommend for a first triathlon.
Throughout the winter I used my bike at home a lot
and was really enjoying it.
I also swam a bunch at the Y.
The running was no problem-
we were training for two spring half marathons.
Then summer hit.
It hit hard
and triathlon training went by the wayside.
I was still working out-
and biking
but the swimming wasn't happening.
My friends still reassured me that I would be fine
but I was getting nervous.
I wasn't doing the "brick workouts" like I had planned in my head
so I didn't feel prepared.
About a week before my triathlon
my best friend picked up on this nervous energy
and suggested that we meet somewhere half-way
between the two of us
and do a "trial run".
She did the research and found a state park
that had an area for me to swim
and then some back roads to bike and run together.
It had all that we needed
and was about an hour for each of us to drive,
so it was decided that we would meet there bright and early later that week.
Tim and I spent some time on YouTube
checking out how to set up transition
and getting whatever tips we could to help me feel more at ease.
Nothing like procrastination!!
We had a lot of good laughs during our "practice triathlon"-
trying to figure out the transition set up
but mostly
as I tried to figure out how to put on a swim cap for the first time!
Julie sat on the side (in her sweatshirt) as I braved the water (for the first time outdoors).
Then we worked through the first transition together
and made mental notes of things that I would need to change.
We enjoyed our bike and run together-
before we knew it we were packing up
and were discussing what I needed to do come race day.
My Instagram photo from our "trial triathlon"
Doing this "trial triathlon" was exactly what I needed
and helped me feel more relaxed about everything going into race day.
After that I knew I could do it
and I was able to work out the "beginner kinks".
I love how my best friend knows exactly what I need!
She is one of my biggest encouragers
and is always there for support when I need it!
Before I knew it
we were loading up the car
to head off to the race.

My Instagram photo from the day before the race.
 Saturday was the expo, packet pick-up, and bike racking day.
As we pulled up to the RecPlex I started to get very nervous!
I had no idea how all of this worked.
We made our way around to where the expo was
and maneuvered our way through the packet pick-up process
(which wasn't laid out very clearly- but we figured it all out).
They placed an athlete wristband on me and then I got my packet.
We spent some time checking out the expo
and of course I had to get this:

Once we were done there
it was time to figure out the whole
bike racking deal.
My "support crew" got the bike off the car rack
and made sure everything checked out.
We put the bike sticker on and made our way to the transition area.

Once we got to the entrance of transition the boys all had to stay behind
and I was on my own to figure this whole process out.
I found the rack that was designated by a range that included my number
and hooked my bike up on the rack-
easy as that...
what was I worried about?
We spent a little time checking out the area and testing the water
before we headed out to get some lunch.
We quickly grabbed lunch- which wasn't very easy to find where we were
and headed back to listen to the course talk.
Listening to this also helped calm my nerves
as it helped me know what to expect.
Then it was time for a little fun!
We headed off to the Jelly Belly Factory
for a tour!

My Instagram from our time at Jelly Belly
We also spent a little time that evening at the outlet mall that was near the race location.
We knew we had to be up super early so it was an early "lights out" for us.
Like most nights before a race
the night felt very short
and I didn't sleep very well.
I had my normal breakfast of oatmeal
and we were off.
I was a little nervous
as we headed back to the RecPlex but not like I thought I would be.
I was mostly nervous about the transition set up
and knowing how to do it with so many people
so close to each other.
I didn't want to take up more space than I was supposed to.
Picture sent to a friend to see what she thought
Others around me were just as nervous and unsure
of their set up so we all kind of worked together
and that made me feel better.

We took some time to get some pictures
 and then started to make the walk around the lake
to the swim start.
I made sure to get in line for the port-a-potties right away before it got too long
and it was a good thing- the line grew very quickly.
I guess that is what you should expect at an all women's race:)
I checked out the water and
it wasn't long before Julie and TJ showed up!
What an amazing friend-
she got up super early and made the drive to be there to support me and cheer me on!
We watched the first waves of people start
and it was amazing!
I loved the feel of the race already!
 I was also noticing that I was feeling calm!
I got in the zone and wasn't nervous anymore.
I decided that "it was what it was"
and that I was going to go out there and do my best
and enjoy the whole process!
Next thing I knew it was time for me to get ready.
I made my way to the start area and just took it all in.
I listened to all of the women around me discussing their plan of attack
with their friends.
It felt a little lonely to be doing a race like this alone
but I didn't let it get to me and took the time to focus myself on my race.
Listening to them say that they were going to "just swim to the first platform
and readjust then swim to the next platform"
made me realize that I was going to be just fine!
I had no intentions of stopping.
My goal was to swim the half mile as hard as I could
and then tackle the next portion of the race.
I think this has to be one of my favorite pictures from the whole day! 
about ready to start
 Before I knew it we were heading into the water!
I was much calmer at this point that I had expected to be.
The start wasn't nearly as rough and congested as I figured
and I didn't get hit or kicked like I thought I would-
it did happen- just nothing like I had pictured in my head.
Everyone spread out pretty quickly
and I just tried to stay in the middle of the "lane" as I made my way across the lake.
I tried to keep a fairly even pace and just stayed calm.
The water wasn't bad and I actually really enjoyed the swim.
There was only a brief time when another lady kept cutting me off and it was
hard to maneuver around her.
I just pushed myself harder to get in front of her and left her in my wake:)
Swim Stats (1/2 mile):
18:46 (2:20/100m)
Now it was time for the first transition.
This is one of the areas that I was nervous about.
I managed to find my bike pretty easily!
First I got my watch on so I could find the GPS signal while
putting on my helmet and sunglasses.
Then I tried to dry off and bit and got my socks and shoes on.
I made sure to get a good drink of water before heading off on my bike.
T1 Stats:
T1 and then heading off on the bike
 Everyone was pretty spread out on the bike portion.
There was never a time that I felt like it was congested-
it was easy to get around people
and I felt great as I was able to do so.
I love that everyone had their age written on the back of their leg
and I found myself looking at these as I could get up close to people.
I was amazed and inspired by the women in their 50s, 60s, and even 70s
and I pushed myself harder when I came up on those in my age group.
I remember thinking that I wish they would do that in running races!
I also remember thinking that I was really enjoying this race
and that I felt a little like I was "cheating" on the half marathon and running
by thinking that.
During the bike portion I made sure to drink my bottle of water.
Before I knew it we were coming back into transition-
and I felt like I wasn't ready to be done with the bike yet!
I headed into to rack my bike,
remove my helmet and switch to my visor
and I was back out for the run!
Bike Stats (12 miles- my GPS said 11 miles):
40:47 (17.7 mph)
T2 Stats:
headed into T2 and then out for the run
 I wanted to keep an even pace and just enjoy what was left of this race.
The running course was beautiful-
we ran around the lake
did a short out and back on a gravel trail
(which got a bit frustrating to pass people on)
and then we ended back at the RecPlex.
At about the 2 mile mark I remember
feeling sad that this whole journey was about over!
I couldn't believe how fast the whole race felt like it went!
coming into the finish
Run splits:
Mile 1- 8:58
Mile 2- 9:13
Mile 3- 8:52
5K Time- 27:47
After the race I was looking back through my phone and came across this:
Listening to my boys (also my husband and friend) cheer me into the finish
and then hearing my name and that I am an IRON GIRL
brings tears to my eyes!
I am an IRON GIRL!!! 1:31:50
What an experience this whole day was-
I truly enjoyed every minute of it!
This will not be the last triathlon for me-
I have already said that I want to go back next year:)
My husband did a great job
capturing the whole journey throughout the day
all the while keeping tabs on the boys!
I could never thank him enough for all of his support and encouragement!
We headed back to the hotel
(who was awesome about letting us have a late checkout)
and I showered and got ready so we could go out to eat.
We enjoyed a great lunch at Texas Roadhouse
and then made our way to Lake Michigan
 for a little sight seeing before we parted ways with Julie and TJ
and headed home. 
My beautiful family and biggest supporters
My best friend and her beautiful daughter
 I could never thank Julie enough for pushing me outside my comfort zone
and encouraging me to do the triathlon!

This may be just the start of a whole new journey!

Overall Race Stats:

Swim- 18:46 (2:20/100m)
T1- 2:43
Bike- 40:47 (17.7 mph)
T2- 1:47
Run- 27:47 (8:58 min/mi)
Finish Time- 1:31:50

Division Place (35-39)- 41/177
Overall Place- 204/1011

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