The short of it: my goal was to complete the triathlon – consisting of a 500 meter swim, 16.8 mile bike, and 3.75 mile run – in two hours. My final time? 1 hour, 55 minutes. Beast mode was ON!
The long of it:
I woke up at 5:00, had whole-wheat toast with peanut butter, honey, and a banana. We got the car packed up, left the house at 6:00, and got to the Mississinewa Reservoir around 6:45. My race didn’t start until 8:30, but I’m really glad I had all that extra time. I got signed in, got marked up with my age and bib number, got my transition area set up, and still had plenty of time to walk around with Steve to get an idea of the lay of the place. I warmed up by jogging for about 10 minutes. It was chilly – mid 50s. Since I was the first one assigned to my bike rack lane to get there, I got to pick the best spot, closest to the end. Yes, I did choose a towel with a large indifferent cat on it. Because that’s how I roll.
At 8:15, everyone headed down to the lake to warm up. This was the part I was dreading. I HATE getting into cold water, and it was a huge fear of mine that I would chicken out. But the water temp was a balmy 77, far warmer than the air temp! I waded right in and swam back and forth to get my arms loosened up. I was thrilled that the water was so nice! I was in the third heat, and I stayed in the water as long as I could before I went to line up.
I had a great strong start, but after about 30 strokes, I got hit with a wave or something and choked on water. I panicked for a second and It took me a while to catch my breath, so I alternated 10 strokes of breaststroke, 10 strokes of freestyle. That seemed to help me stay calm and worked out well. The course was 150 meters out, 200 meters along the shore, and 150 back to the beach. Overall, I felt pretty good and just focused on the buoys and tried to not get kicked in the face.
The swim part – timing wise – didn’t end until I ran up the hill to the transition area, about 100 meters from the lake. Steve met me on the shore and told me my time for the actual swim was 13 minutes, which I was pretty happy about. Total swim time: 13:44.1
Once in the transition area, I beelined it for my bike (as much as you can do when you’re dripping with lake water and a teensy bit winded). Squirted feet with water and dried with a towel. Socks and shoes on. Gloves, sunglasses, helmet on. I pulled my bike off the rack and jumped on, only to hear Steve yell, “No! No! Not until you’re out!” I had almost made a grave error – getting on the bike still in the transition area. Oops. Steve told me later that a lot of people had done that. I quickly jumped off and still made good time out of there: 1:49.
A couple miles in, my heart was feeling like it was racing. It just seemed to be going way too fast over too long a time. I coasted a bit to give it a chance to slow down and catch my breath, and then I was able to hit my stride. The course took me out of the campground, over the dam, and around the reservoir. So pretty. It was a really fun ride – lots of hills, but they were mostly quick ones. I changed gears a lot. Lots of people passed me – mostly skinny people with aerobars and aerohelmets. But I passed a few people and held a pretty steady pace of 17.1 mph. That’s well above my training rides, so I was really happy about that! The bike was definitely my best event.
Throughout the bike portion, I was struck by something: women are incredibly encouraging to each other. I can’t count how many girls said nice things as they passed me or as I passed them, like “Finish strong!” “Keep going, you’re doing great!” The dudes really didn’t do that. Dudes were open to chatting – I had several chatty dude buddies during the run – but in terms of being intentionally encouraging, women have guys beat.
Volunteers were stationed at each intersection, directing traffic and pointing us in the right direction. They were awesome. Everything was really well organized and seemed to go really smoothly. Total bike time: 58:19.3
I came into T2 pretty fast. Racked my bike, helmet off, gloves off, and put belt with bib number on. I had a little trouble with the buckle, and I could hear Steve say, “Just go! Do it as you run out!” T2 time: 57.4 seconds!
The run was not awesome for me – I couldn’t get going like I wanted to. My legs just didn’t want to go. It probably took me about 1.5 miles for my body to adjust to running instead of biking. The course was beautiful and varied, and helped me enjoy myself. Gravel path through woods, trails, paved road. I wish I could have gone faster, but overall, I still say the job was well done.
As I came back into the campground and could see the flags of the finish line up ahead, I started to go a bit faster. And then, as I got close to the chute, I sprinted. And I could hear over the loudspeaker, “And here comes Rachel sprinting to the finish! Rachel Elwood, great finish!” That made me smile. I saw Steve and a family from our church cheering me on. (Steve later told me he’d talked to the announcer when I was getting close.)
And then, about five yards from the finish line, a kid goes zooming past me. Come to find out, he’s the 13-year-old kid belonging to the family from our church, who I had passed at mile 3 on the BIKE. So somehow, he had caught up with me! (He’s a cross-country runner, I found out today)
Total time for run: 40:20.2
Final time: 1:55.10.
I’m a triathlete!! It was an incredible experience, and I’d love to do this one again. I learned so much through this journey, and I’ll try to do another post in the next day or two with my takeaways from it.
All done! On to the next adventure!