I DID IT!  I successfully completed my first “olympic” size triathlon on Sunday at Rockett’s Landing in Richmond, VA.  I have completed five sprint triathlons before, but this was my first time conquering the double distance. 

It was a blazing hot weekend for a race…the highs were in the 90s and the James River was no cooler at 91 degrees!  Thankfully Richmond Multisports prepped well to give as much heat relief as they could.  I chugged water first thing, ate my banana and peanut butter sandwich, packed a power bar for the car, and drank some coffee as I made my way to Rockett’s Landing.  Transition opened at 5:30 am so I made sure to leave my friend Amanda’s house by 5:00 am to make it there in time to set up.  I got my spot in the transition area, headed to body marking (#146!), and picked up my chip without a problem.  I had time to hop on my bike for a bit to make sure it was shifting well and what not, then I made my way over to the James River where the swim began.  I put on my headphone to Kanye West’s “All of the Lights” and tried not to think about my anxiety.  As 7:00 approached, I made a couple last-minute trips to the port-a-poties and joined the group of triathletes waiting by the dock.  The anxiousness hung in the air as the first men’s group made their way in the water and the horn sounded at 7:00.

My wave was ‘women 34 and younger’…wave 4…start time 7:12.  It was an in-water start, which I appreciated to calm my breathing and get accustomed to the (hot!) water temperature.  I was still anxious, but felt better about the swim after practice on Friday.  I still started to the side and back of the pack to avoid getting smacked around though and made sure to watch out for other swimmers as I went.  I focused on remaining calm, pushing it at times, but holding back at others, knowing I had a long race ahead of me.  The yellow turn around buoy was a relief…I even began passing swimmers in the earlier waves!  This was a huge cry from the races before when I paniced the whole way as swarms of later swimmers passed me.   As I climbed out of the water onto the dock, I couldn’t have felt prouder for finishing!  I knew I still had a long way to go, but I felt like I had won already!  Seeing my friends Amanda and Ann made it even better; I gave a cheer and headed up to the transition. 

I took my time getting ready for the bike, got all my gear on, drank some Gatorade and was on my way!  I had ridden the bike route previously and it was gorgeous country roads almost the whole way.  Enough hills to keep the ride interesting, but nothing overpowering.  I ended up wearing my camel back during the ride, which I decided was a mistake.  As I’ve done before, I held my stomach awkwardly and the combination of this and Gatorade made my stomach cramp!  I kept having to twist, straighten up, rotate, anything to get the pain to go away!  Obviously, I was not focusing as much on speed and even though the ride went quickly, I knew I wasn’t finishing the bike in good time.  I managed to work through most of the pain and made it back to transition, ready for the run…

As I headed out for the run, my legs felt stiff but even worse, my stomach was still cramping.  In preparation for the heat, there were water stations at every mile, which all the racers appreciated.  I barely made it to water station one and stopped to chug a few waters, had some goo, and strained to get rid of the cramps.  The pain was excruciating – I tried to stretch it out as I ran but ended up taking walking breaks.  I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it.  I kept singing Kanye’s song in my head…”we’re going all the way this time…”  I finally made it to mile 2 and was finally able to get in a running groove.  By the turn around, the cramps had subsided and I tried to take in the moment of being in the race.  Mile 4 came quickly and my energy picked up as I headed back towards the finish line.  I couldn’t believe at how much energy I had the last mile but I was thrilled!  The finish line came in sight and I saw my friends who noticed me as well! I sprinted past two finishers and ran past the finish line…Olympic Tri DONE! 

So did I meet my lose goal of under 3 hours??  …

I DID!  Final time: 2 hrs 55 min 33 seconds!  28 min 59 sec

swim: 28 min 59 sec

bike: 1 hr 25 min 44 sec

run: 55 min 01 sec

So with the race done, where do I go from here?  I liked this distance more than a sprint, so I hope to do more this size going forward (especially since I am comfortable with the swim!!)  I know I have a lot to learn too… I want to focus on using clip-in pedals on my bike to improve my time there and practice fueling better to avoid cramps and fuel my race better!  For now, I am enjoying a few days off and will let you know when I TRI again!