Last weekend, I participated in my first-ever triathlon. I guess I can confidently say that, even though it’s a little bit of a stretch considering I didn’t actually do the swim or the bike parts of it :).
I formed a relay team for a half-ironman taking place on the east coast. One of my awesome co-workers graciously offered to swim 1.2 miles, and I recruited my old college roommate who has found some new hobbies–going to the gym, eating healthy, and losing 140 lbs–to bike 56 miles. My boss also came along and completed the entire 70.3 miles by himself (obviously not the smart one of the bunch).
My swimmer, our boss, and me at packet pick-up.
In my opinion, I had the easy part – all I had to do was run a half-marathon when they were finished. This was a big one for me though. Not only was it my 10th half-marathon (woo hoo!), it was the first one that I was running as part of a relay team which meant a few things:
- I had no idea when I was going to start (as opposed to the typical strict line-up times I’m used to).
- It was going to start sometime in the afternoon (not the morning).
- I was going to be up several long hours before my part to cheer on my teammates at the swim start (What do I eat? When do I eat? How much should I eat?)
- I was going to be running alongside some amazing people who were completing the whole event solo (boss-man included).
These factors meant that I had to prepare myself a little differently than I am used to (mentally and physically). Technically, I could have slept in a few extra hours than usual but if you have ever run a half-marathon, you know that sleeping the night before is a little tough to do (and kind of overrated anyway). Plus, I wanted to get up and go to the start to wish my teammates luck and let them know that I would see them soon. Not to mention that I have had one too many nightmares of sleeping in and missing the start of the race (fellow runners, you know what I’m talking about).
I felt extremely bad for our swimmer. It was pitch black outside and 35 degrees (a record low for the area) but surprisingly enough she was pretty pumped to get into the water (probably because the water was about 70 degrees). After she headed to the start line, my husband and I took off (he is such a trooper, taking me to every race start and staying through to the finish), thinking that traffic was going to be a nightmare (the bikers had to go over a bridge – the one bridge there is to get off the island where the race was starting – and the bridge was already shut down to 2 lanes due to construction). We zoomed out of there with enough time to browse the shelves at Walmart.
Me, Chris (our biker) and Hanna (our swimmer)
Hanna – Out of the water and still smiling!
We made it downtown (where the relay runners would soon take over for the bikers) in no time and that’s where the fun began. We sat in the car for about 4 hours…just waiting…
This “wait” time was excruciating to me. I am an early morning runner, even when not competing in races so I like to get up and go as soon as I can. The fact that I had to sit and wait around was awful. What’s even worse was the fact that my biker thought he might meet me around noon but he wasn’t sure. Therefore, I had to be ready to take his place by 11:45 to make sure I didn’t miss him. I got to the relay switch-off point at 11:30 (and I had timed my meals and bathroom breaks just right up until this point).
Noon came and went…then 12:15…then 12:30. You can imagine my nerves (and my bladder, and my stomach quickly becoming less and less full as time went on). Finally, a little bit after 1pm I saw my biker. Hooray! Of course, all I could think about was the fact that I had to pee SO bad. Alas, I took off running, trying to rid my mind of my bulging bladder.
Chris approaching the finish line of the bike! Still had a pretty amazing time considering there were headwinds for the majority of the course, the fact that he lost ALL of his energy gels and the chain popped off his bike! What a great sport 🙂
Did I mention the worst part through all of this? That I was NOT allowed to have music? As much as I love the art of running itself, I have NEVER gone on a run/race without music (except for when my iPod died on me once in the last few miles of a run) and I figured focusing on my breathing was going to be a real challenge.
Waving to my family as I start the last leg of the ironman – a fun run of 13.1 miles!
I was pleasantly surprised with how things turned out. I somehow DID forget about the fact that I had to pee (still not sure how that happened) and I actually enjoyed the run without music. All those spectators that I always see clapping and chanting? I could actually hear them and their words gave me the boost I was hoping for.
I also am so lucky in the fact that I ALWAYS have the most amazing support group. My husband, my parents, my sister and her boyfriend, plus my swimmer and her mom were ALL there to cheer me on in multiple spots throughout the race. Knowing that they are going to be at the finish line too gets me through every time.
Our team @ the finish
I breezed through the run and while it was not the most exciting course, it was so inspiring to be running alongside hundreds of runners who had just completed a 1.2 mi swim AND a 56 mi bike ride. I felt like such a slacker, maybe I’ll join them one day (probably not though, I’m not much of a swimmer or a biker for that matter). I would consider doing another relay though. While it was not the ideal situation, I loved being part of a team!
Finished (boss-man included)! And holding the sign my sister made for us 🙂