Back in this post, I set my goals for this morning's tri, and am very pleased that although I missed my "Oh-my-god-I-can't-believe-I-did-it" goal by a minute, I did a great job of achieving my "woohoo-I-kicked-some-butt" goal.
Things did not get off to a very auspicious start, though, when I woke up with the alarm at 4:30am. I had hoped that Carmine would stay asleep when I got out of bed, but that would have made things too easy. Instead, he woke up and whined, so I had to carry him around while I got my coffee and bagel ready. Once I had everything ready, I sat down to nurse him and eat my breakfast.
It would have been impossible to hold him while I was getting dressed, so he laid on the bed and whined some more while I got ready. I had gotten my bag mostly packed last night, and my bike was already in the car, so there wasn't much more to do. However, I still had a very whiny, tired baby on my hands, and I wanted to get him back to sleep before I left, and the quickest way to do that is to nurse him, so I sat down again to do just that.
It worked - he fell asleep - but it also made me very late. I had hoped to get to the race at 6:15, but ended up leaving around 6:05. I was a little agitated about it, but I knew I still had plenty of time, so tried to enjoy the drive, since it is a nice one, and I started to get really excited as I was blasting my running music and driving over the Newport bridge.
Then I made a mistake and took the wrong Gate onto the base, and ended up taking a very scenic tour of the base before I finally found my way to the correct Gate and was able to follow the signs to the race parking.
By this time, it was nearly 7am, and I was feeling pretty frazzled, as the race started at 7:30, which left me very little time to check in and set up my stuff. I got it done, though, with just about 15 minutes to spare - enough time to finally meet Taryn, a fellow blogger who recently moved to RI! I think she's the first running/tri blogger that I follow who I've ever had the opportunity to meet in person, and it was very cool : )
As with the previous years I've done this race, I opted not to wear a wetsuit. The water is so warm this time of year, and the swim is so short, I feel like a wetsuit would be more trouble than it's worth. And I'm glad I stuck with that decision, because the water felt great, and I was totally fine with just my bathing suit. I was in the third wave of swimmers, and for the first time ever, I honestly couldn't wait to get in the water!
Just the few very short open-water swims I've done this summer have made me realize that I no longer feel panicky or nervous in the water. I swam a couple hundred yards yesterday when we were at the beach, and I was actually enjoying it! So I was really looking forward to the swim this year, and I knew I'd be able to complete it significantly faster than the first year. (I'm not comparing my times this year to my times last year, since I was 17 weeks pregnant last year!)
There were 4 minutes between waves, and after the second wave went out, I got into the water and found a spot to the far left, and submerged myself to get used to the temperature. It was just slightly chilly, but felt great.
Soon enough, the horn sounded and we were off. I felt myself going a little too fast, but quickly realized it, and slowed myself down, and instantly felt much more comfortable. And for the first time ever, I was in the open water and swimming - not flailing, not taking breaks every 45 seconds - head down, swimming, sighting every few strokes, and making real progress!
Before I knew it, I was rounding the first buoy, and heading into the long stretch of the rectangular course. I did stop twice during this stretch to do some breaststroke and catch my breath a bit, but I was still keeping up a pretty good rhythm. Shortly after I started down this stretch, I heard the horn sound for the 4th wave, and I knew that I was doing ok, and had managed to swim quite a ways in that 4 minutes.
Finally got around the second buoy, and headed straight back into shore. This part of the course was so shallow, and as I got near the finish, my hands were almost scraping the bottom, but I kept swimming for as long as I could, because I knew I'd end up getting out of the water faster that way.
I was tired when I got out, but thrilled! Not a single person from the wave behind me had caught me, and I had come very close to catching a few swimmers from the previous wave - a huge difference from my first year!
I ran back to transition, got all my stuff on as quickly as I could, and headed out on the bike. The first mile or two my quads were begging for mercy, especially on the hills, but once I got warmed up, I felt fine. The bike course was the same as last year, so I knew it well, and was prepared for the hills. Most of them aren't steep, but some of them do take some effort, but I was holding a good pace and felt good.
I passed a woman in a red shirt twice, and she passed me twice, and after she passed me the second time, she stayed just a little ahead of me for the remainder of the ride, and provided good motivation for me to keep my pace up. I wasn't aiming to pass her - I just wanted to keep her in my sights - and I was able to.
I was glad to round the final corner and get back into transition, and again did my best to get my bike stuff off and my running stuff on as fast as I could. The run course was different from last year's, but still started out with a pretty decent-sized hill. Ugh. I got up it, though, and for the first mile, felt like I was going at a pretty good clip. My Garmin proved that to be true - mile 1 was 8:10.
I didn't want to burn out, though, so I did back off a little during mile 2, which I ran in 8:19. I was getting pretty exhausted at this point, too, and the course was very hilly and had a lot of out-and-back stretches down side roads, and a lot of twists and turns, and it was feeling like the longest 5K I've ever run.
Then I came to the last uphill stretch, and I knew it was all downhill to the finish, and I was so happy to catch a glimpse of that finish line! I had just enough left in me to sprint at the end, and mile 3 came in at 8:05.
During the run, I wondered a few times if I was being too conservative, but as I finished up, I knew that I had left it ALL on the course. I was D.O.N.E.!
I chatted with Shawn, who did the swim and bike portion of the race as part of a relay team, and then met up with Taryn again as she came in just a few minutes after me, and then went to get my free chocolate chip pancakes - awesome post-race breakfast!
All in all, it was a fabulous experience, and I really don't think there's anything I'd do differently (except do everything faster!).
I am so thrilled with the progress I've made with my swimming, and really happy with what I feel was a very solid performance on the bike and run. I wish I could have run a little faster - that's a slow 5K pace for me - but since I haven't been able to run that much lately, I think I did a pretty good job.
I'm sure that I can improve on my transition times (they don't give you splits of those times, but I know I'm not super speedy), but that'll come with practice.
The final numbers:
Swim 1/3 mile - 11:23 (five minutes faster than the previous 2 years!!!!!!!!!)
Bike 10 miles - 36:51 (transition time is included here)
Run 3.1 miles - 26:02
8 out of 15 in my age group
97 out of 214 overall
Already looking forward to next year!