Last week I conquered a fear and checked another item off my 101 bucket list. I’ve spent the past few months chronicling my training for my first Tri, specifically my struggles with the swim, but I am so proud to report that I did it! It wasn’t easy, and I won’t sugar coat my recount but I did it!
The day before race day:
I was a barrel of nerves, and definitely had an anxiety attack in fear I was going to be late to check in, and to drop off my bike off at T1, subsequently being disqualified before even having the opportunity to start. It’s hard for me to admit but there may have been tears in said anxiety attack. I got my emotions under control and we made Banff with time to spare. Of course we did though; the control freak side of me had left an ample buffer. I got checked in, picked up my green swim cap indicating to race officials I was a nervous swimmer (which I really had to check my ego for), and got my bike to T1 making it back in time for the mandatory race meeting.
I woke up bright and early gathered my stuff and met Adrienne for breakfast. Together we headed to set up our stuff at T2, hoped the shuttle bus and headed to the start at Two Jack Lake. Throughout the morning I was surprisingly calm, chatting up other racers as we all waited for the announcement it was time to head to the water.
We waited around T1 for a couple hours before the call came for us to get ready to head down to the water. The lake was beautiful, honestly picturesque and my photo doesn’t really do it justice. The announcer indicated the water was only 13 degrees and the Olympic distance would be shortened, I was disappointed our distance (the sprint) wasn’t. The buoys looked so much further than 500m, I was sure they misjudged the distance.
Excitement was building as the male sprint heat got in the water to start. Holy crap our heat was next, there was no turning back now. There I was at the edge of the water, wet suit and green cap on ready to go. Next thing you know we are all “swimming”, I put the quotations because where I started in the pack it wasn’t really swimming; it was frantic gasping for survival at best. I couldn’t catch my breath at all, and felt like my wet suit was choking me. I was terrified. The swim was the most chaotic thing I’ve ever participated in. I actually didn’t do one proper stroke the entire time. People were hitting me, and splashing water on me, I just couldn’t calm down. I even yelled at someone to beat it. I feel bad now looking back and know they were probably in just as bad, if not worse spot then I was but her panic and struggle really wasn’t helping my situation. I did my best to get away from her. When I looked around people were swimming in every which direction, it was quite the experience. Throughout the swim I thought of quitting several times… SEVERAL. Somehow though through a lot of self talk I kept with it and what felt like hours turned out to be 16 minutes of my life.
When I got to shore, I was so freaking happy! The announcer kept advising the swimmers coming in to swim as far in as they could before standing up, but as soon as able to stand I did. I was just so darn happy to be able to stand and not to be struggling that I didn’t listen to his advice. When I got out of the water I’m sure I was beaming. Unfortunately, by the time I got to my bike and out of my wet suit I had forgotten all the transition advice I’d been given.
I hit the bike with a fury, because this is where I really wanted to make up some time. With each person I passed the more excited and energy I seemed to get. I just kept setting a goal to pass the next person in front of me. It was awesome. Then at about the 10 km mark my chain fell off – ugh. I don’t know how to fix a fallen chain, so I just got off my bike and started pushing it. As I was pushing my bike everyone I’d passed started to pass me back – damn it. I yelled to a spectator biking in the opposite direction if he knew how to put my chain back on, luckily he did and he pulled over to help. Gosh, am I ever grateful to him. He helped me and I was back in the race. I had to work my tail feather off to catch and repass the people I had originally passed. The bike route was gorgeous, with just enough hills to keep things interesting. As we got closer to Banff town center I knew the bike portion was just about over and I worked to finish the bike strong.
When I finally reached T2, I racked my bike and was surprised to see my support group right across my transition area. I was thrilled, but rather disorientated. I could hear them cheering and sending words of encouragement but it was kind of a blur due to exhausting and excitement. I got out of my bike shoes, into my runners and was away. As I exited T2 and started my run I saw my Adrienne coming to the end of her run. She totally killed it. The run was nice and my legs didn’t feel nearly as bad as I expected. I finished my run in 26 min.
Coming into the finish was such a wicked feeling that is really hard to put into words. I crossed the finish line at 1:35:12. All and all, this was one of the coolest things I’ve done. It was a lot of hard work, but I had some pretty great people in my corner supporting me throughout. I am so thankful for that email with the title “sign up now” and for my spontaneous nature because who knows if I would have completed this race otherwise. I raised money for a very deserving cause, found a new hobby, and made some great friends.
Now on to the next challenge…