PUSH…my power word for the Gearhead Sprint Triathlon. I knew I would need to really PUSH in order to get the finish time I was looking for. Although I’m not really able to run right now, I didn’t want this to be the reason I didn’t meet my goal so the word on my arm would serve as a reminder that I still wanted that finish time and I would have to really push in the swim, on the bike, and as much as I was capable of in the run.
Keith and I debated all week about whether or not we would sign up. The pool at UT has been closed for a month so we haven’t been able to swim and with me not running, I didn’t feel the most confident. I think this is why I decided to sign up though. I really wanted to get out there and sweat and push my body outside its comfort zone and this was the best way I was going to be able to make it happen. I knew I wouldn’t be able to run the 7 miles with the marathon group on Saturday but wanted to get a great workout in so Gearhead became just that.
We drove down Sunday morning with Teresa and Brad in tow. It’s amazing how quickly we’re able to jump out of bed for a 4:30 AM alarm but an hour into the drive, Keith and I were both yawning. We finally got to the race site, got our race number, set up our transition sites, and met up with Steve and Stephanie.
I had looked at the results from last year and saw that it was a pretty small race. I always do this to see if there’s anything I might be able to learn about the race. For instance, are all bike times fast or are they slow? This might tell me something about the course and helps me not to set my expectations too high. The times from last looked pretty fast and that was with some good rain. I saw that the girl who won my age group last year did a 1:15 and was coming back this year too. I had figured my possible finish times about 10 different ways and really couldn’t figure out how i would break 1:20 so that was my goal. I knew i would need to push hard to get this 1:20 but I really thought it was possible.
We lined up for a time trial swim start. Keith was right behind me which was kind of crazy! We went in 3 seconds apart and as i put my face in, I saw him to my left already swimming. I thought I might try to hang on but quickly knew that would be impossible (he got out of the swim almost 3 minutes faster than me!). I felt somewhat comfortable in regards to the people around me but I seem to forget to breathe when I get in the open water. After what felt like a couple of minutes, I decided to flip to my back to catch my breath. It was then that I realized I forgot to start my watch. So pissed!! I had no idea if I had been in 2 minutes or 7 minutes which meant I wasn’t going to know my time throughout the entire race! I decided to assume it had been 5 minutes and went on. I really enjoyed this swim because it was set up as a triangle. Once we got to the first turn buoy, all we had to do was get back to shore. I decided at the turn that I would freestyle the whole way back but some guy kept banging into me which had me banging in to Teresa so I flipped to my back again to get around him without getting kicked in the face. I was annoyed but I don’t think I lost much time since my freestyle is so inefficient anyway.
I got out and got into transition where I saw Teresa. It’s so much fun to see people you know during these races! You just never know who you’ll see and where you might see them. I didn’t take the time to look around for everyone’s bikes so all I knew was that Keith was already on the road (his bike was next to mine). We headed out on the bike course. I absolutely loved the course. It was really hilly but it was a big loop with no tough 180 degree turns (like both of the others i’ve done) and they had mile markers at every mile so I really felt like I was making progress. It was a fast course, except of course, for the uphills! Every now and then I would notice my arm and literally tell myself, out loud, to PUSH. It was a short bike ride so I wasn’t willing to let myself take it easy at any time. I repeated this word over and over during the tough climbs. I never put my bike in the small chain ring and I had to twice on this course. Eventually we were headed back into the park towards transition. I hadn’t seen any of my teammates on the bike since it wasn’t an out and back. I think this was the absolute only downfall to this route, not really knowing where your teammates are.
Coming into transition was awesome. There were lots of spectators and they were all cheering for me like they knew me. I thought the vibe of the entire race was great. It was absent of a lot of the people that I see at races that don’t have very good sportsmanship. Everyone seemed to be rooting for everyone and I had lots of people cheering for me just because I’m a girl. Pretty fun 🙂
I got into transition pretty easily, except there was a drainage ditch we had to go over and I thought the dismount line was before that so i was unclipped but I still managed to get over it without incident. The guy at the dismount line was extremely encouraging and laughed with me (not at me, i don’t think 🙂 ) when i could barely get my leg over my saddle (it’s amazing how stiff you can get in only 10 miles!).
I headed out on the run course which started out completely uphill. I knew I would probably have to walk all the uphills due to my hip but i still told myself i would push. I would walk the uphills as fast as I could. About a minute into the run, Steve passed me. Always nice to get a “lookin good” from your own teammate! Soon after that, Brad passed me. The run was very pretty as it wrapped around the lake but it was definitely hilly for the first mile and a half or so. I knew I was losing time but since my watch wasn’t started right away, I couldn’t really tell how I was doing in terms of my overall goal. I was leapfrogging 2 other runners and we talked a little as we would pass and catch back up to each other. They told me about the next downhill that eventually just took you to the levee and onto the finish. (somehow i had neglected to look at the elevation profile for this race!)
As I got to the finish line chute, I could hear Steve, Brad, and Keith cheering for me which was so fun! When i stopped, my watch said 1:14:43 so I had no idea if I had beat my goal or not. If I was adding 5 minutes, I had but, any more, I hadn’t. We waited and within a short time, Teresa came into the finish line chute and had Stephanie on her heels. I can’t explain it but there’s just something really special about this tri team and the support everyone provides to each other. Maybe it’s because a triathlon levels the playing field? You can really be terrible at one sport but decent at another or decent at one but spectacular at another. It’s fun to see how it all plays out in the end.
I can very happily report that i did get my goal. My finish time was 1:19:04. I felt like I had really given it my all and pushed myself throughout the race. Of course when we looked at the finish times and I realized I was only 22 seconds behind the girl in front of me, my first thought that entered my mind was, “Did you push hard enough?” No, I can honestly say I didn’t. I didn’t leave much on that course but I sure as hell left 22 seconds somewhere! Oh well. I’m still thrilled with my race and the overall experience but the lesson I learned yesterday is you can almost always push a little harder..at some point..in any race!