i tried

June 10, 2012 at 6:32 pm 6 comments

this past week reality started to sink in more and more that i was about to do my first tri. take out the swim and i wouldn’t have had one tiny worry about the race. i know i can run (at least when not dealing with yet another injury) and i’ve been putting more than enough time in on the bike. but i knew that the swim was going to be my nemesis ~ both physically and mentally. truth be told i’d never done an open water swim. not once. not in a lake. an ocean. a puddle. sure i’d played around in the water as a kid and these days i inch my way in up to my neck at the beach but open water freaks. me. out. always has. but i’m tough ~ and maybe just a little bit crazy πŸ˜‰ ~ and i figured that might just be enough to get me through.

last night i stayed with the governor at her parent’s lake house. she was racing today as well and the house was about 15 minutes from the race. but even more important than the proximity was the comfort and guidance she gave me. after packet pickup we drove to the race site. checked out the swim. drove the bike course and got a rough idea on the run. it helped to see it. and back at the house that night she walked me through the steps and we mock-staged our transition areas and by the time we packed up and went to bed i felt at least semi-certain i could stumble my way through the steps.

given all givens i felt surprisingly calm when we got there this morning. the race ~ the dunedin sprint tri ~ was well organized and we were set up and ready with plenty of time to bump into people we know and meet awesome people we didn’t. and with time to spare we decided to take a quick dip in the water to check out what we were facing and it was then the fear started to set in. the water was rough. not crazy but this sure wasn’t like the YMCA pool. the visibility was nil and i silently cursed my ex husband who had informed me a few days prior that murky, storm choppy water was prime shark territory. but i just kept repeating over and over in my head “it’s only a 400 meter swim. only 400. only 400. only 400”.

the swim was a water start. we were to walk out a little bit then tread until we heard our wave start horn. we were wave number seven and as we watched the first few waves go out i started to feel a little more confident. but just as we got out to the start buoy we heard people calling for a lifeguard. it didn’t add a ton of time but in those few extra minutes we had to tread while we watched not one but two swimmers be pulled onto waverunners (both ok just overwhelmed and unable to go on) i seriously wanted to turn and swim back to shore right then and there. but before i could, the horn blew and we were off.

now mind you, not only have i never done an open water swim, i’ve never swam with more than a couple people in a circle swim in a lane at the Y so i wasn’t quite ready to deal with the crowd. every time i looked up there was a foot in my face. and more than once my legs were swum over and useless and every breath i tried to get came with the added bonus of a wave of salt water. there was no stroke. no swim. i merely fought to stay afloat and the panic was quickly causing me to shut down. i sighted the building on shore, kept trying to push forward and when i sighted again i was convinced i wasn’t even moving and my eyes darted from side to side seeking out a rescue team. not two minutes in and i was ready to quit. but in that moment of doggy paddle i found my mantra again “only 400 meters. only 400.” and i remembered one thing that the governor had said to me earlier in the morning. “the swim isn’t what will make or break your time or your race. it’s short. take it as slow as you need to and regroup on the bike.” so that is just what i did. somehow i must have found a zone because next thing i knew i rounded the final buoy and let the waves push me into shore. i looked for the governor as i got out of the water but she was either so far ahead i couldn’t see her anymore or still in the water. my money was on the first possibility which i have to admit was a little disappointing. i knew this was my first tri to her fourth and i knew i shouldn’t have been worried about beating her but no matter how much i try to quell it, i have a competitive side that just won’t quit.

i ended up being more than thankful for the quarter-mile run into transition. those two minutes allowed me time to regain my composure. i got through T1 quickly (transition times aren’t up yet) and once on my bike i was surprised to find i hadn’t forgotten a thing … well except to set my bike computer after i changed the battery last night and given i have little idea how to use it there was no way i was going to figure it out on the road. i started my garmin but with all settings set to the run it wasn’t going to be a whole lot of help either so i decided Β to just ride how i felt blind to my speed. the bike course was two six-mile loops with two bridges (aka florida hills). it was a bit crowded at the start and i was constantly passing partly just in fear of drafting but after a few miles it opened up enough to feel comfortable. just after the first mid-loop turn i saw the governor coming from the other direction. she was behind me by a few minutes.

i rode strong. nothing spectacular but enough to leave me feeling pretty damn good at the dismount. again a quick transition and i was off on the run. 3.1 miles. most through trails. i knew many would have issue with the dirt and terrain but this was my territory. mile one was an 8:45. happy with it. mile 2 a little closer to 9. it was hot. pushing into the 90s and no air movement in the woods. but as i came out of the end loop i realized that i hadn’t seen the governor which meant only one thing; she wasn’t far behind so i pushed forward hard. mile 3 … 8:42 and as i made the turn to the final stretch i looked back and saw her breathing down my neck and it pushed me to finish strong! and for the record, i’m not the only competitive one. the governor admitted to me at the finish that her one goal going in was to beat me and she truly thought she would catch me on the run. heeheehee. nope πŸ˜‰

run results are easy. you start your garmin. you stop it when you cross the finish line. even without a garmin you can easily guess your chip time based on start line time and clock finish. but without a water proof garmin a tri isn’t so easy. the clock was 1:48 but i had no idea what that meant for me. my hopeful but clueless goal was a sub 1:30. a first round of results went up but they stopped at 7th place in our age group. and an hour later after a couple post race beers and socializing we still hadn’t seen an update. i wasn’t going to leave without knowing so the governor and i went to the timing company van where they were hoarding our results sheets. instinctually i started at the bottom of ours and worked my way up. not me.not me.notme. the governor. 9th place. and holy shit … me! 8th place! first tri. a 1:23 and 8th place age group!

i won’t lie. the swim was enough to make me not want to rush out and do another ocean tri. in fact it might go down in my top ten life moments of panic and discomfort. i’m hoping the river swim for augusta will prove far less dramatic. i don’t know if i could survive that again. no doubt the training going forward is going to include more time in water. but today i rallied! i kicked ass!

and i am a triathlete!

update: full results are in! i need a little work on my transitions which was to be expected. but i am shocked to see i was 10th out of the water! with a little more confidence and strength in the swim i could be a force to be reckoned with πŸ™‚

swim 400 meters 13:41 (includes a quarter-mile run into transition)
swim rank 10
T1 2:16
bike 12 miles 38:11
bike rank 8
T2 2:14
run 3.1 miles 27:11
run rank 4

time 1:23:35


Entry filed under: biking, exercise, fear, half ironman, racing, running, swimming, training, triathlon. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , .

his and mine a new year

6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Red  |  June 10, 2012 at 7:06 pm

    Saved me a call to get the details, I’m so proud of you!

    • 2. becelisa  |  June 10, 2012 at 7:14 pm

      you can still call me! i miss you. can’t wait to see you next weekend. xoxo

  • 3. Kalli and Bill  |  June 10, 2012 at 9:24 pm

    Love this post! You did awesome πŸ™‚ what an inspiration!

  • 4. kitkat1126  |  June 11, 2012 at 11:31 am


    First, you’re amazing, I love your competitive spirit.

    Second, see you were not shark bait!!!
    I swear nothing can compare to the feeling of a tri swim – being run over basically by people in the water is just about the scariest feeling in the world.

    You’d be surprised at how practicing transitions can cut down on time! It seems silly but people can get them under a minute just by having a real set routine.

    You ARE force to be reckoned with! I bet you’re still feeling pretty amazing today πŸ™‚

    On a side note, my google reader doesn’t pull in updates to your blog anymore… 😦

  • 5. Miss Mile High  |  June 11, 2012 at 4:48 pm

    Awesome job! Seems the swim is what everyone has the biggest issue with (based on the blogs I read). I can’t even imagine doing all that. Congrats!

  • 6. june recap. july goals. « becelisa  |  July 3, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    […] 1. race my first tri on june 10 and just finish strong! i’d say i made this goal […]


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the best of times

5k pr ~ 24:23
10k pr ~ 52:49
half marathon pr ~ 1:55:10
marathon pr ~ 4:10:41
half ironman pr ~ 5:57:50
50k pr ~ 5:33:23
50-mile pr ~ 11:32:39



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