Well, I did it! I am officially a triathlete – I don’t know if a “real” triathlete would say I was, but I am saying I am. And, I did a big one that I don’t ever have to do again. You know that bucket list of things to do before you die that people have? About a year ago a half-Ironman triathlon was penciled in…four months ago the training began…now it is checked off and I can move on to my next great athletic feat on the list – the marathon. But, let’s not get too excited (Brett) or ahead of myself. I first need to tell you about the race, then I need to get ready for the MS Waves to Wine ride, and then I can consider training for a marathon.
So, yesterday…I woke up at 2:19 (see previous post) and got ready. We got to Guerneville and there was electricity in the air…athletes and spectators all together on Johnson’s Beach in the chilly and foggy air. The bike racks were filled with bikes (I think I was the ONLY person doing the triathlon on a hybrid…I should have won a prize for that), running shoes unlaced and ready to go on the ground…towel everywhere, and triathletes in wetsuits, swim caps signifying their waves. I set up my transition and got my body marked with my number. Then I waited. I was nervous, but it was a kind of nervous that I can’t explain…I actually think it was more excitement than being nervous.
Finally, the time arrives for my wave to don our yellow swim caps and head into the water. Happily, the water wasn’t too cold. I got in, dunked my head, swam around a bit to test my goggles and then tread water while I waited for the horn to sound. Once it did, I held back a minute to let the throng of other swimmers go out ahead of me, and then I pushed “start” on my watch and started swimming.
As I was swimming I felt good. I felt calm. And then an arm reached out and kind of pulled me back and under. I came up, sputtered water and said to myself, “OK. I survived the first pull down and now I can just get on with it.” Got on with it I did. I honestly felt, at times, that I really was all by myself in the water. I didn’t feel like there was anyone around me, it was just me.
I finished my swim and hopped out of the water. The hopping made me a little dizzy, which I was warned about. I walked/ran to my bike, dried off, put my stuff on and walked my bike to the bike start and hopped on, pedaling up the hill they think it is funny to start us out on.
The ride went great. I felt good. I was anticipating Chalk Hill, but not because I was worried about it, because Carrie and Chad were going to be there. It was awesome. I came around the corner to “Stacie Fucking Sather” – there was Chad! He started to run out onto the road, was running along side of me, but I yelled at him to not come out; see, I was really nervous about being DQ’d for what the USAT called “outside help”. I didn’t want anyone to see Chad running alongside of me and think he was helping me up the hill. So, I told him to go away, but keep yelling. Carrie was at the top of the hill with a cowbell. It was such a rush to hear them behind me as I crested the hill; I wasn’t tired when I hit the top, I was exhilarated from the excitement of seeing my friends. I finished the ride strong and felt good. Then came the run.
I got off my bike and got ready for the run. I really felt OK. I was on track to finish the tri in about 7 hours. I started out running and got about a mile in and suddenly it was like I just couldn’t go. I wouldn’t say I “hit the wall” because truly my body felt fine – yes, I was tired. Yes, I was sore. My back hurt. But, it was more about my mind just not wanting to move. So, I did a lot of walking on the first part of the first loop – there was a lot of negotiating going on…Just get to that pole and then I can walk. Mailbox to mailbox running. I ran through to head out for the second loop. I could hear my friends yelling my name – I smiled and waved and then I walked again. I came up with a plan on the second loop – one that was doable. I ran/walked in two minute intervals.
Prior to coming up with my plan, there was no way I was going to hit my mark of under eight hours. I had already accepted this on my first loop. When I realized my run was not going as planned, I was OK with it and just kept thinking that it didn’t matter what my time was, I was going to finish and finishing was the most important thing – really, it was. Usually, when I am not going to hit a time I am shooting for that is when my negative thoughts come in – the “I can’t do this” starts. Not yesterday. Yesterday wasn’t about what I couldn’t do, it was about what I could do and what I had already done. Funnily enough, I even helped out someone doing the full Ironman that was struggling – I shared my second loop strategy with him and he was like, “that is a great idea. I think I will do that”.
So, my run wasn’t that great, but I got through it. And two great stages out three ain’t bad.
I am not sure of my official time, but according to my watch, I crossed at about 7 hours and 50 minutes, which is under the eight hour target I was shooting for. I am proud of my accomplishment. Will I ever do a half-Ironman again? Right now I am saying no. Will I ever do a triathlon again? Absolutely. I figured I have already gone big, so now I can go a little smaller.
I would just like to take one final second here to thank everyone who has helped me prepare for this triathlon – Anne, Carrie, Stephanie and Heather for watching Sunshine so I could train; Tammy, Kathy, and Bud for being such great supports during our training rides, runs and swims; Joy for creating Jill B. Nimble, and for being such a wonderful spirit; Carrie Cheadle, for all your wonderful support and giving me the tools to get through this day; my training partners, Mellissa, Angela, Catrina and Julie – you guys really are the best! Erin, my coach and friend; who taught me not only the physical things I needed to get through, but also the mental aspects as well. Kali, Brett, Chad and Emily for being supportive and listening to me talk about my training. (Well, really that would be everyone since it consumed my life and was really all I could think about.) My parents for not only believing in me, but teaching me to believe in myself. And last, but not least Matt and Sunshine for loving me, being OK with me being gone so long and supporting me throughout this journey.
I love all of you very much!
Now, on to the next adventure!
(I will post pictures of the day as soon as I get copies of them.)