(1500m Swim / 40K Bike / 10K Run)
June 6, 2015
Age Group: F30-34, 10/10
Swim 41:34 Pace 2:46 AG: 9/10 Gender: 65/71 Overall: 213/225
T1 5:04 AG: 9/10 Gender: 59/71 Overall: 199/225
Bike 1:42:00 Pace 15.1mph AG: 10/10 Gender: 66/71 Overall 220/225
T2: 2:50 AG: 9/10 Gender: 61/71 Overall 202/225
Run 57:55 Pace 9:20 AG: 7/10 Gender: 37/71 Overall 166/225
Considering this race was 5 months ago, I remember a lot about this race; like how much it sucked. I had successfully completed my first oly tri in August 2014 so I thought this would be an easy PR since I had already done this distance. I was wrong; dead wrong. It was surprisingly cold for June and from the moment I stepped out of the car in Muncie I had a bad feeling. While waiting in line to pick up our bibs many people had decided to drop down to the sprint distance or duathlon due to how cold it was outside. Some people even decided not to race. I thought about it in my head but I didn’t want to disappoint myself, Bryan, or my coach. It’s only going to be 3 hours of my life. Deal with it Melissa I told myself.
Naturally I was terrified inside thinking about the cold water. Fortunately they delayed the start by 30 to 40 minutes to let it warm up a bit, but the air temperature was colder than the water temperature. This was turning out to be a bad idea but I refused to hold up my white flag. I warmed up in the water for a few minutes. It was so cold that my face was numb. I’m not a strong swimmer and knowing that I would be in the water twice as long as most people made me start to mentally panic. But there was no turning back. After the warmup we had to stand in line forever. The sprint race started first but for some reason there was a delay between the sprint and olympic races and we ended up standing in line soaking wet for 40 minutes before we actually started.
Finally I was off and I had to get used to the water again since we had to wait for so long. My face, feet, and hands were icicles. It was very windy outside so the water was choppy. Too choppy. The swim route was a square but the buoys were on my left. Shit. I’m not a bilateral breather and I breath and sight on my right side. This would make it difficult. And the current and choppiness of the water was pushing me farther right. So I kept getting swept farther away from the swim course and was swimming way wide. Not to mention there were only 4 buoys forming a square/rectangle making it even more difficult to sight. I ended up having to swim diagonally to try to get back towards the course. Obviously this made me panic even more and my breathing was short and shallow and I couldn’t get into a rhythm. Part of me wanted to cling to a kayak and give up. But I told myself it doesn’t matter if I’m the last person out of the water; just keep going. That was one of the worst 41 minutes ever. I was hoping for 35 minutes but it was all I could do to swim the time that I did. By the time I got to T1, I was exhausted. I felt like I had spent all my energy trying to stay on the swim course and fight the choppy water that I was already in the negative. Not good. So what did I do? I did my usual pee myself in my wetsuit to get warm before I took it off.
Per usual, my bike was one of the last few bikes in transition. It’s always easy to find my bike. Now it was time to get blasted by wind on the bike. I really wanted to ride in aero position but it was so windy that I felt like I was losing control every time I attempted and I didn’t want to crash. So I rode upright in my bars; not very aerodynamic. The first loop on the bike course wasn’t too bad because there were still a decent number of riders on the course. Bryan blasted by me on his second loop; “get in your aero bars!” he screamed as he zipped past me. There were a few areas of false flats on the course and a few rollers. But when I got to the second loop, 95% of the other participants were on the run so I was pretty much riding solo; not so much fun. My mind started wandering. I noticed how cold I was. My fingers couldn’t even shift the gears they were so cold. I couldn’t feel my feet and I actually started to tear up a bit. I also noticed that my inner thigh (my left I think – I can’t remember it’s been so long) was in excruciating pain. Was I riding off center due to the wind? Was my form wrong because I wasn’t in aero? What was happening? I knew it wouldn’t be good.
When I got off the bike to enter T2 my inner thigh was throbbing. I could barely walk on my leg let alone run. Bryan had already finished the race and was waiting for me in transition. He did his usual “time to get to work” because the run is my strength. But I immediately started crying. The only other time I’ve cried during a race were tears of joy during my first marathon. My inner thigh was so painful and I was so cold and miserable that I didn’t know what to do. Bryan asked me if I wanted to quit. I cried back no even though every part of me was screaming to throw in the towel. I wanted to finish even if I had to walk the 6.2 miles of the run. Bryan cheered me on and ran a few minutes with me. I was a mess hobbling along. But actually the longer I ran the better I felt. Weird how that works sometimes. I slowly picked up the pace to where it felt comfortable but didn’t feel like a tortoise. I didn’t run at my race pace being too scared that my thigh would freak out again. The majority of the people still left on the run course were on their way back to the finish. It was an out and back course so at least I wasn’t running alone. But when I got to the turn around I caught up to a fellow teammate and said hi as I ran past. I tried to slowly catch the what few people were left on the course but there were only a handful. With a mile or two left the sun started to come out and I started to feel warm for the first time that morning. It was like a sign telling me that I was almost done and everything would be okay.
I was one of the last people to finish but all I cared about was that I did it. I could have taken the easy way out and not raced when it was cold, dropped down to the sprint distance, or not have continued when I wanted to, but I knew a DNF would haunt me if I gave up. So moral of the story? Don’t give up. Embrace the pain. It could always be worse. And there is beer at the finish line.