Thursday, April 7, 2011

Smithfield Sprint Triathlon

Last Saturday was incredible. I completed my first sprint triathlon! This has been a goal over two years in the making and I did it! It feels so amazing. In VA it's hard to find a race that isn't on a Sunday. I am unwilling to race on Sunday, so I had very few choices of tri's to choose from. The one I chose was a perfect fit for me. Since it was my first, I was thrilled that this race started in an indoor pool. I think I would like to do an open water race, but not quite yet. Anyway, the town it was in is about 2 1/2 hours away from where we live. Andy and I got a hotel for Friday night so I would have plenty of time to get set-up, warmed up, and figure out the baby's feeding schedule so he wouldn't be starving in the middle of my race (because he currently refuses bottles.... perfect timing, right?) We ended up taking Bear with us too (since he was in the midst of potty-training... we didn't want to pass that onto anyone!) and we left the oldest 3 with my dear friend Ira (who also lent me her racing bike-she is great :) We headed out Friday afternoon and the drive was beautiful. I was a little nervous and kept repeating what I needed in my head and making sure I hadn't forgotten anything. I also kept checking the weather forecast at least once an hour because it was supposed to be about 50* and rainy and that is what I was most nervous about. I really didn't want to race in the rain. I just kept hoping those little raindrops on my weather app on my iphone would go away and instead it would be changed to lovely, sunny weather. I love driving in Virginia.... like I said, it is beautiful. We made it to Smithfield and I went to pick up my race packet. We headed to the town where our hotel was after that (it was about 20 miles away) and we had to cross a bridge that was over open water. It was called Hampton Roads Bay and it lets out into the ocean. I have never driven across open water on a bridge before. It was making me really nervous and I wasn't the only one. Bear kept saying "I want to go home!" and he had a death grip on his booster seat arm rests. Andy was laughing at both of us. One side of the bridge... And the other... And finally the drawbridge we drove over. I started to calm down after this. All of the boats in the bay.... beautiful. We went to Red Robin for dinner. It was so fun to just have our 2 little ones and get to have some one-on-one time with them. They sure are cute little guys :) After dinner we went to our hotel. Baron was mesmerized by the concept and said "We are going to sleep here?!" I realized that it had been over a year since he had stayed in a hotel (since our move to VA, in fact) and he didn't remember the experience. It took us awhile to get him settled, as well as Magnus, who has been sick yet again. He has another case of RSV and needed a breathing treatment. I was worried he would keep me up all night, but Andy assured me he would get up with him and keep him quiet so I could be sure and get good night sleep.Both M and Bear slept really well, but Magnus did get up around 4:30 AM to eat and then Andy took him for a breathing treatment while I got a little more sleep. We were up by about 6:30 to get all ready to go. Baron loved eating breakfast in the hotel. I was getting a little more nervous and didn't think I'd be able to eat, but I managed to get a small bowl of cheerios down as well as some orange juice and about 1/4 of a bagel. I took an apple for the road since my race didn't start until 10. As we left the hotel, Baron said "Bye hotel! See you next time!" I'm pretty sure he liked it..... ;) It was really cold and a little overcast, but the forecast had changed from rain to just cloudy. Yay! That brought my spirits right up. On the drive over to Smithfield, Andy asked me what my goal finish time was. I told him I didn't care-I just wanted to finish! He decided I needed something to work towards, so we set my goal to finish in under an hour and a half. I thought I could manage that.... we knew my best leg of the race would be the bike, so my goal was to go as fast as I could during that event and just keep a moderate, steady pace on the swim and the run. When we got there I became very intimidated. All of these people getting ready looked very professional and had incredibly expensive looking bikes and other gear. It was also freezing cold. All of these people had beanies and mittens and I was freaking out that I didn't come prepared enough. I tried to calm myself and remember someone's advice to just worry about myself and not anyone else. It worked very well and I calmed down right away. I got all my gear and went into the transition area to set up. I spoke to another lady, Barbara, (who said it was also her first tri) and we were able to reassure the other and help encourage each other.

Here I am next to my gear in the transition area. It was only about 40* and a little windy. I was freezing and very worried about being soaking wet in the cold after the swim. Andy was the calm one, of course, and kept telling me that I wouldn't even notice the cold.

I went over and picked up my racing chip and got my body marks and then it was basically the waiting game. I was number 360 out of about 500 people. They base the order on your swim time that you had to turn in about 3 weeks before the race.

See my name? I was super lucky and very excited about the fact that I was right before the 2 minute break that they did every 10 minutes. That meant I wouldn't have anyone breathing down my neck trying to pass me in the swim. I was super stoked about this. Andy was the one with the camera and throughout the whole day Bear kept on randomly saying "Okay, take a picture of me now!" I wasn't scheduled to swim until 11:13, so since the race started at 10, Andy and I went to watch the people who started off the race(you know, the "professionals" :) I was shocked at how fast they were. They would run out of the pool area soaking wet, throw their helmet on, grab their bike, and run out the shute. Their bike shoes would already be clipped into their pedals, and they would strap them on as they were already pedaling away down the road. Crazy. I guess that's why they're the pros! After watching for about 15 minutes, I fed Magnus around 10:30 and then went inside to warm up and stretch. I got some good luck hugs and kisses from my boys (aka my cheerleaders :) and then went to get in line to start my race! I was very surprised by how calm I felt. I got into the water when it was my turn and got ready and when the guy told me to go, I WENT! I know I have never swam as fast as I did. I started out with the front crawl. I passed a couple of people about half-way through and then switched to the breaststroke, which was slower, but easier.
I finished the swim and hopped out of the water and ran outside. The cold hit me, but after a second, I didn't notice it at all. I toweled off quickly, put on my socks and shoes and fleece pullover, my helmet and sunglasses, grabbed my bike, and ran out the bike shute.

There I go, a little wobbly at first. I was still a little shaky from the swim!

And there's my cute boy again, waiting for me!

We had driven the bike course the night before. I knew it would be an easy one for me. Unfortunately, the wind had really picked up and I was riding straight into it. I felt like I was hardly moving. I was getting a little frustrated, but I calmed myself down and started talking to myself. Okay, first of all-I do not talk to myself. Second of all-I do not encourage myself. I don't know why, I just never really have. But I had read an article that said to say encouraging things to yourself out loud. So I did. And it worked! I felt much better. I kept telling myself how awesome I was and that probably no one else in this race had 5 kids or a 5 month old baby (thanks for that one Lisa M!) I also started singing to myself. I felt totally weird at first, but it really did help me! And then I would start laughing because it just was so funny to me.

Everything was going great and then about halfway through the race during a huge uphill, my worst nightmare happened...

My chain came off my bike. I think I said a bad word.

I almost started freaking out, but I somehow stayed calm enough to get off the bike and I slowly walked along trying to fix it and get it lined up again. I kept checking my watch and the minutes were ticking by, as well as the people passing me. I was so annoyed when they would call out stuff like, "Oh shoot, that hill will really get ya!" I wanted to yell back at them, "My chain is off my bike you idiot, I'm not walking because I can't cycle up a hill!" But I refrained and just kept concentrating on my bike. I was honestly just praying over and over in my head. Finally after about 5 minutes when I thought I was going to have to walk 5 miles back and give up, I got back on and started pedaling and the chain just kind of snapped back into place and I took off again. I circled around the course and finally, the wind was with me! I passed several people on the way back and just went as hard as I could.

It was thrilling to see the transition area come back into view and know that I just had to run 3 miles and I would be done. I got to the end and hopped off my bike and my legs were like jelly. I had a hard time getting back to my spot to stow my bike, but I did it. I quickly changed my fleece to a lighter weight top with my bib number pinned on the front and took off, all the while hearing Andy and Baron cheering for me. I was so exhausted. Andy yelled to me "Don't stop running, just keep going! You can do it!"

My 2 baby boys waiting for me to finish the race

So after running out of the shute and getting on the road, I realized just how tired I was. I felt like I was running through mud up to my waist. My feet felt like they weighed 25 pounds each. I decided right then that this was the hardest thing I have ever done.... and I have had 5 kids! 4 of them being over 9 pounds! I kept thinking, "Now, WHY did I want to do this so badly?!?" I felt like I was punishing myself unnecessarily. But I couldn't stop. Andy had told me to not stop running, so I didn't. The song "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming...." came into my head and I kept singing it over and over. I didn't realize that the course was marked at miles 1, 2, and 3. When I thought I was at least halfway done, I came to a sign that said "Mile 1" and I just about started crying right there. Seriously. I am not a runner and I knew this part was going to be hard for me, especially since it is last, but I was not prepared for how hard it really was. People were passing me left and right and I just focused on a lady in front of me who looked to be going about my pace and I just didn't lose sight of her. I stayed with her the entire 3 miles. When I was about 300 yards from the finish, there were people lining the street and cheering you on. I got emotional and almost started crying, but that made it much harder to breath, so I knocked that nonsense off real quick. I heard my name announced that I was coming to the finish and I heard Andy cheering. I tried to speed up, but I literally couldn't. A guy passed by me really fast (you can see him below-he is in the gray and I am next to him in the black. The lady at the front of the picture is the lady I followed the whole time :) and I was way annoyed. haha. Oh well.

And then, I crossed that finish line! And I felt so incredibly accomplished and amazing that I decided right then that I would do it over again in a heartbeat. And then I immediately thought "What's wrong with you?! You're crazy!" But I know I will do it again :) Hahahaha.
It was an amazing feeling. I loved doing it. And when I finished Andy said "Oh honey, great job!" and I felt so lucky to have his love and support the entire time. He is so great and I sure love him :) He had timed me and I had finished in 1 H 30 M 45 S. I was a little bummed that I didn't make it under my goal, but I realized that I would have if the chain mishap wouldn't have happened. Plus, it was my first race. There's always next time :)My total breakdown:

swim: 8 M 11 S

T1: 2 M 42 S

bike: 41 M 53 S

T2: 1 M 50 S

run: 36 M 11 S

I placed 368th out of around 500 and 136th out of the ladies. I am pretty darn proud of myself, and I do think that I am pretty awesome to boot ;)


Mrs.Spy said...

First of all, you are a great writer. I love your blog, it always makes me smile.
Second of all-- Holy Cow, Woman!!
Way to go! You did it!
You're a freaking rock star, Sarah.

Here I am whining about the 5K we have in month and you're kicking butt and not taking names beause you're so busy kicking butt. :)

Amber Kei said...

Congratulations, you awesome woman!! You did it!! You totally rock!
I've been thinking about you and I always go back to - you have 5 kids and a very young one at that!! You deserve the most kuddos because of that. All those pros, of course they did it. You did it in GREAT time, AND with a new baby.
Awesome job! Thanks for sharing!!

Shana Smith said...

Seriously, I am SUPER impressed. What an amazing job, and I am so jealous. I would like to run a marathon one day but I am nervous as heck to do it but I think it would be a very rewarding and worthwhile experience. Congrats, I am sure proud of you!

Chris and Amy Darton said...

Good job Sarah!!! I think you did amazing- and you have a baby!!!!!! It makes me want to do another tri :) That time is really good i think as well, those others must have been crazy professional.

A said...

That is great! I wanted to do the same thing before I got pregnant, so now my husband is doing it at the end of this month. They do seem like a lot of fun, and something to shoot for. Good for you! I can't believe you did it while nursing!!! How heavy. You are so energetic to do that. Great job. I want to do one too!

Laney said...

Sarah - that time is amazing! I have been dying to know how you did and see pictures - good job Andy for taking some awesome action shots! You're one tough cookie to push through all that!!

Dave and Kristin Dirkmaat said...

Seriously amazing girl and so inspiring!!!! This is what I am planning to do too when done with kids and my body is mine again! Maybe you will be back in Utah and you can show me the ropes!!!!