I was pretty nervous when we got out to Sugar Bottom in the morning, but kept trying to get myself to relax and calm down. Laura and I went for a short jog and I got on my bike for a short warm up before setting up our stuff in the transition area. Then we got in the water to test it out, despite it being quite disgusting--I couldn't even see a foot in front of my face--it wasn't too choppy or rough. It was then time for the pre-race meeting and that's when my nerves really started kicking in. Laura kept telling me I would be fine, but I decided to say a few prayers just to be safe.
The 5 or so minutes after the first wave took off seemed to take forever but finally it was 3-2-1-GO! And we were off! At first I was a wreck, I forgot all about form and I was breathing hard and zig-zagging everywhere. But about halfway out to the turn-around, I got into my rhythm and was breathing steadily and just went. It was much easier from there! The rest of the swim went off without a hitch and was actually easier than I had imagined. Next I was out of the water and running up the beach to the transition to bike.
The biking portion, unlike the swim, was not as easy as I had hoped. We first had about 4 miles of biking to the back entrance to the trails, and there were a lot of steep hills! Then you get to the trails which are even worse, with sharp turns and hills! Sometimes I was just hanging out to my handle bars for dear life! Many times during the bike, I didn't think I was going to make it. I had to use several tricks to keep myself going including singing to myself--"She's as pretty as a picture, every bit as funny as she is smart. Got a smile that will hold you together, and a touch that will tear you apart....She's heaven on the eyes, but boy she's hell on the heart" (Eric Church's Hell on the Heart) and the Iowa Fight Song. I also talked to myself a lot and asked God to help me. The people that passed me (which was quite a few) were also wonderful and encouraging! Thank you! So yeah the biking was definitely the hardest part.
Then into transition and out on the jello legs. At this point I thought it would be a good idea to "gel" or swallow some disgusting goo. It was just that-disgusting-and I definitely gagged, but it did help my legs. I was dragging after 3 hours of working my body, but I kept running! At this point the volunteers were really cheering me on, which was extremely helpful! One guy even said something that made me break into a smile to which he replied, "Hey there's a smile, see it can't be that bad!" So to all you volunteers, a big thank you, you were awesome! I had to walk a lot on the run because the hills were huge, but with the help of some Gatorade and water I kept going.
The end of the run was all downhill (yes!!) and as I was approaching the finish line, I had this overwhelming feeling of accomplishment and got the goosebumps! It was AWESOME to say the least! I finished in 4:05:40! You can check out the full results at http://www.pigmantri.com/jmsracing/results10/xsugar10b.html. Overall the experience was wonderful! And I now know why people say triathlons are addicting because I am already looking for more races to do! Hopefully soon!
Cyclocross hill. It looks nice now, but by the time I got there it was a pit of mud.
I can now call myself a TRIATHLETE!