Triathlon Sisters

August 14, 2007

Our First Triathlon: Beginning and Swim

Filed under: swimming,tri for the cure event — by hawk @ 6:32 am

We did it! Barracuda and I finished our very first triathlon!

On Sunday, August 5, 2007, we participated in the Tri for the Cure Triathlon at Cherry Creek State Park in Aurora, Colorado. It was an AMAZING event, more than I could have ever imagined. There was certainly the physical intensity involved in the training and the actual event itself, but the emotional part was something I was totally unprepared for. People at this triathlon (all women, all in support of women with breast cancer) were so welcoming, encouraging, and delightful. While there were a lot of nervous people (myself included) the overall atmosphere was one of delight mixed with anticipation. When we first got to the park in the wee hours of the morning, the air felt charged with energy. It was a very cool feeling. It was so hard to part ways with my sister Barracuda as she went to her wave’s transition area and I went to mine. We met up again a little while later at the swim start where we could test the water out and go for a pre-swim.

I was in the second wave (the first wave was for elites) which was the survivor wave. We got to wear the pink swim caps! All the women around me were also breast cancer survivors. I know it sounds goofy, but it was very empowering. I felt proud of who I am, and I hadn’t even begun the tri yet. I was fortunate to park my bike next to Elisa who had done the triathlon 3 times before. She gave me some very helpful tips and assuaged my concerns about how to get from swim to bike to run. Once I unpacked my gear, I had a gear malfunction. The strap for the timing chip broke. Fortunately there was a tent in the transition area dedicated to such things and I was on my way again. There really wasn’t much time from when we got there, got settled, checked out the water, and hit the port-o-potty. It seemed like all of a sudden the national anthem was being played. I surprised myself as I welled up with tears (so unlike me). This is really happening, I thought. The singing of the national anthem was like this thing that united all of us triathletes together with all other athletes that had heard their national anthem played at their events.

After the national anthem, the elites and survivors were called to the swim start. A coach was at the start area and pepped everyone up, congratulating us on all that we had and were about to accomplish. Then the elites entered the water. We counted them down and off they went at 7 a.m. sharp. Then us survivors were called up and allowed to enter the water. The coach was there encouraging people and reminding us to fully immerse ourselves in the water. It was really nice having someone to tell you what to do because I was clueless and still a bit awestruck by the whole event. The announcer then began the countdown along with the waves behind us and the spectators. Then we were off! I stayed to the outside and tried to settle into my rhythm. There were swim angels all along the way — volunteers in wetsuits and flippers who had floaties for people who needed a rest. If they weren’t actively helping someone, they were cheering us on. Very cool. I swam my slow but steady swim for the whole 1/2 mile, never once stopping or resting. This is what I had trained for and this is what I did. The swim was personally my best event because I had focused so much on it (you may recall that I did not know how to swim as of the beginning of this year). As I was swimming, I tried to relax and remind myself to enjoy the moment, to be filled with gratitude for the women around me and for the swim angels, to take in the beauty of the rising sun and the tree-lined shore. Much of the swim was like this for me. I got ran over one time — I was out on the far edge and a couple waves after me had caught up with me. There was all kinds of space around me. I’m guessing that the woman hadn’t been sighting and she just swam over me. I stopped for a few seconds to tread water and let her get beyond me because she just didn’t stop. Then I kicked my legs up and kept going. It kind of made me laugh and I figured she was just as eager as I was to get to the swim finish! My stroke felt effortless as I hit the third leg of the swim which was directed toward the finish line. I kept my eye on the finish line and tried to be as fish-like as possible. Then all of a sudden it was there. Some guys were in the water helping us out because we were on the cement boat launch which was slimy with algea or seaweed or something. Once out of the water I headed for the transition area. My legs felt like cement and I was tired. I think with all the adrenaline and energy I had swam way faster than I ever had which meant I didn’t really pace myself. I was also so relieved to have done the swim that I might have unconsciously signalled to my body that it could relax into recovery mode. Regardless, I got to the transition area and switched over to my biking gear.

Stay tuned for the biking and running legs, the finish, and pictures!

August 3, 2007

Triathlon: Less Than 2 Days!

Filed under: tri for the cure event — by hawk @ 12:45 pm

Barracuda and I are here in Denver with less than two days to go until the triathlon. I drove in with Cbabe on Tuesday and Wednesday and Barracuda flew in on Wednesday. We’ve been hanging out with our brother and sister-in-law and the mountains. Yesterday we went to Cherry Creek to check out the site and to bike the 12+ miles. It was a good ride. We didn’t swim but did walk into the water to get a feel for it. Coldish, but not as cold as Lake Michigan.

Today we went biking into Chatfield Park which is near where my bro and sister-in-law live. We biked up and then down the dam which was pretty fun. Then we hit the swim beach. My brother watched the bikes while Cbabe, Barracuda and I did some swimming. Kimiko, thanks for letting us know about the swim lane. It was the deepest water I’ve swum in so it was a little freaky, but okay. I am still adjusting to oxygen here. My swim was not all that fabulous but I’m finally at the point where I don’t care. Training is officially done. Now we just do the thing. There’s a relief in that.

Tonight we are headed into the city for some food and entertainment. Then we’ll be at the Expo first thing tomorrow morning. Wow! It is almost here! I’m a little nervous but am just ready to do it. It’ll all be good. Will write soon!

July 30, 2007

Less Than a Week to Go!

Filed under: tri for the cure event — by hawk @ 6:14 am

Well, it’s almost time. Less than a week until the triathlon — the first ever for my sister Barracuda and myself. It’s been a busy month of work and traveling for me. I did good with maintaining the training until last week where my training rituals were impossible to keep. That kind of unnerved me especially since the triathlon is at the end of this week. But so it goes. When I used to practice the art of karate, our sensei used to say “Trust in your training.” — i.e., trust that you’ve been doing the right things and that you are prepared. I’m going to have to rely on that advice.

Barracuda is officially on vacation now — far, far away from a computer and Internet connection. She’s vacationing with her family in a cabin someplace in northern NY. She’ll fly out to Denver on Wednesday where I’ll meet her at our brother’s house (after driving 1000+ miles from Chicago). I’ve been getting together my stuff, planning on the clothes and gear I need. I had the bikes checked out so they are ready to go. I’m hoping that when we get to Denver we’ll be able to check out the course and get a practice swim in someplace.

It’s pretty exciting being in the final week. A bit awesome too. Wow, we are really going to do this thing. A year ago I couldn’t have imagined that this was possible. Yet here we are. It’s going to be great!

July 18, 2007

Pluggin’ away

Filed under: inspiration — by barracuda @ 4:34 pm

Whew!  Some crazy times lately.. work is crazy and as always, everything has a due date of yesterday.  I was on vacation in Tennesee last week – beautiful!   I really didn’t train to hard, but I did climb the stairs 5 times to go on some waterslide in Dolly Parton’s Splash Country – does that count??

Really, training has almost become a second job…one that I enjoy, but have a hard time fitting into all of the craziness of normal life and responsibilities…kids, husband, work, etc.  Part of me is glad that the tri we’ve been working towards is almost here.  I’m ready to just do it, whether or not the skills are there 100%.  I was thinking to myself that it will be nice just to work out when I want to and not have the pressure of a tri to train for.  But then (about 70% of me) is really looking forward to maybe the next challenge – a 5 or 10K, another triathlon, who knows.

I think the 70% of myself will win out, but right now it’s nice to know that this virgin-triathlon is almost out of the way.

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