The Spirit of Triathlon

In my short time in the world of triathlon, I have been astounded by the kindness, encouragement and all around rad-ness of the many triathletes I have had the pleasure to encounter both on and off the race course. During my last race I was the recipient of an amazing act of compassion and am still astounded by what I was lucky enough to be gifted. My heart is full of gratitude.

During the chilly and foggy morning that started off the Vineman Triahlon, I had no idea what to expect nor did I know what was in store for us as we began our attempt at the longest distances we have raced yet. This day we would go against the Full Vineman Aquabike (2.4 mile swim and 112 mile bike). I had finished my first 2.4 mile open water swim and wore a huge smile as I ran towards the next leg of the race, the bike. Only 5 miles into the race I saw the first biker on the side of the road with a flat. I slowed as I passed and asked if she needed anything. She asked for a Co2 cartridge, so I stopped and gladly handed one over. As the race continued there were handfuls of flats and other bike issues that left triathletes on the side of the road. I gave out what I could, as many other triathletes were doing as well. Some were unable to get assistance had to pull themselves from the race, as was the unfortunate case with my partner in crime.

After a mini-melt down at mile 96 before my last round of Chalk Hill and a race saving pep-talk from Andre, I embarked on the final 16 miles of this challenging day. Pushing through and starting to regain some life force as the finish line got closer, I took one of the final turns at about mile 110.5. As I leaned into the turn my tire popped and I lost traction on my front tire. Seeing that I was headed towards some very sweet looking older ladies I forcefully redirected and flew sideways off my bike, tumbling into the sidewall off the road. I took a good spill, smashing my head against the ground and adding a good span of road rash to my right side. My glasses were smashed in front of me and before I came out of the shock of the fall, I had two police officers in front of me checking my condition. The first thing I told them was, “I’m ok.” With my bleeding face and a body in roadkill position, they didn’t seem to believe me.

After checking my metal state and injuries, the police officers slowly helped me up. I felt beat up, but was determined to continue. I was almost there. They didn’t want me to leave until I was looked over, so they called an ambulance and as I waited for them to come I changed out my front tire. My bike looked ok, aside from a popped chain and the flat front tire, so I switched out my tube and as soon as I reconnected the tire, it popped again. I decided I would just walk the final 1.5 miles with my bike. When the ambulance arrived, they spoke with me asking me more questions, checked my eyes and wounds and recommended that I go with them back to the hospital. I told them that I would like to continue, and I confirmed that I was refusing treatment. The police asked if they could call someone to pick me up and I persisted in telling them that I was going to finish. The two ladies that I was trying to avoid as I took my spill came over and encouraged me and my will to finish.

As I started on my way, I saw another triathlete coming, Drew, who was walking his bike. I figured I would walk in with him, since I couldn’t ride. As he approached and I asked if he would mind if I walked with him, he immediately assessed the situation and said that he could give me his front wheel so I could ride in. I asked him what was wrong with his bike, in case I could help him instead, but he insisted and proceeded to change out my front tire with his. He took my wheel, which was a sorry replacement compared to what he gave to me and got my bike back in race condition at a rapid speed! He helped me reattach my chain, helped me onto my bike and told me to clip in both feet and he would push me off. I was amazed at his kindness, expertise and trust in me. His assistance saved me. We switched race numbers and he said that he would just meet me at the finish line.

As I rolled into the finish line, Andre noticed my nice front wheel and was excited until he scrolled up and looked at my face! I told him I crashed and explained the generous act that got me to the finish line. I needed to go to the medical tent, but wanted to make sure Drew got his wheel back as soon as possible and wanted to thank him again. So, Andre offered to meet him at the finish line.

We come to find out later that at the point Drew ran into me on the side of the road, he had already been walking over 10 miles because of a broken back rim and no tech support! To walk that long, in the heat, pushing a bike, in bike shoes and to still have a drop of compassion left is a huge testament to his character. Not only that, after walking over 12 miles to cross the finish line, he continued on to run the full marathon and complete his goal for the day, a full Ironman distance race (which was #7 for him!). What I went through on my first attempt at these distances, was nothing compared to the amount of will and determination he had to embody to finish. I am so inspired and motivated by his story and have a huge amount of respect for his sportsmanship, kindheartedness and strength of will. I was extremely lucky to meet such an amazing person, and to receive such unbelievable support. I only wish he had received the same during this race.

In life, it is moments such as these and people such as Drew that renew my belief in the beauty of humanity. Acts of such kindness do not sit lightly, but rather act as fuel to continue living in positivity and perpetual growth. Thank you Drew, I am forever grateful!

Drew with me and my busted nose post-race.


Tempe International Triathlon – Olympic Distance #3

Woke up again before the crack of dawn and never seemed to really shake off the groggy feeling I had. Did not feel like a tri day. Got to the site and prepared for the event, set up the transition area and bike, grabbed my wetsuit and headed down to the lake with my partner in crime. Happy that they decided that the water was wetsuit legal as I love swimming with my floatation device. Not too excited to swim in Tempe (e-coli) Lake where visibility is nada, but now I have done it enough times to know what to expect. My go time was before Tiffany’s go time. I saw our friend Ladd and he happened to be in the same wave as I was. We all talked for a sec then it was time for Ladd and I to enter the water and prep for our 0.9 mile swim. As I was treading water I kept waving over to Tiffany who was still on land and giving me my last signs of encouragement. My mental game going into the swim was to be patient and try to keep a slightly increased pace. The swim started and it went pretty well as planned, counted my strokes up to 10 to keep my head in my swim, then I would check to make sure I wasn’t lost. When I came out of the water I was looking for those wetsuit strippers – nowhere to be found. I guess there wasn’t any champagne and caviar in this one. Got to transition and took my time to collect my thoughts and figure out what I needed for the ride, Tiffany showed up, quick change and tried waiting for me like she always does I told her go ride like the wind.

Horses in the stall. 

Got on my bike and rode away, it’s Cervelo time, I rode at a medium pace and tried pacing with some riders that looked like they had a good pace, all was good until the inclines would come and my leaders would slowly get away from me. The ride was hot but not that demanding. Off the bike and onto the run. During T2 I put on my Garmin, which keeps me running because for some reason my mindset needs to know how far I have to go. Without that knowledge it’s hard for me to stay motivated. I use that little piece of knowledge to talk myself into continuing. I just couldn’t get it to go onto the run setting, so I got frustrated. Of course, my frustration was happening right before my worse section – the dreaded run. My mind started to wander and thoughts kept popping into my head, that I should just forget the run, things aren’t working out, just stop. I wanted to take off the Garmin and in front of all the other athletes throw the watch on the ground and stomp on it.

As I started my run it was very difficult to get motivated for completion. I saw Tiffany at some point and she saw that mentally I was not doing very well. She wanted to run with me but I pushed her to finish strong thinking to myself that I don’t want my mental challenges to hold her back. As I walked/slowly ran one foot in front of another, hot, worn-out and feeling down, people would pass me in a continuos stream and about every fourth person would chant encouraging words to keep me going. As they passed I could see their age written on the back of their legs. All ages were passing me by, as I saw the in-shape 20-year-old struggling to pass me I was like, what’s wrong with this guy, he looks like he should be in the lead. Then, zoom, another going by me look to the back of the leg, 65. Damn that guy is kicking my ass. 46, oh no, my age, I gotta stay with him at least! At that moment I try to use that motivation to get me through, without success. I continue to wobble down the course as I see age 46 disappear into the distance. Zoom 72, 35, 26, 62, the numbers kept going right by me. I kept thinking to myself, damn I am so slow. One mile left. Well, one mile seems like 10 miles at this point in the race. When I saw the marker, I decided I am going to fly down to the finish line that last mile. That lasted for about 5 steps and then back to reality. I started seeing injured people trying to make it, older people with an iron will and newbies wondering how they got themselves into this torturous situation. I started telling the runners around me, we are only one mile away, we have to finish even if we have to crawl across. Now my motivation was pushing them forward to finish, I figured if I’m slow, tired and struggling, at least I can help the participants who feel like me.

Finally, I saw Tiffany who is always waiting for me at the finish line. Wondering each time if I quit or not , she always gives me my last push of encouragement on my way to the finish line. As I saw the finish line approach, no great burst, no raised arms, just a slow steady pace passing through to the end. Not feeling my best, feeling like I came close to defeat, Tiffany showered me with encouragement, As I stood by the finish line I saw the people behind me start coming toward the finish line. Damn!! People are actually behind me…. young people, older people, pushing themselves to their limit and succeeding. Watching these people who were behind me reach down deep into themselves and focus their minds on success, was really encouraging to me, their strength and ability to continue when they may of well been struggling harder than me, was amazing.

Made it through!Made it through!!!

RAGE: First Olympic Distance Down!

RAGE: Olympic Distance Triathlon #1!
April 21, 2012

All great things seem impossible, until you accomplish them.

We completed our first Olympic distance triathlon and……RAGE had its way with us! Originally we had planned on doing a sprint distance for this tri, but we got over-ambitious and changed it to the Olympic distance last minute, which seemed like a good idea at the time….. The race included a 1500m swim (.93 miles), 40k (24.8 miles) bike, and a 10k run (6.2 miles). This was the most challenging race we have done so far, both in distance and in battling the elements and elevation changes. It took a 17-hour “nap” and over two-days just to rehydrate from the heat!

The drive into the event site was breathtaking. The sun came through the mountains lighting up the water at the Lake Las Vegas/Lake Mead area – the calm before the storm. We knew going into this race it was going to be a rough one, and the challenges started from the beginning as we carried our bikes and gear through the rocky dirt to the “mile-long” transition area. Arriving a little later than we should have, we didn’t have a lot of time to waste, so we started setting up our transition areas. Once we were as set as possible, we did our pre-race workout (getting on our wetsuits!) and headed to the water.

We met up with our amazing support system at the water’s edge. We were so lucky to have Antoinette, Paul and our friend Blanca at this event. Having people you care about supporting you, especially when you are driving yourself beyond what you even think you are capable of, is really the fuel that keeps you going. Being a spectator at these events is grueling and my heart was full that they were willing to spend all day in the heat to support our efforts at accomplishing another goal towards Ironman. LOVE YOU GUYS!!!

It was time to start and Andre was taking off in the wave before me so we got into the water to acclimate a bit and get directions on which buoys to swim around. The water was supposed to be about 60 degrees, but with the sun starting to do its magic it didn’t feel as cold as I thought it would (thank goodness!). The gun was about to go off for Andre’s wave so we gave each other our pre-battle hug, then off he went!

My main goal going into this race was to conquer the swim, or at least improve to the point where I wasn’t flailing in mental distress for the entire duration of the swim leg. I had my mind set on getting through it as strong as possible. We had an amazing group of women in my wave and after a loud cheer of excitement from the ladies who were about to start we dove in and made our way into the blue(ish) abyss. As I headed to the first buoy, I heard coach’s tough-love advice from our last open water swim in my head, “You just have to suck it up and get it done.”

The first part of the swim was the usual chaos. I tried to stay relaxed and make my way, but struggled through the crowd making the weird first buoy turn. I guess I probably started off too fast then wasted a bunch of energy trying to see where I was going. Determined to swim and not do my backup doggy paddle breaststroke the whole time, I fought through and was able to slowly get into motion. Once we rounded the first corner of the swim course, there was an endless stretch of water to the next buoy. I pulled my breathing together then set out to swim, as I started slowly getting into my rhythm I realized that the water was clear and I could see all the way to the bottom. I suddenly realized one of the reasons Tempe Town Lake was so hard to swim in, you can’t see ANYTHING. Excited for the view, I occupied myself with what looked like catfish and other water life below me as I glided through the water. I may have gotten a little too distracted because I went off course and had one of the course guides in a kayak come get me and ask me if I was ok. Laughing to myself I swam back to the track and continued to swim. As I rounded the final turn, I was ecstatic that I was swimming and I was proud that I finally swam without freaking out in open water. All I was thinking was….I LOVE this feeling! As I approached the shore and ran up the ramp past our amazing support team, I had a huge smile on my face and felt that I had accomplished my main goal of the day. Little did I know my challenges were yet to come….

As I headed out of transition to the bike leg, I took off to attack one hill at a time. The bike route was not coned off or protected from traffic on the single lane mountain roads. All the race participants had about 2 feet of shoulder room to bike on and even though the traffic wasn’t too heavy, not everyone in vehicles was pleased or courteous about sharing the road. It was starting to heat up, so being on the bike and making my own head wind was refreshing. I am always grateful for my San Francisco single-speed bike hill training when I take on inclines….having multiple gears is such a luxury! I wasn’t sure how hard I should push to leave enough energy for the run, but I tried to maintain a decent level of exertion and when I got to the Olympic turn around I felt worked, but still energized.

As I climbed the hill just after the turn around, my back tire started making noise and I thought I had gotten a flat. I was approaching another downhill and worried that I would lose control once I started gaining speed if my tire was done. I turned my head in a small panic to look at the back wheel and before I could stop, I made a tiny swerve and headed straight off the side of the road, down the mountain! The first thought that passed through my head, besides “OH CRAP!!!” was saving my bike! Everything happened so fast and I couldn’t clip out quick enough to stop the inevitable, so I rolled on my back and tried to hold my bike up as I slid down the hill. As soon as I stopped sliding I jumped up in a daze and tried to assess the damage. Another racer who was right behind me pulled over and was yelling down at me asking if I was ok. Concerned that I would ruin his race if he stopped any longer, I told him that I’m fine and that he should keep going. Luckily, he didn’t listen to me and said that he would like to at least help get me back on the road. Still in a daze, I said, “Ok.” He climbed down the hill and pulled my bike back up, then helped me back up. Once we were back on solid ground, I told him thank you and to please keep going so I don’t hold him back any more. I could tell he was hesitant to leave, but just then the race bike support pulled up and he felt ok to take off. I’m so grateful he stopped and I wish I was coherent enough to remember to look at his bib number to be able to thank him again. I am not sure I would’ve been able to get my bike back up alone!

The race bike support was awesome. They helped me scan me and my bike for damages and aside from a popped chain, tweaked brakes and a dirty scratched up girl, we came out alright! I realized my “popped tire” was just a fat piece of duct tape stuck on my tire. After some quick fixes, my bike was ready to go and even though I was still shaky, I was ready to get back to it! The race support guy asked if I was sure I wanted to keep going, and I told him I saw no reason not to and off I went! I took it a little easy at first to make sure my bike was stable. I saw Andre in his fluorescent yellow on the other side of the road and was so excited to see he was pushing through the hills!! We gave each other a quick burst of energy as we flew by each other. By the time I got back for the last leg of the race I finally shook off most of the shock of what just happened. Even though it was a scary experience, I was so lucky that the outcome was what it was, since it could’ve been much worse.

As I got ready for the run, I was wobbly legged and sooooooo thirsty. I headed down the long transition corridor and as soon as I made it to the run out, I realized I forgot my watch. Not wanting to lose my pacing, I ran back to pick it up and ran back down, which led to a nice hefty T2! As soon as I crossed the timing chip pad, I saw that the first part of the run was going to be on the uneven dirt and rocks. Already feeling like jello, this part of the run was nuts. I ran through it like I was running through an obstacle course. By the time I got to the first tent I was ready to drink the world. The heat, which was just shy of 100 degrees if not over, was unforgiving and being off of my bike with no breeze I was wilting fast. The usual relief I feel about finally getting to the run was nowhere in sight! At the first aid station I stretched and took some water and then headed off. Within the first minute I could feel myself breaking down. I started pushing my body, but it just fought back. I started walking up the first hill. A guy passed by and yelled, “Come on baby girl, you can do this!!” I tried to push and made it a little further again, then I ran out of *umph* and started walking again. By the time I got to the second aid station, my stomach was mad at me from all the gels so I went into the hot box porta potty, which is totally inappropriate to comment on except for the fact that I would even contemplate stopping during a race to take a mini vacation in such a painfully stifling place!

For the remainder of the run the aid stations turned into a water cocktail party. I couldn’t take in enough water and I felt like I was dragging a dead body through the desert. I poured water over my head and took a cup of Gatorade and a cup of water to try and hydrate at each station. On one of my sputters to a walk, another runner came up to me and said to stay with him, to keep running. He told me this is my pace and I just need to keep going, I slow down too much when I walk. I was beyond any ego at this point, and beyond any concept of what my race pace was, all I know is even when I ran it was about 3 minutes per mile slower than what I train at. I stayed with him for a while and thanked him for encouraging me since I was beyond messed up! By the time I got to the run turnaround I was broken and delirious. I’m not sure what got me back to the finish line, but the positive support and encouragement of all the other racers was definitely a huge part of it. We were all melting and doing our best to encourage each other to complete this event.

When I came down to the final stretch I saw Andre heading into the second mile of his run. Feeling like I just went to hell and back in what is usually my favorite discipline, I ran up to him and told him that the first three miles will be painful, but it gets better coming back, just so he could prepare. I’m assuming at that point I just looked like a mad woman! After I left my mid-race picnic with Andre, I ran through the final aid station to find another racer, our new friend Jenn Ty, getting a bath from all the volunteers. They all took cups of water and threw them at her as she ran through…a runner’s car wash! I was cracking up and thought that was just perfect!

As I reached the final mile of this torturous 10k, I tried to pull out any end-of-race energy I had hiding. The final stretch to the finish line seemed to last forever as I ran through dirt, rocks and sand pits. I gave my best sprint at the end and felt like I was trying to get juice out of a dehydrated orange, but I pushed anyway! As I collapsed into the finisher’s tent I picked up a hat full of ice and dumped it on my head- precious, beautiful WATER!!!

I peeled myself out of the shade and back into the sun to watch Andre finish, and when I saw him in the distance coming around the final stretch I was filled with so much happiness. Knowing how much of a challenge this is, and that we have accomplished another crazy feat together fills me with so much pride! We are one step closer to our ultimate goal and galaxies beyond what we even thought possible.

**All photo credits for this post go to Blanca Tenhet!! THANK YOU for being so amazing!!**

Results (Andre):

Results (Tiffany):

USA Triathlon Nationals

“The USA Triathlon Olympic Distance National Championship is the nation’s premier Olympic-distance event with the top age group athletes from all 50 states forming one of the most prestigious fields in the sport.  The 2012 USA Triathlon Olympic Distance National Championship will be held in Burlington, Vermont, on August 18. Athletes from each age group will qualify to represent Team USA at the 2013 International Triathlon Union World Championships in London, England.”
Today I received the honor of being named a qualifier for the 2012 USA Triathlon Olympic Distance National Championships! Even though I will more than likely not be able to add the Nationals to this year’s race calender (since the focus of 2012 is to train and complete Ironman AZ!!), I was still excited, shocked and honored by the invitation! Being as though this is my first year as a triathlete-in-training and knowing I have a long way to go to reach my personal best, being ranked as top 10% of my age category and being offered a place in this year’s nationals was pretty nifty.  What an amazing experience it would be to be in the same race with some of the nation’s finest and most inspiring triathletes…

Splash and Dash: Completed


What a mess!!!! Open water is no pool, that is for sure.  Open water swimming is chaos.  No one knows where they are going, including myself.  Swimmers are going in all different directions. All my technique went out the window.  At least when I was headed to the end, I could hear the faint voice of my coach Chris Aikman in the background in support, which gave my confused spirit a boost.  As I was climbing out of the water, I imagined myself coming out and peeling my wetsuit off in a cool professional Triathlete fashion….uh, yea right. That didn’t happen. I got up out of the water and felt like I had like 15 shots of tequila.  I was so dizzy and disoriented, I had trouble making it to my transition station. As I stumbled to transition, I saw Tiffany at the station.  What the hell??? She should be gone by now. Once I got there she didn’t look right and she started mumbling about how messed up her swim was. I was like, umm, I came in behind you. Tiffany was totally wacked out by the swim, venting and venting to me about it, as I could hardly stand up. I got ready faster than Tiffany, picked my stuff up and took off sideways.  As I left I noticed my shoes weren’t on right, so I stopped to fix ’em. Tiffany saw me struggling and came up to help me. I told her run run run….

After I dealt with my shoe drama, I started to run again as I heard voices behind me screaming “Sir, sir!” As I looked back I noticed I dropped my sweat band, my pouch and everything else I was carrying with me.  I gathered my stuff and started my run again. At that minute, a sharp stabbing pain hit me in the right side right under my ribs, ouuuch!!! As I bent over in pain, I noticed my timing chip was not on my ankle. Damn, I left it at transition, well I wasn’t about to go back and get it, not in the condition I was in, so I pushed on. As sweat started to trickle down my head I reached up to use my hat to wipe my sweat away and… damn I lost my hat somewhere.  It was a slow drag to the finish line, but I made it. I am now concerned about my Sprint Triathlon this weekend…..

Splash & Dash SURVIVORS!!

Pre-Race Smiles. 🙂

WOW. As I sit here the day after our first open water swim, all I can say is that I am still a bit traumatized. I don’t think anything could have prepared us for the first experience with swimming in open water with a bunch of other swimmers, but even my expectations of the challenges I would face were far exceeded.

We arrived at the event site early, checked in with our coach, and then set up our transition spots. We were both pretty relaxed and the environment for this race was kicked back, which was nice for our first attempt at this open water business. We got our wetsuits on and then headed down to the water as soon as it was opened up to get used to the water temp. I am an absolute wimp when it comes to the cold and even in 67 degree water with a wetsuit and two silicone swimcaps, I was gritting my teeth as I adjusted to the water. We were in the last wave of swimmers so as we waited on the edge of the water for our time to go, Michelle and Danja, two of our friends who were also racing, came up for a pre-race hello and hug. It was Danja’s first open water swim too so we took a minute to vent about the wetsuit clausterphobia and nervousness about the whole situation.

As it came to be our time to line up in the water, we all went in together and headed to the back of the pack. Andre let me know if I got nervous to lay on my back and just try to breathe and relax. Our coach let us know to try to spot every 10 strokes, and it seemed like a simple enough concept to apply. I felt ok as we were treading water waiting for the gun, and wasn’t as nervous to begin as I thought I would be. I just kept thinking that I would approach this like my training and everything would be alright. Boy was I wrong!!

The gun went off, the front swimmers took off and we all started rolling through the water. I think for the first 50 meters I was on track and then… CHAOS!!! Even though I knew to expect not being able to see anything with my face in the water, it was definitely disorienting to be in darkness and have no idea where I was going. I had no clue where Andre or our other friends were as everyone was wearing the same color swim cap. I started realizing that there were people all around me swimming in different directions and as I popped my head up to spot I started getting anxious. I could barely see in front of me. When I put my head down to try to swim again, some guy behind me decided to try to use me as a life saver and grabbed onto my calf for dear life. I kicked my leg out and he grabbed it again, when I looked back at him and saw in his face that he was worse off than I was, I got a huge surge of anxiety that I couldn’t hold back. That was it, I was headed to a total panic attack. I shook my leg free and tried to get some space, but I was surrounded by swimmers scrambling through the water. I started choking down water and that was the straw that pushed me over the edge. I wasn’t even to the first buoy and I felt like I was in pure survival mode.

Hyperventilating wasn’t conducive to free-style swimming so I tried to relax and flipped onto my back to breathe. There was too much distance to travel to be this messed up already. As I looked up at the sky just trying to calm down, the sky turned into some psychotic scene out of Alice and Wonderland and the kaleidoscope effect kicked in a massive spell of dizziness. I started asking myself, “Am I drowning? Am I ok? Why the hell am I doing this again?” All my positive energy and belief that I was going to make it were diminishing quickly and now I was just focused on staying above water! I started worrying about how I was going to ever make it 2.4 miles for the Ironman in November, if I couldn’t even make it 750 meters.

As I turned the first corner, I saw a woman in front of me flagging down the rescue boat, I can’t tell you how close I was to raising my arm up right behind her. I felt like I had every reason to give up, I felt like I was in hell and had no confidence that I would make it through this, but I told myself that even if I had to doggy paddle the whole way, and I was the last one out of the water, I was going to DO IT!! So, I worked on a creative mixture of doggy, breast and side stroke. Anything to keep my head out of the water. Suddenly I felt like I was being weighed down, I reached down and felt my legs and realized that there was way too much water inside my wetsuit. That whole wetsuit buoyancy thing that people talk about being a benefit of wetsuits was not what was happening here. I then realized that my wet suit was probably too big and proceeded to wonder if the weight of the water was going to make me drown. Not good thoughts when you are swimming in the middle of a lake!

I decided to try to free-style again to get my body more horizontal, I got into a rhythm and as I looked up to spot I realized I had swam out into the middle of the lake in the wrong direction. I quickly tried to remedy the situation so I didn’t panic again and somehow I just ended up swimming further out. Going back to my back-up stroke, doggy paddle, I headed towards the track. As I was working my way back another swimmer tried to swim right over me. He popped out of the water and apologized. I told him that it was ok, but I think we need to be going in the other direction.

The next buoy seemed like it was days away, I had no speed with my current swimming style and I felt like I was pulling a lead ball behind me. I figured I was going to be the absolute last person out of the water, and in this moment I could care less as long as I made it alive! On the final stretch, with the sun in my eyes (thankful for polarized swim goggles!) I looked towards the exit ramp like it was a miracle. I dragged myself out of the water and somehow made my way to the transition area.

The whole idea of rushing through the transition area was a distant memory at this point and I plopped my destroyed self down to take off my wetsuit and get ready for the run. I thought for sure Andre would have been on his way to the run already, so when I saw him stumbling up the hill towards me I was shocked! We both grumbled about that swim being the worst thing that ever happened to us as we attempted to organize our gear for the run. Andre took off before me, in the wrong direction, then stumbled back to the right run out. I was still so discombobulated that I was lucky I got both of my running shoes on before taking off!

Once I got on the run track, I was relieved to be on dry land running. I was happy to be doing something I loved to do, after what just happened to me! The whole run I spent processing the swim trauma, but I kept my race pace up and pushed it until the end. I passed Andre on my way back from the second loop and he yelled that he left his timing chip and asked me to give it to him on his way back. We were a mess!! When I crossed the finish line I was so happy this race was over!

When we met up with coach at the end and told him of our tales on the battlefield, he seemed excited that we finished and told us that it was something we needed to experience. At least someone was excited, I felt like I needed therapy and wasn’t sure what lesson I learned here exactly. So…two days until we do our Sprint Triathlon and I am not sure how to move past this first open water experience!

We made it!!

Race results:

Tri for the Cure!

I was getting changed after our swim lesson with Coach Chris Aikman, when I heard Andre’s voice yelling through the locker room door. He asked, “Did you sign us up for that 5k this weekend yet?” I let him know that I didn’t register yet and he said, “Good, I was talking to coach and we think you should do a tri this weekend on your own, and I can let my legs heal a bit more before I run again.” Hmm…I wasn’t too into the idea at first because it felt too soon, and I wanted to be able to do our first tri together. In the end, Andre encouraged me to do it and since it was an all women’s race, the together idea wasn’t going to work unless Andre did some serious work on his drag! 😉

The race had a 400 meter pool swim, 8 mile bike and a 2.25 mile run. Even though we have been training well over these distances, it still felt like a big step to put them together! I think I was experiencing transition (the 4th discipline) anxiety. When I went to pick up the race packet I ran into our friend Dan Quick, who is the famous blue full-body unitard wearing Ironman participant and the friend of many in the AZ triathlon community. He asked if I was racing and I made the mistake of saying that I was “just” doing a mini-tri. After jumping out of his skin, he told me in so many words that every event is a major accomplishment, not “just” an event. He reminded me that the dedication that is put forth in training, and the energy given even in the shortest events is something to be proud of. I left feeling excited about being a beginner triathlete and grateful to have so many awesome role models in our local community.

A week after the idea was brought up, here we were at 4am heading to the event site in Chandler for the Sixth Annual All Women’s Tri for the Cure of Arizona. My first official tri. I was excited, nervous, scattered and sleep deprived as there was the usual pre-race sleeplessness the night before. I dropped Andre and my bike off at the transition area and proceeded to park to unload my WAY over-prepared car load of stuff. Navigating through the crowd of sleepy faced and smiling women, I found Andre had set me up on the perfect transition spot, with my bike racked at the end so it was easy to find.  I set up my transition stuff, or rather played chess with my transition stuff until it was time to move on. I made sure to take tips from my coach on using Glide on just about everything, powder in my shoes and cord locks on my running shoes so I could slip them on and adjust them quickly.

With Coach!

Time was running out to get marked up so I scurried over to the line of volunteers, picked up my timing chip and got my number tattooed with Sharpie on my legs and arm. I walked to the pool deck for the pre-race meeting and was momentarily shocked by the 50-meter pool. We have only been training in 25-yard pools and the 50-meter distance was daunting! All the participants and their and their supporting friends and family stood around together as the sun rose for the announcements. As the meeting came to a close, everyone dispersed and I got the chance to meet some amazing women who were also here doing their first triathlons and biathlons. There were survivors racing and many people who were racing for loved ones. The energy was inspiring.

I was in one of the last waves, since I signed up last-minute, so as the race began I started my warm up and second round of coffee. 🙂 I was getting butterflies and was so lucky to have Andre by my side reminding me to relax and breath. I was especially nervous about the swim, so when I jumped into the *freezing* water and my coach gave me some final words of encouragement, I was ready to go!

Hugging the line.

The swim flew by. I felt lucky to have had a swim session with our coach the day before on how to do a serpentine swim, so that I was able to know what kind of rhythm and push-off I would need to do. I tried to stay relaxed and move through other swimmers as smoothly as possible. Each time I pushed off I heard Andre’s voice encouraging me to keep going. As I pushed myself out of the pool, I was sucking wind and dizzy. It is always amazing to me how light-headed I get after swimming, apparently due to being horizontal. As I was running to the transition area, Andre threw me a towel and I heard the camera man ask him if he was ok. I found out later, when I inquired about his bloody arm, that in his rush to get to me he played slip and slide on the pool deck and became the immediate star of the show!

When I made it back to the transition area, I rushed to get ready for the bike, but was still dizzy and not fluid with this part of the process yet. When I mounted my bike I took off….in the wrong direction! After almost running over a man walking his dog who looked at me like I was nuts, and almost peeing myself laughing, I turned around and got on track. I was always one to go off the beaten path, but this was not the best time to hone in on that habit! Once I was pointing in the right direction, I pushed through in quad burn mode for the quick 8 miles, still laughing at my rookie mistake at the beginning of the bike.

As I rolled in to dismount, I saw Andre with multiple recording devices and did a quick check in as I got ready for the run. Onto my strongest discipline. I couldn’t believe it was almost over! I took off for the run with a huge smile on my face and as soon as I turned the first corner, calf cramps from hell. I wasn’t about to stop, since there was only a 2.25 mile run and I wanted to try to keep my goal of finishing with a sub 7min pace. So, I tried to work them out as I ran. I’m sure it wasn’t the prettiest running form for my first mile, but it worked and I was able to accomplish my pacing goal. As I came into the final stretch, I entered into the stadium area and was immediately transported back to my track days. I love running on a track, and got an unexpected rush of nostalgia as I pushed it to the finish line.

As I crossed the finish, I almost ran over the sweet volunteer giving out the medals…hard to put the breaks on! I saw Andre right on the edge of the finishers shoot and felt so proud to have such an incredible support system there to share this moment with me. Even though I love being able to go through these races with my partner in crime accomplishing the feats of madness with me, it was absolutely unbelievable to have him there as a support.

As we packed up and said goodbye to our coach and the other people we met throughout the day, I started realizing that this was going to become an addictive habit. Even though all the races we have planned for this year are only going to get harder, it was nice to have one under my belt to help us prepare better for what was to come. Next on the schedule: Splash & Dash (750m open water swim & 5k) and Marquee Sprint Triathlon (750m open water swim, 12.4 mile bike, & 5k) and RAGE Olympic Triathlon in NV (1500m open water swim, 24.8 mile bike, & 10k with hills!!).

The MOST AMAZING support!!!!!

Race Results: