As it turned out, there were plenty of folks doing their first triathlons racked near me and their enthusiasm was infectious. Then, as I chatted with the woman next to me, she told me how she had done this race last year. And then had a stroke in transition an hour after finishing. This was her first race back. Yeah, OK, clearly I need to get the hell over myself and just go have fun today. So that became my primary goal - Have. Fun.
I spent a LONG time warming up. The water wasn't cold at all - in the low 60s when I came for a practice swim Tuesday and in the high 60s on race morning - in either case, WAY WARM compared to the water we train and race in back home (I had more than one experience this weekend that made me realize Colorado folks are bigger weather wimps than Californians!). I needed the long warmup just to calm myself down, keep my breathing under control, stay acclimated. When waves started going off, I stayed in the water, just dunking my face and hanging out. And then it was time to line up to start!
I went out nice and easy and controlled. I got hit in the head, I got swamped by the waves from a boat that raced by, but since I'd kept my effort light I was OK. I hit the turnaround feeling good and built my effort on the way back. Swim swim swim till I touched sand and then popped up and ran up the ramp. Yes, I had a BIG SMILE on my face for getting through the swim feeling better than I have in nearly a year.
Onto the bike and for the first time in quite a while I was on a "home course" - I ride this route often, though usually backwards, so I knew nearly the entire thing well. Coach gave me a goal to pass 10 people on the bike. I focused on nothing but counting people as I passed them and pushing ahead to the next person. When all was said and done, I passed 45 people on the bike and averaged 99% of my FTP for the whole 17.2 miles.
Finally, on to the run and while my legs felt pretty trashed I was still having fun! My Garmin had stopped registering distance/pace after the swim and I'd forgotten my HR monitor at home so I was racing entirely by feel. Coach said to pass 20 people on the run so I made that 35 instead, including one from my AG in the last 100 yards before the finish.
I ended the day grateful for the opportunity to go out there and have a good time and see people so excited to race their first triathlon. Coming in the top 1/4 of my AG (7th place) at a competitive local race like this was nice but not as important on this particular day. Thanks to Katie for cheering and the photos and pre- and post- race chitchat. I'm extra excited for my next (and last, for now) triathlon in 4 weeks, because I get to do it with Tea!