My heart was racing when we all lined up. We started the swim in waves. The elite athletes went first, then the men, then the old men, then us ladies in the hot pink swim caps. I sprang into action and remembered my goal: just finish. The water was surprisingly warm, but I was so grossed out because I kept feeling slimy plants as I ran into the lake. I started to swim and I breathed on the right side like I practiced. I was surprised because I didn’t get kicked on swatted like the books said I would.
I felt like I was going really fast and at one point, I looked up and realized why I was supposed to breathe on the left. I had veered off from the pack and was starting to swim in the opposite direction. I quickly switched and started to breath on the left side and it wasn’t as hard as I thought. Before I knew it, the swim was over and I was running out of the lake!I looked around and saw the other racers taking off their wetsuits and caps, so I did the same. As I ran on the sandy beach to the road, I spotted my mom who started cheering and taking pictures. I would later find out that they didn’t expect me to do the swim so quickly and were caught off guard when they saw me.
I felt a little lightheaded as I ran to the transition area. I was so glad that I had practiced running to my transition area because the field was now a sea of bikes and I would’ve NEVER found my way! I was glad that my wetsuit was too big because it was so easy to take off. I felt bad for the people I saw frantically peeling their tight ones off. I had a sports bra and spandex on under the wet suit, so I put on my tank top, snapped on my helmet, laced up my sneakers and wheeled my bike to the road. I hopped on and started peddling.
I knew that running was my weakest area, so I tried to make up time on the bike. I probably looked really funny as I rode along the course with a BIG smile on my face! This was so fun! I was having a great time! The best part of the bike was that all the roads were closed off, so I didn’t have to worry about cars! Hallelujah!
I finished the bike and as I was dismounting, the guy in front of me couldn’t unclip his shoe and he fell over and another biker crashed into him. I was so glad that I didn’t have fancy clip in shoes! The second I put my leg on the ground, I almost collapsed. My legs were shaking and felt like wet noodles. I made it to my transition area, propped up my bike, took a swig of Gatorade and grabbed a power bar, a goo and my iPod. In the shuffle, I forgot to put on my shorts. I realized this when it was too late to turn back. Sigh. I would have to run in spandex and let everyone see my butt jiggle.
But then I couldn’t get my iPod to work. AHHH! I took a bite of my power bar and then spit it out. It was grainy and disgusting. I tried the goo and gagged. Equally disgusting. Thank God there was a water station close by! I swished the bad taste from my mouth and kept running/shuffling along. I still couldn’t get my ipod to work. I spotted my cousin’s husband and I handed him my iPod. I saw my grandpa and my mom cheering me on from the side and it helped me keep going. It took about a mile before my legs finally felt somewhat normal.
I plugged along and instantly made a new goal for myself. Don’t stop running. I knew the second I started to walk, it would be so hard to start up again. As I ran, I looked up and saw my best friend and her mom drive by. They stuck their heads out of the windows and cheered me on and said they’d see me at the finish line! Still no sign of my dad or my brothers, but I was sure they were close.
I turned the corner and was confronted with the biggest hill I’ve ever seen. Are you kidding me?! I probably could’ve walked faster then I ran up that hill, but I kept on “running”. By mile 3 or 4, I could tell I was slowing down because people would keep passing me.
I wished our ages weren’t written on our legs because it’s really discouraging to see a 67 year old man or a 45 year old lady passing you. But then I remembered my goal: just finish. I didn’t enter this race to beat anyone or to break any records, so who cares if people were passing me. I decided to start cheering for them… well, by cheering, I mean a breathless “good job” as they passed me. This got my mind off how much I HATE running. This run was lasting FOREVER! I thought it would never end. Just when I thought I couldn’t run another step, my cousin’s husband ran the rest of the way with me from the sideline.
After a bunch of pictures and sweaty hugs, we meandered over to the mini expo and I got a much needed massage. It was H-E-A-V-E-N.
As I loaded my gear into the car, I felt so empowered, confident and, of course, sore. But the soreness only served as a sweet reminder of what I had accomplished. I. Did. It.