Monday, June 13, 2005

Triathlon Story

Yesterday, I did the Danskin Triathlon in Austin. This event includes a 1/2 mile swim, 12 mile bike ride, and 3 mile run.

The first time I'd heard of the event, my friend Regina was training for it. Anna had just been born, and Regina wanted me to train for it, too. I was way too post-partum to think of such a thing, but I was mightily impressed when she did it a few months later.

The next year, Regina was pregnant, and then I was again the following year, so last year we did it as a relay with her friend Cara. I was the swimmer, since that's my strongest event. Cara is a great biker, and Regina ran.

I was so impressed with how well the event was run, and how women of all sizes and ages were doing the event, I was determined to do it myself the next year. Regina was my inspiration. Also my mom, who I remember being so fit in her thirties (she taught aerobics). As a chubby preteen, she was very inspirational. I hope I can be as good of a model for my kids. Also, I felt differently about my body after I gestated then birthed 2 children, and nourished them with my body. I realized my body could do amazing things.

So, I started running in November. I couldn't run more than a half mile without my right knee KILLING me. How was I ever going to do this? I backed way off, and started running for 5 minutes, then walking for 5 minutes, slowly increasing my times. For the longest time, it seemed I couldn't go further than a mile. Then I could do 2, then 3, still taking my walking breaks.

I biked a lot with the kids in the bike trailer. I biked to pick Anna up at school, and to far away parks on the weekend. I biked and then I ran. The last few weeks, I went to the pool and swam.

On the race morning, I hitched a ride again with Cara. I hadn't really spoken to her since the last race, but she is one of the neatest people I've met. It was really great to have a buddy to go to the event with, and to wait with before the swim.

I got in the water at 7:55 am. We swam in a U shaped course into the lake and back. There were lots of women around me. Twice I was passed on the right and left, and then the swimmers converged in front of me. The lake was murky and I got a big gulp of it once. Its hard to concentrate and swim smoothly like you can in the lap lanes of a pool. Finally, I came out of the water and ran up the hill to the bike area. I put on my shorts, shirt, helmet, drank some water. Then I started pedaling. The first 1/2 of the bike course was great. Then, after slowing down for a sharp turn, I hit an unexpected hill. I was seriously winded at the top, but at least I didn't get off and push my bike up on foot. There were 2 more large hills to go. At the top of the 2nd hill, I could see the long descent, then the LOOOONG ascent of the last hill. Also, I could see runners behind a fence coming down the hill facing us. It was a bit disheartening to see this hill, and be reminded of the task ahead (running).

I hunched down over my handle bars to decrease wind resistance on the downhill. As I started uphill, volunteers were shouting to us, "You can do it! This is the last big hill! Quarter mile to the bike finish!" Boy, that helped. Then the runners were shouting, "Go Bikers! You can do it!" I was determined to make it, and I did. As I crested the hill, I felt chills of exhaustion and exhilaration.

Back at the transition area, I parked my bike, drank cold water, reapplied sunscreen, and took a potty break. I started running and my legs were a little sluggish. At the same time, I almost felt like it was "downhill" from here on out, since I'd done the majority of the distance. I plodded ahead, slowing only for water breaks. Then, there was a huge hill at the end. It was hot. I was tempted to walk. Fortunately, there were more volunteers cheering us on. "Last hill and then you'll see the finish! Photographer at the top! You look great, you can do it!" Finally, I was there, and pushed through the finish. I was thrilled to finish in just less than 2 hours since I'd started. I hadn't pushed my bike uphill and I hadn't walked any of the run.

At the end, I felt great. Very tired, but a little high. My family greeted me as well as a coworker. We went and ate pancakes at Magnolia Cafe afterwards. A race photographer stopped me and said he recognized me from the bike ride. Some women asked about the race while waiting for the bathroom and seemed impressed. I said, "You should think about doing it next year." Oh no, they laughed. But really, the event is one that anyone can finish, with a few months of preparation.

Later, I found out I swam in 18 minutes (in the top 25% of swimmers), biked in 50 minutes, and ran in 38 minutes. I finished in the middle for my age group and overall. The winner was a 37 yr old mom of two, and the runner up a 34 yr old mom of 4! It was really neat to start in a group of women all about my age (your age is written on the back of your leg), and most people I saw in the race were in their 30's. I saw some in the 40's and 20's, two teenagers, and a few in their 50's (they were walking the "run" portion, but who cares? They were completing it!). Then, just before I ran up that last hill, I saw a 69. SIXTY-NINE! Incredible. You go, girl!


Daddy said...

Well done Jenn!
I'm happy for your achievement.
After my cruise, and a persistent cough for the last few weeks, I am way off on my times. I strive for better than 15 mins for 1.5 miles.
Yesterday it took me 16.5 mins.
You really did well on the bike, particularly on the uphills.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I am so impressed with you in everything you do and now I will add - your athletic abilities! That's sweet that I was an inspiration to you, once upon a time, as you are now an inspiration to me! You are one AWESOME woman! Love, M

Emily said...

Way to go, Jenn! Thanks for the play-by-play. It's very impressive and inspiring. I just really started working out consistently for the first time in my life in January, and you were some of my inspiration for that.