What: Prairieman Triathlon (Texas State Championship) – Olympic Distance
Where: Grand Prairie, Tx
Age Group: 30-35
Results: 4th overall in age group AKA dead-a** last
Race break down:
Swim – 25:16:6
T1 – 3:46:2
Bike – 1:30:46
Saturday was a busy day for me. I wanted to get up early and scope out the race course. I set out to ride one loop of the bike course but ended up driving around the lake checking out the swim and run course. I was able to do a little riding however, not the entire course. It was all great and fun until I passed the open water swim start down by the lake. As soon as I saw the lake my heart sank and panic immediately set in. I couldn’t shake the fear of the open water. It’s funny because my last race I felt the same way but I did a lot better than I expected. I had comfort from that but there was something about staring into the open water that brought all the pre-race anxiety back. I finished up my ride and tried not to think about the swim.
Packet pick-up didn’t open until after 3pm which gave me almost the entire day to get things done. I headed home to eat, shower, and drown myself in carb goodness. The family decided to head to the pool for a few hours while I waited for packet pick-up to open. I figured all my pre-race prep could wait and the poolside sun might do me some good and help shake the jitters. So off we went! The family wasn’t ready to leave by 3pm so I checked the packet pickup time and realized we had until 5:30pm to arrive. I gave the family about another hour of fun in the sun. Of course by the time we were ready to leave it took another 30 minutes just to get everyone together and in the car. I found myself racing to the bike ship with literally 3 minutes to spare! The day went downhill from there. I still had to grocery shop after that because I knew I wasn’t going to want to do it post-race on Sunday, and well, we had to eat! I was already cursing myself to lounging around the pool all day. I picked up a few things for race day at the bike shop including spacers for my aerobars which had been slipping lately. I was really hoping to use them on race day however, they were not supporting my weight. Very problematic. I headed off to the grocery store and made it home around 7:30p. Luckily the hubs was willing to cook for us while I worked on my bike. The sun had already set and I still hadn’t cooked breakfast for race day, packed my transition bag or gathered any of my race day essentials. We chowed down on spaghetti and put in a movie. My daughter was quick to note that we hadn’t eaten “real” noodles in a very long time. I guess I’m always making spaghetti squash and just never realize it. In retrospect the “real” spaghetti did taste rather delicious. Perhaps we’ll need to make that a regular meal again. After dinner I left the family to pack my things and prep breakfast for race day. It’s always funny to see just how much stuff you need for a triathlon. Luckily this race wasn’t wetsuit legal or I would have had two bags to carry on race day. We made it to bed around 10pm when I realized I hadn’t vlogged at all since we left the pool! Eh well, not such a big deal I guess but it totally slipped my mind. I flipped a few pancakes and bakes cinnamon rolls for the family and then jumped in the shower. I laid down for bed and felt the anxiety of the swim creep up again. Luckily I had worn myself out and quickly fell asleep.
My alarm went off around 4:30 but I didn’t get out of bed until almost 5am. Good thing I had already cooked breakfast! It’s such a time saver. I walked to the bathroom to brush my teeth and it hit me, panic. I thought, “I’m not ready for this swim! 1,000 meters in open water!?” Again I tried to push the images out of my mind and move on with my morning rituals but this time it was too much. I could feel my stomach turning. I forced down two pancakes, grabbed my chilled Gatorade and we headed out the door. It was still pitch black outside and incredibly chilly. I knew we had a cold front come in earlier in the week but I didn’t expect 64 degrees to feel so cold. Race officials had reported the water temperature was 85 degrees but I wasn’t so sure about that. As we pulled out of the driveway I considered running in for my wetsuit but the hubs talked me out of it.
When we arrived at the lake it was eerily quiet and there still was not a single peep of sunlight. We had less than an hour to race start and I was becoming concerned about the lighting. I quickly headed over to body marking and then set up my transition station. The hubs and my daughter found a nice little spot just outside of transition to set up camp. They brought chairs for this race which turned out to be a wonderful idea. I spotted the port-a-potties just across the transition area so after set up I decided to go ahead and wait in god-awful line. Why is there always a line from here to high heaven before a race? I called out to my husband to come wait in line with me but they had already settled into their chairs and looked sleepy. I heard the announcer call “15 minutes until pre-race meeting!” and I began to get even more anxious. There was no way I was going to get through this line in 15 minutes Let alone peel of my tri kit and tinkle. Just then, the wife of the guy in front of me came running up to let him know she had found two more hidden port-a-potties at the other end of the boat dock that had NO LINE. I looked around at the other people in line to see if they had heard her too, but no one moved. As the gentleman and his wife took off in a mad dash to the other area, I too felt the need to flee the line. I mean, how long would a port-a-potty with NO LINE last?! I took off in a light jog behind them. When I passed my husband and daughter lounging in their chairs I knew I didn’t have time to stop an explain, (there was a free port-a-potty waiting) so I just leaned down mid jog and gave my husband the run down. Before I knew it I was jogging right over a parking stump which caught my back foot. I stumbled a bit trying to catch my balance but gravity had already grabbed a hold of me pulling me down to the ground. I fell right on my hip and then rolled out into the grass. Seriously?! I wasn’t even racing yet! Everyone rushed over to see if I was ok and all I could think was…are they running to take my place???? I quickly got up and brushed myself off realizing that I had caught my foot on the hump and removed a good chunk of skin from my toe and upper foot. I bleeding pretty badly as well. “That’s going to hurt on the run” I made it to the port-a-potty and back in time to catch the pre-race meeting…..which felt like it lasted for hours. My husband had the bright idea of moving closer to the water to get away from the speakers. GREAT! That’s all I needed, let’s get closer to the death-trap lake. All I could do was stare at it and try not to poop my pants.
The meeting ended and they opened the lake for warm-ups. I considered not warming up, but I knew I needed to get in there and face my fears. So, I walked slowly to the water. I stopped just before getting in and took a long deep breath and exhaled slowly. I could feel my heart racing already. I continued to walk until I felt the water on my feet. I was warm! Not only was it warmer than the air outside but it was soothingly warm! I walked in chest deep and immediately felt a million times better. My anxiety was almost gone. I took a few laps out and back and then refused to get back out. Now that I was wet the cold air and dry land didn’t sound so appealing.
The race director called out and motioned for all participants to head to the shore. It was still dark. Why was it still dark? I have never swam in the dark before! Panic returns. We all gathered shivering on the shore as the race director explained that the race start would be delayed due to issues with the bike course. He also explained that all races would now start together. TOGETHER! I’m not good in big groups. More panic! I positioned myself out to the right and as far back as I could to try and avoid the masses. I found a women there about my age who looked just as terrified as I felt. We talked about the swim while we waited and I found myself calm and warm again. By this time the sun was up and the water was bright. We heard the race director give the all clear and just like that, the race was off.
I walked as far off shore as I could before beginning to swim. I wanted to give the fast fish time to get ahead of me. When I finally started my swim it wasn’t even 2 minutes before someone swam over me. Literally just came up behind me and swim right on top of me and them passed me. That had never happened before, I thought people were joking when they said things like that. I come across the first buoy before I knew it and was feeling great. I passed the second buoy and headed in to start the second lap of the 500m course. As I approached the shore I could hear the people on shore cheering, it pumped me up. I guess it pumped me up too much because as I rounded the first buoy for the second time I felt myself become winded. I tried to slow down and catch my breath but it didn’t work. I had to roll on my back and float for a minute. I heard the guards in the boat call out to me to see if I was ok. I gave them a thumbs up and turned back over to finish the swim. As I exited the water I looked back and noticed that I wasn’t the last one! I wasn’t even close to the last one! I looked down at my Garmin to check my time and realized, I never started it. Dang it! I saw my husband and daughter at the top of the ramp and yelled “I love you!”
I felt awesome heading into T1. I had a grin from ear to ear. I strapped on my helmet, my shoes, bit off half a Glukos bar and took off out the bike exit. It wasn’t long before I realized that I had joined the ranks of the pro’s. As I exited the park onto the long strip of road that would be the bike course I saw bike after bike pass me. This became the theme for the rest of my ride until I was all alone. I could feel my enthusiasm being drained from me. Old ladies, young ladies, pro-men, even people on mountain bikes, they all passed me. By the last loop I was doing everything I could not to lose hope. I kept repeating “Be grateful you’re here, Be grateful you’re racing”. As I neared the last 5 miles I thought, “is there even anyone behind me?!” How I regret think that because just then I saw the SAG wagon coming out of the park to make its final loop of the course. Holy hell. I have never been last. Disappointment set in and I lost all desire to continue the race. As I pulled in to T2 I could feel the frown on my face. I saw the hubs waiting with his camera and I tried so hard to muster a smile for him. “What happened? Did your bike brake?” he shouted. “Nothing!’” I yelled, “I just suck!” I walked my bike into T2 and racked it. I didn’t even want to put my shoes on. I’d forgotten about my bleeding toe until that point. I looked down to remove my cycling shoes when I noticed I’d bled through the mesh. GREAT! By this point my husband and already walked around transition and positioned himself at the run exit. I could see him waving for me to hurry. I muttered a bit and groaned but I took off with my race belt and visor in hand. As I passed him I said one last “I love you” and prepared for a long lonely run.
As I exited T2 I noticed that my toe wasn’t hurting, my legs didn’t feel like jello and the air was still fairly cool. Perfect conditions for a great run, even if it was going to be alone. I turned the corner to the run course and there they were, all the other racers who had left me on the bike. There was so many families and runners and just everyone. Everyone was there! I felt like I’d walked into a party. Suddenly I felt a second wind of enthusiasm come over me. Once the run was underway I found myself having a lot of fun. The course weaved in and out of the camp sites down by the lake and in and out of wooded areas. I have to be honest though. It was a giant cluster. The course was designed in sort of a figure 8 and they had the runners loop the top half twice in opposite directions and then loop down to the second half and back around to do the whole thing over again. There was one intersection and the volunteer kept yelling “loops 1 and 3 to the left, loops 2 and 4 to the right” what?! We were all very lost. I didn’t care though, the course was beautiful and I was hitting the best pace I’d seen all year. Around mile 5 I felt my foot going numb. I’d stop to shake it out but it kept creeping back up. I had to keep my pace! I was hitting 10 minutes miles like metronome. At this rate I was going to PR the run and I didn’t want to give that up after the bike. I pushed on until the last mile when I found myself alone again. I had to give myself a pep talk to finish strong. I repeated “ 60 minute finish! 60 minute finish!” over and over aloud on my run. It’s probably better that I was alone, folks might think I was crazy! I rounded the last corner of the figure 8 course and I could see the finish chute. I could hear that they were already giving out awards. Good lord! How embarrassing! I sprinted down to the finish anyway and hit a PR of 1:01 for the run. Not the 60 minute finish I was hoping for but an improvement non the less.
Lessons Learned: I need to get on the bike and I NEED to ride on the road. I also NEED to get a new bike!…one that actually fits me. I feel like I was pedaling my heart out on the bike but fell so horribly short. I also feel like I wasted a ton of energy stressing over the swim when I did great! I PR’d that portion as well. I have finally developed into a great swimmer and even though I’m not fast, I know what I’m doing now. I need to have more faith in myself and learn to enjoy the swim.
Future Goals: Ride, Ride, Ride! I’m going to ride my heart out this next weeks and I need to find hills….lots of them.
Well that’s it lovelies! If you’re still reading this I thank you for hanging in there. I’m proud that I finished this race albeit last place but It was learning experience and one that I’m happy to have completed.
I’ll try and post the footage my family was able to get and a few minutes of vlogging if you’re interested. I’ve been having a hard time getting it uploaded to my PC but check my youtube channel
for updates coming soon.