Sunday, July 15, 2007

FTE: The Real Story

With support like this, how can you go wrong? My dad, sister and my nephew came in from an hour away to meet Hubby and Boy Genius at the shuttle pick up at 7:00 in the morning. I could hear them cheering for me during the swim, on the bike, and at the start and finish of the run. They made me feel like a superstar.

My race really started last night, at my son's baseball game which started at 8:00. PM. Also known as "My Private Hell." Who in the hell schedules a baseball game for seven year olds at 8:00 at night? Boy Genius was grumpy before we even got there. And by grumpy I mean the "I hate you, I don't want to live with you anymore, your cooking tastes like vomit" variety of grumpy. These are exact quotes. So, yeah. I wasn't feeling real warm and fuzzy about the baseball game and the hours of sleep it was stealing from the Eve of my First Tri Ever. But, once we got there, he settled down, apologized, professed his love for me, and played a good game. He was especially good at hitting (he's probably the most consistent hitter on his team - Go Boy Genius!!) and kicking the dirt around so it got in the other players' eyes. He's crafty that way.

So, with about two hours less sleep than I would have preferred, I awoke this morning at 5:00 a.m. to the dawn of my (say it with me) First Tri Ever. Now, as you can probably imagine, I had opened my eyes several times before my "official" 5:00 a.m wakeup time. First at midnight, then 2:00, then 3:30. And probably a few more times before that. As has been reported by many other bloggers, sleep is not sound the night before a race. Especially not before one's FTE. Aren't you glad I didn't make you say it with me that time?

I was nervous bordering on Terrified Out of My Mind. But I ate about a half a bowl of oatmeal, a half a cup of coffee and a half a banana. Just before I left, I pulled up my training log and looked at the total number of running miles, biking miles, and swimming yards. "This is what you've put into this." I said to Self. "This is where you've been. Where you're going is a piece of cake compared to this." This calmed me down considerably and I was ready to go.

When I arrived at the race, I found I had a ton of questions and not a lot of folks to answer them. No bodymarking - so "Do we need our numbers on the bike?" No one knew. "Does transition close at all?" Again, no one knew for sure but there was a strong suspicion that, since there were a number of heats setting out from 7:00 in the morning until 8:45, that they would leave the area open to the athletes. So I set up my transition area to my satisfaction, made sure Pyro was all comfy on her rack, and slipped on my running shoes to head out for a warm up jog. It was cool but very humid - and I felt absolutely fabulous. I couldn't have been in better spirits. I felt tough in my uniform, my feet felt like they had springs in them and I was just totally psyched at the energy surrounding the race. I did my warmup without my socks and that felt so darn right that I decided to leave the socks off for the race as well. I smeared body glide all over the tops and sides of my feet and felt good to go.

The span of time between the end of my warmup and the start of my heat allowed me to find those butterflies again. And when you think of these butterflies, imagine about ten thousand eagle sized mothras beating around in my little tum. It was a little disconcerting. I was really going to do this - I was really going to swim/bike/run as fast as I could for an hour plus. That's when AJ's Race Phase No. ? began: OMG, OMG, OMFG!!!

Thankfully, it was soon time for me to go up to the pool and watching the other swimmers calmed me down. There were a couple of dudes breast-stroke/doggy-paddling/running on the bottom. And this one woman was doing the absolute slowest freestyle I have ever seen. That, my dear ones, is saying something. And you know what, though seeing them made me feel better, I didn't feel superior or like I was looking down on them at all. In fact I was kind of impressed that they were out there, giving it a shot. They were working a lot harder than the fishes on the other side of the pool, and they were doing it anyway. That was pretty cool.

The Swim

As soon as I got in the water, my nerves disappeared and I felt absolutely ready.
I started joking with the guy in my lane - we got lucky and the third person in our lane didn't show and it was just the two of us.

I'm the one in the blue swim cap with the shark on it.

And then, we swam.

Best swim ever - 300 yds - 5:44. A time that, for me, was, as our friend Bolder would say, stellah!



Easy Peasy.

The Bike

I cut a little time off of my previous trial runs here, but not a lot. My weakness, it seems, is cornering. I slow way down before approaching a sharp turn and I lose time on it. In fact, this one woman I cat and moused with for the entire last half of the ride passed me once and for all because I had slowed down to go down the chute into T2. And everytime she'd passed me before had been before a turn - I would slow for the turn, she would buzz past, I would catch her and blow by her until she caught me on the next turn. Something to work on. I got passed by four other people. Two chicks on the second lap, going up the only real hill of the course - and there was no way I was catching them. They were, without doubt, Out of My League. One dude passed me the same way - see ya dude, lookin' strong! And one chick who thought she had me on the uphill but I blew past her like she was standing still as soon as we crested the hill. See, I had a strategy. I was spinnin' up the hill to save my legs, not blowing all I had on the climb only to come out with nothing for the flats and the down hills. I didn't have time to give her that little pointer though, so I just said "On your left" in the most encouraging, positive, in your face sort of way I knew how. And after that, other than cat and mouse chick, I was the one that did all the passing. I passed on dude in a speedo on a nice road bike - like he wasn't even moving. And tons of folks on mountain bikes and hybrids. And two girls on road bikes - I heard one say to the other as I blew past, "I wish I could ride like that." I. Shit. You. Not. I wanted to laugh, thinking of all my rubber side down moments. Instead, I just stood up a little and pumped like I meant it to put a bit more distance on those two lovelies - cause that's what one of the Out of My League chicks did when she passed me. I thought it looked cool. Thank you, lovelies, you made my day. I hope you had a good race!

Final time: 31:37

T2 - :49

Yeah, baby!

The Run

As many of you know, after last weeks debacle, I was fearing the run a bit.

I started out conservatively -

And I just kept at it, grinding up the hills, encouraging and accepting encouragement from the other runners, and staying positive.

"OK, chica, this is where we started. The Run. You love to run. So, do it. Nice and easy. Relaxed like a Kenyan. You're going to do this. You're going to be a triathlete today."

And so it went for 15 minutes and change to the turnaround. The halfway mark came before I knew it and it felt great to turn around - especially since I knew there were more downhills than uphills on the way back. So, I started down the hill, and started to pick it up.

"All, right, lady, let's make hay while the sun shines, pick up that cadence, stay relaxed, you've got it."

A slight side stitch toyed with me throughout, but it was nothing I couldn't handle. I kept at it. I was encouraging the runners that were starting their run -"You're almost halfway, you've got this!" Until it occurred to me that if I had the breath to cheer, I wasn't going fast enough. So I picked it up some more.

When I passed the last water station, the one where this totally awesome lady had her garden hose on in her front yard and was spraying any runner that wanted it, I knew I was going to finish this thing. And, looking at the time on my stopwatch, I had a suspicion I was going to beat my 1:15 goal. So I picked it up some more.

The last 400 yards or so before the finish, I'm not sure if I was smiling on the outside, I was concentrating on keeping up the pace, pushing it a little harder, but on the inside, I was beaming.

"You're going to do this! You're going to be a triathlete, today!"

I could feel all the training, all the sweat, all the falls and the tears and the elation I had experienced on this entire journey - erupting as I crossed the finish. I did it. Today, I became a triathlete.

Run time - 28:33.

Final time - 1:08:15

I didn't win any bling. I was 7th out of 18 in my age group and 114 out of 200+ participants. Right in the middle of the pack. At first, I was disappointed with this. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that, at this time of my life, I like the middle of the pack just fine. Most of my life I've been first - or vieing for it. First born, First in the Long Jump, "Best Actress", "Best Singer", blah, blah, blah. In the theatrical world, I was always fighting to stay at the top - if you want to work, you have to be one of the very very best. Always pressuring myself to be more - letting my self worth depend on the latest review, the latest role, what the latest director had to say about me. It was exhausting. And I was pretty good at it. But I wasn't good enough to stay up there without a cost. And that price tag was getting just a little bit ridiculous.

Being in the middle is kind of cozy. There's not a lot of pressure and nobody other than the people who matter are watching you. Nobody is waiting with baited breath for you to fall. There are victories and triumphs and failures here too, but they are more personal, more about your own growth, your own happiness than about what the masses are saying about you. I like it here, in the middle. I have lots of great company.


Anonymous said...



Anonymous said...

BTW, Nice Photos! Who did that!

Vickie said...

AND YOU DID IT! And you did it just fine! It sounds like you had a great time too and I'm sure learned a lot. This is just the beginning!

Danielle in Iowa said...

Yay! I am glad you had fun with the whole thing!

Laurie said...


I'm so happy for you that you exceeded your goals. You did an awesome job :)

Vickie said...

P.S. I think you are on to something beyond your belief! I predict greatness in the next year or two. (Let me be the first to say this)?

jeanne said...

FANTASTIC!!! omg, you make it look so easy! you did a entire tri faster than it takes me to run a 10k!!

i think you have found your sport. you were BORN TO TRI!

21stCenturyMom said...

I don't even know where to start so I'll start with the predictable - CONGRATULATIONS! and WOO HOO!

I am SO glad you had fun with this - that's the most important part of all.

I love your swim cap - perfect.

And I love this quote "In fact I was kind of impressed that they were out there, giving it a shot. They were working a lot harder than the fishes on the other side of the pool, and they were doing it anyway."

My experience has been that most real triathletes feel that way. They know that triathlon is hard and just showing up and making the effort makes you brave. I love that. And now YOU are a real triathlete! Great job!

So - what's next?

21stCenturyMom said...

I forgot - I love the family photos at the end.

And your kid is adorable - "your cooking tastes like vomit" tee... Kid knows how to pack a punch and then love it away. Too cute.

Phil Sabin said...

Congratulations! It sounds like it couldn't have gone any better.


Bolder said...

Phoenix from Missouri...


Congrats chica. What a great day for you, and to have your hubby, son, and family all there to celebrate with you!

You did GREAT!!

But, as I've said before, you were a triathlete long before you danced under those lights -- but, on this given Sunday -- you EARNED that title!!!

your fellow triathlete, Bold

stronger said...

Awesome job TRIATHLETE! So glad you posted the report today. I was thinking about you!

Jane said...

Holy shit - you were fast! You looked like a seasoned pro. My report to come soon...

Tryan said...

Congratulations on your FTE!!!! It sounds like you had fun, which is the most imporatant part of the sport. Also, nice PR on the swim.

Tom said...

Congrats. You sound happy, which is all that really matters. Fantastic race, a great experience.

Rural Girl said...

Are you hooked?! Great, great, great job. It sounds like you really had a good time. I'm happy for you.

Jane said...

Another comment: you did awesome! nice photos. You must be a really fast swimmer! Do you think we are going to get addicted now? I love the sign your dad made.

Phoenix said...

Hubby gets credit for the sign. And for taking the pictures! Go, Hubby!

And yeah, just like I knew I would be, I'm a total addict. I guess there's worse things to be addicted to!

Wil said...

Whoa that T2 time rocks! Crap I don't think I could hit that NOW. Awesome pics, awesome smiles all over the place, it looks like you had a blast! Way to go, P!!

Duane said...


Paul said...

Exciting race report. Thanks for sharing! Congrats on your stellar finish. I'm looking forward to plenty more from you.

No Wetsuit Girl... overseas! said...

So, so excellent! I knew you could do it!!! You.Are.A.Triathlete!

You did the swim in a pool?

Some tips on cornering (don't know if they'll help).
-When you're coming in to a corner try to make the curve as wide as possible, pick a line/apex and go for it. This may mean that you're going into the middle of traffic, so look over your shoulder to make sure no one's there.
-Make sure your inside foot is at 12 o'clock and your outside foot at 6 o'clock (most people know this). It really helps if you put extra pressure on the outside foot (I think about trying to push the pedal off the bike on really sharp turns).
-Try to think about turning by throwing your weight from one side to the other instead of turning the wheel.
-Practice, practice, practice!

Great job, Phoenix!

the Dread Pirate Rackham said...

WOO WOO! I'm so impressed - you are Awesome!!!

Great race!

Don't let the place thing get you. Do it for YOUR reasons. Unless of course your reason is to get first prize, in which case, there's this county fair I recommend to you...