Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Iron Girl :: Race Recap

It's official...I can now call myself a triathlete. I finished my first race and even lived the tell the story, which is quite impressive if I do say so myself. Here's my race recap of the 2012 Iron Girl.

Saturday -- Day Before Race
Headed up to Lake Lanier Islands (site of the tri) with my other 3 training partners and friends (Hil, Nic and Meg) just before lunch time to get checked in, check out the expo and rack our bikes. The line to check in was kinda long and the sun was beating down, surely a sign of what tomorrow would hold. We perused the expo, which was smaller than I had hoped and then headed up to transition to get our timing chip and rack our bikes. After we all took a look around, checked out the swim start and made sure we knew where to meet the next day, we headed off to finish our day and get a good nights rest.

Mike and I drove the 19 mile bike course, in true race fashion, so that I would know what to expect the next day. While a few of the hills seemed attainable, the one at mile 9 seemed like a doozie and I wasn't 100% certain I could make it, even in the car, let alone on the bike. Only time would tell. Post the drive of the course, Mike and I headed to his parents house where we would set up camp for the night. My good friend, Amanda, came to stay with us as she would be racing too. We hit up Provino's for a good pasta dinner, got some frozen yogurt and then headed home to pass out. Little did I know sleep would be the one thing I didn't get that night.

Sunday -- Race Day
4:30AM and the alarm blares loud reminding me it's time to jump out of bed and get my body moving for today was the day I'd remember as my first triathlon. Post morning routine and some quick breakfast, Mike, Amanda and I headed over to Lake Lanier to get this day started.

Hil, Nic, Meg and I pre race
Once we got our transition areas all ready to go, we headed down for one last bathroom trip and to set up shop on the 'beach' and wait our turn. Meg, Amanda and I were in the 25-29 age group while Hil and Nic were in 30-34, making them start 5 minutes ahead of the rest of us. 

Swim -- 536 meters (1/3 of a mile)
my start wave in the swim
As we waited with our colorful swim caps, the thought "I can't do this" resounded in my head. I actually cried for a minute and told myself to quit now or die trying. Nonetheless, I pressed on. I heard them start Hil and Nic's group and got the sick feeling in my stomach, but they were off and looking good. 5 minutes later (which seemed like only 3 seconds), it was time for my age group to enter the water. With our bright green caps, we waded in. 10, 9, 8, 7 ..... then GO! Holy Crap it was time. I put my face in the water and started to swim. Hil, Nic and I have been training at LA Fitness for months now. We've done this distance a handful of times, however...never in a lake. The experiences is 100% different and 100% terrifying to realize a few things. 1) you can't see except for your hands as they sweep through the water ahead of you. 2) there are bodies ... EVERYWHERE you look and turn. Kicking, struggling for air, moving at lighting pace...3) you can't touch. HOLY MOLY where's the bottom. Needless to say about halfway though I panicked...big time. I couldn't get in my zone, I couldn't get a stroke in without sucking in water to save my life. I considered quitting but then remembered 2 things. 1) My husband, an Ironman, was watching and waiting to cheer me on at the finish line and that no matter how long it too me, he'd be proud and 2) the movie Nemo.... as in .... "Just Keep Swimming". While it took me longer than I wanted, I made it out of the water and up that nasty hill to transition

headed out of T1
Bike -- 19 miles
As I entered transition, I knew I needed to get out fast. I grabbed all my stuff and my bike and headed out. Helmet was on, sunglasses too and I was ready to roll. Even got at "Great Hustle 1272" from one of the volunteers that made me smile. As I headed out, I remembered driving the course which let me conserve energy where needed. I made it up the first two hills no problem and at mile 4 encountered another 'first timer'. See, when biking, you say "On your left" to let someone know you're coming and passing them. The rider being passed should then move to the right to allow the faster rider to pass....not this chick. Instead of moving to the right, she looked left and locked handle bars with me as I was pushing up the hill...knocking me into a car nonetheless. Since I use clip in pedals, I had to get off my bike and am lucky I didn't get run over. I had to walk up the rest of the hill...adding a few minutes to my time and some fuel to my fire. I later passed her and relished in that moment. As the hills drug on and the sun rose, I kept telling myself "push and pull" to get through and keep going. Mile 9 came at my like a freight train and I had to dismount my bike halfway through to get up that bad boy. Once at the top I mounted my bike and pushed on, determined to make up some time and pass some girls along the way...success. Mile 11 brought another site...a crash and a bad one at that. I've later found out through another tri bloggers site what happened and have since kept up with Kirsten's progress on the Facebook page they created. It was a gnarly crash and I hope and pray she makes a full recovery. Once at Mile 12 I knew I had this in the bag and that all that lay ahead was a 5K run. I hustled into the final miles and in true Melissa fashion, puked when I got off the bike (don't worry...this is normal). 

Run - 5K (3.1 miles)
almost there!
After racking my bike and a quick change of shoes, I was off for the run. I got a wicked cramp in my left leg but tried to run through it. I saw my family, friends and awesome hubby as I started the 5K knowing in a mere 30 or 40 minutes I'd see them again as I crossed that finish line. I settled into my stride as my IT Bands came with vengeance ... both legs. I backed off my pace and walked a bit of mile one to ease them back down. By mile 2 I was ready to roll and strutted down the hill and into the home stretch. While I was coasting I came across a couple more first timers and chatted with's always nice to have company along the way, even if you never talk to them again. As we rounded past the last turn and up this final hill, I could see it like a beaming light from above. There it was, the finish line. I walked a few minutes knowing I wanted to bring it home in full stride and that's just what I did. 

While I didn't meet my goal of 2hrs and 30 min ... I wasn't far off either finishing my first race in 2hrs 43 minutes. I was welcomed at the finish my all of my friends who raced along side me as well as those who came to support. If it wasn't for my family, friends and Ironman of a husband, I wouldn't have ever been able to finish this race...let alone sign up for 3 more (yes, I'm serious). 

with our signs from our support crew! 

my awesome husband and #1 fan!

Until my next race ... in a week! 

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Tiffany said...

Congrats, Melissa! This is awesome! I am totally going to sign up for one of these and start training--thanks for the inspiration!


Nicole-Lynn said...

Happy belated 1 year anniversary! :)

Laura at Saying I do said...

so interesting, thanks for sharing! I don't know if I could do sounds intense and yet..i'm intrigued!! good for you, that's truly amazing!

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