Anyway here goes....
I signed up for the North Park triathlon only 3 weeks out as I was awaiting the final clearance from my surgeon to remove any last restrictions. Once given the go-ahead and freedom do pretty much do whatever I figured why not? I had been running for a few weeks on top of swimming and biking and my pieced together pelvis was feeling pretty good... Although I knew I'd only have 5 weeks of running before the tri, I let my competitive spirit get the best of me.
Going into the race, I told myself... "it's too early to set high expectations". That mentality was relatively short lived as I diligently researched the previous years results to see how I could possibly fare. I know I shouldn't compare myself to others nor should it matter how last years competitors performed, but my bad habits resurfaced . Scott, my hubby definitely would scold me for this one...lol
Anyway going into the race, I tried to set realistic-maintainable goals:
#1 (most importantly) I wanted to savor the simple fact that I WAS RACING IN A REAL TRIATHLON
#2 I wanted to place in the top 5 overall
#3 I wanted to not get caught up in the competition and have fun!
#4 This is probably a dumb goal that most people wouldn't call a goal... but I didn't want to get hurt (I'm still a lil fearful in this area)
#5 This probably negates #2, but I wanted to be pleased and happy no matter my time or place
These probably sound contradictory but in the end, I think I reached most of them.
Now finally getting to the race~ I arrived at North Park right on time and had plenty of time to check in, grab my bag, get my body marked, and set up in transition. So far so good :) To warm up, I ventured out on the trails to scope the course. The rolling hills didn't seem too bad and my legs felt light and refreshed. I headed back to transition, shredded my clothes, perfected my set-up of shoes, sunglasses, visor etc. and anxiously headed over the the start.
Given it was a pool swim, I was shocked as people were actually donning wetsuits for a lousy 700m ! Are you kidding me I thought to myself? I know Pennsylvania can get cold at times but it is still August. Either the water is really, really frigid or these people are RIDICULOUS! I casually sauntered over and reluctantly skimmed the water with my pinky toe... Yes-I confirmed my second hypothesis: These people are a lil crazy... No wetsuit needed. I hopped in and swam an easy 200m and felt ready to go.
There were four people per lane and luckily it was an Olympic sized pool. Surprisingly, I was in the first wave off. I didn't think my expected finish time was that fast :( uh oh! Then again it was a local race and either way this would pay off big time in the bike.
I closed my eyes and said one last prayer. Shortly thereafter the gun was off and there I was racing again finally! Yay! I was elated :) I tried not to go out too hard and quickly found a comfortable rhythm. The lane set-up worked out pretty well and I had no run-ins with my fellow-lane mates. 700 meters goes by fast and it was over before I knew it. I quickly exited the pool and sprinted my way towards transition, catching a glimpse of one other middle aged woman in front of me.
I mounted the pink hotness and set out one loop 1 of 5, quickly following the competition. I tried to stay close by, but my saw my lady slowly gaining some lead. She drifted further and further... I reminded myself that there was still a lotta racing to go and that I needed to pace myself. I was passed here and there by a few young guys but didn't let it get to me. Then it happened again.... around loop four, I was passed again by another woman. This time it was a 56 year old women! She hammered away with her disc wheels and aero helmet. Geez.... I thought to myself. This lady is kickin my A**! She quickly got away and I tried to regain focus. One more loop to go! I kept telling myself, "come-on Heidi-it's HAMMER TIME!" It worked as I dropped a couple seconds on my last loop split :)
I threw down the pink hotness, grabbed my visor and was off again. I thought I might catch up with some of the competition in transition but no love there. There were no ladies in sight :(
My legs felt heavy and tight. My quads and hamstring were both not cooperating too well. Regardless I kept plugging a long picking off a guy here and there up the hills. Some of the tightness subsided after the first mile and I started charging up the hills a little more quickly, picking the guys off slowly but still no women in sight. At the 2 mile point, there were some random volunteers in the wood handing out water. The volunteer cheered as I passed, yelling, "go girl.....there is one right in front of you". As we rounded another tight bend, I was pleased with what I saw ahead. There she was... the 56 yo old lady with the aero helmet! Man I hope I'm that fast when I'm her age!
Turning again up another hill, I tried to focus: "pump your arms, control your breathing, quick turnover." It worked! I passed the lady up the hill. I tried to mask my joy, with a "good job!" as I charged the hill. She returned the same.
The last mile seemed never ending. The twists and turns throughout the woods contorted my perception of how far I had to go. As I rounded another sharp bend, the trail head opened up onto the pavement and I could hear the faint cheers in the distance. This is it, almost done! I picked it up, still a little unsure of the remaining distance. Then as I rounded another bend, the finishing clock was a short 100 meters away. I sprinted it in. Ahh... sigh of relief! I did it!
I ended up with a 5th overall finish with the splits as follows:
swim pace 1:48 /100m
bike pace: 19.73 mph
run pace: 7:44/mile
Although I was definitely disappointed with my splits, it's realistically too early for me to judge....