Friday, June 21, 2013

St. Anthony's Triathlon 2013!

Let me start this by saying that I have been trying to write this blog post for a while but life gets in the way and I never get a chance to finish. Hopefully I'll get a chance to write another post and update everyone on the rest of life. But here's my re-cap from St. Anthony's Triathlon.

My friend Kathy crossed the finish line at the St. Anthony's Triathlon and is now a triathlete. I am so proud of all her hard work and perseverance. She pushed through so much to get that medal and to be able to call herself a triathlete. There may be a lot of other triathletes out there, but I don't think anyone can deny that completing an Olympic Triathlon is not easy.

The day before the race we headed to packet pickup to make sure we had everything we needed. While there, we were able to scope out the transition area and get the bike checked in. We all went back to the house and packed our transition bags and laid out our clothes. I may have a little of my mother's type A organization but I can guarantee that it helped on race day.

Race morning started with an early wake up call, I really don't think any of us slept much. First thing I did when the alarm went off was look at Facebook. I'm sure this makes me sounds like I'm crazy social media obsessed, but it was to check to see the water temperature. Wet suits are only "legal" if the temperature is 78 degrees or less. While that doesn't seem cold there is a buoyancy factor to a wet suit that helps make a swimmer feel safer in the water.....we WANTED that buoyancy factor. Onto the St. Anthony's Facebook page and the first thing I saw is "Wet suit legal!"

I screeched to Kathy the good news and started to get ready. Being responsible for 3 people's things for a race was nerve wracking, what if I forgot my inhaler, or Kathy's hat, or Jeff's get the point.

We got the park, set up our stuff and I started my wetsuit dance. Do you know how hard it is to put on that darn wetsuit? Oh my goodness I look like a fool trying to wrangle my body into that suit. Once it's on I'm fine and taking it off is easy. I digress....
Ready and waiting for the swim to start

Walking over from the transition to the swim start my nerves all hit.....holy crap what am I doing? What is wrong with me? Why did I think this was a good idea? Why didn't anyone try to stop me...oh my god what if I can't do it? What if I lead her into a pole, or pot hole, or another swimmer. Luckily a friend started chatting with Kathy and keeping her distracted from how nervous I really was. As we walk into the water I am numb, not from the "cold" water but from the shear terror that is running through me. As we waited for the horn, treading water (a deep water start) I remember looking around and seeing Hines Ward giving me a nervous smile, then all of a sudden everyone was swimming. Combine my nerves with the fact that I wear earplugs while swimming and I never heard the start horn. I just yelled GOOOO!!! and we started swimming. I had this great plan to swim on the left side of the crowd so that she was on the outside....that went out the window so fast. Luckily everyone was great and seemed to stay out of our way. The swim is a little of a blur but I remember the lifeguards being amazing and it seeming like we would never finish. Finally we could stand and we started the LONG barefoot, soaking wet run to the transition area. It's one thing to guide a visually impaired runner when they have shoes on, but barefoot I was hyper aware of everything on the ground. Jeff was waiting and ready for us the second we ran into the transition. I'm not sure how we did it but we got them out of on the bike so quickly. I ran out with them to make sure they were on the bike and set and then I went numb again. We did it, we actually swam and survived, part one complete.
Coming out from the water
Jeff and Kathy heading out on the bike
While they were out of the bike I managed to get myself changed and refueled and mentally re-prepared for the 10k run. I knew she would be tired from swimming and biking so I would have to be extra vigilante and on my own game to make sure she finished. Seeing friends who came out to cheer us on definitely helped get me pumped up again. Once they got in from the bike we got her shoes swapped and started our run. If you've ever gone from biking to running, you know your legs have a dead feeling that doesn't make running very easy. I knew Kathy would be experiencing this so I started her off slow and steady. We ran out through the crowd of cheering people and got going. It was a run/walk morning and there were times when I didn't know what to say to keep her motivated. I was paranoid that I would miss a bump or dip in the road and being that she was already tired, I was so scared of her hurting herself on my watch. 

But my favorite part of the run is when we passed the Running for Brews cheering station. It was like having our own personal cheering station. We run at least once a week with this amazing running club and the support on race day was unbelievable. Below is my favorite picture from the run because our friend Nicole ran with us for a few minutes, checking in, motivating, and supporting us. That is what our running club is all about.
Thank you Nicole!
Finally we got close to the end of the run. As we hit the last stretch of the run the crowd got louder and louder. There were so many smiling faces and encouraging cheers. Jeff met us with .2 miles left and the three of us ran into the finish line as a group.

It's hard to describe what it's like to guide someone through a race. I think I will feel more comfortable as we do more races but for our first to be a full triathlon, that may have been a little crazy. When we crossed that finish line my first concern was getting her guide dog and other friends with her so that Jeff and I could take a break. Once that happened I could feel my entire body relax and my brain finally slowed down to a normal pace again. I was mentally exhausted for a few days after the race. 

Looking back on it I would HIGHLY recommend a tad more training but I also know that my body and brain can be pushed when I am determined. I am looking forward to my first triathlon as an athlete but can't wait until Kathy and my next race when I can run with her again.