Anyhoodles, my friend Dani and I went up the night before so we wouldn't have to get up at 3 or 4 in the morning the day of the race. Which was good, girly fun. We picked up our race packets and drove around the course. I feel as if no one who hasn't seen it with their own eyes believes me, but Clermont has some SERIOUS hills! Thankfully, they are only in the last few miles of the bike portion, and there are just a few very small ones in the first mile of the run. It was really fun to get excited about something like this with another woman. Dave enjoys the Adventure Races and we really enjoy our alone-time traveling to and from, but he doesn't ever get...I don't know...giddy, the way Dani and I did. Which is probably a good thing really.
Can't say I slept all that well the night before, despite claiming to Dani I was relaxed as can be. My sub-conscious clearly had other ideas. But we woke up ready to go and headed to the race site and started setting up our transition area, bouncy and silly with nerves.
I don't care who you are, but you never feel as badass as when they Sharpie your number onto your arms and legs. They also write your age on the back of your left calf. I found it endlessly amusing the entire race to see people's ages as I passed them or they passed me.
One of these things is not like the other.....(my bike,I'm not being self-deprecating)
So, the race. The swim SUUUUUUUUUUUCKED! I wasn't panicing, I wasn't even getting beat up that much by the other swimmers. I started the race repeating to myself, "Take it slow, take it slow" and I still hit the water with what I assume was adrenaline kicking. As a result, I never once got into that head down, front crawl/freestyle stroke I'd been practicing twice a week for 2 months. No matter how I tried to slow my breathing down, I just could not keep my head under. And of course the goggles started to fog up, and then the next wave started to catch up to me. UBER-frustrating! So I side stroked, front crawled with my head out of the water, back stroked and doggy paddled my way through the .25 miles. The moment I was out of the water I was raring to go. Don't get me wrong, I expected the swim to suck, but I didn't forsee not being able to front crawl/freestyle at ALL. But no worries, I shook it off and didn't let it get to me that almost all of the bikes were already gone by the time I got to the transition area.
The bike and the run were great. A great workout of course, but...dare I say? Yes, I shall. The bike and run were fun. Some people passed me and I passed some people. I didn't have to walk the bike up the couple of mean hills, nor did I have to take any walking breaks during the run. In fact, my run time met my best previous 5K Race time. I'm not ashamed to admit that I am SUPER proud of that. In fact, I got stronger and faster as the run went on. I was actually surprised how quickly it was over.
As I was coming into the chute, they were playing "Edge of Glory" by Lady Gaga. I'm not going to lie, I started tearing up. Like a lot of folk, I'm really affected by music and after everything I've done/gone through in the past year and a half....well, I felt like I had my own little soundtrack.
The announcer pronounced my last name as "Fucks" as I crossed the finish line.
Yes. Yes, I do good sir.
My buddy came in just a few minutes behind me, and was just as emotional as I. She's lost 90 lbs in the past 2 years, after a lifetime of being overweight. Therefore being able to participate in these kinds of things and finish strong (and not even last!) is a huge, HUGE deal for us. Up until recently I know we both felt like odd balls at the 5Ks, etc. THOSE people are real athletes, we're just recovering fat chicks trying to keep up. But I think I can speak confidently for both of us, that we feel, nay, KNOW we are real athletes now. Not Olympic ones mind you, but athletes all the same.
Rare photo of me sporting just the jog bra. I couldn't express to you how few fucks I had to give at that point to anyone who might have thought I was still too heavy to do so.
Oh! And did I mention that I podium-ed?
Yeah, that would be because I was the ONLY woman in the Fat Tire Division. But for the record,
I finished in 1:36:48. Had I entered my age group I would have been 6th out of 9 and if I had done Athena I would have been 4th out of 6. Overall, I was 228 out of 270. Considering, I thought it was a very real possibility that I could come in last, I am happy as a clam with my times.
All said and done, will I be doing another Tri? Probably not. As much as I like swimming laps in the pool, snorkeling in the ocean, etc I just flat out find absolutely nothing enjoyable about the open water swim in the Tri. Sure, the bike and run is a challenge, but I still enjoy them. The swim. Not so much. At all. There are way too many other types of races and events that I enjoy ALL aspects of (Pangea Adventure Races FTW!) to bother with ones that I don't care for...particularly ones that I don't care for that also require the most time away from everything else I enjoy doing in life.
I'm super glad that I did it. Especially that I got to share the experience with my friend. But in the future you are a lot more likely to find me riding my fat tire in the woods than on the roads.