Thursday, September 26, 2013

Race Report - Outer Banks Olympic Triathlon

My first triathlon!

September 21, 2013

Swim - 1500 meters
Bike - 24.5 miles
Run - 6.2 miles

Outer Banks Olympic Triathlon
Manteo, NC

I have to admit that I was SCARED going into this big event.  I questioned everything - my training, my dedication, my ability to finish.  Yikes.  It was the longest and fastest week at the same time.  Finally (suddenly!), Friday came around and I packed Mom and the kids in the car and off we went for our 3.5 hour drive to Manteo.  The informational meeting was at 5pm and we arrived at about 4pm and went to packet pick-up. 
Swag!  It's a solidly confirmed fact that I will do just about anything for a free t-shirt.
I had received info with two bib numbers via email on Thursday - one said I was Athena (so despite the fact no one responded to my call and email, I guess they made the changes?) and one said I was Age Group.  When I checked in, I showed them both numbers and the Athena bib had some guy's name on it, so the lady looked up the AG and it said Lisa.  I asked again about switching and was told that I *could* but I shouldn't because the Athenas were a faster group.  What?  The chubby girls are faster than the super-fit early 40s ladies?  DOES NOT COMPUTE.  But the official said since this was my first triathlon, I should stick with Age Group.  Who am I to argue?  I know nothing about this, right?  The meeting went quickly and we headed to the hotel on the beach at Kill Devil Hills (about 15 miles away).  I slept poorly and woke up dizzy and nauseated.  I ate some popcorn (which is what I eat for breakfast every morning.  Is that weird?) and felt a bit better.  I briefly considered that I might not make it to the start line feeling this way, but I think I willed my body to cooperate by sheer force.
Transition set up was from 5:45 - 6:45am, with the Olympic start time being 7:45am (the Half peeps started at 7am).  We got there and I picked up my timing anklet and got marked up with my number: 537. 

Setting up transition was something I had read lots about, so I felt good about it.  I put out a little towel and had my running shoes out with socks in them.  I have not yet committed to cycling shoes so I planned on wearing my running shoes for the bike and the run.  I had two bags - one with a red shirt to put on for the bike and some snacks to eat in between the swim and bike, and another bag with my run stuff: my red Sparkle Skirt and more nutrition for the run.

I started off in a red/black/white TYR trisuit and had a wardrobe change for each leg.  Why? Because I'm FABULOUS!  Ok, not really.  I wanted the shirt for the bike because I didn't want to worry about looking fat in my trisuit on the bike, but I did add the Sparkle Skirt for the run to be fabu.  I felt like I needed something fun to finish this thing out.

But let's start at the beginning, with the...
Here's our wave swimming out to the Olympic buoy - the yellow one.  See how far it looks?  Yeah, it was further than that.
From the shore to the yellow buoy was 1/3 of the way.  We then swam across to another yellow buoy 500 meters away
then back to the shore.  It was FAR.
I made some friends at the start line who were also doing their first triathlon.  We were all extremely nervous and decided to be last in the water so we didn't get swum over.  Since we were the last wave, we were THE VERY LAST into the water.  We all good-naturedly argued who would be last out of the water at the end.  I ended up winning this argument when it took me 1:17 to make the .9 mile swim.  This pretty much was my pace in the pool, so I was not surprised or disappointed.

The Good:  I made it.  And Lordy, it was hard. 

The Bad: I was exhausted when I got out of the water, unlike anything I've experienced at the pool.

The Ugly:  I was last out of the water by like 10 minutes.  I hated being last.

What I Learned: So much!  I needed more swimming practice and especially more open water practice.   And maybe a wetsuit.

The AWESOME: My family was at the shore screaming and clapping like I was the FIRST one out of the water.  I always love them at my races and this time was especially wonderful.

I had a private escort as they patiently watched me swim.  The lifeguard on the board was awesome and so encouraging.

Finally out and smiling (probably just grateful that I didn't drown)
Transition went well except I messed up my Garmin and it locked up.  So I had to go into the bike segment totally blind on time/pace/mileage.  I think my transition time was between 3-4 minutes.

Obligatory butt pic.  Here's me leaving for the bike leg.
I got on my bike and headed out feeling pretty proud I'd finished the swim.  It was more challenging than I thought and I just kept thinking, "If I can get out of this water, I can SIT on the bike and rest!" HAHA!  Wrong!  The course was extremely flat which meant NO COASTING and constant peddling.  There was a cool 3 mile bridge between the island and the mainland, but they didn't close any of the roads so there was not a lot of room to move over as cars sped by.  There was one pretty big hill on the bridge, but it was doable.  It was very windy and wind was blowing directly into my face.  I just kept thinking it would be at my back on the return so if I could just make it to the turn-around, the trip back would be easier.  It was somehow worse!  I felt like I was in a pool of water trying to peddle.  It was like I wasn't even moving forward sometimes.  The wind was THAT bad! 
Four days after the accident.  This was one of several bad
bruises all over my body.
Finished with bike leg and giving an exhausted smile.
Because of the wind, a few things happened.  One, I was gripping too tightly on the handlebars and had some lasting problems from that (which I will cover in my Recovery post later on).  I was not relaxed and this was not a good way to ride the bike.  Two, it was getting harder to keep the bike steered straight and maintain control.  I was getting tired and it was work to keep on course.  Then "Three" happened at about mile 14 of 24.5.  A car swooshed by pretty close to me as I was changing gears.  I pulled kinda hard to the right and went off the side of the road, down, down, down, and tangled up in my bike on the ground.  I don't remember it being scary or painful at all.  I popped right back up and rechained my bike.  I was looking it over when the bike tech pulled up to help.  I had knocked my handlebars out of whack and broke my front breaks.  He suggested I go to medical and I told him I was fine.  The he pointed to my right leg which was gushing blood.  I told him I had a band-aid, so I'd be ok.  He literally laughed in my face because that was the most ridiculous thing I could have said in light of the situation.  He went to his truck and got a huge stack of Taco Bell napkins and a bottle of water for me to clean up my leg.  It would not stop bleeding!  He finally stopped suggesting I go to the medical tent when it became obvious that I was unreasonable (LOL) and I went on my way.  I did have to stop and rest a few times.  Between the accident and my few rests, the bike segment took 2.5 hours.  It did not seem like that long at all.  It was slower than my training pace, but the wind and the accident really threw a loop in my overall time.  I know I gave it everything I had, so I can't be hatin' on my effort here.

The Good:  This was the farthest I'd gone on my real bike!

The Bad: The fall.  Yikes.

The Ugly:  The wind.  Why is this worse than the fall?  Because I fought it the whole time and it was miserable.  The fall was over quickly and I was so pumped with adrenaline that it barely registered as a blip.  But the wind was taking my breath away with its force and it was so hard to peddle against.

What I Learned: I need to spend more time on my real bike.  PERIOD.  The gym is nothing like outdoor training on a bike.

The AWESOME:  Most everyone that passed me said something nice and encouraging.  I was so impressed with my fellow triathletes and their support.

Transition between bike and run.  I was putting on my skirt here.  I can't believe I sat down and then actually got back up!

Leaving transition - total time 6 minutes.
or more accurately...
Yeah, walk.  My Garmin was key-locked and not working so I had no interval alerts and honestly, I was so damn tired.  I tried to keep a brisk pace, and I did run a few times, but I really didn't have a lot more to give and I wanted to finish in the upright position.  At this point, I knew I was going to make it, so I think mentally, I decided to take it easy and just FINISH.  As proud as I am of my swim and bike (because I gave it my all), I am not proud of this last leg at all.  And that's really an ongoing issue with the half marathons I've done.  I just do not leave it all out on the course and this bothers me tremendously.  I don't know how to get around it.  My time was my worse 10k time ever - 1:44.

The Good:  I got A LOT of compliments on my Sparkle Skirt!

The Bad: Walking.  Ugh.

The Ugly:  The fact that I didn't finish strong. 

What I Learned: I've got to work on giving my all during a run. 

The AWESOME:  I actually finished this thing!

Getting my medal.  I did not ugly face cry, but I did get a little teary-eyed.


So, I did it.  WOW.  I honestly can't believe I finished.  I was not happy with my time, but it was about what I'd estimated (5 hours) plus the wreck, and transition, adding another 44 minutes.  I was not dead last and there were people who DNF, so I was ok with it.  My plan for next year is to take two hours off that time for a totally doable and reasonable goal of 3:44.  I'm going to go ahead and sign up for 2014 this week!


  1. What an amazing story for your first tri! The good news is that you will probably never have a race that is this hard... although I see you are talking about a 70.3, so I see more pool time and time on the road bike in your future. You conquered your fears (and a bike crash) and kept going until you earned that medal. AWESOME job!!! :-)

    1. Thanks Tracey! It's funny because in retrospect, it's kinda like childbirth. I remember it being hard, but I don't remember it as being anything but wonderful in the end. I did sign up for the Raleigh Ironman 70.3 because I was afraid it would sell out before I felt ready. I think I am going to get a coach for this one, though. I guessitmated training for this one and I think (especially in swimming) I was woefully unprepared!

  2. Congratulations!! I think every post I've read has made me laugh so far! I wasn't in a race, but when I was biking to college once, some garbage got wrapped up in my front wheel and I tumbled down a hill, no helmet and got knocked out. I came to with some guy asking if I needed help and I was all "no, no I'm totally fine". I think it's a bizarre stubborn personality trait so it made me laugh when you were refusing help with blood gushing out of your leg. Way to go persevering and finishing!