Monday, June 21, 2010

I am a Triathlete!

Saturday: Pre Race Prep

After getting everything that Dawn and I need to race (her bike, wet suit rental, race belts, extra nutrition and hydration, flip flops, etc.) We parked the truck at the Old Convention Center for a short bike ride over to the Expo to pick up Dubois, Trudy and Francy for an exciting/dangerous ride through the city to the Transition area. The plan was to rack our bikes and go out for a practice swim. As we looked for our bike rack, Lloyd magically appeared to help us out and explain where to set up transition and where to run in/out. We grabbed our gear and headed over to the Potomac. I was so anxious and just wanted to get in that I probably rushed everyone. And then, my surprisingly emotional response to all of this began. I sat on the dock with my feet in the water and I STARTED BAWLING!! I don't know where the tears came from, but they were flowing. All I could say (through those childlike breathless gaps of talking while crying) is "I don't know why I'm upset". My immediate thought was " I want Mei Mei (my swim coach)", but Mei Mei wasn't there. My next thought was, "I need a hug from Lloyd" (who was never that far away), but I knew that he would not be gentle with me and tell me how I am ready for this, I can swim and that I trained hard so jump in. I quickly realized that I had all that I needed right there with me: Trudy in the water talking softly to me telling me to take my time getting in, Dawn at my side rubbing my back and Francy right there saying how this can be a bit overwhelming, so what I am feeling is normal. I jumped in. I quickly grabbed hold to the wall  and clung to it for dear life, but I jumped in. I decided to bob my head in and out of the water. I reminded myself that I swam in the Chesapeake Bay without a wetsuit and at the Wilson pool in 13 feet of water without a wetsuit, so swimming here with kayakers and  Lloyd was on the deck watching my every move, so I should be just fine. I know how to swim! The goal was to swim to the first buoy and turn back. Mei Mei and Lloyd both instructed me to not swim that far the day before the race and to not let those anxious folks swimming the whole course sway me into doing otherwise. I swam out 100 meters to the first buoy, around and back. It seemed like it took longer to get back, as I could not see the exit. But nevertheless, I got back. Everyone was on the deck waiting for me, although Francy and Dawn never left my side during the swim. Lloyd greeted me with a big hug. I was dizzy from the floating deck, but otherwise, I felt okay.The big question was "wetsuit or no wetsuit" due to the extremely hot temperatures. I had spoken to Mei Mei that morning about it after texting her a frantic "WHAT DO I DO??" message. She quickly called me and heard the anxiety in my voice and calmly talked me down. But at the practice swim it was still a question. There was talk of making all of the wetsuit wearing folks go at the end of the race and not with your age group. None of my friends were wearing wetsuits and Lloyd was telling me to not wear it, but the decision was made. I would go into the water again with a wetsuit and see if I overheat or not. I went out to swim again and had so many thoughts in my head and got water in my goggles that I could not get out without filling them back up with water again and I could not see and I started waving my hand frantically for help from a kayaker and boy was I freaking out!! Sarah Thorpe came to my rescue. I grabbed hold of her kayak for dear life and started talking fast about my problem. She saw how I was trying to empty them and told me how to do it. She had me turn on my back to practice emptying my goggles twice and told me how proud of me she is and then, I was on my way. Dawn was on the deck videoing my swim back and me telling her of my experience. After that, I knew that I needed my wetsuit.We were off to dinner with Tania (my mentor) and took it to the house for transition prep and to wind down for the day. I was really wishing for a nice glass of Malbec to help me to relax, but getting dehydrated from alcohol the night before a race, was a terrible idea. The night was long... I could not get race thoughts out of my head and was up every 30 minutes until midnight. I kept having to pee and going in there to speak with Dawn or to put another something that I might need into my bag.

Race Day

Getting ready

The 3 alarms were set for 3am, however my niece accidentally awakened me at 2:47am. I was surprised that I had fallen asleep and just went ahead and got up a few minutes early. My first order of business was to eat breakfast and take my vitamin before getting cleaned up and dressed. Before long Tania was at my house on her bike at 4am and it was time to roll. Windows down, sunroof open, "Run this Town" by Jay Z/Rhianna/Kanye was blaring, I took off and started to scream "WHOOOOOOOOO!" as I sped away to complete my first race. Tania routed me to the corner of the transition area and she took off in my truck to get a prime parking space for us after the race. I'm glad that I stopped at the porta potty before they got nasty. Dawn and I set up transition, which was pretty easy after Tania's help the night before. We then headed off to get body marked and our timing chips. I was purposely avoiding anyone out there with less than positive energy and that idle chit chat mess that would make me more nervous. Tania found us in the crowd and hung with me until I was about to hop into the water (She ROCKS). Lloyd found me and came to wish me good luck. My girls found me (Lisa, Robin, Gladys and Pier). I will refer to them as my Stalker Fans from here on out. When they came I was so surprised and happy and then the tears started to roll again. I am not the emotional chic who is always crying, so I don't know where this was coming from! They quickly left to post up in a prime position after showing us their map and telling of their walk/run/metro ride plan to be at every point of the race. Lisa organized the whole thing and they all had their cameras and was properly prepared.  When the National Anthem played, I cried again. Trudy found me to wish me good luck and for some reason, I teared up again. One of the co-leaders of our NTP training program, Cassey was right behind me in the swimsuit wave. I saw Lloyd and he high fived me and my Stalker Fans were cheering quiet loudly right before it was time to jump in.

The swim

I jumped in with the wetsuit wave and got a little anxious waiting for the horn to go off. I accidentally touched this guys back and I wished that I could really hold onto his back. I really wanted to hold onto someone! I found myself in the middle of the pack and desperately wanted to get to the far side and back of the pack, but I didn't want to expend that much energy. The horn went off and I started to swim. Slow and easy. I even found myself passing a person or two. I kept my thoughts positive and knew that all that matters is that I made it out of the water. We had until 9am to make it out and it was only 6:30 or so, so I knew that I had plenty of time. I freestyled the entire way except once when I did a little breaststroke to see which way I was supposed to go. The buoys seemed to come up pretty fast and before long I knew it was time to get out when I saw the huge SWIM OUT HERE signs. I smiled big every time I came up for air to look where I was going. I almost swam off course once too. I ran up those stairs, whipped my pink swim cap off of my head, started twirling it around with the other hand in the air, I started jumping up and down and the Stalker Fans were cheering loudly and Lloyd was screaming and ringing his cow bell and I DID IT!!!! I predicted that I would complete the swim in 24 minutes but I knew it could be up to 30 minutes. I did it in 25:23. Tania was right there to greet me and I gave her a big 'ol wet hug and I was waving at people that I didn't know  and running... but I quickly pooped out and thought, dang I still have 2 more legs to this race...


My transition from the swim to the bike was very long. It was never my plan to run in and out quickly. I knew that if I put on my bike shoes with grass on my feet that it would bug me to the point of pulling over on my bike to get it right later. I had an extra water bottle and towel to clean my feet, I got in some food and drink, I reapplied deodorant and applied sunscreen and some ointment to my face which has gotten really bad in the last few weeks from swimming in the lake, the pool and being in the sun. I got my bike gear on and I was out of transition in 8:37.    


Tania was right there at the gate cheering me on as I rode out! At the corner of 15th and the Mall I saw Tish and Jolie ringing her cute little pink cow bell (which helped me to finish the run... more on that later). I was feeling really good about getting out of the water that I probably took it way too easy on the bike. I was waving and saying good morning and thank you for being here to all of the volunteers and spectators and people that were out for their usual Sunday morning exercise. I hit a few pot holes and my front wheel started to make noise. My plan was to keep going unless that front wheel came off. I saw my Stalker Fans and almost wanted to stop and hang out with them. I slowed down but they encouraged me to keep going. I took it nice and easy and was passed by a few people with the racing wheels, which I was cool with. I was cruising along until this dude passed me on a mountain bike. Really. I got passed my a dude on a mountain bike?? I started to speed up then but I never saw that dude again. That told me that I needed to put that carbon Orbea road bike to the test. I passed a few people and before I knew it, I was done. I was so confused when I saw the dismount signs. I was thinking, "oh, is that IT??" Tania was there again cheering me on telling me how I smoked the bike.  I did it in 53:51. Dawn was waiting for me in transition.


I took my sweet time in transition again. Dawn and I chatted about her bike ride, which she thought was surprisingly easy. We took a few pictures and slowly got it together. Lloyd greeted us and ran out with us  after being in transition for 9:40.


Tania was there cheering us on while she rode her bike. I stopped amongst the trees and released my bladder again. This was the second time that I used the elements as my own personal toilet as those lines to the porta potties were long and they were nasty by now.  I did not feel like running. Dawn dragged me to get it going. We did walk a bit and when we arrived at the first water station. I felt like a looser when I realized how close it was. Our plan was to run a mile at a time and take a quick break at the water stops. The sun was beaming and my legs were so tired. We saw my Stalker Fans and Jolie and Tish again. When we passed the Tri Unify table the were jamming "It's Time for the Percolator!". We kept pushing through. We passed by the finish line  and saw Tania again. She was on the other side of the barricades and running with us telling us how she had chill bumps for us. I got so many DC TRI shouts. I saw Will, one of our NPT co-leaders taking my picture. And this is when it got tough. As we approached the Capital and had to do a hair pin turn and then run up Capital Hill (which I walked the entire way), I realized that I was spent of all of my energy and this is what makes the sport of Triathlon so hard. I must have looked hot, because at the water spot this girl just poured ice water on me. I didn't even care about my cell phone in my pocket getting wet. I got 2 more cups of water and dumped them on my head. We ran back down Capital Hill and then had another hair pin turn. I knew that the finish line was close, but we couldn't see it. This is when I bonked out. The only thing that kept me going was seeing Tish and Jolie again. The sound of that bell and those screams kept me going. I wanted to cry. I started to hyperventilate. Dawn was asking if I was okay and saying how she thought that the run was further than 4.2 miles.  I was so hot and tired. I heard her talking but really couldn't hear her , except something about how she was going to make a video on her iPhone of us crossing the finish line. I wanted my mama. I wanted to cry. But then I looked up and saw the finish line. I sprinted ahead. I head the screams. I saw Yolanda and heard her saying "Rebecca, girl you did it!" I tried to straighten my clothes and race number. And standing right there in the middle of the finish line chute was Lloyd. He greeted me with the longest hug and then a kiss. Tania was right behind him. My Stalker Fans (Lisa, Robin, Gladys and Pier) were there. Jolie, Tish  and Sophia were there. It was time for a photo after getting water and a cold towel. I DID IT!  I ran the last leg of my race in 55:57. For an official total race time of  2:33:26 (although the time there said 2:18:25). I predicted that I could do the whole thing in 2 1/2 hours, but I didn't take into effect how long I would be in the Transition area. Not a bad time. My goal was to finish and I did just that.

I DID IT. I AM A TRIATHELETE! Here is a video of my race thanks to Lisa:

Monday, June 14, 2010

Race Info

If you plan to come out to see me race in the Inaugural DC Triathlon on June 20th, please let me know so I can listen out for your screams! The race starts bright and early on this Sunday, June 20th.

My wave gets into the water  to swim at 6am. Coffee, breakfast and porta potties will be available. There is information on the links below of where to park and be to view the race.

It would be nice to have someone there to snap a personal photo of me when I get out of the water, since that is such a major accomplishment for me. If it's too early for you, then no worries, there will be professional photographers on site and I can pay the premium price for a photo of myself. I predict that it will take me about 30 minutes to complete the swim. My bib # is 877 and I will be wearing a pink swim cap with the rest of the competitors in my age group.

The best place to park is: Pennsylvania and 13th street near the Ronald Regan Building. This is a 10- 15 minute walk to the finish line on 3rd and Pennsylvania Ave and the best to see the bikers and runners pass by or at Pennsylvania and 2nd near the US Capitol Building.

Another great place to see the bikers and runners is at 15th and the National Mall or near the Transition area located on Ohio Drive.

There will be a Finish Line Festival at Pennsylvania and 3rd. We can get food and drinks here and Dad's can get massages for Father's Day. I predict that I will be crossing the finish line at about 8:30am.

Info on where to park and watch me race can be found here via video or here in print.

It's countdown time!!

In 5 days and 16 hours I will start my race to become a Triathlete. It has been a very long 20 weeks of training. The memories of the time passed includes frustration of learning to swim, the falls on my bike while getting used to my clipless pedals, figuring out what type of nutrition my belly likes and learning all of the Triathlon lingo. I can now say that I am confident that I will finish. I am actually excited about the swim and want to see how fast I can ride my bike while racing. I ran the run route on yesterday. It took us about an hour to run the 4.2 miles in the blazing heat which caused us to walk quite a bit. I think that I can do it in about 45 minutes on race day. I am so excited that my buddy Dawn is coming in town to race with me. I can not wait to post the article that I wrote months ago on being a Triathlete. Something tells me that the sense of accomplishment that I will feel when I cross the finish line will be nothing like I envisioned. Only better.

Sunday, June 6, 2010


I'm starting to envision myself crossing the finish line. After my lake swim lesson today, I feel more confident about the swim leg of my race. I still can't say that I am 100% confident, but I trust that I will feel this way soon. Although I have swam more than the distance of my race in the pool, I won't have that sense of complete confidence until I swim the distance or more in open water. Swimming in a constrictive wet suit with currents changes the game. It's not the same as swimming in a pool at all. Today I swam 100 meters and it was hard as heck. I took a break, re-grouped and then swam 400 meters non-stop. I stopped for tips and instruction and swam my last 300 meters before getting out. So, in total I swam 800 meters which is the race distance, but I did not do it continuously.

I now know that after the first 100-200 meters I get into my groove and it gets easier. I was thinking about my form and all of the instruction that I have received and how I need to keep my heart rate low. I felt like I could have kept going. I want to swim the complete distance  of the race at least twice in open water before race day with my instructor. I think that once I do that, I will be confident for race day and I can envision myself ripping off my wetsuit and hopping on my bike and ultimately crossing the finish line to get my metal.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Triathlon Bound!

Today I completed a training Triathlon with Tri Unify. I started out with the DC Tri Club, but they had to cancel the swim portion of the race and  changed it into a Duathlon of Run 3 miles + Bike 16.5 miles + Run 3 miles.  I wasn't interested in doing that and got 2 others to agree to go to the Tri Unify event with me at Sandy Point. This was a better event anyway, because the swim was in the Chesapeake Bay instead of the pool like planned with the DC Tri Club event. I did not have my wetsuit with me, as I wasn't prepared to swim in the bay when I left the house, but I went anyway. The water felt good, but it was much harder to swim without a wetsuit!

In total today we swam ~800 meters in the Bay (the distance of my race on June 20th) + biked 15 miles (my goal race is 16.5 miles and without the hills that we biked today) + ran for 30 minutes (I was pooped and hot, so I walked most of the way). It was a good thing that we had a guy back at the tent grilling, because we were STARVED when we got back.

I felt REALLY good about myself after doing this training Triathlon. I am even more confident that I will be getting a metal at the finish line of the DC Triathlon  in 14 days!!!!!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Getting ready ready....

 I have been reading this book entitled "Slow Fat Triathlete- Live Your Athletic Dreams in the Body You Have Now". The author is absolutely hilarious! She started her mission to become a Triathlete when she could barely walk around the block and weighed over 230 pounds. I think that the common misconception about the sport of Triathlon is that you have to be in tip top shape and already be the elite athlete. This is the furthest thing from the truth. What one must realize that, like most things in life, it's completely mental. The mind is more powerful than almost anything else in our body. Becoming a Triathlete is all about the desire, commitment and the belief that you can.

I am in the process of preparing myself mentally for my race in 16 days. I know that I have put in the necessary time to train. At times I trained too much and probably put more time into swimming than anyone else that is training for a Triathlon. But that extra time has me in the pool swimming like someone who learned when they were a kid. I have spent some time on my bike, but not as much as I would have liked to. You know, I realized that the bike that I recently purchased was the first bike that I have ever had in my life. As a kid, I used to ride my brother's bike and the memories of that are constantly falling, hurting my girl parts and skinning up my knees. I did know how to ride, but I was probably on the ground more than on the bike. I have to say that I did manage to stay vertical for the most part during training. I did have a goofy fall on Sunday and hurt my knee, which I am hoping gets better really... really... soon!

Triathlon is an endurance sport. It's all about going a long... time in 3 sports. It's not necessary to do all 3 really fast, but to keep going. All of my friends think that I am a fast runner, but that is the furthest thing from the truth. I actually need to work hard in all 3 sports, but running is my strongest since I have done it more in the last year. When I started this mission to become a Triathlete, I didn't do it to loose weight, although I thought that it would be a byproduct of training. It's disappointing that I haven't lost weight. I am however, more stronger and have increased my endurance. If running was a bigger part of the 20 week training program, then the weight would have melted off. I am confident that once this race is behind me, I will be able to run more and since I can swim laps now, I will be able to work on the weight loss. I won't label myself as a Slow Fat Triathlete, but I am close to that description. I guess what's more important is that I have the endurance to become a Triathlete on June 20th. That's the plan. I have written it down and I'm making it happen!