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.
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.
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: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3cl2kDF6y98&feature=player_embedded