That is the time that it took me to swim 250 yards, bike 9 miles and run 2 miles… in the pouring rain. And I am so excited about it!
Of the women who completed the race, I ranked #53. The sad part is that only 116 women were able to complete the race. (The event was sold out with 900 racers.) Another 28 made it through the swimming and bike ride and still another 5 only made it through the swimming. So all in all, only 149 were able to start at all. I definitely consider myself blessed to have been one of them. The Ramblin’ Rose Triathlon is an all-women race and allows racers age 10 and up and includes many first time triathletes. So many women had been working hard for their first triathlon and were unable to even start. And it’s so late in the season, there aren’t many option other than waiting until next year.
Let me tell you a little about race day. I woke up about 5:20 a.m. and triple checked my gear, pumped up my bike tires and made a protein smoothie. We arrived in Chapel Hill and already the parking lots were filling up. I was a little nervous because I had wanted to make sure I could get a good spot to set up my bike and have everything done in plenty of time so I could relax.
Even though there were already a ton of people there, checking in was quick and easy. (The race coordinators and volunteers did a great job!) And I was the first one on my row to set up my bike, so I got the prime spot on the end! Plus, it was right in front of the bike start/end, so it made it easy to get where I needed to be for transitions. It was overcast, but the weatherman had apparently said only a 17% chance of rain.
If there was any part of the race I am a little disappointed in, it was my swim. Out of 149 swimmers, I ranked 103. This is frustrating because of all the sports, I’ve felt as if swimming is my strongest. For the swim, they start you in order of swim speed. You rank yourself on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the fastest and able to swim 250 yards in under 4 minutes. I ranked myself a 9 because just the day before I had swum that in 4:18. In this scenario, it’s a pool swim and you zig-zag through the lanes from one side to the other. Twice in the swim, I was behind a slower person and had to pass them, which is difficult and takes a lot of energy. Then I had someone come up behind me and want to pass. That was confusing, too, because there were too many people around for her to easily pass, so I had to all but stop to let her get by. I ended up finishing in 05:19. Granted, the timing chip starts before you get in the pool and stops after, so it’s not from pool wall to wall.
I ran over to the bike transition. I realized they are much more complicated when you are wet, cold and nervous. But I still managed to make it pretty quick. I hopped on my bike and took off. The ride started off good, I had a few pass me and I passed some, too. About 5 minutes into the ride, I started feeling the sprinkles. By 10 minutes in, it was pouring. I really have very little experience riding in the rain, much less at this speed. I was only thinking two things the whole time: God, please don’t let me wipe out; and, I just want to finish this ride and get off! I kept going, despite being soaked to the bone and hardly being able to see the road at times, I ended up finishing in 36:17, which is great for me! I ranked #44 out of 145, so it ended up being my best sport.
Also, I came around the corner into transition and saw my wonderful cheering squad there! On this horrible, rainy day, I had 13 amazing cheerleaders standing there rooting for me. I can’t tell you how amazing that made me feel and how much harder I wanted to go at that point.
Getting off the bike, however, and moving onto the run was crazy. My legs felt like jello and would hardly move. My shoes were squishy and it was freezing. But I kept going the best I could. I actually ran/jogged the whole 2 miles, which I can’t usually do because my knees have been hurting. There were many times during this leg of the race I was thinking “I just want to stop,” but I knew I’d lose momentum, so I pushed through it. There were many encouragements along the way! Women cheering each other on and helping push me forward a little bit. I ended up running it in 20:49, which is really good for me. I knew running was my weakest sport, but I ended up #86 out of 116, which in my mind is not too shabby.
I wasn’t under the false impression that I would be a major competitor in this race, so my personal goal for myself was to finish in the top half. And although we’ll never know how that would’ve played out with 900 racers, in this scenario, I accomplished that goal. I was also assuming it’d take me about 01:13:00 to finish and I cut that down by 8 minutes.
After I finished, most people were already packing things up and heading out. All I could think about at this point was getting warm, which was hard considering all of my clothes to change into were pretty wet as well. But it didn’t matter. I had done it. We got home and I took a long, hot shower and my husband made me coffee and blueberry waffles. I felt like a champion, indeed.