Race Report by Anna Milton
Loaded up with an awesome tri bag that may have weighed about 60 lbs, (I might have slightly over-packed), Allie, Carolyn and I head off to the SheROX Webster triathlon race site. We were in a bit of trouble however, because Carolyn currently had a flat tire, and between the three of us, we neglected to bring a spare CO2 cartridge as well as a spare inner tube! The day was surely starting off smoothly! By now I was thinking I would have a serious case of the butterflies and yet, wait for it, I felt nothing but the beginnings of adrenaline. Something’s wrong with me, I thought, but it was kind of nice to feel free of nervousness.
Carolyn had warned us about how chaotic this particular tri was, so Allie and I were prepared. Entering the transition area, luckily, we were not too surprised at the sight of the 2100 women setting up their individual T-areas. In a short time, my mom found a neutral support tent and they changed the flat, thankfully! We then found ideal transition area locations and proceeded to get body marked (they put your registration number on both arms and on the back of your left calf and then write in your age on the opposite calf). I was slightly amused because this meant I had the number 15 scribbled all over me, surely an easy registration number to remember.
After making a quick potty stop, our little trio trudged over to the swim start; Allie and I were going off in about 15 minutes. Still no butterflies, I reminded myself, yep, there is definitely something wrong with me!
The swim, although not as difficult as I anticipated, is my weak spot. I was hoping I would be able to swim freestyle stroke the whole way, but I feel I have such little lung capacity that I freak and start swimming sidestroke, a slower stroke, when I feel short of breath after doing freestyle for a while. I knew I was behind in the swim but, approaching the finish, I had a little bit of a booster when I swam the last 30 yards freestyle and passed a bunch of people. Bolting out of the water, I ripped off the stupid, itchy swim cap and hurried to the T-area! Suddenly, I felt this irritating pain in my chest that almost felt like mild heart burn… whatever it was, it quickly vanished and I continued to transition for the bike. Allie soon met me in the T-area, we got separated in the swim, and we took off together, bikes in toe. There was a bit of a traffic jam as inexperienced cyclists were attempting to mount their bikes gracefully, not that I mounted to gracefully myself! Allie and I stayed together up until just before the infamous hill on the course. I passed one lady and then I looked back and we were completely separated. Just then however, I peered up to see a little woman riding her bike on the opposite side of the road, obviously this wasn’t a racer, as there was no number on the frame of the bike. Scrutinizing the rider, I recognize her as… Renee Marino, a family friend and strong cyclist who I have ridden with so many times before! Immediately I screamed (in a friendly way) “Hey!” to capture Renee’s attention, and she quickly recognized me and replied with an eager “ Go Anna!” as she passed me. How weird is that?! I couldn’t focus on that strange encounter for too long, as I was rapidly approaching THE hill. It was three short and steep sections, in total only 675 feet of elevation, so it wasn’t nearly as bad as the race director had prepared us for. The remainder of the bike course was calm, flat or downhill back roads, not even breaking into zone 2. There were multiple cyclists I passed and multiple that passed me. At one point, I was pedaling easily with high cadence on a little downhill and this woman passed me and, trying to be helpful, said, “Gear up, you’ll go faster!” I was in the midst of trying to look for Allie, however, so there was a reason to my slow travel. Sometimes, people make painstakingly obvious remarks! Even if I wasn’t a cyclist I hope for my sake I would have known that little detail!
As I said, the rest of the ride was a breeze, and I spent it getting all excited for the run. Scrambling with the bike beside me into the transition area, I threw on my running sneakers, a visor and downed a GU. For a minute I waited for Allie, but she was nowhere in site. I admit, I felt really guilty, we were supposed to stay together, and I shouldn’t have passed that one lady which started the separation between us. I had no idea where she was though, so, feeling badly, I began the run. About two minutes into it, I faced the inevitable and got a small stitch in my side. No matter what I do, I always seem to get it, but side stitch seldom stops me from running. So I continued the two-foot travel, without the pain worsening. I passed people, and in return others passed me, but all in all, the run felt good. I used to hate it, every minute of it, but now that I have trained, with lots of help from Chris B (thank you!), running is much more enjoyable. Now the only thing that bothers me is how stinkin’ slowly the scenery changes! My legs weren’t fatigued, and the natural sway of my hips allowed me to find a subtle rhythm in my run, easing my side stitch. The stitch began to worsen at about the halfway point in the run, however, but I was determined not to walk. Entering the sunny spots, I began to feel a little lightheaded; it was an incredibly hot day! But I kept reminding myself of the rhythm and that I had less 1.5 miles to go. Still, the feeling wasn’t unbearable, so I held everything together for the end. Within 25 yards of the finish, I began to sprint, and sure I was beat, yet, I felt ready to accelerate! I soon passed the runner ahead and sprinted to the finish line, happy as could be. When I crossed it, my legs were wobbly and my little heart was vibrating my entire chest, but mentally I was not exhausted at all, immediately wanting to complete another tri! The volunteers immediately cut off the timing chip, which, I had had wrapped around my ankle for about 24 hours. You see, the night before, in the midst of packing my bag for the tri, I decided to try on the timing chip and figure out how to clip it onto my ankle so I wouldn’t have to waste time and fiddle around trying to figure it out in the morning. Little did I know that once you put on the timing chip, it doesn’t come off without scissors! Volunteers cut them off at the finish line! So I was forced to sleep with the darn thing bound around my ankle the whole night, lucky me!
Family and friends crowded around with congratulations and lots of hugs at the finish! After getting myself some agua and a post-race picture taken, I hurried over near the finish line to cheer for Allie. I had seen her in passing on the run, she was not quite halfway there and I was on my way towards the finish. Dead beat with rosy cheeks and heavy inhales, she crossed the line and we exchanged hugs and congratulations. I wasn’t sure if she would be angry at me because we got separated, but no, she was a good sport and had a fantastic race! Awesome job, Allie! We got pics taken together, not a model shot of me by any means, unless you happen to think a girl with sweat dripping down her face, frizzy helmet hair and crimson cheeks who doesn’t exactly smell like roses is attractive!
Allie and I wanted to see Carolyn finish so we strolled over to an ideal cheering spot and shouted words of encouragement towards her as she leapt over the line. The three of us immediately found the food tent and ate about 3 slices of watermelon apiece and some bread, not nearly enough to fill the belly, however. Unfortunately there wasn’t much else recovery food wise as I made Allie opt out of eating a hot dog, saying that was not stable recovery food! We proceeded to get in line for another picture of our little trio, and then waited to remove our items from the transition area and head home. We were forced to wait until the last cyclist finished the bike portion of the race, to be courteous and respectful, and finally were permitted to load up and go home. All in all, it was a great race, I had a fantastic time, as I hope Carolyn and Allie did too, and can hardly wait to complete another tri! Cyclocross is kind of my priority now though, as you all can imagine! The adrenaline beginning to form for ‘cross too!