Sunday, September 26, 2010

I Tri-ed My Best! (OK, that was pretty lame, I know!)

I still feel almost "giddy" that I successfully completed my first "real" triathlon this morning! I was hoping to finish before 3 hours -- and I did. Click here for the official results page (I am in the 40-44 year old woman group and my last name is listed as "Rockwell-Shank") I did the 500 meter swim in 18:02, the 20 mile bike ride in 1:28:48, and the 4.4 mile run in 47:48. My combined time was 2:34:41. So I made the under three hour mark with some change to spare! Here is a basic run-down of what happened! (PS: No rain during the race but it rained on my drive out and my drive back! Crazy!)

THE SWIM: I just about s*** when I saw the pool. It was Olympic-size (from what I was told) which means it was 50 meters across each way. The other pools I used for the indoor "mini" triathons were a lot smaller and they had a shallow end so at some point I could put my feet down on firm ground. Not the pool today -- there was no shallow end and did I mention it was 50 meters long?? I can swim but (1) I wouldn't call myself a strong swimmer, (2) I never get to practice swimming since I have no access to a pool and (3) I'm a little bit afraid of swimming in the deep end. I got to the Rex-Plex early (or at least what I thought was early) and after finding a spot for my bike and equipment outside (not easy to do because the bike corral was already pretty crowded), I went into the pool area and watched the action for about 30 minutes. For the other two triathlons, I was assigned a swimming lane and went back and forth for however many laps I was supposed to complete. For today's race, folks would get in on one corner of the pool every 15 seconds and then start swimming. Once you got to the end of the first 50 meters, you would duck under the floating rope and swim in the next lane. And this happened 10 times. At one point, I looked down in the pool and saw how deep it was and freaked out a little so I swam mostly with my head above water (or doing some uncoordinated version of a back stroke). Each time I made it the end of the lane, I had to take at least a 30 second break while I hung on to the edge of the pool. So plenty of people passed me. If you look at my official time, you will even see that I was the last person in my age group out of the pool. But I made it. I can't begin to tell you how happy I was during that last 50 meters. Pure bliss!

THE BIKE: I left the water as fast as I could and ran outside in the chilly wind (about 50 degrees or so) and made for my bike. I tried to pull on my biking skirt and jersey as fast as I could but it's almost comical when you are soaking wet. I got my shoes on pretty fast but almost left the area without my helmet. I grabbed that at the last moment and then jogged my bike over to the departure area for bikes. Luckily, the guy in charge was someone I knew and we chatted for a minute about the swim and I remember telling him the worst was over. Well ... that wasn't exactly how it turned out but more about that later! The bike ride was actually the easiest for me -- it was about 20 miles out on country roads around St. Peter's but the strong wind made one direction of the course a tad bit difficult. Considering the fact that I was riding a mountain bike (it's all I have right now), I think I did pretty darn well. I passed three women and one man and rode as hard as I could. For most of the course, I was by myself; I think the bikers were pretty spread out by the time I hit the course. So, like I said, no problems. Sure, there was wind and there were hills but nothing I couldn't manage.

THE RUN: And this is about the time went things went bad. Real bad. I hopped off my bike in the transition area and traded my helmet for a running hat and I also grabbed one of my water bottles but decided not to take my MP3 player. I wasn't sure about the running course and I don't like using music when I am on city streets. Well, the course turned out to be gorgeous -- a wooded path that meandered through some quiet subdivisions (glad I didn't bring the tunes!). But the problem is that once I started the running portion of the triathlon, moments after ditching my bike, I couldn't feel my feet 100%. And my legs would not cooperate with me. I usually run with a pace -- a steady repetition that feels good. Not today. The first two miles or so were awful. I kept stopping and starting because I couldn't get my feet and legs to cooperate with what I wanted to do. At one point, I could feel the tears welling up. So I decided, F*** it. I'll just walk/ crawl the 4.4 miles. What the hell. But after two miles or so, things started to go better. I could feel my feet and I started running at a comfortable pace (I even passed 5 people). Sure, it wasn't as fast as I usually go, but I don't usually run after doing a 500 meter swim and a 20 mile bike ride.

The finish line was a bit anti-climatic. I went around a corner and boom! There it was. I knew I had finished toward the back because folks were already breaking down the finish area and most of the bikes in the corral were gone. But I was beaming -- even if there weren't that many people around to see it.

I feel lucky that I wasn't having a bad chemo day today -- I think I am generally more winded than what is normal for Dianna but the fact that I could do this given all the cancer crap is something to be proud of, I think. I so look forward to doing this next year when I am 100% healthy. And if I can manage to do a few more of these, maybe I can get a new bike that will help me go a bit faster (biking seems to my strongest card right now; Even Jim says that he thinks I am good at this -- must be those strong leg muscles from running!).

PS: Jim took the picture above when I walked in the door -- I came home to a fabulously clean house (thanks, Jim!) and an excited pup!


  1. Way to go!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Congratulations!!!!!

  2. That's amazing, Dianna! I'm so proud of you! I just started swimming to prep for my first tri, and I'm glad I'm thinking about a short, all-indoor one. I don't think I'll be ready for what you just did for quite a while! I talked to another triathaloner this weekend and he said the bike-to-running transition is by far the hardest and will take a lot of getting used to, so don't feel like you did poorly there! Your run time is pretty amazing for your first major transition. You rock!!!

  3. YEAH!!!! Congratulations. Doing normal things is what it's all about right now...keep it up!