A couple of weekends ago I took some leave and drove up that weekend to spend some time with some friends from college and also figured I’d squeeze in a triathlon while I was visiting. I spent Friday night at her house, after some car trouble along the way, and the Saturday we dropped my bike off in Williamsburg before heading to Richmond to meet up with our other friend. Her house was about the same distance to Williamsburg as Richmond so either way I was going to have a little bit of a drive.
They ran a sprint and some kids races on Saturday so we drove over afterwards. I was so impressed by what a big race this was and how well organized it was, too. Triathlon was completely novel to my friend so it was sort of fun showing her around and explaining to her the different things.
Also, Rev3 has really nice packet bags. I got a reusable shopping bag with a nice t-shirt, a visor, and several samples of different snacks. I wish I had taken a picture of it all, but I didn’t even think of it until just now.
In hindsight, I maybe should have just gotten a separate hotel for that night because it would have been easier to get my mind into the game. I had trouble sleeping and I had a lot of doubts swirling around in my head because it was my first olympic-distance triathlon. I told myself I’d feel better in the morning and if I didn’t, I could reassess then.
I felt way better that morning and got up with enough time to head out and stop and get something easy to digest for breakfast. I like to have an hour to set up my area so I can eat, use the bathroom, and not be stressed. Rev3 was running a half iron distance about thirty minutes before the olympic distance so by the time I got to the park, things were very busy. I had to make several trips back and forth from my car to the transition area because I kept forgetting things. Finally I had time to eat my food and then decided to go watch the swim waves start. It’s a good thing I did, too because they decided to move everything up half an hour. I wandered over just as the folks in silver swim caps (I had a silver swim cap) were entering the water and waiting for the start. I rushed in, threw on my cap and goggles with ten seconds to spare.
The swim was in the Chickahominy River and mostly pleasant, aside from the one guy who kept trying to swim on my feet and legs. I got kind of annoyed by that after the fifth time it happened so I spent some time splashing a lot to get him to sight and go away. My doubts came back and I started wondering if this was just a bad idea and if I should just scratch. I just felt really, really tired and another two events seemed insurmountingly hard. I switched to a two-stroke breathing pattern and that made me feel a little better and then told myself I’d finish the swim and then reassess. The last 100 meters or so the river shallowed a lot. I went to tread for a minute and the bottom was right there. Some of the taller people were hitting it with their arms with every stroke. As a result, all that river silt got kicked up and thoroughly coated me in a fine layer of dirt that later dried. Lovely.
I took some extra time in the transition area, ate a Stinger gu, drank some water, and felt a lot better so I headed out for the bike. I learned that I am a very slow cyclist, especially when I compare my average pace to the others in my category. I am slow. But I really enjoyed the course. It was mostly shaded (thank goodness because it was hot that day in Virginia) and only some gentle rolling hills and lots of pretty country houses and farms to look at. I felt really positive during the bike, even as it seemed like everyone and their mother was passing me.
Finally I hit the transition and headed out on the run. Again, the run was mostly shaded and the only big challenge was running over the huge bridge over the Chickahominy just after the start and right before the finish. I was concerned about overheating so I walked at every aid station and drank water and they also had Coke, Powerade, and these amazing ice cold sponges that I stuffed down the back of my sports bra and felt amazing. I also threw the ice from my water down the front of my sports bra and although it made me sound like a soda while running, it felt great. I was so happy to see that Chickahominy bridge the second time because I knew I was almost done. I tried to smile for the finish but it sort of looked like a grimace. I was good and tired by the end of it and so was also overjoyed when they gave me a sports towel that had been soaking in ice water to drape over my shoulders. I used some of it to clean off the dried dirt on my chest, arms, and neck.
Rev3 put on such an amazing event. They had booths from different vendors and also a barbecue for the finishers. I wasn’t very hungry but I ate some baked beans and an oatmeal cookie and got a ten minute session in some Normatec boots that really helped ease my tired legs.
I was in the mood for a caffeine pick-me-up before I tried to drive home that night (spoiler: didn’t make it, spent the night just inside the 250 mile radius of work) so we went to American Brew, the coffee/whiskey bar owned by one of my heroes, Ashley Horner.
I was happy just to be drinking a latte there when Ashley herself actually came. I was too starstruck to say anything to her, but she say my race tattoos still on my arms and asked what race I did. We had a chat about triathlons and swimming and I told her I was a huge fan and asked for a picture. I’m always nervous meeting new people, especially when it’s someone I admire because not only am I a little worried I will act or say something stupid, but I also don’t want to be disappointed by them. I’m so happy to say that Ashley was as unbelievably kind and warm as she comes across in her posts and videos. I was so thrilled to meet her in person and between finishing my first olympic distance tri and meeting her and also getting to see two of my best friends, it was a really incredible weekend.