The One Where I Won

When we last left off, it was the eve of my first race in 3+ months and I had no idea what to expect. Would I still remember how to transition? Would the hills kill me? Would I pee in the water before I started?
(Answer key: 1. Y; 2. N; 3. Y)

When I lined up for the swim, I got a little bit nervous but I made myself shake it off. I told myself it was just like swimming in a pool, and that actually turned out to be true. I don't think I've ever swam in a lake before but it was quite pleasant since there were no waves or current. It was a small race so the start wasn't very congested at all. I only had to maneuver around people for the first 50 yards or less, and from then on I was pretty much by myself. I settled into a nice stroke almost right away. I didn't feel like I was swimming super fast, but I did feel like it was a very solid swim. I passed a lot of people and by the time I got about halfway I noticed that there were a lot of pink caps behind me, and not many in front of me. I started feeling like maybe the small competition field would work in my favor and I'd even have a decent shot of doing well. My goal for the swim was to wing it: Check plus!

I got out of the water in just over 10 minutes, which was a little slower than I was expecting, especially considering the fact that I was ahead of most of the other women. As I ran to T1 I felt a little disoriented but I got my bearings back pretty quickly. All I had to do was throw on my shoes and helmet and grab my bike, so transition was pretty quick. I had laid out a shirt and jacket to put on in case it rained but I totally forgot to put them on.

I ran out of transition to the mount line and took off on the bike. I was no longer that nervous about the bike, probably because I realized that being nervous wasn't going to change the course! It had been misty off an on all morning, but it started raining within a couple minutes of when I got on the bike. We started off with a couple of climbs, but the course actually ended up being a lot of rolling hills, and only a couple were bad. It was actually very similar to the rides I've been doing in Blacksburg, maybe a little bit more challenging but honestly the difference was pretty negligible. I almost crashed around 5 miles in - I was blowing snot rockets (seriously, if you don't like bodily fluids, triathlon is probably not the sport for you) and veered off to the side of the road. By the time I realized it was happening, I was about to go off the road and onto the gravel/grass on the side of the road. Luckily I managed to clip out and stop before I totally wiped out. I've had close calls like that in other races but I've never actually almost crashed, so in a way I was glad to have that experience over with!

Since we went up on the way out, the way back was a breeze! Except for the fact that the steepest hill occurred on the way back. I honestly wasn't sure if my bike was going to fall over and/or if I was going to have to get off and walk it up the hill. Thankfully I made it (slowly) without either of those things happening. I didn't set my watch up correctly before I started so I wasn't sure exactly how fast I was going, but I was able to tell that it was definitely faster than I've been averaging on my weekly rides so yay for that! I hadn't seen anyone else in my age group, except for maybe one person (but I couldn't make out if her age said 29 or 39 so I wasn't sure), so I was thinking I was either ahead and still had shot at placing, or I was really behind, or there was just no one else in my age group. My goal for the bike was just to get through it and do my best: Check!

The bike went by pretty quickly and before I knew it, I was back to transition for T2. I was sad to realize that, since it had rained, everything I had laid out on my towel was soaking wet, including my running shoes. I put them on and grabbed my race belt and put that on as I ran out of transition.

Finally, I was out on the run! My goal for the run was to have a good, fast run and maybe a PR, but as soon as I ran out of transition I realized that was not going to be happening today. Not because my body wasn't going to allow it, but because the course wasn't. I had read the morning of the race that the run course was "10% roads, 90% trails" and, being a person who has never really run trails, I was exactly sure how bad it would be. So we started off running through a little bit of grass and dirt to get to the trail, and once we got to it, it was paved so I thought, "Oh whew! A paved trail!" That lasted less than half a mile, at which point I kept following the pavement and the lady in front of me, and we and 2 other guys got lost. We realized we must have missed a turn (which was not marked, at all), so we turned around back where we had come from and sure enough there was like 2 foot wide dirt trail going straight up a hill, and that's the path we were supposed to take. Seriously, some course marking would have been great at that point.

From that point on it was all hilly dirt trails through the woods. Again, I hadn't set my watch up correctly so I never knew exactly how fast or far I was running, but I could tell that my pace was in the 11-minute range. If this had been on pavement I would have been pissed, but honestly it was the best I could do on the trails! I felt good and like I was running my normal 9-minute pace. It wasn't hard, per se, it was just different. I don't generally hike, but personally I would say the terrain we were on is better suited for hiking than running. It was kind of fun because it was seriously mentally engaging trying to make sure I didn't fall and trip on a tree root or slip on a wet rock or fall in mud, but that obviously slowed me down big time. Oh and there's also the part where I missed another turn about 2 miles in. We came to a fork in the middle of the woods and there was no way to tell which way to go. Again...some course marking would have gone a long way. I'm glad I gave up any expectations for the run as soon as I saw the course, because my run time ended up being my slowest in years, although I have no idea what my pace actually was since I definitely ran more than 5k. I wasn't disappointed with my time since I felt good and did my best, but it definitely didn't satisfy my need for a fast race. When we did finally get to run on the road for the last tenth of a mile, my legs felt great and I knew they would have been up for a fast run, maybe even a PR, if the whole course had been roads. Good thing there's always next time! ;)

Even with the crazy conditions (both course and weather), I still felt happy as a clam the almost the whole time! After I finished I met up with my friend Carl, who had come into town to race with me. We collected our stuff from transition and went to put it in the car, then came back to the post-race activities. He wanted to stay for a bit to find out if he had placed. We were shocked to find out that we both took first in our age groups! It sort of feels like cheating to me to place in such a small race (it's happened to me a few other times) but they still gave me a medal so I'll take it!

This race shirt is on point! Maybe my fave 3 for sure.

On a related note: I've talked to several of you about how you would like to try a tri (get it???) but are maybe intimidated and/or don't know where to start...would you be interested in a series of posts breaking it down, kind of a beginner's guide? There is definitely a lot more involved than a regular running race and it can be overwhelming and confusing. I honestly doubt I would have ever gotten into it if I didn't have other people to look to for experience and advice! Just something I'm thinking about and am curious to see if there's any interest! Doing your first tri could be a GREAT goal to link up with Alyssa and me on the 30th...just sayin' ;)


  1. um absolutely to more info on a tri. i dont know if i will ever do one, but i would definitely like to learn more.
    that sucks that it rained and all your stuff (and everyone elses) got wet. and oh my gosh, what was with the no course markings? how strange! i have friends (2) that regularly do triathlons and while i know they swim in open water sometimes, i have never heard of the run being more trail like than roads- i would have sucked at that for sure! too busy making sure i wasn't gonna fall over! i am loving your race shirt and the medal - congrats girl! you deserve it! :)

  2. Look at you, rockstar Tracy! Hopefully this gives you some good motivation to carry you through to Richmond training!! :)

  3. i am so impressed! I think I am a running only gal.. i get really nervous when I am riding a bike quickly- mostly while going down hill. I always think that somehow I will crash and knock all my teeth out which is one of my worst fears. congrats on the first place finish! I wouldn't tell people it was a small race and own that you won!

    hope you have a happy week. it is very fall like in Minnesota this week and I wish i could bottle it up for you to run in forever. :)

  4. Ahh that's awesome! I can't believe they didn't have the trail marked a little bit better, I probably would have been freaking out by that point! I would love some tri training posts, I love reading about them!

  5. First in your age group?!! GO YOU!!!!!! How amazing. Tri's scare me!! Lol

  6. Rockstar! Congratulations. It's not cheating to be first even if the group isn't huge.

    p.s. I'd totally pee in the water before starting too.

  7. 1. CONGRATS on placing!
    2. Not cheating just because it's small; I mean someone has to place right?? So why shouldn't it be you? :)
    3. I'm definitely into a post breaking down the tri training. I'm thinking of getting on a bike next year :)

  8. This is awesome!!!! Thats defo not cheating though you took that first place fair and square, small race or not! Also ... go you for answering yes to number three ;)

  9. Congrats!!! I think Kelly and I tried to run at Claytor Lake once but those trails slowed us down too so we just ended up hiking haha. That race shirt looks great!! Also where's your hand band from?? I would definitely be interested in a breakdown of how to get started though I'm with Erin, I'm afraid of falling off the break and knocking out all my teeth haha.

  10. Congratulations! I'm new to your blog, but this was such an awesome, inspiring post! You rock! My husband and I did a little pretend "first time tri" here on our Army post when I was just 20 weeks pregnant, and my goal is to do a tri next year after the nugget is born! You'd best believe I'm following you now for advice and such :)

  11. Congrats on getting an age group medal! That is so fun. I would love to get one of those some time! Love that race shirt!

  12. Yah! Even if it's small embrace that medal. That sucks you took a wrong turn, and that's the only thing I don't love about small races. By the run you're usually pretty alone whereas on the big ones there are too many people to take a wrong turn.

    I love trying tris (hehe) and I think your series sounds like a great idea. I have tons of friends who are interested in doing them but find it intimidating to start and aren't sure what they need.

  13. Wow congrats girl! And I would love to see a series of beginners guide posts to running a tri, my husband and I were talking about how we have no idea where to even start!