I can't believe it's been over a month since I posted! Needless to say, it was difficult to keep up with everything during my last month of training. But I had fun doing the practice open water swims and long bike rides, all of which culminated in the Nation's Triathlon last Sunday. It went VERY well. You can see my results online. I was surprised that I barely felt sore the next day, so I was more prepared than I thought.
My day started at 4:00am, when I woke and drove to DC. I arrived in the transition area at 5am and had to wait over two hours for the swim to begin. I was jumping out of my skin to have so much time to think (not to mention rearrange my transition space, relace my shoes, count my goo and "chomps", etc.). 2.5 hours and lots of stretching and pee breaks later, I was lining up to do the swim. Luckily I ran into a coworker who was in my swim wave, so we chatted a lot, which relaxed me a lot. For those who live in DC, the swim course entrace was between the tidal basin and Memorial bridge, and then we swam under the bridge past the Lincoln Memorial and back again. Yes, in the Potomac River...it wasn't actually as gross as I thought it would be. It took me about 45 minutes to swim a mile in practice, but when I jumped in the water at the race, my right goggle filled up with water. As if I wasn't already panicked enough! So I had to tread water while dodging swimmers to fix them, and it ended up taking me 49 minutes in the race. Once I was out of the water, I was ecstatic because I knew I could relax for the remaining events. Most of the 40k bike course was on the Clara Barton Parkway, and it was beautiful and cool out. It took a little over 1.5 hours to complete the bike, which was long--but it was the most fun event because it was my biggest training achievement. I was tired when I got to the run, but I was able to keep up a 10:00/mi split for the 10k distance. I felt like I was moving so slowly compared to my usual pace, but I was passing people left and right, which gave me a great energy boost. Because I was wearing my Team in Training uniform, people cheered me on during the whole race. So even though Nate couldn't be there to watch, I still had a huge audience!
My final thoughts...I would encourage anyone who is thinking of taking up cycling to do it now! I am one of the most clumsy people I know, so if I can do it so can you. Hell, I even broke my elbow while training, but I still managed to do the race. I am now confident enough to bike-commute to DC and back in the same day, which is an ego boost, great way to get in lots of exercise, and so pleasant to spend so much time outdoors instead of on a train or in a car stuck in traffic. As for the swim, if you are able to move forward in the water, I think you can train for a triathlon swim. The coaches for Team in Training are very patient and good at what they do. It takes a lot of practice, but you'll be amazed at the results. I'm still not a great swimmer, but I go at my own slow pace doing my imperfect strokes and somehow manage to get there.
Will I do another triathlon? Probably, but maybe not very soon. My immediate thought as I was finishing the run was that the event was kind of like natural childbirth--it was an empowering and gratifying experience, but I could definitely go another 2 years without doing it again.