It’s a week later and I finally have enough energy and post event reflection distance to write up my triathlon experience for what is my 99th or so sprint distance triathlon. Okay, I confess, I’m exaggerating. I did my very first sprint distance triathlon in July 2005, which was just 13 years ago. No way I’ve done 99 triathlons in 13 years!! I have done at least 20 of them! They are super fun!! I love, love, love the triathlon community.
I set my goals for this race. I trained well. I felt ready on race morning.
Best of all, I trained with a wonderful group of women from a variety of parts of my life. One woman, Shirlene is from my writing world. Cherie is from my Lean In Together world. And the many other women in the group are from Great River School where I work as a substitute teacher and consultant.
I slept well on Friday night, two nights before the race. It’s essential to sleep well that night. On Saturday night, the night before the race, I slept terrible. Not really sure why. Luckily it matters less to sleep well the night before the big race! I woke up at 4:30AM to eat breakfast, take my new pup Sam for a walk, and pack my bike and all my gear into the car to depart on time at 5:30AM. I made it!
I got to Brooke’s house by 5:45AM. All of us gathered and rode our bikes with our gear over to Lake Nokomis, arriving to the lake by 6:20AM. Plenty of time to set up my transition area, get marked, get our race chip and walk the ins and outs of the transition area. I loved having my dear friend Tammy, who was volunteering, be the one to mark me! Tammy is re-learning how to swim, as a goal she has is to do a full triathlon herself. She’s got the biking and running dialed in, just needs to improve her swimming confidence. I know all about that.
Dear friends at events make all the positive difference. Major thank you Tammy for being there! I am excited for when you do your triathlon! I will either race with you OR I will for sure be there cheering you on!
My struggles with this triathlon happened in the first three or four minutes after I ran into the water. As luck would have it, as occasionally happens in triathlons, I got kicked about 5 times in those first moments of the race. I was so surprised and then shocked that I went into a mini anxiety attack. The worst part was that I then inhaled some water and coughed, and essentially for the rest of the 500 yard swim I had a terrible time catching my breath. I ended up swimming on my back for a good portion of the swim. In fact, I consider it a small miracle that I did the swim in 13 minutes, one full minute less than my goal time!
I wasn’t speedy on the transitions. I decided not to be hard on myself with the transitions. Managing the order of activities is harder for me since the brain injury of five years ago. I completed the transition and got on my bike, my favorite part of the race.
My goal was to average about 15 miles per hour on the bike and to finish the 15.5 mile route in under 1 hour. I started out strong and I felt good. My blood sugar, according to my continuous glucose monitor, was about 140, which is ideal. I had nutrition in one of my water bottles and I was consuming that.
Then about 5 miles in, I started to feel “off.” I checked my blood sugar on my cgm and I was still at about 120, still solid, still good. It wasn’t dropping too fast, I was consuming glucose. Then another few miles in one of my teammates passed me and she yelled a few encouraging words. I barely acknowledged her. Very unusual for me. Another clue that all was not well with me. I looked at my cgm and now I was about 88. OH. My blood sugar was going DOWN.
So I ate a gu packet. And then about 5 minutes later I felt SO MUCH BETTER!!! I felt a surge of energy! I pedaled hard the last 4 miles to the transition area! I didn’t make my goal, but hey, I managed a lowish blood sugar and stayed in the game.
You might recall that I broke my ankle and foot on April 2nd, just four months ago. I set my goal for the run high, to get it done in 45 minutes! I did quite a bit of run/walking during the run. I smiled lots and I cheered others on. Felt SO GOOD to have my blood sugar be in the ideal range again!
It was so fun and affirming to have the announcer announce my name and tell that I was a two time cancer survivor and that I lived with diabetes for 37 years! Coming across that finish line was a reminder that I am strong and capable! It’s always good to have affirmations in life. Yes, even I need those!
After the race, hanging with the amazing women who trained together and who celebrated together was AWESOME! Big shout-out of love and appreciation to Brooke and Jenny who got us organized and part of the Buddy Swim Wave called Looking Sharp! Being part of a community is THE BEST!
Thanks for being a supporter and one who cheers me and others on! May I do that for all of you too!
With love and much appreciation,
Mari, Forever a triathlete!