Yesterday was our mock tri. It’s only for Tri It For Life members, and we all paid $10.00 each to participate. Most of our mentors were there, and it was a chance for south, central and north side athletes to all workout together.
I workout with the north side group. We have a slight advantage in that we do our swim training in the pool where the race will be held. We’ve already been traumatized by the 17 foot water, and had time to get over it. LOL! We also bike on part of the race course, so we’re used to those hills as well.
The mock tri was scheduled to start at 8:00am sharp, and we were advised to be there no later than 7:00am. That meant I had to get up around 5:15. That gives me enough time to get up and get moving, have my breakfast, pack my gear, and hit the road by 6:40 at the latest (I live relatively close to the aquatic center).
The alarm went off, and out of habit I hit the snooze button. Ten minutes later, I realized I really did need to get up. Back during my running days, I had to get up early before long runs to give my digestive system time to, uh, work its magic. Otherwise it was bad, bad news during that run. LOL! Glad to know my body is consistent and nothing has changed.
I vacillated on what to have for breakfast. HH had put the bananas in the fridge so those were out. I can’t stand the texture of a refrigerated banana. Blech. I had no yogurt. So I went with a waffle with peanut butter, and some fruit. I also started hydrating.
The night before, I had prepped/packed my bucket. The easiest way to transport all your stuff to your transition area is to use a 5 gallon paint bucket. In it you can put your sneakers/socks, bike shoes/run shoes, shirt to go over your Tri suit, running belt to hold your number, snacks/energy gels, trash bags to cover your items if it’s raining…pretty much everything you’ll need. Then you hook the bucket onto your bike handle bars and wheel the bike to the area. I double checked my bucket even though I knew everything was in there.
I showered and threw on my sports bra, tri suit and some flip flops. It was a bit chilly when I started putting my stuff in the car, so I threw on a long sleeve t-shirt. I put a tablespoon of peanut butter in a small zip loc bag and stuck it in the back pocket of my tri suit for later. HH woke up and sleepily blinked at me. I gave him a kiss and hit the road.
I arrived at the venue and was directed to park across the street at the park. We were using the aquatic center parking lot for our transition area. I saw a few ladies from the north side and we chatted while pumping up bike tires and getting our gear together. Did you know you should check your air pressure and pump up your tires before every ride?
All the mentors had gotten there earlier and tents were set up to sign in, get our bodies marked, and buy gear if we wanted. Try Sports even had a table. I ended up buying a race belt from them since I didn’t have one already. I had my eye on some Yanks (shoe strings you don’t have to tie) but I knew I didn’t need those for the day. I bought a Tri It For Life short to wear over my tri suit during the run and bike.
I was number 22. It was written at the top of my right arm, and above both knees. For the mock, they also had us grouped by type of bike and speed. I was in bike group 6, so that was written on my left calf. They also wrote my name down my right arm. At first, I had them write “CASS” but when I pulled my sleeve down, the C was covered! We had a good chuckle about that. I went back and got the rest of my name written.
When you set up your transition area, it’s really small. Take a small towel, like a hand towel, and lay it on the floor. That’s your space, next to your bike. You put your sneakers on the towel and then you put your helmet down, with your shirt, sunglasses, gloves, and head band inside of it. You put them in the order you’ll get dressed. Obviously you’d want to put your shirt on before you put the helmet on. LOL!
We all mingled and tried to get over our nerves. Next thing you know, it was 7:45 and time to head inside for a speech and to get lined up. At this point you have to take your shoes off, which is why I wore flip flops. You walk across the parking lot barefoot. If you’re squeamish about walking barefoot, this isn’t for you.
Inside, they explained to us what would happen during our race today, and how it would differ from the real race. First and foremost, the pool is split in half with a platform in the middle. They had people in even bike group numbers swim on the more shallow end, odd bike group numbers on the deeper end. I could see the faces of some of our south side sisters go pale, because they had yet to swim in 17 ft. On race day, we will be split up by swim ability, from 1-10. 10 is Missy Franklin, 1 is beginner/slow.
The second difference was, after the swim we were going to wait for everyone in our bike group. Once everyone was there, we would head out with 2 mentors, one in front and one to sweep. On race day, it’s every woman for herself.
They asked us if there were any questions and there were a few. After that, they sent us around to the other side of the pool to meet up with our groups. I was in group 6 with my friend/training buddy Rachelle. The rest of the girls were from the south side. We determined within our group that we’d have the faster swimmers go first, so that we weren’t swimming up on each other.
By is time, it’s crazy noisy. We were allowed to have friends and family come as spectators. Then all our mentors were there to cheer us on with pinker cowbells. We started walking across the platform and the ladies from the first few groups were already in the pool. We got to the other side and I looked up and saw HH and CH in the stands.
Just like race day, ladies were getting into the pool every 5 seconds. Before I knew it, it was my turn! Rachelle went before me and then I sat on the edge. You can sit and then slide in, or you can jump straight down, but you cannot dive forward into the pool. Mentor Lori was counting down for both sides of the pool. I heard her say “5…4…3…2…1!” I slid in and pushed off the wall…then floated up and turned onto my back.
And that, ladies and gents, was the only good push off I had. LOL!
Race day atmosphere is NO JOKE! You have this cacophony of cheers, cowbells, instructions, your own breathing, water splashing…I know I was straight functioning on adrenaline and forgot half my training. I can tell by looking at HH’s video that I wasn’t bringing my arms up into the full “Y” I use for elementary back stroke. I was just trying to get those laps DONE!
I got to the first wall and was breathing so hard that I didn’t take a big enough breath for my push off so I had to come up early. I started trying to take bigger strokes, I was worried about being in the way of freestyle swimmers coming behind me.
Some time during like the fourth or fifth lap, I ran my big head into Rachelle’s foot and she kicked me (lightly) in the head in the midst of her stroke. Then someone was free styling up the lane to my left and it was a 10 second moment of confusion with water splashing into my face. I grabbed the rope momentarily, but then let go and was able to continue on. I think that’s one of the times HH had the camera moving around, so it’s not on tape.
Round about lap 6 I had this random string of delirious thoughts: “I am tired as hell…why did I sign up for is again..omg I have to bike and run after this…I ain’t gon’ make it…save your legs, stop kicking so much…what lap is this?”
When I got to the last lap I was so ready to be out of that pool. I forgot all about water depth, being scared of the water…I just wanted out. I happened to line myself up to where I ended right at the ladder. I flipped over, and climbed out of that pool in a hurry! I heard somebody yelling about getting out of the pool and I complied. LOL!
I was so out of it, I didn’t realize HH had come down to the edge of the pool and was taping me. I got out and started jogging to the exit, high-fiving a few mentors on the way. I actually jogged all the way to my bike. Luckily there were not a lot of rocks/pebbles in the parking lot.
I sat down on my bucket and rinsed my feet off with bottled water. The I put my socks and shoes on, opened my Hammer Gel and started eating that, while trying to simultaneously put my knee brace on. Then my shirt, gloves, and helmet. I swigged some water and then grabbed my bike and started jogging over to my bike group. Halfway there I realized I forgot my sunglasses. D’oh! I jogged back and got them. I will not do that on race day.
Our last swimmer was a little bit slower, so we waited a few minutes for her and then we were able to take off. HH and CH were outside by then and on the corner across the street. I heard him yelling for me as we rode down the hill. At the bottom we had to make a left turn onto Statesville Road, and the mentors had thankfully stopped traffic for us.
Statesville is a long, gradual hill. I like to just beast it, work through my gears and get up to the flat part. We got stuck behind a slower group and I was inwardly groaning. Then one of the athletes ahead of me asked our mentor if we could go ahead and pass. She gave us the green light. After checking for traffic, we moved out and passed their group. Freedom!
Right turn onto Hambright – a long, fairy flat road. A few small inclines, but nothing major. We turned and one of the groups had stopped. I looked back and realized we didn’t have 2 of our people and our sweep mentor. We stopped for about 30 seconds and they caught up so we moved out. We didn’t stop too many more times after that. The ride felt like a breeze as I had already ridden this route so many times in practice. I enjoyed the breeze drying out my locs, and there wasn’t too much traffic.
The last hill on the route brings us back to where we started. It’s not long, but it’s pretty steep. I tried to ride it sitting down the first time, and had to go all the way down to 1st gear…aka “granny gear.” basically you’re pedaling like a mad woman, and your bike is slowly inching up the hill. Uh, NO. I learned after that to stand up on the bike and pedal. Not to mention, all the dang spectators are standing in this area. No time to punk out. LOL!
I got about 1/3 of the way up and stood up to get up the hill. I had it in gear 2, but I think during the race I’ll leave it in 3 as I didn’t have enough resistance. We got up to the top and had to dismount at the front of the parking lot, then walk/jog our bikes back to transition. I walked, but on race day I’ll probably jog. Also, there will probably be 1,000 athletes on race day, so I’ll really have to remember where my transition station is.
I was feeling pretty good when I racked the bike. I took another Shot Blok and determined I will NOT be using those on race day. It’s like putting a whole bag of gummy bears in your mouth. I have issues with the texture. I’d rather have Gu or Hammer Gel. I should’ve taken more time to stretch my calves. I had more water and then walked towards the start of the run. I saw mentor RJ and she said, “walking? Girl, start running!” so I did. LOL!
I am going to get a run-walk-run timer for race day (we can’t take phones/music on the route) but for the time being I used my phone. I set the intervals for 5/2. Ambitious, much? LOL! I started running and it was relatively flat for the first 1/8th and then there were various small inclines and declines. I was grateful for the first walk break. I did grab water near the corner where HH was standing and then ran through. I high-fived my fellow athletes and we encouraged each other. When the phone indicated I had already run a mile, I knew it was just downhill from there.
My locs were swaying back and forth and the race belt kept riding up, but I knew I was almost done. I came out of the trail from the woods and all I had to do was cross the road! The finish line was in the parking lot! Mentors were cheering and high-fiving us near the finish line. I can see how people just start crying. It’s such an emotional release to finish and realize YOU JUST DID A TRIATHLON.
I didn’t cry yesterday, but I probably will on 9/23. It was so nice to hug all my fellow athletes and congratulate each other. We took pictures together and I ended up staying until the last woman crossed the line.
To say I’m psyched for the real race would be an understatement. I know what I’m going to work on for the next four weeks – the swim and the running. After this, I will be on a loooooooong hiatus from running; possibly permanent.
I’m so happy that I challenged myself to do this. I’ve met a great group of women, both athletes and mentors, and I really hope we keep in touch after this is over. I’m also going to see about being a junior mentor next year.
WE ARE TRIATHLETES!!!