Sunday, September 15, 2013

Iron Girl Triathlon Sandy Hook NJ: Race Recap Part One

It's been a week since I competed in and didn't drown during the swim FINISHED Iron Girl Sandy Hook!

Race-wise it had its share of ups and downs but ultimately it was a fantastic day that has only cemented my new love for the sport of triathlon.

This was a special race (aside from being the first triathlon I had signed up for - the one that made me leap towards the sport) but along the way, 20 of my Mom in Motion friends decided to make this race THEIR first (or second) triathlon as well! It was so special to have a bunch of great friends and teammates to do this with. It really brought the experience to the next level.

A couple of the Moms at Expo: Allison, me, Roxi, Kerry and Beth
Most of us decided to stay the night. It's just far enough of a drive (about an hour and a half each way) to make it feel just a tad too long to go down Saturday to get the bike set up and pick up the packet and then go home to come back at 5AM. Once again (as I had for the Jersey Shore half marathon) I shared a room with Rox and Kerry.

We had grand illusions of resting on Saturday but the day went quickly! By the time we got our race packets, kicked around the expo, brought the bikes to transition, trembled over seeing the water we were going to swim and checked-in to the hotel, it was already time for dinner. 

After a nice dinner that all the Tri Moms attended - we figured out our "fuel" for the morning (i.e. stopping at Starbucks so the girls could have cold coffee and make 'perfect oatmeal' with our hotel room coffee pot in the morning.) Angela hooked me up with a Starbuck Via Ready Brew Instant Coffee packet which is absolutely genius for race mornings. Mixed with hot water and you get delicious Starbucks coffee just like that!

By the time we got back to the room and got all of our stuff ready it was getting late. And the how many hours do we have before the alarm clock goes off at 3:45 AM game began. Once again none of us could sleep, we started trying around 9:30 PM, we put on some movie to try to get sleepy. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation to be exact. Rox couldn't stop laughing so we had to change the channel pronto. Soon we got sucked into a few episodes of Everyone Loves Raymond somewhere around the 2nd episode I drifted off into some sort of sleep. I felt semi-asleep and semi-awake for most of the night but managed to get a little rest. 

Hmmm. I think I've got everything
I woke up with a stomachache. (Actually I also went to sleep with a stomachache) - neither occurrence is all that unusual for me unfortunately. I popped an Immodium and hoped for the best. I was wearing a kit instead of two pieces for my tri outfit of the day. The kit is cute and so much more comfortable but getting in and out of that thing is a bitch challenging because of the built-in bra that easily gets all tangled and twisted. My silent mantra was - "please don't sh*t the kit." (OK, not so silent because I soon had Rox and Kerry also chanting it). You see, at another Tri, I saw a guy cross the finish line who must've had a little accident in his kit and his kit pants were light grey. It was unfortunate and I felt for him. I now live in fear of being that guy.

Anyway, back to race day. We headed out to get our transition ready and body marked. 

Me, Rox and Tracy getting ready for the day ahead!
And soon it was time to head to the water. For the record, I have to toughen up my feet. Wow. The "sand" was rock and cut up seashells and standing/walking in it for a half an hour was seriously starting to make my feet hurt and ache. I'm a baby but I heard others "ouch-ouching" as they walked too so I don't think I was alone.

Getting ready! 
The water was unusually super-crazy choppy. I had never swam in water like this and I was very nervous. I felt like I was a little boat getting tossed about. Everyone felt it and unfortunately many women had to be pulled out that day. This race is usually considered beginner friendly but there was nothing "beginner" about this swim. It was tough. But the race did provide plenty of "swim angels" to help women rest and catch their breath along the way. I was glad that I had swam a lot in training over the summer. And even though my other ocean open water were calmer seas, that experience was super valuable - I think I would've been a way bigger mess if I hadn't swam a little in Maine in the ocean and had my OWS's in Kentucky.

This pic of Allison shows off her amazing smile and the "chop" of the water
I took the advice (and wetsuit! thanks!) of my friend Angela and approached it very slow. The goal was not to burn out here but for me to make it. I did - I took it slow and with the conditions, I will admit there was some doggy paddling and unconventional swimming to keep going forward. But I did it and I was proud that I never had to hold onto a buoy or noodle or really stop. It was forward motion - just slow. Dana said that she overheard several seasoned triathletes remark that this was the hardest swim they had ever done - it was no joke.

The bad news. In the last part of the swim my lower body started to cramp up! WTF!!!  My hamstrings were going and so were my calves. The worse was the pain in my Tibialis Anterior. (I had to look up that muscle for this blog btw.) 

HOLY CRAP they were seized up and I wasn't sure how I was going to go on. I am so annoyed by this cramping thing and didn't expect it to hit me in the swim. I even tried to ensure something like this wouldn't happen by hydrating well, and having a banana and half of gel right before swim start. Ugh. Hiss. Boo. I had to pretty much just use arms for the last part of the swim. 

In pain but smiling for the camera - I'm done! I made it!
As I got onto the beach I realized I was screwed. The cramps hurt so bad I was wondering how I would even get out of my wetsuit, never mind bike and run. But I knew that if I had to sit in transition for an hour to recover to be able to finish I would. 

Camera caught me gritting my teeth in pain, wondering what I'd do with these cramps - and
That's Sheila a M.I.M. (no wetsuit!!) We stuck together in the swim and it was a great support 
I told my coach Dana that I was cramping up and having problems. She shouted to drink a lot of water, DO NOT SIT and take a gel if I had one. I nodded these directions and crawled headed to transition unsure of how this thing was going to play out. 

SWIM: 28:23 - It was originally supposed to be a half mile swim and then the race people said they shortened it to a third of a mile. It looked longer than that. Kerry went to question the Iron Man-tee-shirt-wearing-official and he said that he had personally swum the course (it was his job for IM to ensure distance) and it was exactly .45 of a mile. So who knows? All I know is that it was tough. I had made it without drowning but could I go on with being this cramped up? 



Unknown said...

Congrats on the swim Jen. I so wish we were closer so I could swim with you :) (and hang out too, duh...but)

Proud of you for conquering this swim and the cramps.

BEST MANTRA EVER: Don't Shit the Kit


Unknown said...

Jen I LOVE IT and love you Too also you did Not SHIT THE KIT!!! yeah!! FYI i took a shit late that night as always i just block up :(

Unknown said...

This is awesome...can't wait to read part two!! Xoxo!!

Unknown said...

What an amazing journey Iron Girl was! I am so happy that I got to experience it with you and the rest of our MIMs. Perfect 10 Miler here we come!!!!!

Frickin' Fabulous at 40 said...

So gosh-darn awesome. I probably wouldn't have gone in, shitting my kit before I put a toe in the water!

Scott said...

You and I must be soul mates with our immodium addictions and dehydrating/cramping.

Colleen said...

Way to go, Jen! So proud of you for sticking through it with choppy water and tough cramps! Can't wait to read part 2!

nikki said...

awesome, jen!!! you're amazing, jen the triathlete!!