After three months of training you would think I would feel a little more confident than I did the night before the race. Although part of the extra anxiety came from the fact that I had a championship flag football game that was rescheduled to the night before the race at 8PM!
The game was awesome, however we ended up being defeated in the end. The contest was so competitive that it came down to the final play. It was a great experience, however; as soon as it ended instead of engaging in the post game festivities I sprinted off the field and headed for Cape May NJ. By the time I went to bed and had a late carb meal my anxiety was almost overwhelming. I tossed and turned the short four hours until the alarm went off at 4:15AM.
The morning was a blur, not having time to fully prepare my transition bag I raced around the house to get the last minute items (towel, old flip flops etc.). I met my friend at one of the side streets and she jumped in my moms car. My mom and my girlfriend pumped us up as they drove us up to the ferry terminal.
We ran around setting up our transition areas which were very close together. In a last minute decision my friend decided she really should wear a wet suit the water was under 61 degrees. The problem was she had a surf wet suit that didn’t allow her much range of motion on her strokes. We walked down to the waters edge to see if possibly she could brace it out in just a bathing suit. HELL NO! That shit was colddd. On our way back to join the long line of athletes waiting to board the ferry, a small shop was being set up in the field where they would host the award ceremony. The gentleman said he was with Tri Everything and that he had wet suits for rent. Luckily he had her size in a men’s suit and it fit like a glove.
Shortly after, in single file, athletes started to board the cape may Lewis ferry. Once aboard the national anthem was sung and last minute announcements made. Once on our easy from the terminal to where the ocean meets the bay, you could feel anxieties rising. The nerves seemed to sway with the waves as Meghan and I trekked up the stairs to the wheel house. We met Captain Dave my stepdad at the enterance and he let us into the restricted area. With a great view I started to relax, I was able to get a fresh cup of coffee and make last minute adjustments to my borrowed wet suit.
The time in between the Olympic and sprint starts felt like a flash in time. I was extremely thirsty and kept chugging water. We met amazing people that gave us last minute tips. I finished a banana and peanut butter, drank two more cups of water and met Meghan back on the bow of the boat. We waited our turn. Suddenly we were standing at the edge, staring into gray waves. I had no time to even think, all I heard was three, I turned in the air to face where I thought the photographers’ boat was floating.
Super happy with my “taking the leap” photo.
Once in the water panic set in. I wasn’t ready for my heart to race like that and I flailed around towards where I thought we were suppose to be swimming. I’d be lying if I said my heart rate slowed and I was able to get into a rhythm. The entire swim I was burping up peanut butter and water (never will I do that again before a race). Mentally I didn’t care if I threw up I just wanted to get out of the ocean. I knew the current was strongly pulling us out to the right of the jetty. I powered through setting my strokes to my left and sitting perfectly toward the green buoys. All of a sudden a surfer who was helping navigate the swimmers pulled up alongside of me and told me I don’t have to pass between the buoys, she told me to get to shore the current was too strong. 😫
I was pissed but just set my eyes on the shore and started to really swim hard. Finally my feet hit the sand and I started stripping my wet suit down. I ran the beach and onto the carpet they had placed over the asphalt. Seeing my girlfriend and my family on the shore gave me an added boost! I sprinted the long .10 to transition and started getting ready for the bike. My running shirt was giving me issues and my number ripped. I struggled at length during a long 7 minute first transition.
Running down to the mount area I remember feeling in the moment. I just smiled mounted my bike and let the salt air hit my face. The 12 miles on the bike were grueling. I realized within the first three miles that this was my weakest event. I would have to really practice race cycling if I wanted to ever place in a tri. I pedaled along as competitor after competitor passed. Finally in the home stretch I felt pretty good about my chances in the run.
Happy to finally dismount into transition I quickly grabbed water and headed to the run out sign. I immediately started making up time and passing people because my legs weren’t worn down from the bike. I was flying until we hit the beach part of the run. Not only was the sand rough but people were in single file line and going so slow. I made the decision to use the extra energy and go down to the harder sand and less trafficked area by the waters edge. Almost to the turn around I keep thinking to myself. On the opposite side I saw my friend we threw up a high five, I think we both needed that motivation. I realized I could make up some time on this run and she would only beat me by a little bit. So I stepped it up a notch. Then my back became stiff and my right lower back muscle cramped up. I was just praying to keep running and not have to walk.
Struggling I looked at all the people that packed the side of bay Ave. They were on every corner, up on the decks of shore houses, and one guy even sprayed athletes with a hose if they wanted to escape the heat. I felt a sense of pride and even if my back was on fire I was going to finish this thing. I had trained so hard and long for this. I had recovered enough from my injury to even be running which was a miracle in itself. Down the home stretch I savored the feelings of pride and happiness. I knew right then that I was hooked. I saw my supportive loved ones right after I finished cheering and screaming. I was so overwhelmed I fell into their embraces tears of joy and happiness fell from my eyes. I had found my inner rekkr.