By Terese Luikens This is my 13th and final journal entry. Training for a sprint triathlon transformed my attitude about exercise. I focused on a goal and worked harder than I have ever worked before, and I was gratified with my results.
Race day was 60 degrees with a light rain. I arrived two hours before the race so I could imagine myself running the race before it even began. After I checked in and placed my equipment in the transition area, I went down to the starting line on the beach. The ¼ mile swim course was marked with two very large orange buoys and four that were smaller. I envisioned myself swimming close to the inside of the course. Next I walked the path that led from the water to the transition area and imagined how I would put my shorts and shirt on over my swimming suit, buckle my race belt about my waist, and put my helmet on my head. Then I’d sit down and pull on my socks and shoes, take a swig of water, and put some dried fruit into my mouth while I walked to the starting point for the bike leg.
There was an incline to the road, so I made a mental note to put my bike in an easy gear to start. I had a map of the bike course and pictured myself making the turns and riding hard and fast on the straight stretches. Next I walked along the running course to get a sense of the trail. Then I went back to my car where it was warm and dry. I swam, biked, and ran the course in my head while I waited for the real race to start.
The swim was the most difficult part of the race. I felt an adrenaline surge the moment my belly hit the water. I had difficulty finding my rhythm and watching for the buoys. At one point a man in one of the kayaks yelled at me. I had swum off course. That was embarrassing. Still, I was in the middle of the pack and not at the back.
I completed my swim in 11 minutes and sprinted to my bike. My clothes were in the order in which I would put them on, so the transition was quick. I took a swig of water and stuffed a piece of dried pineapple into my mouth while I walked my bike to the mounting point. I was determined to make up for what I thought had been a bad swim and rode as fast as possible.
The road was wet, and we were cautioned to slow down before each turn. When I saw one of my competitors by the side of the road repairing a flat tire, I worried for a second about what I would do if I got one. But one of the keys to a good race is not to worry about things you cannot control. I let go of that thought and focused on what I could control—my speed. I finished the 11-mile bike course in 33:59 with an average speed of 17 miles per hour.
I felt my energy level drop when I got off my bike. As I hung my bike in the transition area, I took another swig of water and pushed some more dried fruit into my mouth. As I ran past a few women, I felt my momentum engage. I finished the three-mile course in 23:34, averaging an eight-minute mile.
My overall time was 1:12, and I placed 4th in my age group (45-49) and 60th out of 479 competitors. My goal was to not come in last. I was far from the bottom. And I was content with my accomplishment!
Doing things differently for next time
When it was over I felt a little sad. I had trained for twelve months and the race was over in 72 minutes. I am already thinking about doing it again next year. If I could do this race over again, there are a few things I would do differently:
I would familiarize myself thoroughly with the course before the race. The day before, I had time to bike around the entire route, but I did not.I see the advantage of becoming familiar with a course before you race it.
I could have pushed myself harder in the swimming and running events, but instead I paced myself.
I would inflate my tires the day of the race. I did not, and I think I could have gone faster if I had.
I began this adventure with the thought, “I think I can do this.” And now, I have done it.
“Let go of your self-imposed limitations.” Terese Luikens