My first tri at 57: Exceeding Expectations

author : Pnlop
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First race went better than expected!

My First Triathlon


My goals were:

  1. To complete the course, not be DNF or DFL
  2. To finish in less than two hours


I exceeded my expectations with a one hour 41 minute time and won a first place award in Athena 40+ division!!

Venue: Club Med Sprint #6 Triathlon, Sandpiper Bay, November 6, 2011
Distances: 550 yard open water swim: 10 mile bike open course: 3.1 mile run on golf course
Weather: high 70’s, breezy with intermittent rains, ocean beaches closed to swimming due to dangerous surf and riptides, all five days.


Thursday 11/03/11: I flew to my cousins' home in Kobe Sound, Fla. Nicole and Steve embraced me to sumptuous meals, scintillating conversations and 5-star hospitality wrapped in 1000-count Egyptian cotton for my slumbers…oooooommmmm…big time ! So comfortable!!

Friday 11/04/11: I drove to Club Med Port St Lucie to check out course and drive the 10-mile bike route then drove to Sprockets Adventures to pick up bike, a Specialized Allez, fitted by Scott and Lisa. I received awesome service at the bike shop and it was only a $45 rental fee for Friday to Monday! I drove to Hobe Sound Beach to bike a 7.5-mile circuit on Jupiter Island to get used to bike sitting and shifting positions. I missed my “fitted” saddle, my sit bones were complaining, and I had to get used to the computer. It was an awesome bike ride in a very private million dollar residential community. The beach was peppered with surfers in that the sea was churning big time!

Saturday 11/05/11: Hydration is KEY today. I had been drinking lots of water since arriving to keep my urine clear to straw colored prior to race day. I drove to Club Med for noon race packet pickup (my number is Lucky #100) and registration, bought swim goggles for $5, a nice Ironman watch for $20, $5 body glide for wet suit and last year's blue tri shirt for $8 (cuz it was I attended the First Timers Race Clinic by Heather and Todd Gollnick to get insiders tips and explanations of transition areas, timing and course overview.

The clinic was very helpful, and I met Susan and Dan from Indialantic who were very supportive and my “race buddies,” though they had been racing for four years now. (Sue was my age 57!) I spent a very relaxing evening, going to Guanabana’s and Castaway Cove in Jupiter, Fl to see some of Nicole’s and Steve’s favorite clubs.

I had lots of family and friends sending me good luck wishes and payers by text and phone calls and it was awesome to speak with cousin Rich Nichols!  I had chicken and potato dinner then I was in bed by 8 p.m., moving clocks back an hour for tomorrow’s 0545 wake up alarm. Before bed, I rechecked packing my transition bag with wet suit, plastic bag to get wet suit on (which several racers borrowed at race time, even the Men's winner… lol) tri suit, footwear, biking gear, swim cap and race belt numbers. My bike was in car with race number attached, waters packed. 

Sleep was not happening as I replayed my visual of the race all evening on a never ending tape replay. I was very excited and nervous. I even took Benedryl to knock myself out, tried sleep Mantras, prayers … nothing worked. Oh well.

Race Day

Sunday 11/06/11: It had rained all last night but I was hoping we would have a sunny clear start to the race. My prayers were answered as it was a calm sunny morning. I arose out of bed at 0530 got dressed in my tri suit, went to the bathroom a few times, brushed teeth, ran a comb through my hair, had a shot of coffee and ¼ C plain yogurt and ¼ banana (could only really eat like 4 TBSP of it so I took the bowl in car with me just in case hunger came), sweating nervousness, sipping water and high C energy drink enroute to Club Med leaving Hobe Sound at 0617 arriving transition right at 0700, one hour before my start time. There are many, many traffic lights on 1A even without traffic issues at 0615- 0645 a.m.


The Olympic Tri starts at 0730, the Sprint Tri first wave at 0800, and my wave of “first timers” starts at 0805. I set up my transition area securing the #100 box for the bike and transition bag, hanging my bike helmet with sunglasses, bike gloves and lip sunscreen from handlebar, placing water bottle and energy bottle in bike holders, and arranged running shoes with socks. 

Next, I go to Body Marking with a black permanent marker, my number 100 on left deltoid and left shin and age 57 on back of my left calf then I get a Microchip Velcro anklet (which I double secure with a safety pin). Then I took my  bag with wetsuit, body glide, swim cap and goggles down to beach area, hitting the wash room to relieve my bladder.

After cheering for the Olympic starters at 0730 beachside, at 0745 I donned my wetsuit over my tri suit, sharing my plastic bag with about six other racers suiting up, trying not to overheat due to nerves AND wetsuit. At 0750 I am in the bay's brackish waters, getting acclimated and trying to de-stress about the 550 yard swim, my weakest event. To avoid getting kicked I orient myself off to the left of the course near start line.


At 0805 the horn goes off and I am breast stroking to the yellow buoy. I feel comfortable about the sighting but the wetsuit makes my breast stroke unbalanced. I have to force my hips down to keep my feet underwater with the frog kick. After rounding the buoy I actually pass a few people by back stroking which feels more efficient with the wetsuit. I flip over and breast stroke to make sure I am on course. (My rotary breathing for freestyle is a work in progress.) There are only three people behind me so I am definitely in the BACK OF THE PACK, so I have no worries about being kicked in the face!  

As I exit the water there are wet suit strippers to ease me out, and I run to the transition area to throw down my cap, goggles and wetsuit, donning running shoes, socks, helmet, sunglasses and lip balm. I sip water and energy drink then I run my bike to the mounting area, feeling good and efficient about my transition 1 time.

SWIM TIME: 16:09


I am feeling pretty good and in the flow even though I am pretty much alone. There were a few stragglers behind me but they might have been Olympic participants.

As I head out down Morningstar Road, I am blasted with heavy 25 mph headwinds, so I hunker down and say to myself it will equal out with strong tail winds at the finish, for we finish on the same road coming back. I pump my legs trying to keep my upper body quiet and still glance up to see low cumulonimbus storm clouds rapidly approaching on that stiff wind.

Oh well, I could use the cooling off and I am already wet from the swim, being in my tri suit for the whole race. After the 4-mile marker the deluge comes, thankfully without lightning. It is a brief shower necessitating shaking off my glasses for visibility. I am glad that I drove the course Friday, for I feel comfortable with the route even though there are few bikers in my vicinity. The police offer excellent protection and direction at the several roundabouts that we have to negotiate. There are Club Med volunteers cheering us on as well!
I do pass several near the 7-mile marker and a really cute guy passed me at 5-mile marker--a good incentive to chase! My legs and breathing feel good and strong on this rental bike with 110 psi in my rubber tires, though my female parts are feeling very impacted by this seat, as well as my sit bones. Good thing I took Motrin at 0700 as a prophy for my sit bones. As I unmount my bike, I see Nicole and a huge SMILE erupts as she snaps a photo and cheers me on. GOD I LOVE MY FAMILY!

I run my bike to my box, throw down helmet and gloves, rinse my mouth with water, sip water and energy drink, don race belt, put hair up in high pony tail scrunchy, and run out on some tight quad legs even after spinning the last 400 yards of bike route.

BIKE:   41:09
TRANSITION 2: 1:45  


As I start out on the well-marked (signs for every mile on both biking and run courses) running golf course path, Club Med Volunteers are there cheering me on saying “Gait looks great! Keep it up.”
Needless to say shortly thereafter I am breaking my run to a fast walk trying to catch my breath.
My breathing is labored so I run to my breath, using the landscape as incentive: “Just run to that palm tree," etc.) I end up walking probably 70 percent of the course, passing two aid water stations with volunteers that cheer me on saying “Hey, you’re still upright and going, so no worries. Atta Girl!”

Meanwhile, I am very aware of how BEAUTIFUL this space is that I am in and how FORTUNATE I am to be here and have a strong body to do this. I'm feeling very happy. Then I have thoughts of "Hey, this IS a RACE. Get your butt in gear and run!" As I am nearing the last half mile I figure I have conserved enough energy to finish with a strong sprinting gait, so I stride out the last hundred yards to cross the finish line with the announcer announcing my name and number.

It was very exciting to see Steve and Nicole there to applaud and congratulate me and take pictures, and to see my new race friends Sue and Dan. Everyone is wearing the same HUGE SMILE!! The ENDORFUN high lasted about three days but started at finish line. I probably left some energy out on the course, and could have pushed harder, but I finished strong. I placed FIRST in my Athena 40+ category, which I discovered by looking at the race board as the Olympic racers were still to finish.

RUN:            39:08
FINISH:  1:41:42
OVERALL  98/105


At 10:30 am Steve and Nicole headed back to Hobe Sound to make a Fabulous Grilled Celebratory  Fete. I found Sue and Dan having some Club Med gourmet brunch fare, which was part of the entry fee (YUM!) and then awards began! Sue got first place in the Female 55-59 age group. She is my age, 57, and has been racing for four years.

I am stealing her saying, “Triathlon: What’s not to love!? You can be a 5-year-old all over again, outside running, swimming and biking with your friends!”

We took each other's pictures with our First Place plaques, and everyone got a finishers medallion. The race (a perfect first timers race) was in a beautiful venue, a fast flat course with lots of volunteer support and over 50 police officers assisting. The success encourages me to COME BACK in February!!  Then I packed up all my stuff after taking more pictures to drive back to Hobe Sound (35 minutes) for a well earned shower. I was too excited to take a nap even though I hadn’t slept for a long time!

Gratitude and Happiness have permeated my well being these whole five exciting days! I am sooo Blessed with Family, Friends and Divine Guidance.


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date: November 29, 2011