Sunday, July 31, 2011

Last, but not Least - Tri Waco Race Report

I signed up in January for Tri Waco - the Olympic Distance - to be held June 24, 2011.  I knew it would be hot, but reasoned that it wouldn't be "August Hot."  Also, I knew I needed to focus on a race in the future to get myself motivated to get back in gear after my surgery.

It seemed like such a great idea 6 months before the event.

The days ticked away on the calendar, and my training never really kicked up to the level it should have for an Olympic Distance Triathlon (1500m swim, 40K bike, 10K run).  It's not fair to say I didn't train at all; I did train consistently. BUT, I didn't train nearly as much as I could/should have.  I didn't train for the swim at all.  I did a few bike rides, but not consistently, and the longest was 20 miles.  I did a few spin classes.  I did a few run/walk workouts, but the longest was only 4 miles.  I, of course, consistently did my Curves strength training workouts 3x/week.  I didn't do any bricks. I also ate way too much.  I used Kev's working in Alaska, family vacation, business trips, and business visitors as excuses to eat way too much and train way too little.

So, when the weekend of the race arrived, I was about 15 pounds heavier than I realistically should have been, 40 pounds heavier than I wanted to be, and a lot less prepared than I had hoped to be when I signed up in January.  Besides that, it's been "August hot" in Central Texas since before Memorial Day. 

I was determined to do the Olympic anyway.  I didn't switch to the Sprint distance.  I didn't decide to just skip it.  My awesome friends Meg & Sasha were doing the race with me.  I'm entirely too stubborn to give up.  Regardless of my level of training, I'm slow.  I'm slow at the swim.  I'm slow on the bike.  I'm slow on the run.  I'm good with that.  I just keep moving forward.

Packet pick-up day came.  I was NERVOUS.  I had never done and Olympic Distance before, and I knew I was heavier than I should be and drastically under-trained.  I just kept telling myself that I could still finish even if I was super slow and dead last.  It would be hard.  It would be hot.  I would be exhausted.  I would still finish.

I got my packet and met up with my friends.  Kev and Sam came with me to Waco (Jacob was with his cousin at Great Wolf Lodge for the weekend).  After getting all settled at the hotel, Kev and I walked across the street to the suspension bridge to check out the swim course.  They had a swim clinic that afternoon, and the race director said they measured the water temp at 89 degrees.  UGH!  Even the water would be hot.  Nothing like swimming the better part of a mile in a bathtub with 600 of your closest friends.  We walked onto the suspension bridge and looked at the buoys for the swim course.  YIKES!  I almost puked over the side of the bridge. 1500m seemed like a LONG way - especially since I hadn't been in the pool AT ALL.

We went to dinner with friends, then headed back to the hotel.  Kev went out with some friends, and I went back to the room to get all my race stuff ready for the next day.  I sent several text messages to several friends expressing my concern for my lack of preparedness for the race the next day.  Thank God for all of them.  The encouraging responses kept me from leaving Waco in the middle of the night and heading home without bothering with the whole triathlon thing.

I got back to the room and started getting ready.  Then it hit me.  CRAP!  I didn't get my sports bra when I was packing and headed downstairs to get it.  CRAP CRAP CRAP!  Of all the things to forget!  My sports bra is a steel-belted work of engineering and is required equipment for this Athena to do any kind of working out.  They don't sell said sports bra in many stores - and certainly not at any stores in Waco.  So, I headed to Academy at 9:15PM Saturday night before the race to get a sports bra that would just have to do.  Great. I got one.  It wasn't as effective as my normal one, but it would have to do.

This just keeps getting better.  I'm nervous.  I'm fat.  I'm ill-prepared.  I have a substitute sports bra.  Great.

Despite all that, I slept pretty well.  I woke up the next morning, and made it down to the transition area before it got too crowded - and before getting down the hotel elevator with my bike was too challenging.

I was nervous.  I was nervous about the swim, the bike, and especially the run.  I was really nervous about finishing before the cutoff.  I wasn't nervous about being last - I knew I would be, and I was totally OK with it.  I was OK with being last, so long as I could actually cross the finish line by the time cutoff.

After setting up, the pre-race meeting, and the Sprint start (not sure why they started the Sprint before the Olympic, but they did), it was time to get this thing started.  I got in the water and started swimming.

I was slow but steady.  I didn't panic - even when all the crazy fast people were literally swimming on top of me.  They were blowing past me and kicking me, but I just kept swimming at my slow steady pace.  It seemed like a fairly long way, but I finished the swim without any trouble and actually wasn't last out of the water. 

On to the bike.  The bike course was flat, and the road surface was nice and smooth.  I wasn't fast, but I still wasn't last, and I wasn't feeling too terrible - despite my lack of training and the ridiculous heat.  However, I was keenly aware that the worst part remained.  I SUCK at the run.  I suck when I train.  I suck on race day.  I even suck when I just do a 5K, and that's all I do.  I'm slow.  I "run" 10 steps and think I'm gonna die.  It doesn't seem to matter how much I do or don't train, how much I do or don't eat, or how much I weigh.  I just flat suck at running.  But, I still do it.

I got off the bike, put on my running shoes, and put on some sunscreen.  Did I mention it was HOT?  I saw some new friends I had met at dinner (who were already done with the Sprint), and I saw Kev in transition.  He actually got up to see me off at the swim and was there for both T1 and T2.  The encouragement was helpful.  I told him he didn't have to get up super early and hang out in the ridiculous heat, but he did anyway.  It was greatly appreciated. 

I headed off on the run.  Yikes.  It was HOT.  I was tired.  I tried to hydrate at all the water stops.  I tried to settle into a 2-1 pace, but I just couldn't make my fat, not-trained-enough butt run much at all.  I finally decided to just make it too the finish, even if I walked the whole thing.  I just kept putting one foot in front of the other.  The first half of the 10K course was relatively shaded, but it was HILLY, I mean crazy hilly.  It was just plain ridiculous.  About Mile 2, I met Sasha who was heading back in and at about Mile 4.  She looked great, stopped to give me a hug and some encouragement, and warned me that 4 massive hills awaited me on the course.  UGH!  It was hilly, but at least pretty shaded.  I ran a little, walked most of it, and kept moving forward.  I finally got to the turn-around and got to go down all those nutty hills.  Then it was off to the last half of the course that was pretty much the 5K course from the sprint.  No more hills.  Sadly, also, no more shade.  By this point, it was getting late in the morning.  The sun was blazing.  It was crazy hot.  One by one, the people who were behind me from the swim and the bike passed me on the run.  It was official.  I was last.

The race director passed me on his Gator about 20 times.  They started packing up the water stations and course markers as I trudged along.  Despite all this, and the knowledge that I was last, I was truly OK with it.  I was hot and tired and ready to be done, but I was proud to be making it, regardless of being last.

I finally made it to the path back up to the suspension bridge.  Kev & Sasha were on the bridge yelling at me.  It was awesome.  I made it up to the bridge and forced myself to "run" the entire length of the bridge to the finish line.  The paramedics were still there, and they gave me my Finisher's Medal and some much-appreciated water.  No other volunteers were there.  The awards had already been passed out.  Mine was the only bike still in transition.  There were no more free snacks.  There was no race announcer calling my name as I crossed the finish line.  I didn't care.  I finished an Olympic Triathlon.  I used to weigh 320 pounds.  I might have been last, but I still did it.  I'm a bad ass.

There might have been no volunteers or race announcer there when I finished, but Kevin was. Sasha was.  My sister was.  They cheered and took pictures and helped me get all my stuff inside to the AIR CONDITIONED hotel.  It was awesome.  I'm a bad ass.

Meg did great at the Sprint distance.  Sasha kicked ass at the Olympic distance.  Both of them have also lost a ton of weight.  We are all bad asses.

After it was all over, I felt like dog shit.  I had a raging headache and was just nauseous from the heat.  It took me several hours to finally start feeling normal again.  It took many liters of water, Extra Strength Tylenol, and a Frappucino from Starbucks before I finally felt like a human.  It was about 6 hours before I felt OK, could eat, or could sleep.

Even before I started feeling better, I vowed to lose more weight, train a lot more, and do this race again next year.  I will be thinner, in better shape, and faster. 

I've now registered for three more Sprint Triathlons this year:  Houston 8/14, Rockwall 8/28, & Austin 10/2.  I'm going to keep doing 5Ks and 10Ks and bike rides.  I'm going to keep training.  I'll be back in Waco next July.  I've also got my eye on a half marathon in Austin at the end of January.

If I can do this, anyone can.  Make a goal.  Pick an event.  Get moving.


  1. I think this is pretty flippin' amazing. Olympic distance makes me quake in my booties! Way to go! Hope you're all recovered now :)

  2. I think you did an amazing job! Stay focused and strong ... you will continue to make amazing strides! KUDDOS!!!!