07 22 2014.

race report: tri for a cure 2014

Over the weekend, I participated in the Tri for a Cure sprint distance triathlon – my first triathlon. Since it was my first, I really had no time goals – just to finish.

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Tri for a Cure 2014 (1/3 mile swim, 15 mile bike ride, 3.1 mile run)
4:30 am. Wide awake and excited! The nerves haven’t quite caught up – at this particular moment, I’ve got room enough in my head for logistics only. I check my bags. Double check. Triple check. Then head out.

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I set up my transition area, smiling and talking to a few other first-timers. I check the time often, waiting for the race start. Can’t it just start already? I take a quick dip in the water to feel the temperature and was pleasantly surprised. It felt warmer than it had the Monday prior. Then I notice that I’m nervous, especially once the dancing and music began. 15 minutes to go and counting and I still haven’t spotted my family. I know that they’re out there watching – they told me they’d be there. The speeches begin and everything is seriously emotional. Every few minutes or so, I glance behind me into the crowd to see if I can spot my family. Looking back, I was looking primarily for my dad’s bright white head of hair. If I see my dad, I’m going to start crying, I remember thinking. 5 minutes to start and I glance back one last time – my mom’s waving at me! I run to the fence and exchange a quick hug with them before running back in line with the other pink caps. I didn’t cry, I realize now – I was too preoccupied with my full bladder!

Once the first wave began, the remaining waves seemed to fly out. Luckily, I was part of wave #4 so I wouldn’t have to wait too long. Nicole and I kept exchanging nervous smiles and encouraging statements. “We’ve been working up to this! We’re ready!” “This is what we’ve been waiting for!” “We’ll be fine!”

It was then our turn to get into the water. Stepping in and feeling the cool water on my toes, hearing that we had 30 seconds before our start, I completely forgot my nerves. And I completely forgot to pee.

The swim went by really quickly. Spotting came in really handy (thanks Kelsey!!) and I avoided tickling anyone’s feet or getting stuck behind anyone. I stayed calm and emerged from the water feeling way less dizzy than I had during practices.

I’m going to take a moment here to recognize how appreciative I am for SheJAMs. Yes, I avoided my post-swim vertigo, but the cheering and the mad rush to the mini-transition made things feel really hectic. The wetsuit strippers were incredibly helpful – and it was a really fun experience, but I’m so very thankful for what happened next. Mary came up to me immediately after I was hoisted to my feet and grabbed my wetsuit. I didn’t even have to FIND the SheJAMs wetsuit drop-off. It found me. And you know what? That had been one of my biggest stresses of the morning. Where will they be? Being new to SheJAMs, I was also worried that I wouldn’t recognize the representative! I was free to run to my mini-transition, slip on my shoes, and get the heck outta there!

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Transition 1 went smoothly. I remember a moment, after I got my helmet on, when I stopped everything and stared at my bike. I had to think, very quickly, have I forgotten anything? I dismissed my confusion and just went for it. Got on my bike and took off.

The bike leg was definitely the most fun, but I had to keep reminding myself to drink. more. water. Andrea was very clear that we needed to be drinking a full bottle of water for every hour that we spent on the bike. I was expecting to come in slightly under an hour, but still resolved to finish my entire bottle. Which I didn’t… I ended up getting into my “zone” about 10 miles in. The remaining 5, though the most hilly, were the most fun. Following the coast back was incredible and I could no longer feel any pain in my legs, I was speeding right along! I passed a few girls, and being in a good mood, turned to them and said, “Keep it up, you’re doing great!” One girl responded, “You too!” And she said something else that I didn’t quite catch, “Kick You” or “Kicked Up.” I just smiled and nodded and continued on my way.

The end of the bike course, coming Fort Road was the most emotional part of the entire thing. The streets were LINED with people, screaming, cheering, waving flags and cow bells. I had to keep looking down to refocus. I maintained a huge smile on my face, but my lips were twitching and quivering. I was going to cry!

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Transition 2 was FAST. My dad got some pictures of me as I rounded the corner into the parking lot. I racked my bike, flipped my race belt around and took off. This was the leg I had been waiting for. I was ready to run!

My legs were a bit tired, but I was expecting that and had practiced. What I wasn’t expecting was the awful feeling of having to pee. It was then that I remembered that I had forgotten to go in the water! I didn’t know the courtesy rules of a triathlon but figured it would be rude and embarrassing to go while running. I was so disappointed. Running was my strength and I was carrying around a bloated belly, fighting off the urge to walk with every step!

I passed some familiar faces – lots of SheJAMmers who encouraged me by name and helped me truck along. At one point while passing Kelsey and Lisa, I was ashamed. I had no idea what I looked like, but I figured they must have seen the pained look on my face. I kept thinking, “Oh gosh, don’t let them see me like this!”

About two miles in, I came across some encouraging chalk messages on the sidewalk. Messages like “UR A STAR” and “You Rock!” One in particular stood out to me: “KICK CANCER.” I had an AHA! Moment. THAT’S what that woman said to me while on our bikes! Something about that realization encouraged me to pick up my pace. About a half mile from the finish, I realized that I had become accustomed to the belly bloat and took that as a sign to “get going.”

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The corner to the finish line stretch came much faster than I remembered! (While running the Twilight 5k, I remember that final stretch along the water lasting forever.) I turned the corner and immediately saw my dad, his face hidden behind his camera, followed by the announcement of my name, “Kelsey Raymond of Portland.”

I crossed the finish line and just wandered for a few minutes, handed my chip back, sipped some water. I found my family – my mom was crying, I saw a proposal (!!) and went to see my time.

Timing-wise, I finished in 1:33. I had no time goals or expectations, so I’m incredibly pleased with this. I was 4th in my age group which was wildly unexpected!

After talking about it with family members and sleeping on it, I feel like the real accomplishment from the tri was the support and the overwhelming feeling of joy in every single person there. There were supporters at every intersection, at the end of most driveways, everywhere! So many people popped their heads out of their doors to shout out a word of encouragement. There was a woman along the final stretch who yelled, “You’re looking beautiful!” I loved it!

I stayed for the award ceremony in an attempt to drag out the event. About half way through, the final runner came through. We had enough warning, as the runners are visible from the finish line before they turn the corner, and we all ran down to the finish line to cheer her across!

I’m humbled by the level of support generated by this event and in awe of how well coordinated it was. (My dad participated in the Polar Bear Tri years ago and made that comment initially.) I’m thankful to all of the volunteers, sponsors and coordinators who gave up so much of their time and energy to make this event run smoothly and memorably. And there are no words for how honored I feel to have been a part of SheJAMs and how much I value the friends that I have made.

And to you, Kelsey #1thank you endlessly for imparting your tri wisdom on us, for pushing us to improve, to find our awesome, and for being a positive role model for me (for all of us, I’m sure!)

Lastly, I’m proud of myself!

Time Breakdown
Swim | 10:29
T1 | 5:07
Bike | 51:28
T2 | 0:59.3
Run | 25:37
OVERALL | 1:33:38.9

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