I’ve gone from 1 run relay, 1 bike relay, 2 Olympic distance triathlons and 1 duathlon straight to my first half ironman in less than a year. Am I testing my limits or am I just crazy? Up to you to decipher.
Yesterday’s race was challenging. It was my first 70.3 and it didn’t come easy. As January rolled in, I started to train for this race but as luck would have it, I injured my shin 2 weeks in and was out of training for a week. After that, my coaches only allowed me to swim and bike. Three weeks before the race, friends, team mates and my coach sat me down and asked if I still wanted to do it. I haven’t been running much and my injury still wasn’t healed – it concerned them that things might get worse. But since I’m stubborn, and the type who wouldn’t stop at nothing to get what she sets her mind to, I told them I’d manage. Or at least try to.
Come race weekend I was nervous but calm. I had no idea what to expect and my coach had told me to just pace the whole race and not push too hard as he didn’t want me to injure myself yet again. The goal was just to finish, I can push when on the next one. Triathlete friends (who have been doing this for years) all gave me tips on how to go about the race and what to expect, what to do as to not blowout and bonk.
On the day of the race, as I was getting my transition area ready, i had a little crisis as my front bike wheel was deflated and even the bike mechanics didn’t have a valve extended to put air in it. Fortunately, Jay Caniza of the Alveo tri team came to my rescue, he kept telling me to relax as it was my first race, and he was the one who looked for a solution for my problem. Big thanks, jay!
At the swimstart, I didn’t have butterflies in my belly– I had a whole insect farm in there! My heart was beating so loud and fast I kept holding on to my chest. As the whistle blew, off I went. At some point of the swim someone accidentally punched my face and pulled my goggles down so I had to stop to put it back on. Nevertheless I think I had a good swim, still slow but I wasn’t freaking out in the water nor was out of breath anymore. Yay!
I took advantage of the fact that I could take my time in this race and there was no time pressure from myself, my coach or my friends so at the first transition area, I took my time and applied sunblock all over to protect myself from the sun on the cloudless bike course on sctex. If you check my bike photo you’d notice the bottle of sunblock spray in my back pocket. The bike course was tough as it was full of rolling hills, false flats and rough roads, apart from the sweltering heat. Oh boy. I also initially suffered with problems with my gear shifter. For some weird reason, I couldn’t get the chain to the big ring. I was already thinking that maybe it’s the universe telling me to really take it easy on my legs but then it worries me as that would mean no power on the flats and downhills. But as I hit the first major downhill, on the 7th try, it worked, and I was so grateful. Every successful small to big rig change from them on felt like an achievement for me from then on.
Having had only a handful run sessions during my training due to the shin splints, I knew I wasn’t going to run fast or strong. But I was willing to put up a fight. I wore my shin compressions for added protection, and changed my bike shades into pink running ones (because.. kikay) and went on my way. The blistering heat of the sun was unforgiving. I stopped by every aid station to grab ice, sponges, water, have them pour iced water all over, and even grabbed a banana or two just to keep me going. It helped a lot that fellow triathletes would cheer me on as I ran, those who knew it was my first time would scream “you’re doing great!” As they passed.