Well, it's been over a month since I did my triathlon so I think it's about time I talked about it.
Let me first start off with the fact that my mom was a trooper. She spent basically all Saturday and Sunday hanging out with a bunch of smelly athletes just to cheer me on. She's a swell lady.
Saturday we checked in, dropped off my bike, went to a newbie meeting, and than drove 25+ miles so I could check out the bike course (I had to do the loop twice for the actual race). While I was resistant to see what I was up against (I'm all about the element of surprise) I'm actually really glad we did it. I was able to mentally prepare for some of the most intimidating hills I've ever laid eyes on. The rest of the night was spent in front of the TV while my mom french braided my hair. There's just something incredibly calming about your mother doing your hair like a 6 year old.
Sunday I woke up bright early, like 3:30 AM early, got dressed, ate some nasty tasting food, and then we were off. Now the day before at check-in it wasn't that crazy. Really I was surprised by the lack of people. (I did see Liberty University. When I walked by I made sure to give them the stink eye for never emailing me back when I was a residential student. It's likely they didn't notice some random throwing them the stink-eye, but it still made me feel better.) Sunday was a whole different story. If I remember correctly there were 2,500 athletes competing.
Before the actually race started I set up my little "station" aka I threw my junk on the ground and called it a day. I did not warm up but managed to stretch some and force feed myself some gel that tasted like tar. All pre-race I basically felt like a giant fraud which was only confirmed when I lined up with my age group. There weren't that many of us but boy were those few girls concerned about what place/time they were going to get. There they were in their sweet body suites talking about previous races and PR's. And there I was, with clothes that didn't attach, mouth shut, eyes averted, looking forward to having a whole pizza to myself afterwards. You can imagine the intimidation I was throwing out.
I have only ever done one other traithlon. It was a sprint two years ago. I still remember the ice cold Titanic water the second I jumped in. This water, however, was actually tolerable. Which really wasn't that surprising since it was going to be a disgusting high of 87...in October...bleh. After the tolerable .9 mile swim my legs felt like jello. About 15 seconds of walking and I was able to pick up my knees and run up the hill to the transition area. There the hardest part was before me....getting that dang wet-suite off. I basically laid on the ground and spazzed until it finally let me go.
The 56 mile biking portion was almost weirdly relaxing. Everyone was spaced out enough to not make it feel like a race, but there were plenty of cops and volunteers through out to cheer you up those torture hills and remind you you were actually in a race so you best pick it up. My main motivation towards the end was reaching the porty-potty in time. I did.
Now before the race I thought a 13.1 mile run would be a piece of cake. I'm a runner, this is what I do, this is what I'm good at. 13.1 miles? Please, give me a real challenge. Oh, Elise, you naive idiot. My body was over it the first mile. Still, I managed to silence the screams and pushed through till I crossed the finish line aka paradise. Paradise included a bag of ice, water, Gatorade, and a bench. At that point all of those things were better than Ryan Gosling's face.
My absolute favorite part of this race was the cause. "We chose the distance of 70 Miles versus the more well-known 70.3 Mile distance for this race for one important reason. 70,000 is the number of young adults diagnosed with cancer each year. This is a statistic that needs people’s attention. It is unacceptable. We will change it. Despite these challenges, our vision for the future is HALF FULL! The Half Full Tri will help make the young adult cancer issue a priority and together we can improve the 70,000 statistic. Every Mile you race you're helping support this population of young people battling cancer."
It was amazing to see the cancer survivors start off the race for us. There was also a group called "Team Fight" who gathered in a circle before hand and told stories of loved ones they were specifically racing for. I asked friends and family to give me the names of loved ones who have or are battling cancer. I wrote each of those names on my arms as a reminder and was able to pray over them during the race. Even during the most painful parts of the race those names kept everything in perspective for me. If you gave me a name thank you so much, and please know I still pray over them.
While this race was incredibly hard both physically and mentally I think I might just have to do it again next year.
*Apologies for the iphone quality photos.