Sunday, June 22, 2008

My Very First Race Report - Tri for Fun Pleasanton 6/21/08

I DID IT!! 1 hr 35 min!! I AM A TRIATHLETE!! I cried at the finish line.

That's the text message I sent out right after the race. Wow, the adrenaline and excitement at the end were just too much. But let's back up a bit...

I had been keeping a secret for a couple days. This past Wednesday I started getting a sore throat and it got worse every day. I woke up on race day and it was worse, swollen and hurting. But I did what I'd been doing up to that point - ignored it. A sore throat by itself is nothing, right? It didn't seem to be affecting my energy level or anything. Still, after the alarm went off I laid in bed thinking, "Why did I sign up for this? Maybe I'll just sleep in." Nah, I got up and got moving. After all, I have a triathlon to do!

Despite every book and article I read saying to get to the event location as early as possible when Miguel suggested the night before that we shoot for getting there at 6am instead of 5:30am I agreed. We got up on time but left later than planned and didn't get to the event until 6:15. And wow, that place was packed. I was so nervous and excited I was almost numb. There were a line of cars down the street waiting to get in. But we got in and made our way to the registration booth to pick up our numbers.

As we were standing in the registration line with our bikes I hear over the loudspeaker, "Don't take your bikes to registration! Rack them first and then get your bib". Oops. But I was too close to leave so I got our numbers and then went to the racks. They were full. I noticed people just laid their bikes on the ground in open areas so that's what we did. Here are our bikes with our towels holding all our stuff pre-race. Notice Miguel's transition "bag"? He didn't bring a backpack so he put all his stuff in that NorthFace shopping bag.

With our bikes and stuff set up we headed off to get our numbers marked on our bodies. Wow, this makes it seem so real. They had an organized assembly line set up and a woman marked my arm while a man was marking my opposite leg. Darn-it if I don't feel like a friggin' athlete now! And I got the coolest number ever, 1010. How friggin' awesome is that?! I'm hoping that red ink stays on my skin for at least a month.

And that's my tri swim outfit. Those are Sugoi Blast Tri Shorts, which I wore throughout the race. They have a thin bike pad built in so they dry fast after the swim but you still get a little cushioning for the bike ride. The top is a SkirtSports TRIKini Tank. I wore my Moving Comforts Melbourne Sports Bra under the tank. It all matched very nicely :) Here's a picture of Miguel and I all ready to go.

At 6:45am we headed to the beach to hear the "newbie talk" from a coach. She was very encouraging and gave great advice. Wow, lots of people milling around. I found myself looking at all the different outfits and all the different body shapes and sizes. I thought, "we're all nuts but isn't this cool?!". The coach described the swim route, tips on how to get around the buoys, how to get out of the lake, etc. Miguel and I decided to go on our own so he was in Wave 2 with the men ages 18-39 and I went 10 minutes later in Wave 4 with women of the same age. Here we go!!

I watched Miguel take off and then went to see if I could find my mom. No luck. Back to the beach, it's almost my turn. Eek! I was in the water, which was perfectly temperate and calm, and nervously waited for the airhorn. Off we went! It all happened so fast. The route was out, sideways across the lake, and back to the beach. As I rounded the first buoy I noticed I was breathing really hard and got nervous. Wait, I'm swimming too fast. I slowed down and got into a rhythm. I bumped a few women and a few bumped me but all in all things were going well. I spotted halfway across the sideways portion and realized I was swimming too far inland. I corrected and barely rounded the second buoy. Whoa, the swim's almost over. I swam until my hand hit the ground just like the coach said and got out, looked around for Mom (no luck there) while I walked to the transition area. Yes I walked, but quickly :)

I was so amped! I put on my Shebeest Cycling Jersey and then realized that, Oops!, I'm supposed to take off the Tankini first. Took the cycling jersey off, which had my race bib pinned to it so that was no easy task, off with the Tankini and back on with the cycling jersey. Put my Injinji socks on (each little toe gets its own sock!) and then my cycling shoes, sprayed sunscreen (I am IN LOVE with KINeSYS sunscreen) on my arms and face, on with the helmet, sunglasses, and gloves. Grabbed my bike and walked out of the transition area.

The bike route started with a little hill up and out of the park. My bike was in the granny gears and my adrenaline just pushed me up that hill without any difficulty. The lanes we rode in were closed and I thought, "Wow, I am doing this, I am in a triathlon, riding along with a number on my chest and wow, wow, wow." I passed some people and some people passed me. About 1/2 way through the ride I started chatting a little bit with other women, which was fun. I noticed that the longer the ride went on, the more people I passed.

Still, I wasn't flying by people by any stretch of the imagination. I did get quite irritated with this guy with whom I played leapfrog the last few miles. He never stayed to the right (so that faster riders could pass him) and never announced when he was passing ("on your left"). And once, when I called out that I was passing him, he sped up! Come on, man, this isn't the highway, move over! Oh, and the people on the sidewalks cheering us on made me SO happy. They were just out walking their dogs or what-not but they shouted, "good job" and "you're almost there" and I could have cried I was so touched.

There was one short, steep hill (other than that the ride was fairly flat). A fellow rider with whom I was chatting warned me about it and gave me all the details. It was nice not to come around the corner and be surprised or scared by it. Granny geared up it and then downhill all the way! Wheeeee! Wow, there's the park, we're done!? I rode back into the park, unclipped my shoes and, hey! There's mom! Hi! See you soon!! I took my bike into transition, switched shoes, off with the helmet, on with the visor hat, more sunscreen, grabbed an AccelGel ("do I really need this? oh, well, I'll take it just in case") and off I went.

I have no idea what time it was (wasn't wearing a watch) but it was getting warm. We're in the middle of a heatwave and the sun was beating down. I started out jogging and made it up the first hill to the first water station. I drank some water and shortly after got a cramp in my side. Ouch. I started walking and thought, "Well, that's it, I'll be walking the rest of it." Then I thought, "Wait, why accept that? Don't be afraid to jog, you can always walk if you have to." So I walked for a little while longer and then started jogging. I don't know how much time I spent walking vs. jogging but I definitely did a lot more jogging, albeit at times quite slowly. And the side cramp never returned. After probably a mile I was getting tired and remembered my Accelgel. Yes! I ate it and think I felt the effects about 15 minutes later. It was just the boost I needed. The run was on a trail and there were a fair number of hills. I chatted with more women and played leapfrog with many of them. More than a few times I thought, "I will NEVER do a tri longer than this, this is enough for me".

As I neared another hill there was a volunteer at the top shouting, "It's the last hill! You're almost there!!" Oh my goodness, the last hill, thank you volunteer lady! I jogged up and over it, then down the other side (Don't fall, Michelle!) and around the bend. Concrete path again, I must be getting close. Then there they were, the cheerers lining the finish area. They were screaming and shouting and banging bells and I started crying. Oh my God, I'm here. I jogged along glad for my sunglasses so they couldn't tell I was crying.

I crossed the finish line and started looking for Miguel and my mom. As soon as I saw Miguel I hugged him and cried a bit more. Whew! I made it! I'm tired, but excited, and happy, and whew! I made it! Miguel gave me an orange wedge, which I couldn't manage to eat, and some juice. We figured out my time, which (after subtracting 15 minutes for Wave 4) was 1 hour, 35 minutes. Not bad. It took me a while to calm down. What do I do now? I know, go cheer on the others. It felt so good to have people cheer me to the finish line I just had to do it for other people. I screamed and shouted and clapped for I don't know how long. I was just so happy for everyone. Here I am post race, followed by me next to the lake post-race...

Here's the route I uploaded on for those that might be interested.  

When it was all over we headed back to the house for a quick shower and then out to breakfast. I wasn't hungry for a while after the race but once I got hungry I was really hungry. Pancakes, bacon, sausage, eggbeaters (yep, eggbeaters!?), hash browns, and water. Yummmy. And then I was exhausted. Wiped out, finished, kaput.

Well, there you have it. My very first ever race report ever after my very first ever triathlon. The day was perfect, I couldn't have asked for anything more. I spent this morning researching future triathlons. I think I'm hooked. It was a blast and a half and I want to do some more. I think I can do a little longer one too, despite what I said on the run. Apparently after a women gives birth her body releases a hormone that causes a mild amnesic effect, the end result being she doesn't remember the pains of childbirth. I think the same thing must happen after a triathlon. All I remember is the glorious fun of it all.


*(many moons later) Addendum: Turns out I was newly pregnant (probably about 5 days post-conception) when I did this triathlon and didn't know it. Also, I did this same tri again a couple months later. For that race report click here.


  1. Oh yay!! Congratulations!!! I'm jumping up and down for you - that's awesome. :)

    And I have the same bike jersey. Love it!

  2. Congrats!!! Welcome to the crack house :) It is addicting. Really good job for your first one, that is just awesome. BTW, you look fabulous in your tri-suit.

  3. Wow!! Your blog is wonderful! I started WW at the end of March and I have been training to do my first 5k. I would like to work up to a tri next year. Congrats by the way. Keep writing you are very inspiring!!!

  4. WTG Michelle!!!!

    I hung onto every word of your race report! Congratulations on a job well done, even with this heat!

    BTW, I also love Ininji socks and Kinesys sunscreen, which we have about 10 spray bottles of!

    I'm so happy for you! Also, congratulations to Miguel, too!

    You look so happy!

  5. W00t! You did so well! And you're so adorable!

    What a great first race experience. I love it that you had so much fun. :)

    You can "help" keep your wickedly cool number too. Just keep touching it up!!! :)

    Congratulations, Michelle!

  6. AWESOME JOB!! I love your before and after pics. You have done a wonderful job all around and definately deserve a huge standing ovation!!
    So here it is.....Claps * YEAHHHHHHH MICHELLEEEEE!!!


  7. Oh my gosh that was so awesome Michelle!!!!! So glad you included photos too:) You looked radiant!!!!!! It sounds like everything went so well and it is so cool that you and Miguel did it together (I'd forgotten that he'd signed up as well). I can't imagine every doing a tri but it was fun to vicariously feel the adrenaline and excitement through you! Let me know when your next one is and i'll try to come cheer for you!!

  8. So, why am I crying??? I am so so proud of you and happy for you and just plain stoked that you did it. It's just such an amazing accomplishment - for anyone. And look at those skinny legs and stomach and arms. You're not just an're a triathlete!!!!
    Love you

  9. congratulations!!!! i got a little misty at the end when you were tearing up at the finish line. what an incredible experience! wow. you look super awesome in your tri gear (part of the fun is reading about all this neat gear that i never knew existed...little toe-pocket socks?!). congrats again :) What ever happened to that sore throat?

  10. Great job, Michelle. The photos were awesome and you looked great. THe day was priceless. The Tri-gods were smiling on both of us yesterday.

    I am so excited for you and what's ahead.


  11. You had me on the edge of my seat with your description of the race! Thank you so much. You have inspired me! Congrats on your accomplismhent of finishing the race and even more being ready to do another one!!!

  12. I loved reading the details of your first Tri, I was totally tearing up. I remember the feeling of being exhausted, excited, emotional all at the same can't beat that feeling!
    You did an awesome job on your first Tri and I can't wait to follow the training and finish of your second! CONGRATS Michelle!

  13. congratulations! excellent job!

  14. CONGRATULATIONS Michelle! Awesome job.

    Your new photo header is great too. You are just beaming.

  15. not sure what happened to my comment... First congrats on the weight loss, you look FAB!

    Second bigger congrats on your first race. I love reading others reports and I could FEEL your excitement.

    As Flo said, welcome to the crack house, pass the pipe - this sport is so addicting. You'll be seeking out longer races soon enough!

    Congrats Michelle!

  16. OMG! I am so happy and excited for you. And you look absolutely amazing and athletic in your gear! You're the real deal, lady! Congrats!

  17. well, you go girl! i did the tri for fun in August of 2006. thought it would kill me, but now i can say, yeah, i did a triathlon. my time was 2:09:54.

    good on you!

    irene sent me over. :)

  18. Ran across your blog. Congrats! You're hooked like the rest of us now!

  19. You are my hero! Congratulations!

    Thanks for sharing the excitement with all of us.

  20. wow. what an inspiring read!
    I felt like i was right there with you!
    your photos are GREAT!

    I am so inspired!


  21. wonderful report, michelle! it's so funny, the things we tell ourselves during a race. =) Amnesic effect indeed!

    you were a rock star, and I hope you live off this high for at least a month!

  22. Congrats that is so awsome and inspirational! I found you from your comment on my blog. I am so excited to read more of your blog, you seem to be doing so great! I love that you did a tri and have signed up for another one; you go girl!
    ok i'm off to

  23. Congrats on completing the race, Michelle, and you've logged a great first race report. (I was number 1090 at the triathlon... not that far away)

    Will we see you at the Tri for Fun #3 in August?

  24. Just found your blog and LOVED reading this- I am doing my first tri this summer and am scared out of my pants, you seemed so excited and like you ENJOYED it- I hope I am half as successful as you were! Also thanks for the book suggestions- they will be added to my kindle!

  25. I've read this race report at least a dozen times since I first started reading your blog. Finally considering my first triathlon, and had to look it up again today. I'm scared out of my wits and haven't even started training yet!


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