Because the important moments in life just don’t fit in a status update! I started this blog when I was training for my first ½ Ironman, (70.3 miles) to record what I hoped would be growth and progress but ended up being a huge learning experience. Although fitness is one of the key ingredients to a happy life, it certainly isn't the only ingredient. My blog has evolved to document growth, progress and setbacks in other areas too. From my surprise proposal in Rome and wedding in the fall of 2013, to Mom's devastating stage IV cancer diagnosis and death 2 weeks after I found out I was pregnant. Who knows what shape it will take, but thanks for being along for the ride.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

My First Olympic Distance Triathlon


On Sunday, I competed in the Orange County International Triathlon in Mission Viejo. I signed up for this on May 1st, when I returned home from my 1/2 Ironman. I was so disspointed that I didn't complete the swim and this seemed like a good way to redeem myself. An Olympic distance triathlon is: 1.5/40/10 km or, in miles: .93/24.8/6.2. While the bike and run portions are a little more than 1/2 the distance, the swim is still almost a mile. I was excited when I hit 'submit' and paid the $183...confident I would get my training in. That's the thing about signing up for races: then you're obligated. Usually, the fear of not doing well motivates me to put in the hours of required training. I thought I would have plenty of time to get in an open water swim before race day when I signed up. But, I had Mother's Day and 15 miles one weekend, trip to LA and 18 miles the following weekend and - well, that was it - it was here!!! Excuses, I know, because you can always make time...but in any case, life happened and there I found myself: on the morning of, so nervous that I thought I was going to throw up.


I ran 14 miles on Saturday and made it to the expo just in time to pick up my race packet and drop off my shoes in T2 (transition area 2) just after 6pm. Ususally, there's one transition area and you set it all up the morning of, but this one had us biking to - and running from - a different area. They had someone stationed there, watching the shoes throughout night. When I got home, I started packing all my gear for the morning, since I would be short on time and half asleep. Before a marathon, I lay everything out the night before, careful not to forget anything. But, for a triathlon, there's so much more stuff! And, if you forget something like your hemet you're out.


My friend Delia picked me up at 5am, and we drove to pick Darra. It was still dark outside. When friends come out to support and cheer you on, it means a lot. When those friends have to get up at 4am in order to do so, it means even more. We parked by the lake and they helped me lug all my stuff to T1. Constantly, the only thing on my mind was the swim. Mom called and, knowing I was nervous, told me to imagine that Isis was on my back and would drown if I didn't finish. Darra said that if I didn't finish the swim she would drag me back out there. They both told me I could do it, yet I remained doubtful. I was in the third wave, at 7:10. As the first wave went, and then the second, I became more and more nervous...which you wouldn't really think was possible considering how nervous I already was. I can't even articulate how scared I was and what it felt like entering that water. Even now, remembering it, I get butterflies. Seeing where I had to swim made it even worse: to the other side of the lake, to the right and back. It seemed impossible.
I'm in there somewhere.
I started and just as expected, was out of breath while I was warming up. There are a lot of horrible feelings in life, but one of my personal top 10 is putting my face in the water when I can't breathe. My brother, who used to be a lifeguard suggested that if I experienced this, I should do the backstroke for awhile, allowing me to breathe to my lung's content. I'm sure this is very good advice for someone who can do the backstroke in a straight line. But, I was like a fly with one wing pulled off: I managed to turn myself around and was heading back to shore without even realizing it! When I popped my head out of the water, I saw that the lifeguard sitting on a surfboard was pointing in the other direction. Feeling a bit silly, I turned myself around.


I continued on, and the wave behind me passed me. All the faster guys. And then all the slower guys. And then, the next wave. I stayed to the right, in the water slow lane equivalent. By the time I made it to the first buoy I could tell I was going to make it. I stopped less and continued on. As I was approaching shore, I heard "Go Megan!" every time I stopped to orient myself. Delia, Darra and Ardy were standing on a dock, waving and cheering me on. Although I was one of the last ones out of the water, it felt so good to be back on land! If I could just get the swim over with, the rest would be a piece of cake.


Not true. I stripped off my wetsuit quickly, realizing almost all of the bikes were gone. As I started out on the bike, my legs were tired and it was difficult. The only person that I passed on the bike portion was missing a leg. I'm not kidding, he was operating a hand crank bike. The ride was stunning, through Santiago Canyon, which I have never been to! I could not wait to get off the bike.
He must've heard I was directionally challenged.
As I rode into transition, Darra, Delia & Ardy were there again. Darra told me to go get some roadkill, which is Ragnar Relay speak for people you pass. As I came up on each person I gave them some encouraging words and mentally added them up as my road kill. I passed 7 in total.
Nearing the finish line, I picked up my pace. And, I had a huge smile. It tooke me just over 4 hours and again, Delia and Darra were there. To my surprise there were no medals. I assumed there would be a medal, the thing cost enough! But instead, I have an experience I will never forget. There's a cheesy cliché about overcoming our fears in here somewhere, dying to come out, but I'll leave that to your imagination.
Delia, me, Darra
Over coffee and bagels loaded with avocado, tomato, eggs, cheese and Canadian bacon we shared stories of the morning. Like the guy who came into T2 on his bike, looking for his shoes. When he asked an official where his shoes were, he was told where he had dropped them off the day before. "But...I didn't do that...they are back where I left on my bike." Or, the lady who came into T2 and didn't slow down enough and fell over (not me!). Or the guy in the hand crank who went the wrong way on the course and didn't make it back in time for his runner to do the 10K. I knew I was gonna beat that guy!

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