Five weeks ago, I registered for the East Canyon Sprint Tri to get my season started. I took last season off to plan my wedding and wanted to rebuild confidence as I work toward my first 70.3 this upcoming September. I aged up this year since I turn 30 in August (AH!) and I’ve had moderate anxiety about joining the age group that I feel is filled with the most badass of women.
Four weeks ago, I got a nasty stomach virus that had me unable to move from the couch (don’t even mention trying to eat) for 48 hours. Unfortunately, the stomach issues still haven’t subsided and I have struggled to get in training because – TMI – I can’t get too far from a bathroom. Add that to my general distaste for swimming, and I felt incredibly unprepared going into my race. I kept telling myself that I could fake my way through a Sprint and to be grateful that it wasn’t an Oly. Despite my attempts to make it better, I was still, on a level, disappointed even before I toed the line because I knew I wasn’t going to be in the best shape possible and I hate doing things halfway.
I did everything possible to reduce stress in terms of things I could control – I picked up my packet early, I went to the orientation meeting, and I took my bike to rack it the night before. It ended up being too windy to rack my bike and I was actually grateful for that. I think I would have been more stressed leaving my bike overnight. The only other time I had done that was at Nationals, and it was a requirement then. I drove the course, I studied the maps, I placed everything out as it would be in transition to ensure I wouldn’t forget a single item. Whatever happened with my bowels… well, I’d just deal with it on race day.
Alarm went off at 4:25am and I felt surprisingly refreshed. I had already put my tattoos on my arms so all I needed to do was put on my tri kit and get my water bottles out of the fridge. Jackson, my wonderful husband, got out of bed, ready to cheer me on.
We got to T1 bright and early, so I racked my bike and then we drove over to T2 so I could set up my running gear. I had never done a two transition event so I was a little nervous about it, but it worked out fine. We drove back to the start and on the way, I decided breakfast would be a good idea. I had my standard banana and Clif Bar, sipping water and Gatorade to maintain hydration. Breakfast did NOT sit well, and once we were back to the Start / T1 area, I made more trips to the bathroom than I care to recount. I also lost and then found my swim cap and goggles (amateur hour!) and had to remove my wetsuit to get back to the bathroom. Outlook not good. I jumped in the water – warmer than I expected -and took a quick warmup swim. Then, I made a friend and we watched the Olympic race start. We chatted and walked over to the start, and promised to find each other at the finish.
Before we knew it – really, we were both like, wait what’s happening – it was our turn to jump into the water. It was a rolling start and I stayed toward the back so as to not get destroyed by the stronger swimmers (as previously mentioned, not a fan of the swim). Suddenly though, I realized that I was passing people. Like, a lot of people. I was confused and proud and motivated and confused again all at the same time. All I knew is if I could do that for another 10 minutes, I would be in decent shape getting on the bike. And those who know me know that I LOVE TO RIDE MY BICYCLE. I’m humbly also pretty good at it ;).
I amazed myself and came out of the water in the top half of the group (couldn’t tell you how far up), and it had felt (dare I say) Great…. and for as much as I didn’t want to, I forced myself to run up the hill to T1. A quick glance at my watch to estimate how the swim went and it was definitely faster than I expected. It was boost to move faster. It was a clean transition, so I got into my bike gear then put all of my belongings into my numbered bag for the volunteers to bring to the finish line. It took me an extra 30 seconds or so to get that done, and without looking to confirm I had everything in the bag, I grabbed my bike and sprinted toward the mount. I hopped on my bike, sprinted up the first hill and I told myself that if nothing else happened that day, I was going to dominate on the bike. Note: my stomach had felt miraculously fine since jumping in the water and it was still going well.
I started picking off riders one by one, strategically waiting to get around the dangerous bend, or waiting until I saw them falter, then blowing past as if they weren’t moving. I go into “Destroy Mode” on a bike and was definitely there for the race. I wanted to maintain a pace that Jackson wouldn’t be able to keep (he might be new to road biking but he is a beast on a mtn bike). That kept me pedaling. Hard. I passed an impressively muscular man and we played cat and mouse for a little while. At one point, he pulled aside me and yelled, “Girl, You are an ANIMAL!” I felt amazing. This is where I belonged. The course was beautiful. The weather was perfect. My legs were on point. My butt didn’t hurt – did I mention I’m IN LOVE with my new Coeur tri kit?! This is my life. I am a triathlete. I dropped my muscular friend and continued passing people until I didn’t really see anyone ahead of me except some guy who was absolutely crushing it. I was confused. Where was everyone? Was I really that far up? Shutup, brain, I had to say. Just keep pedaling. In the last mile, I caught one more – and that was the motivation I needed to move quickly into the run. I did not want to get passed back. It is such a huge pet peeve. I shouted some accolades as I passed her because she was really a badass and I wanted her to know it. Confidence just continued to build as I rounded the final turn and didn’t see her close behind me. <<Edit: Times were posted and I averaged 22MPH on the bike.. where’s the fire emoji 😉 >>
I dismounted and got into my brand new Gel Noosas that I had found on incredible sale. I also had laced them with the quick laces, so I think I was out of transition in under 1 minute. <<Edit: T2 was 53 sec! >> Pro: damn girl, you movin’ FAST. Con: damn girl, you got 0 recovery from the bike before starting this run. My legs were on fire. But c’mon, Christina, this is 5k. You got this. I told myself just break it down – get to the turn around. Run 1.55 miles, that was so doable. Then run another 1.55 miles. Also so doable. I pushed through the pain and about .25 mi into it, I found 2 girls ahead of me that were running together. I maintained their pace for a few minutes (in reality it was less than a minute), allowed myself to breathe, then told myself I was ready. I could pass them and maintain a pace that they wouldn’t catch. I could tell they didn’t have it in them. I passed them one by one, and didn’t look back. I started wondering how far up I was and that’s about when I started seeing athletes who were on their way back to the finish. They were in the last 1 mile of their race. I still had 2 miles to go. I saw man after man. Where are the women? I can’t be the fastest? Shutup. Just keep running. Finally, I saw the leading women. Nobody looked like they were my age. I got passed by a man who told me I looked strong and “keep moving, beautiful”. It was exactly what I needed to hear at the turnaround point.
I pushed through the next mile and thought to myself that I could have been going faster. I was already regretting my run time. I pushed myself through the final half mile and once I hit the grass to the finish line, I got as close to a sprint as I could. I hit the finish line. Looked down at my watch. I was confused. It had only been about 1hr 15min since I started. Holy shit. What just happened? I felt tears welling up as I realized what just happened. I went from being unable to get away from the bathroom to the finish line by sheer Mental Will, Heart and Courage. I found Jackson, and by that point, I was smiling uncontrollably. He told me I looked stronger than he’s ever seen.
It took a while to get my T1 bag, then I grabbed my gear out of T2 and we walked to the car to drop everything off. We walked back together to find results. The preliminary results had been posted and I immediately knew something was wrong because my name was missing from the sheet and I definitely had beat some of the times I saw. After a few minutes, they re-posted with the corrected results. I was in the perfect place to see them as they were getting taped up. I looked for my new age group and my jaw dropped. My name was at the top. I won. I told Jackson and he pushed forward to see for himself but he didn’t see my name at first. Because he was looking for my maiden name. He saw our name when he looked again and I felt a swell of pride to represent my new team.
Now that the most important detail was worked out, my focus shifted to finding my new friend, Amy. I made a promise and I was damn sure going to keep it. I almost gave up when suddenly she was right in front of me. We both squealed with delight, hugged, and immediately swapped contact info. She introduced me to her swim coach, we met each other’s husbands, and we hung out until we realized we were neglecting our support crews. She went back to her family and I wrapped my arm around Jackson. Next, I found one of my coworkers and we chatted while we waited for awards to start. The time arrived for me to jump to the top of the podium. I sure do love that feeling. Different type of #viewfromthesummit – right?!
It was a wonderful day and I am incredibly thrilled with the result. I am beyond motivated to get my body recovered and prepare to drop the hammer for the rest of this season. #triharder has never felt so real! Cheers to the 2017 season!