Scroll down or go here for Part 1 of 3 for RACE WEEKEND.
And now, the big day! RACE DAY!!!
Waking at 4:30am proved to be much easier than I expected… I guess it was the excitement?! Probably. I had everything prepped… from my “nutrition planned and proved” breakfast of champions to my tri clothes laid out in order of when I put it on (i.e. singlet on top of my sweatshirt on top of my jacket). I pumped air into my tires and Catherine and I headed out to meet the team in the dark that is 5am. Adrenaline-pumped, race-ready teamies gathered with eagerness dripping from every word and movement. So, we headed out. The first several blocks felt like they’d never end as we walked our bikes to the safe, lit, and legal bike path for the dark of morning. We rode the remain four or so miles to the transition area where we set up our spots and received our body markings.
After our initial 45 minutes or so “warm up” on the bike, a bunch of us decided to continue our warm up with a run. I did about 30 minutes or so out and back on the path before I returned to refuel, rehydrate, and get ready for our team picture under the finish line. We watched the opening ceremonies with a prayer and national anthem. We listened as Coach Robbie gave a “motivational talk looking out over the swim” when the first wave took off at 7:15am. Together we watched the men’s waves cut through some of the kelp for those of us in the later waves. Then, those of us heading out first went to final prep for our race.
I slithered into my wetsuit, greased up my neck to prevent more “love bites” from said wetsuit, and finished my water. I restructured the layout of my transition area and headed down to the water with my teammates. We were part of the first women’s (and first TNT women’s) wave at 8:45am. We “warmed up” our strokes in the chilly 57 degree water and then jumped around in excitement… waiting for that countdown.
5, 4, 3, 2, 1! And the race began! I ran into the water and started swimming at my absolute fastest in hopes that I could draft off of the faster women for as long as possible. I kept up with most of the group for most of the first section before they were too far ahead of me. I continued as fast as I could and occasionally found other swimmers at my pace that I was able to draft off of. My first loop of the swim took around 23 minutes… just a little longer than I’d hoped for (as 20 minutes had been my fastest half-mile previously). I was excited though because I’d expected that the people and the kelp would slow me down much more than that. My second loop was slower and I crossed the timing mat into T1 at 9:33am at 00:47:57 with a pace of 00:51:26 minutes a mile. This is a relatively slow pace, but I’ve never been nor claimed to be a speed demon. Haha. I was excited to come in at less than my predicted 50min for the swim.
T1… my first transition! It took me 00:06:29 for my transition (about a minute and a half slower than I predicted). I think the added time can be greatly placed on my use of arm warmers. I’d never used them during our practices and trying to pull clothing onto wet arms is tricky. Plus, I didn’t put my singlet on until I got done with the swim. It was still relatively fast given that I had to tie my shoes (I don’t use bike shoes or yanks), put on socks and arm warmers, and I even took the time to thaw out my hands and feet in hot water. It may have been a “long” transition, but it was well worth it.
Time for the bike! The bike course was a 10k loop that we did four times. I loved having a looped course. First, it made nutrition planning super easy. I planned things for “at the beginning of each loop” or “at the end of the first three loops” and it worked out perfectly. It gave me time to digest and process the energy in the gels and utilize the electrolytes during and before the run. I finished all of my hydration and nutrition system at the beginning of the first loop and had a full six miles to process it all. I also loved having a looped course because I was able to see people I knew in the crowd at each loop and hearing those encouragements really kept me going. It also meant that I was able to see people I knew often on the course. I found that I was watching the opposite side of the road for teammies more often than I was pushing my speed. Plus, by the second loop, I had refamiliarized myself with the loop and knew when to shift gears, prep to shift, and when I could really push the speed. In the end, I finished the bike a full 12 minutes faster than I predicted. I finished the bike at 11:28am after 01:48:32 with a pace of 13.7mph. Again, some would consider this pace to be fairly pedestrian, but it was faster than I’d ever gone before. My coach predicted my bike would take me 01:53:13; I made him proud! Woo hoo!
T2… the second transition! Normally, I rock the second transition like nobody’s business because I don’t use bike shoes. Rack the bike, grab my water bottle and hat, and GO! When we had our practice tri, I rocked out onto the run in 00:01:16. Unfortunately, my hydration caught up to me and I had to slow down to take care of that. So my T2 time was 00:03:03, but I was ready to go when I got out to the run.
Time to run… and remember when I said I was ready to go? Apparently my legs didn’t get the memo. The first two miles (the first loop… yup, the run was looped too, love it!) were terrible. Absolutely terrible. I went through a constant cycle of run, walk, stop and stretch. Try again. In the end, my first loop took just nearly 31 minutes (with the first mile taking just under 17 minutes). Those two miles really warmed up my calves though and by the end of that first loop I was feeling significantly less cramping. I finished my second loop in about 27 minutes. When I started that last loop I ran past my cheering section (love you Mom, Dad, Uncle Russ, Grandma Betty, and Aunt Carolyn!) and told them, “I’ll see you at the finish line!” I finished my last loop in 25:27, which was still significantly slower than I would have liked my average pace to be, but I was thrilled to cross that finish line in 04:09:11! I predicted that it would take me 5.5 hours back in July when we were filling out race forms. In fact, I didn’t even know if that was possible. Then, we had our practice triathlon mid-August, I realized that I could probably do it about 4.5 hours. Then, Coach asked us to predict times for each section and I predicted my total time would be 04:12:30… and I beat it! I beat that time despite my run taking 01:23:08 (just over eight minutes longer that I predicted and just about 10 minutes slower than my coach predicted). As I’ve been recounting race day, I’ve been looking at old projected times and such and I realized that while I was (and still am) disappointed by the run, I actually came in faster than my initial projected 10K time. Wow! I guess the little disappointments just mean I’ll have to do this again (and I’m hooked, so it’ll happen… one day).
Crossing that finish line was unbelievably amazing and indescribably fulfilling. The entire run was very emotional for me. With the first loop causing me much frustration, it was a huge blessing and great feeling to reach “the hill” and see the love and support offered by our mentors and others with a “San Diego Roll Call” lining the hill. It was great seeing not only my name, but each of our names there. By the time I started the second loop, my thoughts started to think about all of the names on my singlet… cancer fighters, cancer survivors, and angels lost to cancer. While I competed with LLS and raised funds for blood cancers, people with all types of cancer lined my singlet. I thought of the children as I raced on Childhood Cancer Awareness Day. I thought of Lauren and her parents from the night before at the Pasta Party… “chup chup,” she’d said. Cheer up. As I passed my family, my teammates, my coach, my mentors, my coordinator on that last loop… as I passed by every individual yelling GO TEAM or GO BREE (my name was on my singlet), I thought, “I’m really doing this. I’m really going to finish.” Once more, I reminded myself not to cry despite the surge of emotion. I thought of each one of you supporting me with words of encouragement, countless prayers, and donations. The support has been incredible and I can honestly say that I would not have been able to cross that finish line without each and every one of you. You were each with me, guiding me with beautiful words and prayers, as I crossed the finish line. Angels wings’ carried me and earthly angels cheered me on. Thank you. Thank you SO much.
Wow, this has turned into quite a novel. Stay tuned for what came *after* the race…
(P.S. You can find more race results and stats here, but remember that I never boasted to be a top athlete. You can find official race pictures here, but remember that I was RACING (and therefore cannot be held responsible for strange faces and other appearances.)