T Gator #3 Race Recap
I woke up Sunday morning for the race and opted not to eat anything. I’d usually eat a sandwich thin with peanut butter but I’ve been cutting bread out of my diet and I was so afraid to eat because I was sure my stomach would give up on me for good. At the race site, I nibbled on about 1/4 of my sandwich thin but I didn’t really need it.
Eve, Tina and I got to the race site (Sam Houston Park) plenty early since it was maybe only 10 minutes from my parents’ house. Lucky break. We were then in plenty of time to take silly pictures.
Despite being a no frills race, I snagged two swim caps and a tshirt. Pretty snazzy. The fact that there was an alligator on the swim cap was less funny to me at this point though.
Sometime during the night before I just decided that my only real goal was to swim in the river bravely. After that I’d just ride and run to be happy. I knew I had and was still expending so much energy being anxious about the swim and that was just life. Besides, hadn’t I entered this race to be my first open water and get it over with?
The start was a treading start which seemed the safest way instead of running down the boat ramp or jumping in. My mom, dad, and sister came to watch the race, mostly because they are awesome. My mom and sister positioned themselves near the start so they could walk most of the way down the swim and my dad was more towards the middle so he could see me get out. They were a great cheering section for all the Steel MagNOLAs!
Once the race started I just put my face in the water and swam. It was a straight shot from start to finish so very little sighting was involved. I wanted to swim the whole way without stopping and panicking. I figured I could swim the 525 meters in around 15 minutes, if I didn’t need to stop. The whole time I tried to stay near a pack and not be last. Mostly because I figured it was the best way to not get eaten by an alligator.
And guess what? I finished. I didn’t stop. I didn’t panic. I kept going right til the end.
Unfortunately all the post swim happy dancing means I didn’t look at my watch right when I came out of the water. So I was almost at transition when I finally looked to see it was around 16 minutes. Which I’m just going to call a 15 minute swim. I moved through transition briskly. Definitely not racing but not strolling either. I made a new goal for myself as I walked to the bike mount: since this was only my second ride on this bike and my first race in clipless pedals, not falling off my bike at all seemed like a solid goal.
And indeed it was. Because I wasn’t winning any speed awards. This was pretty much my slowest bike split ever. I’m not sure if it was from not eating breakfast, being water anxious, or just the new bike, but I could never get my speed together. At some point during the 15 mile ride I was just ready to be off my bike. There were only maybe 23 women in the race (out of 120ish people) and I think I was the 21st woman off the bike. But I didn’t fall. Mission accomplished. And my dad was waiting near the end of the bike course to cheer me in!
The run was my favorite part as usual. Everything hurt by this point and it was humid as hell (July in Louisiana, by a river-this is not surprising). I passed maybe 7 or 8 guys on the road which felt good because the women were the last heat to start. The course turned out to be a little shy of the 2.5 miles it was supposed to be (maybe 2.3?) but I really didn’t mind by that point.
And my mom and sister were waiting at the finish line for me! Although it definitely took me a minute to gather myself and I think I downed an entire bottle of water before I got over to them and at least another bottle almost immediately after that.
It’s now been a month (exactly) since T Gator #3. I didn’t got back to look up any of my splits for the race to right this recap, not because they were terrible (except for the bike split) but more because this was a NSV (non split victory- or a non scale victory to any dieters out there). I rode a new bike with clipless pedals without falling and swam in a river that terrified me. I’d recommend the race to anybody because it was fun, cheap, and a good challenge.
I gave myself a few weeks to let the dust settle and really mull over what direction I wanted to go with triathlon from here. Before the race I was seriously considering sitting out because I was scared of the river, and maybe just sticking to pool only triathlons, which would put big limitations on the distances I could compete in. I wanted to be sure and deliberate in what I signed up for next.
After a few weeks, I signed up for Big Cajun, a short course in New Roads, Louisiana (swim in the False River) at the end of September. Who knows, maybe one of the reasons I like this sport is to get over being scared of things? I want to be fearless with a huge sense of adventure, and that might just mean swimming in a few rivers.
And PS: Congrats to all the Steel MagNOLAs who did T Gator: Eve, Tina, Adrienne, and Anamarie. That was some butt kicking racing.
Have you done anything lately that scares you?