My last week was really hard. We had to cut back on the amount we exercised which made me realize how I was using exercise to deal with stress. Without the exercise, my stress levels definitely increased. And I still had fears about the swim. I quit calling it a race—instead I called it an event. A race implied a need to go fast which led to increased pressure. I joked that I didn’t have butterflies in my stomach. Rather, they were giant Luna moths.
Anyway, Saturday eventually arrived. I had to show up at the pool at 7:30 to check in. I was in the first heat, 8 a.m., because of my slow swim time. The faster swimmers started later. I set up my transition area with my bike, clothing, shoes, etc…. I wore a sports bra under my swimsuit because there was no way to put on a bra after the swim.
A couple of minutes before eight, we got in the pool. I introduced myself to my lane mates—there were four of us in the lane. They staggered our start times by 5 seconds. You swim in a circular pattern and pass at the wall. Everyone in my lane was nice, and we all swam at a similar speed.
I did the swim within the required time period. We had 30 minutes to finish the swim and I took 28 minutes and 17 seconds. I was really happy with that time. The swim felt good, and there were a lot of people cheering me on.
After the swim, I ran outside to my bike. Since it’s April in Montana, it was in the low 40s. I quickly dried off a bit and then started donning clothes. I didn’t want to get cold so I put on several layers. This cost me a lot of time in the transition, but it was more important to me not to get hypothermia. I hopped on the bike and hit the road. There was a light wind blowing up Hellgate Canyon where the ride headed out. The ride felt fine, but I wasn’t especially fast. Yet I enjoyed it. The ride follows the Clark Fork River, and I saw ducks and geese along the way. It’s a beautiful route. Then you turn around and head back to the pool.
Once back at the Grizzly Pool, I changed from bike shoes to running shoes, grabbed my iPod and a hat, and set off. The run felt better than last year. At least I could feel my feet at the start of the run. Last year my legs just felt like wood. I was prepared for that feeling this year. I did my slow, steady run the entire way except for the hill. There’s a hill on the route where the footing is a bit treacherous so that was my justification for not running. Lots of people walked the hill so I was in good company.
It felt good to cross the finish line. There were lots of Women’s Club people cheering me across the line. It took me 2 hours and 17 minutes. I was 3 minutes faster than last year. My goal is to break the 2 hour mark next year. Now, I’m looking forward to my ride in STOKR and the Danskin triathlon in August. I’m already fretting about the open water swim. Will I need a wetsuit?