After successfully completing the Kinetic Sprint Triathlon earlier this year, I felt ready to compete in the International distance: 1500 meter swim, 40k bike,10k run. I chose this race to fine tune my strategy for my target race, the National Champion Ship in Milwaukee, WI, August 2014.
The race took place in Colonial Beach, Virginia, and we arrived a day prior. Jan and I (my fiance raced as well) picked up our packets and attended the pre-race meeting. We learned that the Potomac has a pretty strong current and we must plan for that during our swim.
We got up at 4:30am on Sunday, July 13th, gathered all of our belongings and headed to the race site.
5:30am at the race site
After racking my bike and setting up my transition towel I noticed that my goggles were missing. Oh noooo!! I can’t find my goggles and ear plugs – I was sure I had packed them. They were nowhere to be found. I was glad Jan had an extra pair in his bag and he lent them to me. Note to self: Always bring extra goggles, earplugs, socks, and nutrition.
6:30am Breakfast at the Team Z tent
½ Bagel with cream cheese, Nutella, and Peanut butter with some coffee.
I ate too late and I did not enough time to digest. Note to self: Eat earlier and maybe bring your own food.
6:50am Arriving at the swim start
While waiting for my swim wave to start, I was able to see how strong the current was by watching others starting before me being swept away, struggling to make it to the first buoy.
7:02am Swim start
It was tough getting out with everyone thrashing around me (I still have a sore spot on my cheek bone from someone kicking me). My goal: Make it around the first turn buoy and it will be ok.
The wind started to pick up and once around the first buoy I dealt with (at least to me) mega waves. I had never swallowed so much water during a swim. I had to breast stroke every now and again to see where I was going.
With some struggle against the current I made it around buoy #2 and #3, and suddenly I felt nauseous. A lifeguard in her kayak noticed my distress and asked if I needed help and yes, I did. Hanging onto her kayak I threw up and felt a little better. I managed to swim a little more but once again had to hang onto her kayak. Lifeguard Elizabeth, asked for my name and was so happy to find out I was German. She learned I was from Munich and sang: In Muenchen steht ein Hofbraeuhaus…. (a popular German beer hall song) for me. Really!?!?! I feel lousy and still have one more buoy to get around with a very strong current, fighting my way back to the shore. I thought to myself: “I can finish the swim, don’t let my mind defeat me, I know I am prepared, and I can swim the distance.”
Elizabeth talked to me, encouraged me, and kept an eye on me until I reached the shore after swimming for 1 hour 7 min. and 43 seconds (every second counts)
I felt so exhausted climbing back on land, but I still had the bike ride ahead of me.
I was one of the last people mounting their bike and went out onto a wonderful bike course. I loved it, my stomach felt better and I had time to recover. I had prepared 2 bottles of water mixed with Perpetuem (a nutrition supplement) for the bike, but was only able to drink half a bottle. Given that I was still not feeling great, I was glad to keep at least the little bit down. Note to self: Learn to hydrate better on the bike. I finished my bike ride in 1 hour 32min and 20 seconds.
By the time I arrived in the transition area most bikes where gone and I was bummed to be so slow. I still had 6 miles to run and the temperature was near 90 degree. It was hot and humid and I had left my hat in transition. Note to self: Pay attention to what you need to take with you when leaving the transition area.
I saw my finance three times during the race and each time he encouraged me by giving me big smiles and a “You got this!” Makes you feel so much better knowing that someone cares.
The first three miles were incredibly hard and yes, just as one might have guessed, I vomited once more but felt so much better afterwards. Now, I was finally able to hold down some water/Gatorade mix handed out along the course. During the final three miles I picked up my pace and finished the run in 1 hour 3 min 33 seconds. Not my best time, but given the circumstances over all not bad. My overall finish time was: 3 hours 50 min 10 seconds.
When I ran across the finish line I heard a female voice calling my name and wondered who that might be!?!?! It was Elizabeth, my lifeguard. She was so happy to see that I finished the race and made it through a very tuff swim.
Thank you Elizabeth for helping me through the swim, it meant a lot to me.