Monday, May 14, 2012

Florida International Triathlon
Siesta Beach, May 12, 2012
Leah, Susan, Clare, Ken, Me and Gina before the race!
Finally it is the day I’ve been preparing for. This is the triathlon that was supposed to be my first, but is now my second because I was tired of waiting and completed one 3 weeks ago. J We had a good sized group of people from my runners club, the Sarasota Road Runners Club, doing this event. For most, it was their first triathlon. A windy and warm morning greeted us as we arrived at Siesta Beach Saturday morning. Gina and I got our chips and had our bib numbers marked on both our arms before heading over to the transition area to get our bikes and gear set up for the race. We had photos taken with members of our group before getting kicked out of the area at 6:45 am. A whole hour before our swim wave was to go. We headed over to the bathrooms and then onto the beach to watch the first waves of swimmers doing the longer swim distance. I was so happy I wasn’t swimming the longer distance. It looked like way to much swimming. Soon enough, Gina, Susan, Clare, Carol, Carolyn and I were getting into the start area as we were the next wave of swimmers to go!
Swim: I ran out into the water and kept running as far as I could before I started to swim. I only had to swim a little bit before we hit the sand bar, where I was able to touch the ground and run/swim a little bit and pass the first of four buoys. Now it was very deep. The water was pretty choppy. There were a few women around me, so I had to keep an eye out for legs and arms. I didn’t want to get hit. I did my side swimming thing again. It was hard to get into a rhythm with so many people around me. At one point, a volunteer on her surfboard asked if I was OK. Yes, I’m OK, this is just what I look like when I swim! J I made it to the second buoy, which is where we turned left and into the current and waves. Small 3 foot waves rolling right into my face. This was the toughest part of the swim. I used breast stroke, side swimming and some free style to get through it. I still had a couple of women near me that I had to keep an eye out for. One kept hitting me with her foot. I didn’t have the strength to pass her and I really didn’t want to hold back until she pulled ahead, so I just had to deal with it. Finally we turned back to the beach at the third buoy. Just as we turned the corner, the guys who were in the wave behind us, caught up. Thankfully they were spread out, so It wasn’t a mass of them trying to swim by me. I tried to get out of their way as best as I could. Once we hit that last buoy, and the sand bar, I knew I had this. I ran/swam while I could and then finished the swim strong. As soon as I could touch the bottom again, I started running it in. The run across the beach is long. Once we got to the parking lot, we had to run down and around the transition area before entering, it had to be about a quarter of a mile of running to the transition. I see Gina getting her gear on and yell out to her. As I reach my bike, I see Carolyn running out with her bike and yell out to her. I reach my bike, wipe off my face, put my tank top on, squirt water on my feet to get the sand off, dry them a bit before getting socks and shoes on, put my sunglasses and helmet on and then grab my bike and head out of transition. Swim - 14:33. Transition 1 - 2:25   

Bike: It took me a little while to get my breathing under control once I was out on the bike. I passed a few people right away and then settled into a nice pace. It wasn’t as fast as it could be, but I wanted to save my legs for the beach run. I was worried about how the beach would be when we got back. It was high tide and last year during this race, we ran all of the race on soft sand because of the high tide. At about mile 3.5, I caught up and then passed, Clare and Gina. We reached the end of the road and started heading back towards the beach. Just before reaching the beach, we take a right onto Midnight Pass Rd. This is a nice stretch of road that provides some shade. I am being passed by lots of fast riders, but I am still able to pass a few people two. We make our way into Siesta Village, which is a hassle, because there are lots of cars sharing the road with us. There also seems to be a lot of riders near me as we get closer to the transition area. I try to keep the 3 bike length distance while passing, but it’s not easy. Soon enough I am making the turn into the beach parking area. I get off my bike and run it over to my spot in transition. I quickly take off my helmet, grab my visor and water bottle and head out of transition. Bike - 47:18, Transition 2 - 1:24. 
After seeing my bike time, I really wish I would have pushed the pace more. I had a faster time last year.
Run: We make our way across a grassy area and come up to a split in the course. The international distance goes to the left and the sprint goes to the right. So happy I’m not going left! I make my way towards the water, over the very soft, deep sand. I take a few endurolytes because it is hot, and I only took one drink of water on the bike ride. Thankfully, the sand near the water’s edge is still pretty hard packed. I know I am not going as fast as I normally would during a 5K, but I decide to keep a nice steady pace and save a little for the end. We are heading right into the wind, so I don’t want to waste too much energy so early. The beach is very crowded with people and kids. I am having to weave my way through them and around them. I see Carolyn  and Carol up ahead and concentrate on catching up to them. I do catch up and pass after saying hi. Just past the water stop, I see the turn around sign. Hurray! So happy to see that. I run around it and head home. The wind is behind me now, which makes it easier to run, but also means I feel hotter.  I see more friendly faces and call out greetings. It’s so motivating to see my friends out there competing with me. Soon I am making the turn to head back over the beach and to the finish. I pass another woman and decide my goal right then was to finish ahead of her. I pick up the pace a bit once I hit the pathway that leads to the finish area. I make the sharp turn to the right and see no one behind me, and then sprint it in to the finish. Run – 28:58
Finish: 1:34:35
We did it! 
I find out, once results are posted, that I have come in first place in the Athena division. Last year there were 5 women in my age group for the Athena division. This year? Just me! So, yes, I got first place, but I feel kinda strange bragging about it since I had no competition! J

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