#4 Run a 10K/Do a Triathlon – Part 3 (The Big Day)

13 Jun

I DID IT!!!!!

After nearly four months of training, and nearly four hours of pushing myself harder physically than I probably ever have before, I can proudly call myself a triathlete.

I had been preparing for this day for so long and then it snuck up on me so quickly I could hardly believe it. It was Saturday, June 9…the Saturday before the race…a Saturday I had been thinking about for months. My parents came into town to meet me for lunch and help with any last-minute preparations. (sidenote: I probably have the best parents EVER! They drove all the way down on Saturday, just to watch me compete on Sunday and then drive all the way back. Pretty awesome!) After helping me make decorate my team color themed cupcakes (orange cupcakes with blue dots and a blueberry cream cheese frosting…forgot to take a pic), my parents went on their way up to their hotel in San Dimas. They were meeting even more members of my family – Uncle Nick, Aunt Colleen, Uncle Rick, Papa and Step-grandma Alice – who had driven from Arizona and Orange County to support me as well.

We had a final team dinner at Coach Mychael’s house and then it was off to bed around 9 p.m.

Fortunately, I was able to fall asleep and in the blink of an eye it was race day. My alarm went off at 4 a.m. and I popped out of bed and started getting ready. I had already packed most of my stuff in my car the night before because I definitely cannot be counted on to be 100% on top of things at an hour of the morning I’ve seen more frequently from staying up rather than waking up.  I loaded mine and my friend Jamie’s bikes onto my car and was on my way by 4:45 a.m.

I picked Jamie up at the hotel (the same hotel where my family was still sound asleep in their beds) where we also met Kristin and we headed off the the start line. We all arrived pretty early – at the instruction of our coach – so we would have plenty of time to get a good spot on the bike racks and get settled before the race (and take silly photos of course).

Up until this point I hadn’t been very nervous. I guess the type-A planner in me was just concerned with gathering all my stuff and arriving on time. But once we arrived and started unloading the nerves set in…I had butterflies in my stomach and had to pee every two minutes! There was no turning back at this point though.

I have to say, I wasn’t that enthused originally when I heard we would be wearing orange and blue as our team colors, but we looked damn good when we were all together as a team. We, by far, had the strongest showing….or at least the brightest!

When we arrived just before 6 a.m. I thought we had so much time before the start of the race, but man, was that the fastest two hours of my life! Before I knew it, we were standing down by the water in our wetsuits getting ready to go. It went by so fast that Jamie, Kristin and I almost missed the start. At the urging of our coach we ran down to the water with just about 30 seconds before the start of our heat. In retrospect I think that was probably a good thing because it didn’t give me much time to freak out.

A few words of encouragement between the three of us and it was time to go! We positioned ourselves on the outside to try and avoid getting kicked in the face or pushed under water. I mean, I am a little bit sportier now, but I’m still the prissy girl I always was. The swim was 1.5K, or for the people reading this from the U.S., nearly a mile. 

The water in this lake is really murky, so you really can’t see anything at all…not until it is one foot in front of your face, that is. Between that and all the people around, I freaked out a little bit at first. It wasn’t a conscious freak out, but I just lost my breath a little bit. I was able to get it together though and keep going. One of the hardest parts of the swim is going straight since you can’t see anything. And now with people zig-zagging back and forth it was like a regular obstacle course. I kept going though and  before you know it, I was heading toward the finish.

I ran out of the water and heard the recognizable cheers of my family. I looked up to the left and there they were, sitting on the embankment cheering with their orange shirts and orange and blue bells. That definitely put a smile on my face.

I ran over to the transition area tearing off my wetsuit on the way, changed into my cycling gear and headed out for part 2 of the race. The bike ride consisted of 3 laps totalling 39.5 K (nearly 25 miles). We had practiced the course the week before, so I knew what to expect and felt pretty confident. After all, it wasn’t nearly as difficult as the torturous hills our coach had been making us climb for training a couple of weeks prior.

That was until about half-way into the first lap (20 minutes) when I noticed my bike felt kind of weird. I looked down to see what was going on and saw I had a flat tire. OH NO!!! My very first flat tire! How could this be happening now? I had been on how many training rides and everything had been fine, and now on this big, important day I had been training for, I get a flat.

I hopped off my bike and took off the back tire (the more difficult of the two to change of course). And as I was sitting on the ground, messing with the tire and contemplating whether or not I would be able to do this, a man in a U-Haul truck stopped and asked if I needed help. Turns out, Chip actually worked with the race and had been the one to put it on for a number of years. He fixed my flat for me and I was once again on my way.

I have to say though, that whole ordeal was pretty discouraging. I’m not the fastest to begin with and now I had lost about 20 minutes (which felt like 2 hours) to a flat tire. I kept going though. And my family was right there cheering me on. Even when they were the last ones left out on the road they were still the most enthusiastic cheerleaders ever…ringing their bells, waving their hands in the air, yelling my name…it was definitely encouraging.

After the three laps I rode back to the transition area, switched into my running shoes and started on the 10K (6.2 mile) run. Now, this is my strongest area of the three, so I figured I’d be able to make up some of that time I lost. The really hard part was that for the first half mile, I didn’t even see anyone in front of me. I kept at it though and found some people. One by one I set goals to pass each person in front of me. It was good to feel like I was really competing again.

And in no time, the finish was in my sights. Not only did I see the finish arch, but I saw TONS of orange! It was a sea of orange t-shirt wearing family members and orange spandex wearing teammates. Even the announcer said, “sounds like you’ve got a lot of support here.” And that I did.

Crossing that finish line was such a sense of accomplishment. And it was so great to have my family right there waiting for me.

Everything I had been training for and all the work I had been putting in led to that moment. And let me tell you, it was all worth it.

Our friends and family shared in a celebration BBQ with us after the race, which was a great way to end the day and take in all we had accomplished.

Quick shout-out to Coach Mychael for coming in first in his age group and first-time triathlete Jamie for coming in third in hers!

I think I can safely check “run a 10K” off my list now because, not only did I run it, but that was after a nearly 1 mile swim and 25 mile bike ride!

Congratulations to the entire Cycle Project team! – Adriana Bekeris Jamet, Bridget Gonzales, Elisa Valdez, Jamie Thibault, Joe Oliveira, Karen Eiler, Kristi Gehring, Kristin Finkle, Micah Michalski, Mychael Shannon, Nicole Okoneski, Rob Jones, Rob Sneckenberg, Silvana Perolini and Tracy Yen.

I can definitely say that I will do another triathlon…not only because I need to beat the flat tire jinx, but also because I enjoyed it so much. From the training, to the friends I made along the way, to the feeling of achieving a goal, to knowing how proud my family is, this was such an amazing experience.

Get ready Malibu Tri…here I come! Want to join our team? Check it out here.

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2 Responses to “#4 Run a 10K/Do a Triathlon – Part 3 (The Big Day)”

  1. Jamie June 14, 2012 at 9:34 am #

    Awesome post! I wouldn’t have been able to do the race without you. So I guess we’re doing the Malibu tri? lol

    • nikiok June 14, 2012 at 10:35 am #

      I mean…I feel like we should. Everyone else is doing it. And if the rest of our team jumped off a bridge, we probably would too. Really though, unless there’s another one you want to do i think we should just go for it. Four months ago we couldn’t even swim…we can take on the ocean! 🙂

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