Wow, what an AMAZING year it has been!
On September 30, 2013 I underwent Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy. I did so without the full support of my family, because they were very concerned about the long-term impact of the surgery, and obviously, afraid of possible complications.
Just over a year out, I no longer recognize myself physically, OR mentally! I love my new body, I am super proud of how I have handled the judgement and disapproval that I get every now and then. I am proud of where I am physically.
My sister has been doing triathlons for some time now and has tried for quite a while to get me to throw my hat in the Triathlon ring. I have absolutely refused before this year. I volunteered at the Ramblin' Rose Triathlon in Raleigh, and I saw what a supportive environment it was, and I saw every body type imaginable out there. I then knew, that it would genuinely be OK if I did the Ramblin' Rose. It is an all women Triathlon, so that made it a bit more comfortable too.
Now, to put this all in a bit more perspective, I did an indoor triathlon last December at my gym. It was brutal for me. It was a last minute decision and I had told the organizer that I was only 3 months out of weight loss surgery, I was still VERY obese, and hadn't trained, so I knew it would be tough. The resulting times are below
200 meter swim time: 12:33
15k (9 mile) bike time: 39:20
2 mile run time: 35:58
I want to think my total time, including transitions was like 1:27 something.
So today, I showed up in Chapel Hill around 6:15 to get my transition area ready and be prepared to do my first official USAT triathlon. I knew this would likely be a lot harder than my indoor triathlon for a few reasons:
1--The swim was 50 meters longer than the indoor swim (and I SUCKED at the swim)
2--I rode a spin bike at what was "easy" tension for me
3--I was on a treadmill
4--indoors means no wind, no hills, no cold temps
5--I really haven't trained since doing the one in December
So, I got my transition area set up, and went to get marked. Now, I expected to be embarrassed for any number of reasons, including the fact that I was swimming in bike shorts and a sports bra, what I didn't expect was that when I went to get my body marked, my loose skin would create such a big problem. You see, when your skin is loose, and someone tries to use a marker to write on you, the skin goes WITH the marker....yeah, humiliation with the fact that I had to hold my skin taut to be able be marked was a bit much to realize.
Anyway, I had on my shorts and sports bra, and my dad's Carolina Hurricanes fleece and my crocheted hat to keep me as warm as possible. All that considered, by the time race time actually got there, my toes were complete numb due to the cold. At Ramblin' Rose they ask you to rate your swim ability, and I put myself at a 2 (1's are the weakest swimmers). My goal was NOT to slow down everyone behind me and cause a bottleneck in the pool. This had happened earlier with a swimmer who identified herself as a 5, but clearly wasn't, and had the lanes so backed up that there were women walking and talking in the pool. Sadly, everyone cheered when this woman got out of the pool, and I DID NOT want to be that girl. I wasn't certain I would be able to freestyle, because I didn't want to swallow half the pool again like I did last December. I did freestyle for the first 125 meters, then switched to a a plan of breast stroke for 25, back stroke for 25.
My swim time was 9:33
A full 3 minutes better than the 200 meters in December. This means that I shaved off 3 minutes, AND, the swim was 50 meters longer, so the difference would have been MUCH bigger at just 200 meters.
Now, all that warming up I did waiting to get into the pool with and in the nice warm water, so my feet thawed out, yeah, that didn't last long. I got out of the pool, walked about 15 feet and headed back outside, into the 50-55 degree weather, soaking wet, dripping and barefoot running across the parking lot. I did get to see my husband on the way into transition and he high-fived me so I got into transition and had to get ready for the bike ride. Let's just say that Transition is almost disorienting. I couldn't decide what to do first, so I just decided to sit down, dry my feet, put on my socks and shoes, then dry off what I could, put on my tank top, my Nathan Hydration Vest, my bike helmet, and hit the road. I had brought a jacket to wear over everything, but am so very glad I didn't put it on.
Transition Time: 3:54
Hit the bike, and was immediately in the wrong gear. Very first hill and I had to get off the bike and finish walking it up the hill. There was a short downhill, too short to get my gears sorted out, and so I had to use the curb to get up the next very small hill. I did see a girl down after my 2nd turn, I don't know if she wrecked or what, but the ambulance got there right after I went by, and there were already multiple participants and volunteers with her. I kept cruising along and doing my best. At one point on the ride I heard an old riding buddy, Tomas, telling me to get into a comfortable cadence and to use the gear to make it possible to maintain that cadence. I finally got it all figured out and started to do it right around mile 6. the last mile and a half or so was a long slow grade, and I got about 2/3 of the way up, and had to dismount and walk it the rest of the way up. My legs were like Jello, but I made it. Got to the top of the hill, got back on the bike, and decided I WOULD not dismount again until I had to at the end of the bike ride. I had are really tough hill right before dismount, but it was short, and there were 2 volunteers at the top of the hill SCREAMING at/for me, so I couldn't let myself get off the bike. I made it and it was gravy from there. I got to the transition, dismounted, and got into the transition area.
Bike Time: 54:55
Yes, that is 15:30 slower than I did on the spin bike in December, but those hills were pretty brutal.
Back into Transition, Hung my bike up, took off my helmet, grabbed my visor and headed out again, Transition time 1:30
This was the only part that annoyed me a bit. Yes, I know I'm slower than crap and a back-of-the-packer, but it would seem that the other athletes, even those already finished would have enough respect to stay out of the way of the folks still on the course. Unfortunately, that's just not the case. There were a couple of small groups of women just sauntering through the transition area, with their bikes, having already finished, and I had to weave between them to get out of transition. I know that for the early finishers, they just want to go get warm, but even us slow folks want to have uninterrupted access to the course. We pay the same registration fee, and we would LOVE the same respect that you got.....
Ok, so enough of that...out of transition and onto the run. There was a little path that cut through from the parking lot to the running path, which going from sunny, to shady, and immediately out of transition with jelly legs, meant that I almost bit the dust and fell into the bushes, rather ungracefully. Thankfully, I pulled it together and got out onto the running path. I really couldn't run a lot, because my feet didn't like to pick up and put down like they should, and a few times, I caught my toe and almost went down. I resigned myself to walking the majority of the 2 miles, and did a few intervals here and there. There was a bit of an uphill right before the turn to the finish line, so I walked it up that hill with the plan of finishing strong, and jogging across the line.
My plan worked, and I jogged across the finish line pretty strong. Total time was 1:43:22. I added about 15-20 minutes, depending on the actual time including transitions, but the hills made that necessary. I really enjoyed the race, and I WILL do it again...probably sooner rather than later. Can't wait for the next one.