This morning was the Danskin Triathlon in Sandy Hook, NJ. My friend and I registered for it about 8 weeks ago in the hopes that it would keep us on the path towards fitness.
Yesterday we drove to NJ, went to packet pick-up, dealt with a last-minute bike emergency and watched the University of Michigan vs. Air Force football game at a local sports bar. I spent much of the night with a sore throat and a bad cough. But somehow I was still able to get several hours of uninterrupted sleep and, aside from a bad sore throat, woke up at 4:30am feeling OK.
We checked out of the hotel at 4:50 and got on the road. I had an EAS drink shake (300 calories and 42g protein) and a banana in the car as a partial breakfast followed by coffee from 7-11. Soon after, we arrived in total darkness at 5:30am to a mostly full, unlit dirt parking lot. Many women wore headlamps – a great idea.
We made our way to the transition area and racked our bikes. Since we practiced setting up our transition area in the hotel the night before, it took very little time this morning. Still, even under spotlights, it was fairly dark and having a headlamp would have been helpful. Note for next time – bring headlamp if the race is at a national park without any lights.
I set up my gear on a towel loaned to me by a two-time Ironman friend and brought a hand towel to dry my feet with. I set my bike shoes (socks inside) and running shoes on the towel with my race belt on top. Directly behind my running shoes I set my handheld water bottle. I debated bringing this for such a short run. However, I decided if I was thirsty after the bike (I was) to bring it on the run (I did). At the very back of the area I put a light weight wind vest (I didn’t use it). At the front, middle and back were various energy gels, bars, etc.
My biggest concern was that I would forget to use my asthma inhaler before I started. So I put my sunglasses, swim cap and swim goggles in my bike helmet with the inhaler on top. That way, when I was ready to head to the swim start, I’d have to move my inhaler to get to my goggles and cap. It worked. I remembered.
Down at the beach, the air was cool. I was COLD. Goosebumps and hair on end cold. But I knew the water temperature (76) was warmer than the air temperature (64) so as soon as I got in the water I’d be fine. The swim went very well. I felt relaxed and was surprised by the buoyancy of the salt water – it had been so long since my open water swim that I had forgotten about the lift saltwater provides. I passed a lot of people and don’t remember being passed by anyone. In fact, I (and a handful of other light-purple capped women) had caught up to the wave 3 minutes ahead of me. I got out of the water feeling great and started the long run (1/4+ mile) to the transition area.
The transition went smoothly (thanks to a loaner race belt from the Ironman friend) and before I knew it, I was off on my bike (but not before a shot of gu). The bike felt great. No hip pain and no knee pain. The views of Sandy Hook Bay were incredible. I passed people on mountain bikes and some on road bikes but plenty of women on tri-bikes and a few on road bikes passed me. Still, I felt good. For most of it. Then my left knee started bothering me. I’d had no problems with my left knee on this bike but it had bothered me on my last bike. I shifted into an easier gear and hoped it would help but no change. I decided to ignore it and keep riding but slowed my pace.
The second transition went well also. I changed shoes and turned the race belt around and I was off with another shot of gu and a handful of stingers on the go. But my knee was bothering me. And the sun was rising in the sky. I decided to run walk the entire course. I mostly walked it. I would guess that any one I passed on the bike passed me on the run. A LOT OF PEOPLE passed me. But I finished. And when I got to the 3.0 mile mark, I decided to sprint the last .1 miles to cross the finish line strong. I did. I felt great.
My friend finished about 20 minutes after me and I was able to cheer her on at the finish. We grabbed water, juice, oranges, bananas and bagels. Then we went for our goody bags. The bags were hilarious. The bags themselves were semi-fashionable nylon tote bags (no backpacks). Inside were pink, disposable, women’s razors; organic tampons; dish soap samples; a race shirt. There is no doubt about it. The Danskin is definitely a women’s triathlon.
As of now, the site with full results is too busy and I can’t get on so I don’t know my transition times and I don’t know how I placed in my splits. But I do have my split times and my overall age group place. Swim: 11:11; Bike: 37:47; Run: 35:56. Total time: 1:32:27. Place: 111 of 189. When I first saw that I was a little disappointed. I’d never finished in the bottom 50% of an athletic event. Even in June’s 5K I was right at 50%. It was humbling. But I remembered to compare myself to where I was in February, not where I was in my 20’s and early to mid 30’s. In February I could barely do a sit-up. My swim time is respectable. My bike isn’t horrible. My run could certainly be improved. But I knew my run would be weak.
So, for my second tri ever and first in 13 years, I think I did pretty well. I had great fun. I finished. I supported and encouraged other women during the run portion of the race. I spent the weekend with my friend. Not a bad way to spend the first day of being 42 years old!