Sunday morning found me in the car, music on, driving to my first triathlon since Ironman and I was just plain happy. That's all. No anxiety, no underlying fear of a panic attack, just a sense that I was so lucky to be able to do what I was about to do and gosh, I was going to do it well.
This is unheard of.
I've struggle with swim panic almost since I started racing. I spent 12 weeks with a therapist to overcome the anxiety, gave up chocolate and coke for a while (they're back baby!), and lastly got needles stuck in my sensitive skin to treat the anxiety.
Bingo needles. The rest worked to lessen the level of anxiousness but it never really went away. Having done the swim portion of Ironman as back stroke I was actually starting to feel like that was just who I was and as long as it was manageable then I'd just consider that my invisible handicap. Well, this summer I've been our open water swimming 4 times - real open water, not just swimming around our bay - and I can tell you that I'm a different person. I'm really enjoying it and feel a little sad on those weekend days when I can't get in the water.
So, back to the race. It was what I think of as a long sprint, 750m swim, 30 k bike and 7.5 k run. It was the third time that I'd raced this one and the first time that I didn't panic. I actually swore off sprint races as the atmosphere was too tense with tri newbies hanging around talking about how nervous they were but, given my complete and total, almost unnatural relaxation in swimming this year, well, I signed up to face my demons.
Demons stayed home that day. What am I saying - demons have been kicked to the curb and left to rot.
Absent of the mental panic I can now see that I do get a little asthmatic for the first portion of the swim and I did resort to some back stroke to get in some shallow breathing to calm down my lungs. That worked fabulously and I was back on with front crawl for the rest of the race. After the 3.8 k Ironman swim 750 m was such a delight.
Also delightful was the 30 bike ride. The road is closed to all but local traffic making for a very safe atmosphere and the hills on this course are just perfect. Lots of rolling fun and decent pavement.
The competitors were also very much different from Ironman and longer races, lots of mountain bikes and hybrids. I really had to laugh as I passed a guy on his mountain bike (that's fine), wearing his Crank the Shield jersey (famous MTB race, that's fine too) and wearing a Camelback (not so triathlon, but that's fine) but the very ancient aero helmet that he had on just set me off.
I laughed less when he passed me on the last 5 k. Guess I couldn't compete with the helmet.
I was hoping to hit a new record for the bike portion but ended up about the same as last year.
The run was much easier this year - I've always hated the course, it's very hot, there are a bunch of little out and backs that screw with your head and there is a big hill right near the end that sucks out the happiness in your soul.
This year, pacing with my new friend Nancy, I felt strong and steady and took off over a minute over 2009. Not stellar but I'll take it. With the swim and better transition times it all added up to 4 minutes less than last year which, for the first time in my life, put me in the middle of the pack at a triathlon.
Perhaps I'll do more sprints after all. I'll have to take off an hour at my upcoming half-iron to move up from last in my age group and that's just not going to happen this year. There are some seriously fast women out there.
The most groovy thing, I think, that came out of the race was the announcement that the top 5 men and women in the race were all over 40. I love triathlon for setting examples of how incredible the human body is if we just take care of it. I passed women in their 30s and in turn was passed by those in there 50s. I've got lots to look forward too it seems.
Recovery, however, still seems to follow age and Monday was a tough day to get through.
As an aside, the ankle held up but then seized up about an hour after the race. No track workout this week and the only running for the weekend is the 3x3k runs that match up with our 3x25k bikes for Saturday's brick workout. Just open water and a 60k hill workout on the bike for Sunday. Just...it's good to be fit. (insert happy face!)
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