“After the LBI Tri you’ll officially be a Triathlete!” The words hung heavy in the air, I hadn’t even thought of that! A year ago, I was just starting out and hadn’t even thought of completing a triathlon yet and now I was looking at this as practice for Montauk, but it’s true! I did it! I finished my first triathlon even if it was a mini sprint and for me just practice! I know I could have done better, but I felt like I pushed myself and I still finished in under 1:30 which was my goal.
400m swim- Check
10 mile bike- Check
3.1 mile run- Check!!
1:29:01 – sure I can think of a few better ways to spend an hour and a half, but by 9am, I had already completed more than most people would all day!
I’m so happy I decided to do the LBI Tri this year, not only is it my “home course” and my original bucket list race, but it gave me the practice and confidence I need for Montauk. I definitely have a lot of changes to make but I wouldn’t have realized them without this experience.
The swim, which I had envisioned being the easiest part for me, proved to be more difficult than I anticipated. I’m blaming most of that on the wetsuit I borrowed. I didn’t realize there was a difference between a surf suit and a swim suit which made it a little harder, but what really did me in was the fact that it was too big! Just a couple of weeks ago it fit fine, and now I felt like there was an inch of water between me and the suit anchoring my whole swim. I still finished in a little under 9 minutes so not too bad, but felt I could do better. Working on sorting out the wetsuit for Montauk now, so glad I practiced in this one before October 2nd!
My first transition, was just shy of disastrous and will be the biggest area of improvement for me! I decided I’d wear the same thing I did for the Empire Mini Tri several weeks back, putting on the tri shorts with suspenders and t-shirt as well as my sneakers before the bike. Between putting my clothes on in the wrong order (suspenders should go first, duhh!), not using a racebelt and needing to re-pin my number, twice and forgetting to untie my shoes before, I lost a lot of precious time- 5:40 to be exact! I am looking forward to the next Empire shopping day so I can get my one piece Tri Suit to wear under the wetsuit, a racebelt and the quick ties for the shoes so I don’t have to worry about tying my sneakers at all. I knew this transition would take a longer than it should, but I didn’t expect to watch people come out of the water after me and start the bike before I could. It really helped show how the transition areas can make or break it- you know if you’re really racing.
The bike took a lot longer than expected! Having done 9 miles in 20 minutes at a not race pace, I had high hopes for making up some time on the bike. But three loops half into increasing head winds, gears changing on their own (have I mentioned how awesome my 25 year old Caliente Schwinn is?) and hairy turns at each end brought me in with a time over 40 minutes which really surprised me. I did make up some ground from the transition which was good. Now looking back, I can say I just didn’t push myself hard enough. Each time I passed my family and those who came out to cheer me on or even one of the friends I did the race with, I got a new spur of energy and picked up the pace. Montauk will be even better for this with so many friends participating and everyone cheering me and the Empire team on.
The run and transition to it were pretty uneventful which is all I could hope for. I walked a little here and there in the beginning but felt my muscles seizing when I did so I slowed the pace and kept to a jog for the remainder. Getting my “land legs” back after being on the bike, and the swim, was my biggest challenge here. I can see, if need be, walking a little in the beginning and then pushing hard with the run the rest of the way through. They had so many awesome volunteers to really cheer us on during this part which also helped.
All in all I’m really proud of myself. I finished, which was all I really wanted to do and I came in 2nd place of the Athenas. Which still feels a little embarrassing to admit, even if it took losing 72lbs to get there (and now I’m 74lbs down and officially no longer even qualify for this category). I hoped when I had to check that box that perhaps it would mean I’d be the best out of the category, but I had no idea I really did it until they called my name!
A fellow Empire beginner (thanks Yael!) gave the great advice of smile the whole time, this way you get great pictures! While I tried my best and felt like there were definitely times my smile was traded in for a classic- “why am I doing this??/how many more laps is it?” look instead, I have it on high authority I had a big, proud, heartfelt smile on my face and even a couple of pictures to prove it! It was a really great experience overall and I’m so thankful to have participated in a more formal race as practice for Montauk- MightyMan here I come!!