Last month I completed the Patriot Half Triathlon in Freetown, Massachusetts. My fellow teammates and I formed relay teams to tackle the 1.2 mile swim, the 13.1 mile run, and the 56 mile bike course. My leg (no pun intended!) was the bike course.
This past spring I purchased a new road bike and my goal was to get in a 40 miler before the race. Unfortunately, weather and sick kids prevented this so the most I got was 30 miles.
Amazingly, I wasn’t nervous until the day of the race. Then, all bets were off. I was a wreck! But the weather held out, my health was good and I had my great friends with to support me!
The first leg was the swim-and our swimmers Jen and Crystal did AMAZING. Swimming is my weakest sport and I am continually amazed at the sheer endurance it takes to swim..in open water surrounded by hundreds of people, no less…AMAZING!
Then it was the bike-Rhonda set out first and I knew she’d have no problem and she rocked it! Then it was my turn! The course was a 28 mile loop that we went around twice. This had pluses and minuses. It was great to go around and see our cheerleaders at the end of the first loop. But then reality set in that I had to ride ANOTHER 28 miles….. The course wasn’t easy, lots of rolling hills made it a challenge. I made sure to eat and drink throughout to stay fueled and got off my bike at one point to rest a bit and change my water bottles. There was the added pressure of knowing that I had a runner waiting to start her journey when I got back and I knew it was going to be a torturous wait. The other pressure is that you had time limits so all bikers were supposed to be off the course by 1:00..and I wanted to give Jen a cushion for her running time. I did my best and made it but it took me about 4 hours.
4 hours on a bike.. FOUR FREAKIN’ HOURS. There are the obvious things about riding a bike for that long that are difficult-the chafing and pain (oh, my aching butt..for DAYS after..and yes, I wore super-padded bike shorts!!), the exhaustion…but ya know what the worst part was?? The loneliness!! Yes, you are out there with hundreds of people…but as a relay team, our wave was one of the last teams to go so the majority of bikers were off the course. In the first hour, I felt like everyone was whizzing past me on their fancy schmancy tri-bikes and their high-tech biking outfits and helmets. I felt like I was out for a leisurely Sunday ride with my Target bike helmet. It messed with my head
a little. Ok, a lot. But I was doing my best, pedaling my little heart out and that’s all I could do! I will say there were SO many words of encouragement as they passed me and that felt good. So many people would say “Keep it up! You’re doing great!” as they passed. Even though, in my head, I was thinking “Ugh, whatever! I suck!”, it really did make a difference and was good to hear!
I finally finished and dismounted at the designated area. From there, we had to run (hahahahaha! There was NO running after coming off that bike) to the transition area to give the runner our timing chip and then off she went. So I finally gave the chip to Jen and off she went on her half marathon run!
I then parked my bike, told Rhonda “NEVER AGAIN!!” , bent over to stretch and the tears came. Rhonda and Crystal were there and Rhonda said “You want to cry, don’t you??” I just nodded and then I lost it, heaving sobs! The girls gave me a group hug while I bawled. I think it was a combination of sheer relief to be done with that race and exhaustion.
After I calmed down it was time to eat, rest, and cheer on our runners! A few people went to the 7 mile marker and then we waited at the finish. We all finished and it felt GREAT.
These girls?? They ROCK! I could never have done it without their support and encouragement. We already have our next race lined up! No, not another Half Ironman, this time, a sprint tri. 14 miles on the bike?
Piece of freakin’ cake!!!