Note: I did receive complimentary entry into this race, but all opinions are my own. Ain't nobody got time for lyin'!
It was the morning of my seventh triathlon and I was a ball of nerves and excitement! I was actually looking forward to tackling the Max Performance Title 9 Women Only Sprint Triathlon.
Not only would I be racing, but I would be there to support three of my Weight Watchers members, as well as, a fellow WW leader and friend. They would all be doing their first triathlon. YES!! I love being there to witness friends push their comfort zones and prove to themselves how strong they are. :)
But I was still nervous. I had done a 17-mile training run the day before in preparation for Rock 'n' Roll Savannah marathon (Nov 7). I figured I would be racing on tired legs, but I would focus on living in the race and having fun along the way!
We woke up at 5am and were on the road by 5:45am. Gotta love these early morning races, right? I know my cheering squad (dad and wife) were wicked excited to be up and on the road that early. I made sure we had time to stop at Dunkin Donuts on the way so they would be properly caffeinated for their cheering duties!
The race would be taking place at Hopkinton State Park. Thankfully there was limited traffic on the highway and ample parking when we arrived at the park.
We took the walk from the parking lots to the transition area. Here is where I should've taken photos, but I was so focused on finding my friends and getting my tires filled that I totally forgot. Bad blogger I know!!
Luckily everything was in the same parking lot so I was able to grab my bib, while my dad stayed with my bike and had the tires filled. I found my PT who was there offering post-race stretching and made sure he'd be ready for me post-race! I needed that fast pass! ;)
After chatting with the crew of Boston Physical Therapy & Wellness, I headed towards transition to get body marked and set up my area. I was in the first row of bikes since I was bib #58 and in the first swim wave. I racked my bike closest to the transition perimeter so I had a little extra room and could have my extra bag nearby if necessary.
I found my fellow WW leader and friend Susan near her transition spot. She was located right near the SWIM IN and RUN OUT. Niiice spot. We headed to her spot to make sure she had everything set up and ready. She was nervous, but had set her area up like a pro. :)
On our way out of transition we bumped into one of my Weight Watchers members Christine, who looked ready to rock and roll. I stopped back by my PT's set-up to get my knee taped. With about 15 minutes to go before transition closed and we had the pre-race meeting, I headed back to transition to grab my goggles, swim cap and wetsuit. I was still going back and forth on whether to wear the wetsuit or not.
I had a quick two minutes to check out the water, which was chilly, so wetsuit it would be! :P
I was heading out in the first wave (red caps) and was ready to get this party started. The swim was point-to-point so we all took the walk to the start. It felt like a lot more than 1/4 of a mile, especially when you don't have shoes on. There was some awesome ladies around me so I squashed my nerves by focusing on talking to them.
The swim was a water start so we walked straight down what would normally be a boat entry ramp to get in the water. We had a couple of minutes to tread before we officially started.
Oh hey nerves welcome to the party! There were no time goals - just having fun and finishing.
Swim - 1/4 Mile
I have a strong swimming background thanks to my mom signing me up for swim classes as a baby. I feel most comfortable in the water so I look forward to this portion of the race.
Since we were the first wave I didn't have to worry about having to climb over too many other racers to get into a nice groove. I lined up before just one other person and my goal was to swim just to their left to avoid being trapped behind them.
The swim had four yellow buoys and we were to stay to the right of them. Well apparently I wanted to swim more than everyone else and I kept drifting to the left of them. Oops! :P I was having a good day sighting wise so I was able to get myself back on course quickly. I really just found it more humorous than anything else.
I knew I wasn't having a strong swim, but I felt good with the rhythm I was in. I wasn't feeling claustrophobic in my wetsuit, which can happen from time to time, and my breathing was steady with a breath every three strokes.
I took the left after the final buoy and just tried to give it everything I had for the final straightaway to land! There was a huge Max Performance arch to use for sighting. I knew to keep swimming until my hands hit the bottom of the reservoir then I would stand up and start to take my wetsuit off while I was running to transition.
Total Time: 9:32
Pace: 2:10/100 yds
Overall Place: 26/591
** Now the swim featured a decent run from the water to transition. I think that time is added to your swim time, which can affect the numbers above!
I was on the opposite side from SWIM IN so I quickly dunked my feet in the kiddie pools they had and ran as quickly as I could to my transition area.
Off with the wetsuit (I avoided falling over - WIN!), wiped off my feet with my towel and quickly threw on my bike stuff: socks, bike shoes, Sparkly Soul headband, Sparkle Athletic skirt, Chocolate Milk shirt and helmet. A bite of my Luna Bar and I was OUT. :)
** That should be faster than that, but I was being really cautious taking the wetsuit off. Something to improve upon next time.
Bike - 10 Miles
For those that don't know the bike is my weakest portion of the race. I am not strong on the bike probably because I don't practice it enough. I love attending Spin classes, but not so in love with biking outside. But, I was ready to give it my all.
As I came out of transition, I saw my dad and my wife, which made me happy and calmed my nerves a little. I didn't know what to expect on the bike course. I looked at the map briefly pre-race, but not enough to register that it would be hilly.
The bike leg is an excellent course. It begins on park roads, with downhill turns and rolling terrain through Southborough and Ashland. You’ll experience one challenging hill to make it even more exciting, as you cross the start of the famous marathon. You’ll finish with a fun downhill as you enter the park for the final run leg.
For some these maybe wouldn't have felt like mountains, but to this girl they did. Oh boy was I pushing hard. It was during the bike portion that I started to feel the day prior's 17-mile run. There was a point where I didn't think I would finish. I was about halfway through and thought I could just get off the bike and sit for awhile. Ha.
I will be prepared for next time to work on my hill strength. I will say that my Spin classes came in handy, but there is always room for improvement.
The other participants were super motivating and encouraging. That is something I love about an all-female race compared to a co-ed race... especially for first timers!
While the ride started on a downhill, it ended on an uphill. Of course because what goes up must come down and vice versa. I dug deep and focused on the prize: I could run next! I would be entering my comfort zone. :)
You may be wondering: "What is Dani saying in pic 2?" Well my friends it is not rated PG let's say that. That was me coming in to transition and trying to tell the wife and my dad about the "F*&%kin' Hills" only to notice 4 young kids standing next to them so it just came out as a "FFffff Hills." haha. Glad my wife could get such amusement out of the second pic. ;)
Total Time: 38:29
Pace: 15.6 MPH
Overall Place: 85/591
Luckily BIKE IN was right next to my row/stuff so I could quickly turn in and change into my sneakers. Transition 2 is much easier than T-1. I only had to remove my bike shoes and put my sneakers on. I opted to put a visor on as well just to keep my long hair in check.
Another quick bite of a LUNA bar and I was off.
** Maybe that could've been faster, but I was happy with how it went. I did have trouble tying my shoes only because I was fumbling and trying to do it too quickly. I should look into the Lock Laces more.
Run - 3.1 Miles
Come to mama! Bring on the comfort zone. :o) Running is my JAM!
So there were two ladies in my division that passed me on the bike. Not surprising as most folks pass me on the bike! At least they usually compliment me on my Sparkle Athletic skirt while they do it. :P My goal starting the run was to pass them. I didn't know overall where I was in my division I just knew I needed something to push me. My legs were tired and I still had a 5k til the Finish.
Since the bike ended on an uphill, the run started on a downhill! Yay ummm sorta? Downhill is tough and sometimes can beat your legs up more than the uphills. Hello Boston Marathon. I distracted myself from the soreness by focusing on the bikers coming up the hill across from me. I was hooting, hollering, cheering and encouraging. I mean I was in those poor ladies shoes not 10 minutes ago.
Races with out and backs or triathlons like this where you can cheer folks on are some of my favorites. I love being able to help put a smile on someone's else's face while they are pushing, digging and sometimes hating what is going on.
And while I was hollering and clapping, I passed those two ladies in my division and didn't look back. I was passed by one 27 year old and my goal was to try and stick as close to her as possible through the run. Again motivation. I needed to focus on something other than the soreness coming over my body. I knew my legs were strong enough to finish I just had to remind my mind.
Well once the bikers were out of our sight, I opted to focus on my Stroke Heroes. Thinking of my grandparents, my Father-in-law and all my other friends affected by Stroke pushed me to wipe out the whining and thank my blessings.
There was a photographer at Mile 1 and I made sure to get a good mid-run leap in there for him. He gave me a thumbs up afterwards so I can't wait til the pics are posted so I can see how it turned out. I gave him a high-five too! :)
The run course was located within the State Park and had some pretty scenery and a few hills of their own. It was bound to happen since we met up with the bike course a few different times.
The final stretch? Straight over the levy. No the levy wasn't dry. (Anyone get that? Too old?) As we made our way over the levy, I noticed a girl in front of me. Your age at the end of the year is written on your calf pre-race, which is how I knew the two girls that passed me were in my division. Now I could only make out the 2 on her calf so I immediately assumed she was 32. Oh heck no. I was coming for ya lady. As I got closer and was about to pass her, I realized the age actually said 22. Oops! Hey it worked as the motivator I needed.
We ran past the swim exit, passed transition and entered the 300 yard chute towards the Finish. I gave it everything I had.
I was ready for my photo-op. If you haven't figured it out yet - I am really trying to make leaping over the Finish Line a thing!
Nailed it! :P Woo hoo! I was psyched - seventh triathlon was in the books!
Total Time: 22:45
Pace: 7:21 min/mile
Overall Place: 16/591
** I'm sorry first in my division in the run - no freakin' way! I was pysched. Little 'ol me!!
FINAL TIME: 1:15:08.6
Overall Place: 33/591
After grabbing my medal and water bottle, I bee-lined it for the PT tent.
This is my "Does it have to hurt so much?" look I give Dave often during our PT sessions. Haha. I am wicked thankful they were at the Finish area. My legs were happy as well. It was great to get a good stretch right away. Plus he did some work on my hurt right hamstring as well.
After I was stretched, we headed back to the Finish Line to watch my ladies rock it.
And rock it they did!! :)
A special thanks to my cheer squad for standing around in the rainy cold, carrying my stuff and snapping pics along the way.
The timing company had a truck set up where you could see your results and also print them out. Initially I thought I was fourth in my division when I looked at the big TVs on the truck. Well I went back to print it out and it said third in my division. Say wwhhaa??? I couldn't believe it. So I might've gone back and checked like six times. But it was there in black and white. 33rd overall and 3rd in my division.
You know what meant? I would get an award! Woo! Crazy!
And I would stand on the podium. I've never stood on a podium before. I didn't want to get down. Haha. I tried to soak up all of the emotions to store them away for a bad day.
And the award? A wine glass. Again - yes please!
Overall, I loved the race. It was well-supported with volunteers and cops, highly encouraging, challenging and great scenery. Plus they announced my name coming over the Finish Line which I always appreciate.
As I mentioned before I love a good all womens race and Title 9 didn't let me down. It was a great inviting, welcoming, supportive and encouraging atmosphere.
So if you are looking at your first triathlon, I highly recommend the Max Performance series and the Title 9 in particular!!
What do you look for when registering for your first race/triathlon?