When I picked up my race packet last Saturday, somehow I ended up with bib number 13. Crazy right?! Well, considering my race day Sunday, 13 is my new lucky number!
Overall, it was a really fun day with perfect weather, perfectly calm and warm river, and tons of great spectators and volunteers. First of all, a huge thank to my amazing family and friends for coming out to support me on Sunday. You guys were loud and positioned at exactly the right places when I needed you most. Secondly, thank you to all of the great volunteers and race coordinators for making race day flow so smoothly. And finally, thank you to all of the other racers. What continues to amaze me about the endurance community is how incredibly supportive everyone is. Throughout the morning, racers were constantly shouting words of encouragement and support, bantering back and forth about the next big hill, and overall just being incredibly friendly. Even when a racer was passing me, they did so with a “Good job!” or “Looking great!” or “Keep up the good work!”. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of such a cool group of people?!
The Robious Landing Triathlon course is about as good as it gets for a first-time open water racer. The whole swim course is downstream, so even if you just turned on your back and floated the entire way, you would still do great! My wonderful husband was kind enough to wake up with me at 4:30am, and we got to Robious Landing Park around 5:30. I wanted plenty of time to get set up in transition, so I headed straight to my bike rack. I was the second bike on the rack, and I took my time to arrange my towel, gear, and bucket. We ended up with only 5 bikes instead of 6, and even then there really isn’t a lot of space to set up. I grabbed my timing chip, got through body marking, and made a final bathroom stop. I walked down to the river, and it was so warm! The water was so calm and still it almost looked like glass. Perfect!
It is a bit of a walk to the swim start from transition, but no big deal. I still had plenty of time, almost too much and I was starting to get more nervous as I stood there staring at my transition zone, so I said goodbye to my husband and headed down the trail towards the boat dock swim start. It is an in-water start, which definitely helped me feel calmer about the swim. Once it got to my wave, we had 5 minutes to get down the boat ramp and into the water. We were all treading water and trying hard to stay above the start buoy, and the lesson learned for next time is to wait a little longer before getting in. Treading water and fighting the current for 5 minutes is tiring! The air horn sounded, and my wave was off! The swim was a blur, it went by so fast and I didn’t really have time to think about anything. I was able to keep my breathing calm and only took a couple mini breaks to sight and catch my breath. I stayed out in the middle to catch the most current, and before I knew it I was coming up to the yellow finish buoy. There are rocks at the swim exit, but they weren’t a big problem. My cheering squad was right at the swim exit, and it felt amazing to get out of the water to a loud hoot and holler. I was already done with the scariest part of my race!
I was a little dizzy running through transition, but I got my goggles and swim cap off and headed straight for my bike. I had to remind myself that I wasn’t in a hurry. I had all the time in the world. Slow is smooth and smooth is fast. I am thankful that there wasn’t a big crowd in transition, so I didn’t have to fight for space on our bike rack. Over the mount line and on the bike, I learned my second lesson of the day. Don’t leave your bike in the big ring when you rack it! There was a slight uphill out of transition, and it was a push to get going. I saw my sister and nephew and my best friend as I headed out of the park, perfect to get me going on the second leg of the race. Again, I just kept reminding myself that I wasn’t in this for a race, take my time, go easy and give my legs and brain time to readjust from the swim to the bike. I think that is one of the big challenges of triathlon, being able to switch gears so completely between 3 totally separate sports.
The bike course is great for this race, with just a brief section at the beginning that went through a construction area. The pavement was horrible in this section, full of potholes and really roughed up areas. The road also narrows with absolutely no shoulder here, and it is uphill and on a curve. A little scary, but it is only about ¾ of a mile long. Once you get through that and past the 288 entrance ramp, the traffic thins out considerably and it gets a lot quieter. A left turn onto Manakintown Ferry Road, and there are almost no cars at all. It is a shady course, with gentle rolling hills along the whole thing. That is, until you get to the big hill! But the great thing about this hill is that although steep, it isn’t very long. And you know you are at the halfway point of the bike leg, with the hardest part behind you. You turn around and get to fly back towards transition! I got passed quite a lot on the bike leg, but I was having so much fun and enjoying the amazing scenery that I didn’t care at all. Back on Huguenot Trail, I finally saw my mom! She was sitting on the side of the road in her car and tried to snap a picture of me on my bike. I zoomed past before she even had her camera out! She ended up following me back all the way to the park and missed me crossing the finish line. She totally redeemed herself later though.
Coming back into transition, it is a slight downhill so you come in fast. I don’t have clip in shoes and pedals, so I was getting myself mentally prepped for a super-fast second transition. My cheering squad was right there as I dismounted and racked my bike. All I had to do was take off my helmet and grab my run belt, and I was gone. Later, I found out I only spent 31 seconds in T2. My legs definitely felt like very heavy Jello as I got going on the trails. But I had practiced plenty of bricks during training, so I knew I needed to just take a few minutes to find my rhythm before trying to get down to my race pace. I never did get my watch working properly for the race, and I ended up not even looking at it through the entire run. I finally found my feet and started powering through. The run course is so pretty! I sure do love trail running, and most of this course is entirely on shady trails along the river. There is a small section that ventures out onto a nearby neighborhood road before the turnaround, then you head back into the woods. I felt great, just reminding myself to keep pushing the pace and not to get too comfortable at any time. I passed 4 women in my age group, so I was feeling pretty darn good about myself! I started hearing the cheering crowd at the finish line, so I picked up my pace even more to really push it across the finish line. Again, my amazing cheering squad was right there to help carry me across the line. I finished my very first triathlon!!!
Total race time: 1:42:38
I know this post is forever long for just a sprint tri race report, so I will finish up the post-race stuff quickly. I crossed the finish line, got my medal and a bottle of water, and went to find my family. It was the most wonderful feeling, knowing that I had finished strong and accomplished something I had worked hard for. Tried to look at the results screen, but it was hard to find my name and read all my times before the screen scrolled to the next group. All I could see was my total time of 1:42:17. I was totally happy with that! There was tasty BBQ for the athletes, and we all just talked, danced to the music, and cheered on the rest of the finishers. I gathered my bike and gear from transition, then signed up for a free massage. There was a bit of a wait, but I figured it was totally worth the treat for myself. The rest of my family headed home and my husband took my bike to our truck, while my mom waited with me for the massage. It was a great massage, working out my calves and lower back. The awards ceremony started as I hopped up on the massage table, and they were just getting to my age group as I finished up. I went to find my mom so we could head out, and I wasn’t even paying attention to the names they were calling out. But then I heard “3rd place goes to Angela Redwine” and that definitely got my attention. I was stunned! I kind of stumbled down to the front and they handed me an award, a nice glass tumbler with the race logo printed on it. I could not stop laughing because I was so incredibly surprised. I won 3rd place!!! I got to stand on the podium, and my mom got pictures and a video. She was so very happy that she got to be there for that moment, and I was so happy that I had stayed. The only reason I was still there was to get my free massage!
It was a perfect ending to a truly awesome race morning. I met all of my goals, primary, secondary, and tertiary, and most importantly I had a blast. To get a podium spot in my very first race was the cherry on top of a really fun race day experience. I will definitely be back for more triathlon fun in the future!