Yesterday was a celebration! I celebrated carrying my baby boy for 26 weeks (which, according to The Bump, makes Baby Key a nearly 2lb, 14in hothouse cucumber), and I also celebrated FINALLY becoming a triathlete!
Last fall, I set a goal for completing a half Ironman competition by the end of this summer. When we found out about Baby Key back in February, that goal (for this year) went right out the window. Being determined, I consulted my doctor for a “work around,” if you will. What can I say? If there is a loophole, I will find it.
We agreed on no open water swims and a short, sprint distance triathlon. Having been a runner and cyclist pre-pregnancy, all I would have to do is add the swim. I had read that it isn’t necessarily good to take up new sports during pregnancy but my doctor said that swimming could actually be good for me and the baby. (By the way, having a doctor who supports your craziness is super important.) So, I quickly ran home, scanned my race calendar and selected this year’s Rocketchix II Triathlon as the winner. At the time, it was 5 months away, which gave me plenty of time to find a swim class/coach, learn to swim, and at least get somewhat comfortable in the water.
So…fast forward to yesterday…
My morning started at 4:45PM. I wanted to be out the door by 5:15AM, and since I had packed the night before, this was plenty of time to get to the opening of transition at 5:30AM. Surprisingly, by the time yesterday morning rolled around, the nerves that had started settling in on Friday were subsiding. My whole mindset had changed. In other races and duathlons I had participated in or trained for, I had a bad habit of letting my nerves get to me.
This race, however, was different. In my head, I assumed that because I am pregnant, people would expect me to be slow. So, if things didn’t go well, and I actually came in last, it would be okay. I would not have disappointed anyone else, even if I secretly disappointed myself a little (after all, I didn’t *actually* want to be LAST.) Mentally, I set my goal for this 350m swim/12mi bike/2mi run competition as 01:45:00.
I got to the event, set up my gear in transition, ate one of my Picky Bars, and met up with some friends. Seeing my girls helped squash the last little bit of leftover nerves from the day before. The goal was to just finish. Before I knew it, the competition was under way and swimmers were entering the natatorium. The swim portion was self-seeded and I sandwiched myself in the 12:00-12:59 group. When my group was called and we lined up along the pool, I took a deep breath…knowing that I just HAD to do this. No backing out now. I was dressed, I was there, and it was “go time.” All of a sudden, I was the next swimmer up so I crossed the mat, heard the beep and knew it was time to dive in.
As soon as I was in the water, I started to freak. For one, the pool was twice as long as the pool that I had learned to swim and practiced in. The pool at the fitness center was 25m and this pool was 50m. Without realizing it, I must have come to depend on the 25m turn-around because the first length of the race seemed SO long. I tried so hard to get myself back on track physically and mentally. Also, it wasn’t until I was surrounded by so many other swimmers that I actually feared getting accidentally kicked in the stomach. Throughout training, different people had mentioned it to me, but I suppose I did not take the threat seriously enough because I was used to swimming alone. It wasn’t until I was in the water, surrounded by people all scrambling to get out of the pool, that it really made me nervous. By the second length of the pool, I decided the backstroke was the way to go for me. My racing heart decided to slow down, I was able to control my breathing, and, most importantly, I could keep an eye on anyone getting too close to my bump. And, you know what? I passed someone! That gave me a little bit of confidence and all of a sudden I realized that I only had one length left to go in the pool! AAAAAAAAAAMEN! Since I knew I would be strong on the bike and strong on the run, the goal was just to make it through the swim. JUST GET OUT OF THE POOL. I watched the overhead flags as I swam and when there was about ¼ length left, I flipped over and swam to the end. (It definitely didn’t hurt that the LSU men’s swim team was there helping us out of the pool.)
After getting out of the pool, I had planned to walk over to the transition area. With the slippery tile of the natatorium (even the wet mats get slippery), I wanted to take it easy. But, I was feeling frisky, so I jogged. Not going to lie, my T1 time SUCKED. It took me FOREVER to get out on the bike. Being pregnant and obviously not my regular size, I did not want to invest the $200+ in a new tri suit. I ended up wearing a Nike speed swimsuit with the intention of putting on my cycling shorts over it. This was a perfect plan…in theory. Once I got over to my bike, I had the HARDEST time wiggling my wet body into my cycling shorts. But it was my only option so I just had to deal with it. Before hopping on my bike, I ate half a Clif Mojo Peanut Butter pretzel bar and two Clif Bloks. I threw on my helmet, sunglasses, and shoes and was ready to go. At this point, I was just psyched that none of my muscles in my abdomen were pulling weird and I was not even feeling tired. I jogged my bike over the mount area and away I went.
Getting out on the bike immediately put me at ease. I LOVE riding my bike. The bike course was out on River Road which is wide open and has no trees. Although it was HOT, the wetness from my body and suit kept me cool. It was really nice. The bike course was also really flat so I considered it pretty easy. I seriously must have passed at least 20 people on the bike portion. According to my Garmin, I rode the 12-mile course in about 47:30…not too shabby for a pregnant lady on a “fat tire” Trek hybrid! Woot!
I really expected to start feeling tired by the end of the bike route, but I wasn’t AT ALL! I think it must have been the adrenaline. After dismounting the bike, I did walk my bike back over to the rack instead of jogging. I want to give my body a chance to find my “sea legs” to avoid any chance of my legs bricking. After I re-racked my bike, I took off my helmet, threw on my visor, grabbed my race belt, and pulled my “Running For Two” tank over my swimsuit. I was determined to finish wearing that tank top.
Getting out on the run, I was so proud of my legs. They didn’t fail me or start acting wonky AT ALL. In my head, I was already on that runner’s high! I was thinking, “Dude! I’m already out of the pool and done with the bike! Its ONLY 2 more miles! I do 2 miles ALL THE TIME!! I have SO got this!!!” And I did. My goal had been to walk ½ mile/jog ½ mile…twice. I didn’t even need to do that though. I got through the first mile, walked about a ¼ mile, and then jogged the rest of the way. My time goal for the run portion was 25:00 but my Garmin had me coming in at under 22 minutes. As soon as I saw this, I knew I would be my original time goal…I just was not sure by how much.
When I turned the final corner and saw the finish, I could see and hear my mom, husband, and #RunLA fam cheering me on! Having that kind of support when you are about to accomplish something so important to you is truly priceless. They helped make the experience even more special and memorable! I ran into the chute, throwing my arms up, breaking the invisible tape! The announcer said, “Katie Key…you ARE a Rocketchick!” (You know, in his best Maury “You ARE the father!” voice.)
Then he jokingly suggested that I count as a team since, technically, I was running for two.
Putting this race bling around my neck felt AWESOME. I ran over to my mom and husband and gave them hugs! I then made my way over to my fellow #RunLA Rocketchix and we shared proud sweaty hugs! We were all triathletes now!
That half Ironman is still in my bucket list but I definitely want to keep easing into it. I plan on doing a couple more sprint triathlons and duathlons (to really master my transitions) and then move on to an Olympic distance triathlon before making the jump. Given the time, I know I can do it!
After all, I AM a triathlete now….at 01:31:35!! WOOT!
Click HERE for some Triathlon Humour!;o)
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