My first in-person race since surgery, physical therapy, and the world came to a standstill occurred in June 2021. I hadn’t gotten my full endurance back and had been back on the bike for less than 2 months. However, I was further along in my training and was seeing glimpses of progress each week. Going into the Grand Rapids Tri race weekend participating in my first ever Sprint Aquabike race, I created 3 goals…to start, finish, and have fun! All three were accomplished and more.
To create a fun, relaxing experience, I made this into a racecation long weekend which was the best decision ever. Local friends came out for adventures including eating at new restaurants, trying local beer, and touring museums and gardens. Along the way, lots of laughter and catching up.
As this transition was a half mile from the swim start, we were permitted to have shoes at the swim start. Yes, I did take this offer and don’t regret it at all. Running barefoot on asphalt would have easily made my plantar fasciitis flair up. I met some fellow teammates and got a great warm-up swim in. In line-up, I warned others at how slippery the boat ramp was. Who slipped at the start of the race??? Me of course. The first couple of minutes I didn’t swim my normal pace because I was trying to figure out if I injured anything. Halfway through, my goggles completely fogged and it was hard to see anything. But I kept swimming. I am very thankful for the swim exit volunteers who basically told me to give them my hand and they would get me out of the water. They did and I was happy to remove my goggles to see again.
Race day started EARLY as the parking was a half mile from transition and the swim start another half mile and I wanted to do the swim warm-up. In transition, I met an athlete who was competing in her very first triathlon who was both excited and nervous so I had a great time chatting with her. One of my favorite things about early morning triathlon transitions is watching the sun rise. It is so peaceful and calming in a morning that can be so chaotic.
The run to transition was long, or so it seemed. Loved the signage along the way – they made me laugh. Transition didn’t take long and off I was on the bike. It was very cool to hear my name being shouted by teammates and complete strangers as I started the bike. Definitely gave me a great boost. The bike portion did not go as smoothly as I hoped (due to slowing for an ambulance then fully stopping to fix my breaks) but I came out with my fastest speed since the 2019 races.
So, why share these goals? Sometimes you need to relax and have fun to do better than you think. In the end, I earned first overall place for females and 3rd overall in the Sprint Aquabike race. WOW. I’ve never been on podium and this is not a race I anticipated that happening. I just enjoyed being able to race again, laughed with teammates, made a long weekend and explored Grand Rapids with friends, and took every moment in. Even without that win, I would still be happy with my overall race. I met my goals by starting, finishing, and having fun. What more can one ask for!
Swim 00:15:30.0; T1 00:08:04 (includes long run); Bike 00:47:52.0; Total 01:11:26.0