Chris finished a strong 3rd, but he was not totally thrilled!
Typical NicoleSince I first heard about the Half Vineman in Sonoma County years ago I have always wanted to race it and being that I am now employed at Multisports.com I figured this would be my year. Who cares if I have never competed in another triathlon before. So what if I had never been on a bike ride longer than 50mile (and even then I rested for 30min.)
Being surrounded by super athletes all day, every day had some how made me think that I was one of them. What an error.
Thank goodness I recognized this error about two weeks before the race and appropriately started panicking. In my panic I decided I needed to change everything. Although this went against the better advise of my coworkers, I forged ahead and I bought my first tri suit, a new bike seat, a new pair of running shoes (thankfully I didn't use them) and finally I purchased shoes and clip pedals for the first time (I only fell twice). Yes, I did this all two weeks before the biggest race of my life.
The week before the race I had my bike shipped up North only to discover I had no idea how to put it back together. Practice this. Luckily the boys at the Rincon Cyclery knew what to do and they had me on my bike before the days end. Unfortunately, riding on the bumpier roads of Sonoma County I incurred 2 flat tires. Taking my bike back to Rincon Cycley I was informed that I would need new tires on my borrowed bike so tally it up. Within a 2-week window of the race I now had 2 new tires, a new suit, new cycling shoes, new peddles and no idea as to whether I would finish the race.
Saturday night I didn't sleep. Sunday morning I tentatively got out of bed and slowly started to dress. This was crazy I told myself. What sort of silly person does this? I had passed panic and had entered a whole new dimension of insanity. Luckily I had friends in town that drove me to the race start. I watched people confidently put their bikes into position and lay out their swim to bike transition area. Ah, I am going to die I thought. It is just as I feared, these people know what they are doing. So what if I work with some of the best athletes and coaches in the sport of triathlon. It hasn't rubbed off.
As I huddled with my friends watching wave after wave of people entering the water I started to pray. I decided then and there to change my attitude. No more fear, only FUN! No matter how I got there I was doing the race that I had always wanted to do. Then I saw the red swim caps enter the water. I waded in with them and continued to pray. About half way through the swim I had the realization that maybe the swim was all I was going to accomplish that day. So, I decided to really enjoy the swim.
Soon I was out of the water and running to the bike. Well, I thought, that was lovely. Now, I decided to take that same attitude on the bike. I hoped on the bike and started peddling. On the bike you are given more time for reflection. I definitely didn't want the fear and self doubt to come back so, I prayed some more. Rather quickly I found myself at the halfway point. Great, this isn't so bad but I definitely need to be taking in more fuel. Unfortunately, I did not practice eating and biking. My back pockets were full of food that I could not reach because at the last minute I decided to ride with my Camel Pack on. No problem, I will just transfer all my food to my brazier. This worked. Although, I am sure this method drew a couple of stares. I was quite happy with my little buffet of GU, bagels, bars and jerky all accessible and tucked into place. Winding through the beautiful rolling hills of Sonoma County grazing contentedly on my snacks. I thought of nothing other than how lucky I was to be able to wake up and experience today. What a change from my previous panic. The ride ended quickly and I was soon at the bike to run transition. My (very handsome and wonderful) father was there with the camera and tales of being a volunteer and seeing all the pro's finish. Just the night before he had met Chris Legh and his wife and excitedly reported that Chris finished in 3rd place. (Just a side note: My father thinks that Chris maybe a strong triathlete but he could easily beat him at golf.)
After many pictures and praise from my father I was off and running. I felt great. I said more prayers and worked on keeping my stride nice, even and easy. I met many friends on the run and was inspired by every person that was in front of me as well as behind me. What courage and perseverance. If anyone of these people had any of the same doubts I had going into this race and now were well into the days activities and still going strong. I was amazed. I had a hard time containing my joy. The run was an easy rolling course and not as hot as previously predicted. I finished the race in 5:56:40 with a smile on my face and a song in my heart. It was a good day!