Tuesday, May 19, 2009

It Never Hurts To Tri

The title is the motto of the Anchorage Triathlon Club, of which I am not a member.  However, I liked the motto.  Good for a blog post.

I think I may have found a true love (athletically, that is.  Nothing tops the hubby-bub).......triathlons!  Oh, how I love my runs, but WOWSA did I have the BEST time this past Sunday!  
For the past 1.5 months I have been conditioning myself to participate in a triathlon.  The one I chose to attempt was the Gold Nugget Triathlon.  It was 1300 women swimming, biking, running, and cheering one another on.  The course was a 300yd swim, 9 mile bike, and 3 mile run.  The perfect beginner tri.  The atmosphere was great.  Young and old alike were competing against one another, cheering for each other, and putting up a little friendly competition.  
My initial fear was the swim.  I mean, I have always been able to doggie paddle, but who wants to do that for 300yds?  Not me!  So, in October of 08 I was lucky enough to befriend Quinn, who is an AWESOME athlete.  She is runner, swimmer, tri-girl all wrapped up into one.  She offered to teach me the freestyle swim stroke.  After a couple of lessons, Quinn and her fam were re-stationed to Hawaii.  But she got me off to a great start.  I then started seeking out master swimmers, picking their brain, and then having Kevin watch me try to put all of it together in the water.  The best times, were swimming with my hubby and have him help me along.  Anyway, my best time swimming 300 on my own was 7min 15sec.  No matter how hard I tried, I was stuck with this time.  So, when registration time for the tri came around I was a nervous wreck and knew I would screw it up, so I registered at 7min 30sec.  The tri folks need this time to group you with other swimmers with the same time, so going through the swim would be relatively easy since you would be swimming with folks about the same speed in the water.  Well the day of the tri, I must have gotten a big shot of adrenalin when I hit that water cause I started swimming past folks right and left.  All I could hear was the water I was blowing out and when my ear would lift out of the water I heard 4 voices cheering me on......Kevin, Noah, Caleb, and my best runner friend Lori.  I could not feel my legs and I just pushed.  When the results posted, I swam 6min 39sec.  My best time to date!  I am still in shock!  Shock, and nothing feels better than when you know you pushed past what you thought was your best.  
When I leave the pool bldg, running to my bike - keep in mind you get out of the pool and run.  Barefoot.  In a bathing suit.  Run to your bike.  Yeah, you get over your butt jiggling and how you look in a bathing suit.  AND if you don't you just run really really fast, like I did!  However, when I came out that door I had the best thing happen.  There waiting on me was Lori, my BFF.  She RAN with me along the chute!  Screaming at me the whole time, "GO MARY GO!  PUSH!  THE HARD PART IS OVER!  GO!!!   CRANK IT OUT!  YOU CAN DO THIS!!  GO! GO! GO!!"  Want more adrenalin?  Have a great friend run just 100ft with you screaming at you, pumping you up, believing in you, being proud of you.  That will do it.  
On to the bike leg.  The gal behind me, her name was America - how cool?!  She came up to her bike beside mine.  We were preparing - throwing on shorts, shoes, grabbing a drink of h2O, etc. and she said, "Don't let me catch ya on the bike".  Oh ho ho ho....you're on.  I got out of my spot before her, ran past the line, jumped on my bike and just started cranking it out.  The first 4.5 miles were all downhill, the second 4.5 miles were all back up, straight up.  All I can think about is that someone is chasing me and I can't let them catch me.  I was not looking back, EVER.  I did not want to see her on my back tire.  I get to the turn around and start preparing for going back up, up, up the hill.  I am cranking as hard as I can.  In my head I just keep telling myself, push, push, you trained for this, don't get caught.  All of a sudden my feet start spinning...too fast.  I can't control my cadence.  I look down.....NO NO NO.  My chain came off.  SERIOUSLY!  Not now, someone is on my tail and I am NOT going to play catch up.  This was the time I really began to regret not taking that bike maintenance class.  Finally I catch a break, I just lift up the chain, hook it on a couple of teeth on the gear, and spin the pedals.  VOILA!  Chain is back on and now I have got to restart my momentum on a complete uphill climb.  Everyone who has biked a steep hill, or has taken a spin class knows how bad this is gonna be.  So I repeat 9 thousand times, don't get caught, don't let her pass you!  GO GO GO!!!  
I make it back to transition to park the bike and begin the run.  My mouth is so parched cause I let my h2O bottle at my transition spot.  Don't say it.  I know.  I grab some water, throw on a hat and go.  I got three miles to run and I am done.  America's bike was not in her spot, so I was a little relieved she did not pass me on the hill while I was trying to get my chain back on.    Now RUN!
As soon as you cycle really hard and then begin a run, you might experience what I did.  It is called "the grip".  It is your body trying to adjust from using your quads (for cycling) to hamstrings (for running).  While training (in the gym) I had a bike that had pedals where you strap in your shoes.  So, the last few minutes of biking in the gym I would pull up on the pedals instead of pushing down, thus engaging hamstrings so when I then would begin my run, my legs would not freak out so badly.  Well, yeah, I never got those nice "strap your shoes in" pedals, and therefore changing gears on the legs from quads to hams after a CRAZY bike, well lets just say "the grip" was a firm one.  PUSH PUSH PUSH - it's only 3 miles.  After about 1/2 a mile down my legs let go and when that happens, your legs feel so good and it makes pounding it out and pushing your best for 3 miles a lot easier.  It really feels good when a 31 yr old, ME, passes a 19yr old on the run and beats her to the finish (I know her age cause our ages were written in permanent marker on our calves - so that 19 yr old saw my 31, nice).  I know, sick and twisted, I am.  Seeing the homestretch all I can think about is my family.  For my husband and boys to see their wife and momma finish her first triathlon.  That and knowing that when I cross that line I become a triathlete.  PUSH!
Coming down the last, the very last 30ft, there is usually an announcer who sees your bib number, looks up your name and says in to a microphone, "Here comes number 948, Mary Jackson".  Well, dude, says, "Here comes number 948, uh, uh".  Oh NO he is not taking my little bit of glory.  I start screaming, "MARY JACKSON, MARY JACKSON!!"  Say it, before I cross the line, SAY IT BEFORE I CROSS THE LINE!  As I pass him, dude goes, "OH!  It's Mary Jackson sprinting it home from Elmendorf AFB".  Thank you.  My race is complete.  Well, almost.  I have to get my best son hug ever from Noah.  AND after my hug I get, "Mom you're awesome, I am so proud of you".  That and knowing how hard my husband was cheering for me.  Hearing KJ and the boys say how proud they are, well it makes it sooooo worth it.  It takes away all the exhaustion, and I don't know how to say it better, I am blessed with the best family.  Thank you God for them.  I look forward to the day when the boys get interested in what their momma is doing and we can do our first mom and son tri or 1/2 marathon together.  I hope those days come.
I stayed up VERY late last night looking up results of all those I had met and my friends who also competed.  I was very sad to see, after I scoured the results up and down 2x, that America, bib number 949, the gal after me, the one who was gonna catch me, well, she did not finish.  I was sad to see that.  I wish I could tell her she fueled a fire that kept me pushing myself.   I can't wait until next year!  I have a time to beat!
Oh and if you think you can't do this.  You should tell that to my friend Tami.  She had not rode a bike in almost 20yrs, just learned to swim in January, and only started running when I ask her to do this with me (somewhere around last December).  Seeing her shed tears crossing the finish line........well, I am WAY WAY proud of her.  Tami finished with a total time of 1hr 22min and 2sec.  My time 1hr 22min flat.  So ANYONE can do this.  You just gotta believe you can.   AND as the blog post title says, It Never Hurts to Tri.  

Now, onto the rest of the summer fun.  I am doing a 5 mile Women's Run in June.  That run I will proudly adorn my jersey with Kevin's aunt's name, Mary Kay.  She is a breast cancer survivor and this run is in support of survivors and furthering research and support for breast cancer awareness.  Then in August I will attempt The Skinny Raven Half Marathon.  This is the same one I did last year.  I get a little flip in my stomach every time I think about it.  WHEW!

Never in my life did I think that in my 30's I would begin to enjoy running and these organized events.  I wish I would have started when I was 20.  Before I am fifty I MIGHT try a half-ironman.  Big dreams, I know.  


JPJ said...

Congrats, Mary! I am tired just reading about the race~~you should definitely be proud of yourself--I certainly am proud of you!

Brandi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brandi said...

O.k...that was me that deleted a comment cause I made a mistake.

What I said was:
Congratulations Triathlete!!! I could picture the whole thing in my mind. I think it's so cool that all of the women were cheering each other on and especially your friend meeting you outside of the swimming building and encouraging you like that. It makes me think of how that is a great representation of how we should be to our sisters spiritually. YAH Mary Jackson!!!! Excellent job. I'm so proud. You are inspiring. And I loved that you could hear your boys cheering you on too. That was the icing on the cake I bet!

Jillina said...

Way to go Mary!!! We are so proud!

Courtney said...

I have chills ..awesome Mary!

Ann said...

Wow, Mary, WOW WOW. I'm speechless. Great story, I was with you all the way!! CONGRATS!