Season Opener

The Naples Fitness Challenge Triathlon came and went. I had very mixed feelings going into this race but once it was over I classified it as AWESOME!!

The day started at 3:30am. I actually woke up before the alarm went off, the nerves were definitely working over time. I got slathered up with sunscreen, put on my race numbers, and tri kit before heading to the kitchen to finish water bottle prep and make oatmeal. Before I realized it, it was 4am and the HB and I were in the FJ heading south to Naples. I allotted some extra time to get down to the Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club because the HB recently got a speeding ticket and has been driving like a grandpa – more than usual. He also has a tendency to want to make stops on the way. So we were a bit early…like transition hadn’t even opened yet. Oops.

Race Day

Just a lil bleary eyed

We unloaded the car, gathered the gear, and waited with the other early birds for transition to open. The HB took some photos, made some jokes and tried to ease my nerves about the run. It sorta worked. When transition finally opened, I grabbed my chip and started counting racks. I was 10 in, but luckily my number was listed on one of the end racks! Woot woot!! I set up my gear, took a few photos, and headed to find the restroom – the good thing about having the race out of a hotel, no portapotties!

timing chips

We still had a ton of time to kill before the team meeting and the start of the race so we headed out to the water. I held my breath as I came over the dune – last year it was like a washing machine. This year, smooth as glass! I stood there for a while, listening to the waves and watching the race crew set up the buoys before heading over the Team meeting and the start line.

The race started a little later than usual this year. I was anxious at the starting line. DLevy, Nat, and I lined up near each other. We figured we ran paces where if we kept each other in sight for the initial mile or so we wouldn’t burn out…provided DLevy didn’t take off like a mad woman. Thankfully, she didn’t. I stayed behind her and kept her in my sights for 2 miles. But as I got closer to the 3 mile mark my knee stopped cooperating and started to feel like a new rubber band. As I came closer to the Conference Center, the fear of being back at December started to take over my mind so I walked some of the light poles. In the end I only ended up needing to walk through 2 of them but it was a bit discouraging mentally. However I would rather walk a few feet during the race than not walk at all after.

after the starting line

Startin’ the race off right

comin' in to T2

Comin’ into T2 HURTIN’!

I did my best to race through transition but found myself blocked at a few different places, I had forgotten how narrow the transitions could be on this course. I took a bit more time than in practice transitioning to the bike. Not exactly sure why or what I did differently, I just felt different. I took it easy on the bike initially. I wasn’t sure how my knee would react to being on the bike. When I realized it wasn’t bothering me I decided to kick it in. I found someone to chase down in front of me and just kept at it. It worked for most of the ride but in looking at the race results, I realized as much as I passed people I slowed down a bit in the middle. I think I do this in all my races….something to work on for TriRock. Maybe I really should get that bike computer fixed. I looked at my watch as I heading back down Crayton to transition and realized I had only been going for  exactly an hour. Given where I was on the course, I was pretty sure I could still get close to my race time from last year. So I threw everything to the wind, shifted and decided to run my legs out on the rest of the ride. I ran through transition, had a little trouble racking the bike, and ran out with my swim gear.

I had my swim cap and goggles on before I even crossed the last bike rack. The problem was running. My knee was not happy with me trucking across the hotel property. I did slow down but refused to stop until I hit the stairs to the beach. I walked down the stairs, ran the best as I could in the sand and hit the water. I had just started swimming when I ran into my first person. It felt like every time I started to find some type of rhythm I ran into someone. For as smooth as the water was, it seemed like a lot of people were struggling. I did not react well to this after the race and one of my team mates kindly reminded me that not everyone was as comfortable in the water as I was. She is right. So I would encourage everyone when they are panicked or trying to catch their breath, to keep kicking. No breaststroke. When you kick, you make bubbles, the bubbles tell the people behind you are there. Without them we run smack into the middle of your back. That doesn’t help you find your calm and it doesn’t help the swimmer behind you who, if they are anything like me, gets grumpy.

I thought I had finally found some rhythm when I rounded the second buoy but I was wrong. I ran into another person…thinking back I realized I ran into a lot of men. I’m sure they weren’t happy to be chicked. I just keep telling myself to keep moving. I swam until my fingertips hit the sand. When I finally got to my feet, I ran like hell. I tried not to focus on my knee and ended up chicking another two guys right at the end.

Finish chute

Before the chaos

In the end my time was exactly the same as the year before. My race results don’t show that I gained any speed on the bike but I know that I did, I passed too many people to not have gained some speed somewhere. And considering the fact that I walked a bit on the run, I’ll take it! Next up, some therapy – again. But then, TriRock!

Love these guys!

after naples

me and DLevy after

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