Race Recap: North East Olympic Triathlon

Posted on August 13, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized |

It happened! I completed an Olympic triathlon! Woo!! I’m not going to say it was a picnic because it was not. It was a TOUGH race and honestly, it was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be. I knew I was in for a challenge but man that race was a beast. I am so glad to have completed it. I never stopped at any point and I felt so great when I crossed that finish line.

I drove up to the race on Saturday afternoon. I met up with my two friends at the race site around 2:30pm. We got our race packets and checked out the water and the set up. My first thought was how far away that Olympic buoy looked. The water was also pretty choppy but there were a ton of boats out and about and kind of had the feeling they wouldn’t be there early the next morning 🙂

We then went 7 miles south to check into to our hotel. It was a Ramada and was perfect for just one night and even had a mini fridge with a freezer which was helpful to us (frozen water bottles – yes please!). And then we drove back up north to Delaware. One of the friend’s I was with had attended University of Delaware so we thought it would be fun to grab dinner there and putz around a bit. We ate dinner at 5pm – hello, early bird special! We went to a place called Klondike Kate’s which was perfect for some pre-race fuel. I had the turkey club with sweet potato fries. Yum!

After dinner there was A LOT of time to kill so we decided to catch a movie and ran to make the next showing which was The Campaign. It was funny but just OK. I probably wouldn’t have chosen to see it if we had had more time to make our decision. It filled up a few hours of our night though. We headed back to the hotel to get our gear ready and get some rest. We were in bed by 9:15pm! I did some reading (Gone Girl is SO good) and eventually called it a night.

Our gear was laid out, we had frozen some water bottles and our alarms were set. We were ready!

After a restless night of sleep it was 5:10am and time to rise and shine and face the day. We gathered up our gear, changed into our spandex (I am now friends with Body Glide) and headed out to our cars to make the 7 mile drive to the race site. I had no trouble popping my tire back on my bike and after making sure we had air in our tires, we made our way to the race site. It was bustling with people and I could feel my energy level start to rise. We checked in, got our race chips, got our bodies marked and headed into the transition area.

My bib number was set up right next to the bike in/out which was nice. I set up my bike and started to lay out my gear. The official from the U.S. Triathlon Association came by to make sure we were all set up correctly and she noticed I was missing a plug at the end of one of my handlebars (something I seemed to miss the past a billion rides). I had to grab some tape and fix it up quickly and luckily it all worked out. I felt good about all my gear laid out, used the restroom, ate a granola bar and was just anxious to get going!

Unfortunately, I was in the last wave of swimmers to go. First the sprint men got it, then the sprint women, then the Olympic men and finally us, the Olympic women. The in-water start was definitely making me nervous but when it actually came time to jump in the water and get going, I felt really calm. We had a small wave of women and everyone was very friendly and encouraging. We cracked a lot of jokes about kicking one another and then suddenly we were off.

The water was a mucky brown color so you couldn’t see your hand in front of you. I started off doing three strokes – stroke, breath, stroke, breath, stroke, breath – before I would look forward to see if I was still going in the right direction. It worked well. I got into a good groove quickly. I only ran into people briefly in the beginning when we were finding our way and tried my best to stay in line with the buoys. It was definitely a long swim but I felt strong throughout it and a couple of times I looked up and noticed people doing backstroke or just kind of floating and I never felt like I had to take a break. I kept with my freestyle the entire time and I sprinted in to the shore after we turned the last buoy.

As I emerged out of the water I was surprised at how tired I was and did my best to catch my breath as I ran to the transition area. I quickly threw on my socks, bike shoes, gloves, Garmin, sunglasses and helmet and grabbed my bike and was off. I took a quick sip of water and downed some Honeystingers while clipping in. My left pedal didn’t clip right away but it was smooth sailing and no crashing 🙂

The bike course was tough. Really tough. It was 23.2 miles and it was all hills. And not fluffy roll about hills but hard, climb your butt off hills. I really felt like there was a hill every single mile. There were very few moments of relaxed riding and I felt like I was constantly trying to talk myself into making it up the next hill and then quickly catching my breath again. I focused on looking right in front of my tire so I didn’t seen the incline ahead and instead just worked until I got up it. I also played a bit of cat and mouse with one rider and we commiserated together. It was nice to have someone around for a majority of the ride. I tried to focus on eating Honeystingers and drinking water to keep my energy level up and to prepare myself for the run. I also had my Garmin giving me the mileage of the bike and once I reached the halfway point, I was just counting down the minutes until it was over.

The last 4 miles were tough and I just kept thinking, there is no way there is another hill around this next bend and yet there was. There was always another hill. I already don’t feel like a strong rider and this just kind of added to my misery on the bike but I pushed through, dug deep and made it up every one of those hills and finished out the bike ride feeling like I had literally just climbed a mountain.

My second transition was also quick (even though I take the time to sit down when changing shoes). I had my sneakers on, reset my Garmin, grabbed my hat and water bottle and was off. I kept thinking how I only had 6.2 miles standing in my way until I crossed the finish line.

Well those 6.2 miles were not going to let me finish easily. I saw my first friend about 1.5 miles into the run and he was cruising to the finish totally kicking butt. It gave me some hope and I kept reminding myself that I was almost done. The run was an out and back course that was on the side of highway with no where to hide from the sun. And there were 4 hills to run over. The worst hill was the climb to the 3 mile mark. I saw my other friend as she was coming down the hill and I was starting the ascent. She told me it was tough but so much better coming down. She wasn’t kidding. At times I definitely felt like stopping to walk because it felt like my legs were barely moving but I just kept going. I never really found my “running legs” and felt pretty scrunched up the entire race.

Making it to that 3 mile marker was a great feeling as I knew I just had to make my way back but then of course I still had three hills to go over again. At every water stop I drank water and poured some over my head and neck to cool down a bit. I drank my entire water bottle and downed almost every Honeystinger. With 2 miles to go the two women in front of me were walking and I turned back to see the woman behind me walking. They all looked so peaceful walking…but I refused to walk. I knew I had enough energy to keep moving until the finish line.

The last .70 of the race was downhill and I picked up my speed as much as I could and just kept moving. I saw the two women in front of me make the turn off the highway and toward the finish line and that gave me hope that I was so close. I made the final turn and tried to turn it on as much as I could and saw my two friends cheering for me as I went over the finish line. Oh man, it was a great feeling! All I could think about was the idea of drinking ice cold water while just standing still in the shade and that’s exactly what I did. It felt so good.

We grabbed our bikes and gear and made our way to our cars where we did some quick deck changes (man, it was so good to get out of my Zoot onesie) and then we hit the road. I couldn’t wait to get home and get into a nice shower. I ended the weekend with a celebratory lunch with a friend a long nap and snippets of the Olympic Closing Ceremonies (woo Spice Girls!).

I am sore today. Like extremely, insanely sore. I am really sore in my neck and shoulders and I know it’s from tensing up on the bike as I climbed each hill. I’m sure tomorrow will feel even worse! My overall time isn’t that amazing but it was also my first Olympic triathlon and I feel so amazing about finishing and I know if I were to ever do one again that I would be able to make my time better. I think I might stick with sprints from now on though…

Washington, DC
Finish Time: 3:42:04
Overall Placement: 158 / 163
Division: F25-29
Bib Number: 308
Points Earned: 1

Split Detail
Split Distance Time Rank
Swim 1500 Meters 0:35:00 74
T1 0:02:14 123
Bike 23.2 Miles 1:39:04 148
T2 0:01:47 118
Run 6.2 Miles 1:23:57 159


P.S. Salad a Day Challenge update and post-triathlon workout plan to come soon!

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4 Responses to “Race Recap: North East Olympic Triathlon”

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Way to go, Steph! So inspirational 🙂

You’re a ROCK STAR!! Congratulations!

Congratuations Steph!!! This is an amazing accomplishment.

[…] August 2012: Race Recap: North East Olympic Triathlon […]

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    Two friends living and working in Washington, D.C. writing about life, food, fashion, design and living an active lifestyle…so, basically everything!


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