Fortunately, I had no real excuse. Everything was already packed the night before, as I do before every tri, and the location was literally 10 minutes from my house. So I went.
It was a beautiful day and the water was warm - 72 degrees at race start! I didn't need a wetsuit for temperature, but it adds buoyancy, so I wore it anyhow (I'll take all the help I can get on the swim!). Last year this race gave me my first podium finish, as I came in 3rd in my division. I've been swimming a lot more this year, and felt more confident on that leg of the race. As a cyclist, the bike never worries me. The run scared me some, as in my last race 2 weeks prior my ankle completely locked up on me. But I never depend on my run. The goal today was to show improvement in the swim and finish the race.
My wave, the Athena division (women of all ages over 165 lbs.), was the last wave of the morning to go out. We cheered all the other women on as they swam, and became acclimated to the nice water temperature. When it was finally our turn, I took a position that I thought was to the left side in the front (I like the edges to avoid getting kicked), but others quickly filed in around me. The horn blew, and we were off! I felt good in the water. My stroke was nice, and I was breathing well. I even caught up to people in the wave that started ahead of us (5 minutes between waves). That made me feel good, as I'm usually one of the last ones out of the water, and I never catch anyone!
As I came out of the lake, I stripped my wetsuit down to the waist and ran up to transition to prepare for the bike. Being slightly OCD, my transition area was laid out to provide maximum efficiency and speed in the switch, and I was out in a minute and a half. Now in my happy place, on my bike, I sped off. My goal on the bike is always to not be passed. This is such a short race, it's imperative for me hammer it out and not let up. As a cyclist by sport, I always strive to do well on this one leg of the race, and whatever else happens, happens. Today, I succeeded as I didn't get passed by even one person, and rather made up a good amount of time from the swim on the bike.
Going back into transition for the final run leg, I switched shoes, threw down my helmet, and started out. My ankle was already starting to complain, so I took a moment to stretch. A friend and fellow trainer who is big on barefoot training had given me some foot stretches to do, and I could hear her voice in my head "short foot, short foot" as I proceeded, so I did me some short foot! (Thanks, Kelly!) It was a slow and painful run, and my only goal was to make it back to the finish upright without crawling (It really is that bad......).
A friend of mine, Ainslie from Zoom Performance, was announcing and gave a shout out to "Jenni K" as I crossed the finishing line. The timing chip was removed from my ankle and I was handed a medal.
As the awards ceremony began, everyone gathered around to congratulate everyone. They got to my division, and called the third place finisher. At that point, I handed my friend's husband my phone. He said "What do you want me to do with this?" I responded "Take my picture when I'm up there on the podium - my time was faster than that."
They called second place, and my time was still faster. First place finished with the calling of my name! I couldn't believe it. My first 1st place finish!
I texted my husband that I had gotten 1st place by nearly 10 minutes. He was then mad that he had to work and missed it.
All in all, it was a good race. Out of all 100 racers for the distance, I finished 13th overall, and had the 4th fastest bike time. Swim and run were mid range. I was pleased with my improvement in the swim over last year.
I can't believe I didn't want to go to this race that morning. It was an awesome day, and I was proud of myself. Never give up, never stop moving. Progress, no matter how slow, is progress.