I want to just start off as saying that I was crazy yesterday to even consider not doing this race because of crap that had nothing to do with me. This race meant so much to me since it was the last triathlon in Germany that I would have been competing in before the big move to the states (which happened to be the next day– yesterday).
After waking up at 5am, 6am, 7am, and lastly 8am, I finally decided to pull myself out of bed. I felt tired and dehydrated. After grabbing a couple pieces of toast (GF of course!) w/ pb and jelly and a huge glass of water, I realized that I had no clif bloks or sunscreen, and that they were probably on a ship in the middle of the ocean with the rest of our belongings. Great. Just then, my friend, Katie, called to ask what time Steve and I were going to show up to the race. Perfect timing. She was bringing everything I needed! Thanks, Katie!!
We were out the door by 9:40am. I might also want to let you all know if you are reading this from the states, European races start at really odd times. I once had a half marathon at 6pm. I’m not kidding. This triathlon on Sunday started at 11am. The website had no mention of when the English briefing was, and I remembered from last year that we were all standing around forever before the race started.
We ended up getting there by 10:10 am, and the race director, the owner of a bike shop that my friends and I like using the potty at during long rides, came up to me and told me I was late in English. He was just giving me a hard time. Surprisingly, I wasn’t that nervous. I did this triathlon last year (the short course), and although they changed the bike route from the year before, I wasn’t worried.You should have seen me last year. I was scared, shaking, and thought I was going to puke. Katie was there with me last year too. It was my first triathlon. I’m telling you, this race felt A LOT different from last year! Here Katie and I were last year. She was encouraging me back then too. Goodness, looking back at my photos from last year makes me think I’ve lost about 5 pounds from last year. Hmmm. I think that I have leaned up, and I’m eating so much better since I listen to my body more!
Back to this year! I was famiiar with the new bike course. All was good. If you can ride at least part of the bike course of a triathlon, I definitely think it is worth it. No surprises, well, as far as the course goes. ;)Time to set up the transition area…Katie and I were actually right next to each other since we signed up together. I definitely think that helped calm the fears just a bit too.
Haha. I think it is really funny that the guy in the red and white shirt is staring at my butt, and my husband was the photographer that day.
SWIM: 1200 meters (23:55)
Once we were snuggly in our wetsuits, we waited for our wave to be called. We slowly eased our way into the water, and chatted away. I made one last attempt to get all the pee out (graphic, but you triathletes know what I’m talking about!), and all of the sudden we were in the middle of the countdown! Funf! Vier! Drei! Zwei! Eins! A bunch of horns went off with clapping…
I plunged my head in, and started swimming. My first goal was to not get kicked in the chest or eye like last year. I didn’t mind if I was somewhere near the back. Swimming is my least favorite of the three sports, and I’m not that aggressive in the water.
Suddenly,I felt someone grab my leg and yank me under in the mass chaos start. I pulled my way back up to the surface gasping for air. I was only under there for a few seconds, but I was freaking out, of course! Then, I heard Katie’s voice, “Sorry, Nicole!” I yelled back, “It’s okay!”. I swear if anyone else would have done that, I would have tried to kick them in the face, but since Katie did it, and I knew it was an accident, it was okay.
Can you find me? I’m facing the camera gasping for air…
There were two loops in the lake, and to tell you the truth, I didn’t enjoy the first loop at all! It is always the most nerve-wracking for me like stated above. And… lacking the ability to swim straight = running into the lines/ropes marking the course. That was fun getting tangled up in those (can you sense the sarcasm?). I couldn’t get my breathing under control at all. It was frustrating.
By the second lap, I had convinced myself to stop freaking out and that this was the last time I would have to swim in this lake. I also kept telling myself: Just swim. You like swimming, remember? Of course you like swimming in a pool and not open water, but just ignore that little fact. And you know what? It worked. Granted, I wasn’t the first out of the water, but at least I didn’t have a nervous breakdown in the water. That is always a plus, right? Needless to say, the second loop came a lot faster than the first, and before I knew it, I was running out of the water!
I would like to add here that wetsuits are NOT flattering. At least on me, they aren’t! I’ve never seen that bulge before in my life!
I passed Steve on the way out, and he yelled, “Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast.” My husband knows me. He knows that I’m always running late, trying to hurry, and messing things up. Yes, I’m 5.So, what did I do? I took the first transition extremely slow. I just wanted to have a good time during the transitions, not hurry so much that I would actually forget something, then give my all for the actual bike and run portions. Well, it turns out that there is such thing as being too “smooth.” My first transition time was around 8 minutes. Yikes, I had no idea I was being that slow. I guess I shouldn’t have tried to talk to people while they were transitioning too? Heh.
Bike: 27 miles (1:50)
The race directors had decided to shorten the course again for race day. It ended up being 27 miles instead of 32 like I had expected. It took me 10 minutes of being on the bike to get my heart race and breathing under control. For some reason, I just couldn’t get enough air. It could have been the immediate hill (a.k.a. mountain) that I had to climb immediately after getting on the bike, I don’t know. Once I calmed myself down a little, I laid the hammer down, and I only passed a handful of people. I did, however, get passed A LOT! Have I mentioned that there were only 5 women doing this course? I forgot about this during the bike and started to feel a little wimpy. Then, I would just remind myself that I was giving my all, and that was simply all I could do. As you can see, it was just a tad hilly…
The spectators were amazing for the bike portion. Every single time a German cheering squad would cheer for me or drunk Germans out having a picnic would start singing some Irish song when I passed, I would start crying. I just couldn’t believe this was my last race in Germany. I was enjoying every bit of it. I was happy crying because I was so thankful for my life at that moment. Trust me, I know how lucky I am. I even had to yell at myself at one point, “Nicole, come on! Get your shit together! Save your crying for the end!”
Steve kept saying that every single time I would run through transition, that I had a goofy smile on my face. I guess this is it. I was ecstatic to be out there!
Run: 8.5 miles (1:24)
I had 5 laps to go. It was an exciting run course, but not that exciting that you would want to do it more than 2 times, let alone 5 times. I was breathing really hard, yet again, at the beginning of the new sport. I could not get my legs to work. They were stiff, and every step was oozing in pain. My big toenails hurt so bad, and I had no idea why since I clipped them a few days earlier. I can’t even describe it, it was so uncomfortable.
My original goal was to stick to my marathon pace of around 8:30-8:40 min/miles, but the fastest my legs would go was an average of 9:55 min/mile. I guess that is what I get for hardly running for the past couple of months. Traveling was my number one priority, and I don’t regret taking some time off from training for some last minute traveling in Germany, Italy, Greece, and Croatia before we moved back to the states.
I was in so much pain running especially with the hills, I just wanted to walk. After the 3rd lap, I just kept telling myself to just make it to the last lap. Everything will be better until the last lap. I can run the last lap for sure.
I had just gotten done with 4 laps at this point in the pics below, and I was gesturing one more lap of torture!
Done!! Goofy smile still intact with a time of 3:39. I’m not happy with the run or swim time in particular, but that is what the next race is for!
After handing in all of my bracelets and timing apparatus, I hugged Steve and started crying uncontrollably. Steve knew that this was normal, but I was extra sentimental since I was jumping on a plane the next day to move back to the states. I enjoyed every part of this race, even the pain. This was a great race to do for my first race (last year), and the second time around for the longer distance. The whole village comes out to cheer people on and pass out water. Everyone was so encouraging.
I do have some thanks in order:
To my EXTREMELY supportive husband: Thank you for pulling me together to do this race. I love you. Thank you for always being my number one supporter! And thank you for being my sherpa and the paparazzi that day.
To my friends and training partners: Thanks for dragging me along on those hilly bike rides, runs, and swims. My bike time this year surprised the crap out of me since I was a lot faster than last year. Katie, thanks for lending me the much needed little items the morning of the race and always believing in me and my abilities. Leah, without your bike, I would have been screwed! Thanks so much!!!
Germans: Thank you for your sense of humor or sometimes lack of humor (which actually makes things even funnier). Your rules are really funny like requiring a t-shirt for men who were competing in the run, but allowing complete nudity in the transition area. I will miss random people peeing out in public and bare breasts, butts, and other random body parts!
Afterwards, we all went over to Katie’s house for a shindig. Steve made the best Mojitos ever from scratch, and I proceeded to enjoy my last night after 2 1/2 years in Germany. The picture taking frequency started to fade as the amount of Mojitos consumed increased. Sorry!!
It was a great day, and I couldn’t ask for a better day for my last day in Germany! Tschuss!