Monday, April 28, 2008

St. Anthony's Triathlon in one word....WOW!

What a weekend! I went to the St. Anthony's Triathlon in St. Pete to cheer on some friends! All I can say is WOW! Amazing! I cannot wait until registration opens for 2009. Which by the way is Dec 1, 2008. I will be signed up as soon as it opens.

I drove down to St. Pete Beach with little Debbie on Friday night after work. Driving through town we saw bicycles everywhere. We made it to the hotel about 9:30pm. Unloaded the car and grabbed a bite to eat. Saturday was going to be a crazy busy day.

We woke up bright and early at 6:45am on Saturday morning as we needed to be in St Pete by 8:30 for the open water swim. Team in Training had set up the open water swim on part of the race swim course for their participants to get in a last minute training swim the day before the race. My friends told me I should come and get in the water with them. I had yet to do an ocean swim so I was very nervous as we drove up to the pier. My nerves certainly did not calm down as walked down to the water and saw the waves and mass of TNT swimmers. However I knew I had to face my fears and get into the water. After all my Ironman swim will be in the ocean in November.

Karen and Missey got into the water with me and we walked out and started to swim. Our plan was to get to the first buoy, turn around and come back. Karen was swimming in front of me and Missey was swimming to my side. Thank goodness, as I had no idea how to swim against the waves. I made it out to the first buoy with quite a bit of encouragement. Once there we treaded water for a couple of minutes as I had swallowed a bit of (OK... a lot of) the ocean on the way out. They asked if I was ready to turn back. I told them no I wanted to continue. Apparently salt water makes you crazy. So we swam out to the second buoy. This time common sense had returned and I agreed to swim back to the shore.

Once back on shore they were both congratulating me, I must have looked scared to death as Karen said ok now get a drink and we are going back in for a second swim. I agreed, again... salt water makes you crazy. I took a drink from our awesome support crew Debbie and headed back down the beach to the water. We sent Missey out on her swim as we knew she had to get some distance in. Karen had been swimming before we arrived so she was done with her distance and offered to swim with me. As we walked into the water, Karen hugged me and said, "I have two pieces of advice for you. 1. Become one with the water and 2. Push your head down, squeeze and lift your butt." We started to swim. This time, I did not fight the water and current. I actually enjoyed the swim. We only swam out to the first buoy and back but I really feel like I did much better the second time. When we exited the water I was ecstatic and bummed at the same time. Ecstatic because I had done a swim in the ocean and bummed because I was not going to do the event with them the next day.

We waited for Missey to exit the water not knowing she had to help another TNT participant who got a bit nervous on her swim and panicked in the water. After a few minutes Missey found us and told us what was going on, we left the beach, quick put on bike gear and headed out on a twenty minute ride. OOPS! We forgot the Meek and Mighty triathlon was going on so we kept getting re-routed.

After an easy 25 minutes on the bike, we returned to the beach to listen to Dave Scott, 6 time Ironman World Champion give last minute tips and answer questions from the TNT participants. That was so awesome. He is actually really funny and a great informational resource. I had my picture made with him and I will post it when I get a copy of it.

After the talk and after Missey and Debbie completed a 20 minute recovery run, we were off to the expo. Rick needed to pick up his packet and everyone needed to rack their bikes in bike transition. WOW! what an expo. I love the marathon race expos so I knew I would love the triathlon ones as well. I met Sister Madonna Buder and Scott Rigsby. I had my picture made with Sister Madonna. I will post that one as well when I get a copy of it. If you don't know who they are, Sister Madonna is the oldest women to ever complete the Ironman World Championship in Kona. She has also completed over 200 triathlons and as well as many marathons. She is an amazing inspiration. Scott Rigsby is the first double below the knee amputee to complete an Ironman. Like I stated two amazing people.

After a long day we headed back to the hotel to rest everyone was competing in the race the next day. We decided, thanks Debbie, to take a nice relaxing paddle boat ride around the hotel. That was a workout. I don't think any of us will be doing that again the night before a race. Thank goodness I did not have to race on Sunday my legs felt like led when we were done. LOL, just kidding Debbie but it really was harder than any of us thought.

We were supposed to meet Karen, her mom and some of her friends back in town for dinner but just as we got back to the room, another one of our friends called and said she was on her way to town. We called Karen and left her a message telling her we would miss dinner but see her in the morning at the race start. We also found out at this time there was no late checkout so we would have to check out of the room at 5:15 am on our way to the race but it turns out this was the best thing. More on that later.

Race morning! Another early day. The alarm went off at 4:30 am. Woo-Hoo I love mornings! I can tell you I was a bit bummed that I was not doing the race. I finished packing, called the valet and ordered all of the cars. I loaded up and headed down to put all of our gear into the cars. While I was waiting on the valet, I noticed a small group of TNT'ers that looked a bit nervous. On my second trip down, one of them walked up and said "Are you going to the race?" I said sure am what is up. She quickly told me they were from the NYC chapter and had decided to skip the bus transportation at 4am to the start in order to get an extra hour of sleep. They had reserved a car which had not shown up. She wanted to know if there was any way we could drive them over. There were 10 of them, thankfully we had four cars. I said load up and let's go. We crammed their gear in with ours, divided everyone into the cars and we were on our way.

We arrived at the race at 6am. Perfect timing. Missey, Rick and our band of TNT'ers jumped out and headed to race transition to do their final race prep. The rest of us took the cars and parked them just in time to see the U.S Army parachutists jump out of helicopters with the American Flag. The gun went off and the pro's hit the water. Missey and Rick met us at the cars and we walked down to the beach. What a site. There were about 4000 triathletes on the beach waiting for their wave to be called. Every five minutes a wave went off. We stayed on the beach until Karen's wave went off at 8:40 and then headed to the water exit. We missed Rick getting out of the water as his wave went off at 7:25 and he is a really fast swimmer. However we saw everyone else get out of the water and onto their bikes.

Our group divided up. Mike and Vi went over to the run course, Steve went to the bike in, Debbie was at the bike transition outside the fence but near Missey's rack. Kim and I were at the finish line which was also the run out. We played telephone tag and kept each other posted as to where everyone was on the course. Each of us taking pictures as our friends passed.

Here are their results! Holey Smoke they are AMAZING. Can I say that again? THEY ARE AMAZING! In alphabetical order:

Karen Cowden 3:06:43 - This was her first Olympic Distance Event!!
Melissa Daly 3:56:12 - A NEW PERSONAL RECORD by over 10 minutes!
Rick Stafford 3:09:18 - This was his first triathlon since the IMFL in Nov '07 and with no training.
Ron Hitzel 3:25:45 - Only his second triathlon ever and a Personal Record as well.

To say that I am in awe is an understatement!! There are no words to express how proud of each of them I am!

I also want to say congrats to the Central Florida Tri Team peeps who competed this weekend, Coach Sean from Team Hendryx, who had an amazing time. Bill, one of my ex-marathon trainees also with Central Florida Tri who had an amazing swim but a blowout at mile 11 on the bike course, Michelle, Karen's friend and all of the rest of the 3500+ finishers this year! I cannot wait to be part of the group next year.

And to that end, Missey reserved rooms for us at the Hilton near the race start for next year! This is definitely not a race I want to miss again.

Anyone want to try a tri?

Can't wait for my next race. I think I am crazy. LOL!


Missey - I read your blog and like I said yesterday, "Greatness takes time!" You are one awesome lady and don't you ever forget it.

Karen - I need more swimming lessons. One day I would like to grow up and swim like you!

Rick - What can I even say. You are an one heck of an athlete!

Kim, What is going to be your first race?

Debbie - You look amazing!

Steve - I have you in my thoughts! Good luck!

Mike and Vi - It was awesome being part of the "crew" again with you both. Glad I finally met Scooter.

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