Awhile back I wrote about the opportunity I was given to compete in the Iron Girl Triathlon at Lake Las Vegas. Well, on October 26th, after months of training and a few mild panic attacks, I became an Iron Girl!
This event was life changing for me. I didn’t realize it when I initially signed up that through the training and the event I would challenge myself daily, learn about my strengths, my perseverance and determination. That in so many ways, big and small, this triathlon would change me.
I started working with my trainer on workouts and adding in the swimming and biking while not losing my running, as I was still working on my goal of 13 half marathons (11 down!!). We increased my strength training, focused on core and upper body to help with the swimming and tackled this head on.
I was never really a swimmer. I could get by, but it was never something I was a fan of, or got excited about. Honestly, the first time I was hopping in the pool to try to do laps, I was terrified, anxious, unsure. But, I did it anyway. I didn’t hate it. My form is still horrible, but, this coming year, I will work on that.
Week by week I improved my swimming, biking and running. I went to the lake and did an open water swim to get a feel for that. I rode my bike more frequently. Physically, I was prepared. Mentally… that varied day to day. Honestly, everyone else’s confidence in me kept me from an all-out panic attack.
Then… race weekend arrived. My friend Karen and I were completing this together, so we shared a hotel room at the resort to make it all a bit easier on us. She picked me up that morning and we played a little tetris to get both our bikes in her car. With that done, we headed out to Lake Las Vegas.
Packet pick-up was super easy and we got some great stuff in our packets!! We then briefly hit the expo and picked up some goodies. All of the volunteers were helpful and cheery. Such positive energy helped ease the nerves a bit. Up next… getting the bikes racked! We checked in to our hotel, grabbed what we needed for the bike racking and headed out.
Our participant bracelets to get us into Athlete only areas
I loved that they had the bike racking set for Friday afternoon. One less thing to stress about, my bike was in its place and ready to go. The volunteers there were again very helpful. When we mentioned it was our first Tri, the lady in our lane gave us some pointers on bike racking, talked to us about ways to quickly find our bikes after the swim and gave us some great encouragement. After that, we went down to check out the water and swim start areas. This was helpful to get a lay of the land for the swim start, where the buoys were, and from there, the path to transition 1.
Karen racking her bike
me testing the COLD water the night before!
Before we knew it, it was race morning!! We were up early to get our transition items in place and try not to panic. I received a few sweet messages from friends as last minute encouragement, and a simple “You’ve Got This” from my trainer. I wrote those words on my arm for the event. We set up our transition points and got marked with our numbers. Then, we headed to the swim start area to wait for it all to begin. We met some great people there, many also doing their first Tri. Thankfully, we also ran in to a great friend of mine and her son who came to cheer us on!
Now… the event itself!!
The swim start was good, every 10 seconds, 5 new swimmers went into the water. The water that morning was 64 degrees. Quite chilly!! All the talk and discussion about the chaos of the swim doesn’t prepare you for it enough. So many people swimming, at different paces and with different strokes, you get kicked, hit, and sometimes swallow water. I honestly just focused on staying calm and swimming. It worked. I made it through the 500 meter swim with no breaks, and no panic attacks. Getting out of the water, I was initially surprised how tired my arms and legs felt, especially as I started the ¼ mile jog to the first transition area. My T1 time was a bit slower than I wanted, but I was struggling to catch my breath, calm down and feel my feet enough to put socks on.
When I initially started the bike (which started with a climb), I struggled to get started. I was rushing, panicked and couldn’t catch my breath. With all that I couldn’t get a good start on the bike. At that moment I stopped, walked my bike for a bit and pulled myself together. After that, I was good to go on the bike. It was a nice steady climb out of the resort area to the main road. It was a nice out and back loop and the officers regulating traffic were great and shouted words of encouragement as we rode by.
My T2 time was great, under 1:30. I chose to wear the same sneakers on the bike and for the run, which helped. I quickly racked my bike, took off my helmet, grabbed a swig of water and my race bib and was off. The run was my time to shine!!! This run started with about a 1 mile climb, but I held steady. In all my training I worked towards an 11:30 min pace, and on race day, had an 11:00 min pace. Running in to the finish, I felt strong.
All in all, this was an amazing event! The organization was great. The few snags they hit, they handled quickly and made sure they worked to ensure the safety and well-being of the participants. Every volunteer or Iron Girl representative I interacted with was friendly, encouraging and helpful. The courses were a challenge, but doable. The bling was great!
Without a doubt, I would recommend this event to anyone, especially those looking for their first triathlon experience. I will be back next year… and may challenge myself to move from the sprint distance to the Olympic distance!!!
Gift from my running best friend Charlene. To symbolize all the cupcakes we eat post race!
Some expo goodies I purchased!
A new runner girl charm and my TRI charm
Iron Girl and Athleta, thank you for a wonderful event and a life changing first triathlon!!!