The Oak Island Bridge to Bridge Triathlon
What. An unbelievable. Experience.
I set my alarm for 5 a.m.— I wanted plenty of time to get up, eat breakfast, get all my stuff together, and get down to the race so I could get body marked and find a good place to set up my transition area, but I didn’t realize my alarm was set for weekdays only, so, uh… I got up 45 minutes later than I was planning to. I wasn’t going to let that throw me off, though. I ate breakfast—peanut butter on toast with a sliced banana and a bottle of water (+ vitamins and 3 advil, hah)—and made sure I had all my stuff, which, luckily, I pretty much had all laid out already, and headed up the road to the race location (conveniently 1/2 a mile from our house).
There were so many people already there when I walked up, and I could feel the air buzzing with race excitement. I made my way into the already really, really full transition area and found a spot to rack my bike and set everything up how I needed it. Once that was all set, I got my timing chip and I got body marked and I ventured to the ocean to check out the swim boundaries. The water couldn’t have BEEN more perfect. There were very few waves, and past the breakers it was calm as could be. No major currents. Perfect swimming conditions.
After surveying the ocean, I walked back to transition and familiarized myself with the swim in, bike out, bike in, and run out areas. I checked my area one last time and headed to the ocean for warm ups.
Warming up was the first time I had ever swam in the ocean in a fitness swimming type manner. The warm up, I gotta say, was difficult. I wasn’t too concerned, but I could definitely feel the water working against me as I swam out and back in.
After that we had an athletes meeting to go over courses, rules and safety tips. I wasn’t nervous at all, honestly. (50-60% of the athletes were also first timers.) I was just excited. I was feeling really strong—I knew I could do it, at that point I was just ready to get into it.
I was in the first heat for the swim start. We started waist deep in the water, just past the breakers, and on the alarm sound, we started swimming. My group wasn’t too many people, so I didn’t have to worry about being kicked or fighting for space or anything like that—there was plenty of room to spread out.
Getting ready to start! Why on earth am I at the front of the pack?
I felt like the swim was so quick. I was in the water, then I was running down the walkway towards my bike. They had baby pools set up to rinse your feet off as you ran through which was really helpful. I got to my area, threw on my socks, shoes, shorts, shirt, and helmet, de-racked my bike and ran off.
Biking out—that’s my game face, I think.
The bike was great. I felt really good about it, and I made great time. My ride was faster than any training ride I had done. The ride was a one lap ride, a giant rectangle that took us over both bridges on the island. The bridges were the most challenging part because of the steep hill climb.
Biking back in—jello legs and trying to mentally prepare for the run.
I rode in from the bike and almost fell over dismounting. My legs felt like jello and before I had even re-racked my bike I was wondering how on earth I was supposed to make them work so I could run. Before I had time to formulate an answer, I drank some water and ran off.
I felt like I was running so incredibly slowly, but I think maybe it just FELT that way. I didn’t to that badly on the run. It was just so difficult. It took me a while to find my stride and get my heart rate to a steady I’m-running-so-deal-with-it pace. I did eventually, and once I did it wasn’t so bad. It was challenging mostly because I couldn’t have music. I don’t ever run without music—so I made my own. I sang my song—I’ll Run by The Cab—in my head to keep me going. It worked until I was able to find my pace, then autopilot finally took over. My back started hurting around the last mile, and I swear the finish line was never going to appear.
But it did. And hearing him announce my name as I crossed was the most wonderful feeling in the entire world. I. Did. It. My parents were waiting right there at the finish line, and it just felt so good.
Sprinting through the finish line!
Here are my official race times:
1/3 Mile Swim: 12:52.
18 Mile Bike: 1:06:24 (16.3 mph).
4 Mile Run: 48:04 (12:01 mile).
Total time: 2:11:38.
Just after crossing the finish line.
A much more accurate depiction of how I felt.
Me and my mom.
Me and my dad.
I placed third in my age division, which I was not expecting at ALL. I was just sitting in the grass, watching the awards be presented, and they get to my age division and start announcing the third place female. He announced the time first and just as I was saying to myself, “Wait… that was my time…” he called my name and I was up getting my picture taken with the mayor. The girl who got second only beat me by 10.3 seconds.
I’ve always said that I wanted to do a triathlon. I honestly never thought I’d really go through with it… In all honesty I never thought I would be fit enough to actually be physically able to do something like that. But when I found this opportunity 8 weeks ago, I figured it was now or never.
If you want to do something… do it. Don’t wait around. Get out there and make it happen. I didn’t have a fancy training coach or a personally designed training program—just a lot of passion and dedication. I simply Googled around and I found a workout schedule and I followed it. I did nothing but work hard.
You can do absolutely anything you put your mind to. Don’t let other people intimidate you. Don’t let your own thoughts get in your way.
Hard work pays off, I promise.