photo: goldendaleevents.com

A triathlon is an endurance event involving the completion of three continuous and sequential activities – most commonly swimming, cycling, and running.  Triathlons vary from the Sprint Triathlon, (up to half mile swim/~12 mile cycle/up to 3.1 mile run), to the Ironman Triathlon (2.4 miles swim/112 mile cycle/26.2 mile run). The first time I saw a triathlon – I thought “Why in the world would anyone want to try this?”  

Well, the hankering to try a tri hit me last year when the back to back to back…to back races in my asylum quest burned me out. With the exception of Les MillsPump,  ALL of my fitness time was spent pounding the pavement.  My body and exercise ADD started calling for variety, and tri ads kept popping up on online feeds.  A google search for a local sprint tri pointed me to Rocketchix. It was a 350m/12mile/2mile event with an indoor swim. (Yay indoor swim!)  Their site, information and training plan was very detailed and encouraging.  I’d also heard great things about the Rocketkidz foundation and the work they do with children, so in December 2012, I penciled the July tri on my 2013 race calendar… then I pretty much forgot about it.
I continued to run, completing 5 marathons (3 halfs and 2 fulls) and a few 5ks, but I did not start (or even read) the tri training plan. In May, at the Run for the Children 5k, I ran into a former work colleague and amazing runner Mary.
Mary did the Rocketchix Triathlon in 2012, and her smile, excitement and enthusiasm when she talked about it was catching. She called the Rocketchix experience like “Girls on the Run, but for grown women.”  OK, I was in…almost.  I knew I wanted to do it, but was unsure I actually could.  My swimming skills max out at treading water, a leisurely backstroke and abundant water play.  Additionally, I think the last time I rode a bike that moved and could topple over was ~2 decades ago.   So I tried to forget about it again, but I couldn’t.
When the summer started, I rejoined the Y, (pool), and for a bike – my husband went into his mancave shed and came out with a cobwebbed, old, but functional road bike. I call her Dusty. When time and the kid’s Momma Camp schedule allowed, I’d grab some solo time in the pool or add a ride to the start or end of a run. I adored it. Gliding thru cool water and the breeze that meets you during a swift bike ride was glorious. A much needed and enjoyed change from the slap-down of running in Louisiana hell-heat. I was in the moment, not following any plan, just enjoying the activity for what it gave. But Rocketchix kept coming to mind.
Finally, a few weeks before the race, Rocketchix social media was on full tilt.  Not to be ignored, I bit the bullet and emailed the race director for an expert opinion on whether I had any business being out on that course.   Juba responded right away.  He listened, asked questions about my skill level and concerns, pointed to resources – basically he took the time to encourage and inform me in my decision.  My supportive and inspiring Rocketchix experience started before I registered. Very special! After the talk, I decided to trust my level of fitness and give it a try. I signed up that day. 
Event highlights
photo: http://www.facebook.com/rocketchix
Friday, July 26th
Packet pickup was held at the Bicycle Shop.

These folks are amazing. Before the event, I took Dusty in for a maintenance check. They hooked him up and shared fantastic tips on everything from gear shifting and tire repair to chaffing and sore butt prevention.
After the pickup I drove to the site to get my bearings. There I met Cassie from New Orleans.
This woman is a firecracker. Relatively new to tri’s she is serious and already kicking butt (winning or placing in her age group for every tri she’s done thus far).  Cassie rapid fired information on what to expect and time saving tips. She also got one of the workers to let us into the pool facility and point us thru the layout/flow of the transition areas. What a blessing.

Saturday, July 27th
Thoughts on the way to the event.

Check in, tagging and setup flowed seamlessly.  Rocketchix has this down!  Kudos to organizers and many friendly volunteers.
“Inked up” and ready to go!
Before things got to crackin, I ran into my beautiful and brilliant niece Maude. I love her!
Also caught up with some running friends from BGR! Antoinette, Kristina, Shana, and Ernise and Pennie. Always to good to see and share with them!
Photo http://www.facebook.com/rocketchix
The swim had a staggered start with self-seeding. Not wanting to hinder anyone’s race, I lined up at the very back.  With 400+ racers in the tri, we had a long wait till our start.  Most in our group were nervous first timers. We talked, joked and encouraged each other.  The time flew by. In the pool I go.

The spectator area was fantastic. It was so cool to see my husband and kids cheering me on along side the pool on my first and last laps.   My swim ‘goal’: 20:00  (I’m pretty sure I was the only person who backstroked the whole thing. Yep! Gotta do what you gotta do!)  Finish time: 16:15

The transition from swim to bike went smooth (I guess). T1 time: 3:18  In picture below: The neat stack on left=not mine.  The jumble in the middle=mine…  

Now the ride.  FUN!  
Puff, puff, blow, blow, push, push, push!
Thanks to the earlier rain, the weather was comparatively mild.  In spite of the earlier rain, thankfully, the road was relatively dry (I was worried about skidding and toppling over). It was good. Everyone was very friendly, rooting each other on as we passed each other. True to form, my ding dang Garmin locked up so I had no distance or pace information. I thought I was on target but missed my expected time – no worries. This was my first time riding after a swim. My legs were talking!  My cycle ‘goal’: 54:00 My time: 57:56  
The transition from bike to run. T2 time: 2:07.  
Then the run.  My most familiar portion.  I had practiced a run after a ride (ok, only 3 times, but I did practice it!).  Those times my legs were stiff, and they loosened up quickly. This time, my legs were jelly. And it lasted for the first ½ mile. It was hilarious! Evidently, this is somewhat common – someone made a sign about it.  My run ‘goal’: 24:00  My time: 22:01

photo: www.facebookcom/rocketchix

And done! I’m a triathlete!
I danced at the finish line, got my drink, food and loot. Feeling full, I thanked God, in awe of what our bodies can do.  We are fearfully and wonderfully made!   This thought was capped off with the blessed opportunity to meet/witness two special triathletes.
Jamie (on right) and her friend Heather
I met Jamie at bike pickup after the race.  She is a three time cancer survivor.  Three time. After cancer, she fought thru further physical difficulties including hip replacement.  During rehabilitation, her therapists expressed their doubts that she would be able to be active again. Jamie said “Cancer didn’t beat me – this thing won’t either.”   Jamie runs marathons. Jamie completes triathlons.  Jamie shines.
Katie.  I did not have the opportunity to personally meet Katie, but I saw her during the swim and cycle portions of event. She shares her story in this video. 
Wow. Wow. Wow. 
I’m so glad I decided to try this tri.  From it I gained:
  1. A reminder of how important it is to challenge what others say or we believe about what is possible. 
  2. Trusting God, another chance to stop wishing and wondering – and instead step up and go after a goal.
  3. The blessed opportunity to share something special with, and be in the presence of truly amazing women.  

And I got some jewelry bling! (smile)  
Going forward, my routine will be running and weights, PLUS cycling, and a weekly swim. God willing.  I’ll see you next year Rocketchix!

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