Challenge Almere: My first half Triathlon
The weeks leading up to the event I obsessively go over all the little pains I feel. Are they serious, or just ‘healthy’ side-effects of hard work? The doubts get worse as race day approaches. Although I know there’s nothing I can change now and tell myself my training was sufficient, it still feels like it wasn’t enough. This makes the taper a strange time. I am very happy I get to sit on my ass for once and have some spare time on my hands. But at the same time it feels unnatural and leaves me feeling fat and restless.
If this struggle in my head wasn’t stressful enough, I manage to catch a weird cold a few days before the race. After an overdose of vitamins, painkillers and more stress, I still feel off on the morning of the race. After months trying to combine work, studies and training, race day has arrived and I can’t be more frustrated. On the train to Almere, I decide I will stop pouting and just enjoy it as much as possible and try to push through.
After some motivational music, a final check in the transition area, another nervous pee and a surprise hug from my mother at the start line, we are off!
Thanks to Swimfantastic I manage to remain calm in the warzone that is called ‘the swim’. It was only last October that I took my first course in Total Immersion and started practicing freestyle swimming. Swimfantastic’s Fantastic Friday gave me a good base, but also the open water training including navigating and being ‘drowned’ by other swimmers were an essential part of practice. I say essential, because someone grabbed my leg multiple times and someone decided to push me under…
While the dizziness of the swim faded, it was time for the transition. I wanted to do a ‘real’ flying mount out of T1, with the motto of #lookprogoslow. Since the mount line was right before a corner I ran with my bike until after the turn and hopped on – super smooth.
Out of T1 on the bike is always fun. But then the realization of ‘oh shit this is going to take a while’ hits me. Luckily my new (!) aerobars make this as comfortable as possible, thanks to Meesterknecht and Remco (Bike Physics ). While I ‘shoot’ other participants with my imaginary guns (aka Aerobars) I start stuffing my face with food. Even if you know me superficially, you are most likely aware I take food very seriously. As in, I eat a lot and I love eating. During the race food is also on my mind…
Today the menu has SIS gels and Clif bars with a side of Isotonic sport drink and water, locally grown at Sportvoedingtriahlon.nl. Well, at least that’s what I like to tell myself, because I will have to wait for the finish to get some real food in me. I have a plan for when to eat what, but I have to adjust here and there because some of it came back out during the ride…
My parents are cheering on the side line on multiple spots, which gives me extra pedaling power every time. After the final few kms I start taking off my shoes and get ready for my flying dismount. Great success and smoothly into T2! I get some support in the basement of T2 from teammate Marijcke who is volunteering.
The run is my strong discipline, so I go in with confidence. I can’t deny that it isn’t fun passing all those men (who are obviously faster on the bike). The first lap feels good, but it is warm and I start getting some stomach cramps. The next two laps I allow myself a little walking break through the aid stations, also to make sure I take in enough water. All along the course people are cheering and pulling me through those 21 kms, as well as complimenting me on my glasses. Then the final stretch is there and I take a final sprint and pass two people right before the finish!
5 hours, 25 minutes and 45 seconds. I was aiming for something under 6 hours as it was my first half triathlon, and considering my health in the days before I couldn’t be happier with that time. After the race I take another swim in ‘het weerwater’ to cool off and head over to Febo to reward myself with some fries and icecream.
Special thanks to Sportmassage 020 for keeping my muscles happy, Sportvoedingtriathlon.nl for keeping me well fed during training and the race, Trispiration for training schedules and last minute tips, Swimfantastic for keeping me afloat, Meesterknecht and Bike physics for all the help with my bike and my WOMENdurance teammates for the support.
But most of all, the friends and family that I have neglected the past few months when I was out training and didn’t have time to drink beers or hang out. The next few months are for you, and I will focus on getting my social life back on track 😉