Thank you Olympics for being so distracting while I tried to write this post. It’s hard to tear your eyes off of Michael Phelps, Katie Ledecky and the #FinalFive when they’re just being so awesome!
How is it that a year has flown by and a second Iron Girl completed? Sunday’s race was a very different race for me than my race from 2015. More often than not, things aren’t quite as exciting the second time around but this is something I was anticipating. I went into the race weekend disappointed that the swim was cancelled and I talked about my feelings in Monday’s post, but even more disappointed as my body spent the weekend rebelling against me.
The thing that pushed me through the race and kept me going, was finishing my first race that I got to do with my sister! Things aligned perfectly because it was actually National Sisters Day on Sunday! I think she’s happy I pushed her to do it with me especially since she said she’d probably do it again next year! (WINNING!)
My back was really struggling after coming back from Michigan the weekend before. It was a struggle to get comfortable on Saturday night as I was lying in bed, unable to sleep from the pain. I was struggling mentally knowing that I had the endurance for the race but feeling unsure whether or not to do it because I was afraid of seriously hurting myself. I barely slept that night and I woke up feeling nauseated from the pain and struggled to eat any food. What I was able to get down was basically force fed because I knew I couldn’t race on an empty stomach.
We arrived at the park about 5:50 am on Sunday morning feeling excited, nauseous and a bit anxious. I got to my bike and immediately noticed there was an extra bike on the already overcrowded rack. I was supposed to be the last bike but I guess someone else had come along and racked in the wrong place. I talked to a ref and after an announcement was made, someone eventually came and moved to where it was supposed to be all along. Without a swim, I only had my helmet and sunglasses for the bike and my bib and visor for the run so transition was a quick set up. I did have a mini panic attack when I saw Hanna putting her chip on and I hadn’t seen mine yet. I ran back my stuff and quickly found it to put it on. Crisis averted.
We went to the start line for the beginning of the race and the waiting began. To replace the missing swim, they added a quarter mile run up the hill towards transition. We were supposed to go by 7:49 but didn’t go out until 8:01 and I think the first finisher crossed the line less than 15 minutes after we took off. I was still feeling really nauseous before starting but I forced down some electrolytes about 30 minutes before and a few gels 15 minute before going out so I didn’t crash too soon. We passed the time by being cute and taking photos.
Triathlon #2 is in the books!
Well… sort of.
You know, I’ve been talking about my swimming training a lot lately. Swimming is the discipline I’ve put the most work into over the last year since I last did the triathlon. I enjoy swimming the most because I’ve always been a fish and loved being in the water. I struggled some on the swim last year but I was ready to smash my swim time this year!
Well, Friday morning I was checking Facebook and I saw this:
No longer a triathlon, now a duathlon. Just like that. I suppose the water quality was too poor to be swam in safely as well as there being an issue with releasing water from the dam following the freak flash flood that occured in Ellicott City last weekend. Since the swim was cancelled, there a quick (uphill) quarter mile run added in place.
My initial reaction was a sinking feeling and utter disbelief. I’ve been struggling with so much pain, especially over the last week and so the swim was my only real chance to make a great improvement on my time from last year.
This could also be called, “How to afford a triathlon when you’re in your 20s, just out of college, and weighed down by thousands of dollars in student loans.”
Triathlons are expensive and I’m not only talking about the race fees. There’s a lot of stuff you need just to be able to race.
If you know anything about triathlons, you probably know that the largest age groups tend to be the people in their 30s and 40s. From USAT: the “Majority of USA Triathlon members are ages 40-49; this sector of membership is continually more than 30 percent of the overall membership base.”
I think that a part of the reason that it’s so big for those in their 30s and 40s is because of the money! Triathlons are NOT cheap! These settled-in-life adults start doing triathlons when they’re more financially stable and not just starting out on their own.
I did my first triathlon last year and I spent a good amount of money to gear up for the race but my set up was minimal in comparison to most other bloggers and people I know. I don’t have a bike, a bike trainer, and I don’t have money for gym memberships or personal coaching.
This year isn’t going to be any different for me because I still don’t have money to invest in more/better equipment. My sister is also doing the triathlon with me for her first time but she’s a poor college student and she’s not even sure if she’ll do another tri (Hopefully she will!).
You will probably have to fork over a good amount just to sign up for the race so I’ve created list that will hopefully help other beginners that are just getting started to help save some money.
Here are my absolute bare minimum basics that you need to do a triathlon with a few add-on ideas to spend a little more on if desired.
I don’t know how some people are able to find the energy to go running after a long day at work. It’s a mental battle just to get out the door when I’m tired and my body feels sluggish. On Tuesday, I texted my sister and told her she had to bug me until I’d gone for a run. She did a great job of being obnoxious and eventually I went just before sunset.
Usually, my general routine for running is to warm up for around 5 minutes, walk/run for 20 or so minutes and cool down for a few. This will get me to around 2 miles or a little more. I really need to start getting more distance in but I know I can’t run a few miles straight up. So my aim for the day was to walk 1 full mile, then run with a strong effort til I hit my threshold, and hit around three miles.
I finished with 2.97 miles + at least another .3 because I my watch took a while to connect to GPS and I stopped it as soon as I finished running.
My Running Splits:
- 1.03 mi @ 16:34 min/mi
- .52 mi @ 10:40 min/mi
- .24 mi @ 16:03 min/mi
- .42 mi @ 11:06 min/mi
- .11 mi @ 17:43 min/mi
- .63 mi @ 11:36 min/mi
Overall Distance – 2.97 mi
Overall Time – 41:06 min
Overall Average Pace – 13:50 min/mi
Running Distance – 1.57 miles
Running Average – 11:12 min/mi
I stopped for a minute during the run to quickly snap this picture. I loooove sunsets and it’s usually my favorite time of day to run because I get to enjoy more than if I was inside doing something else. I came back exhausted with wobbly legs especially after the large hill I had to walk up at the very end to get to the house. It was also very humid outside so I felt like I was swimming in sweat. I tried the NUUN tablets that I’d bought last week for the first time. I don’t think it’s supposed to make you feel different but it’s to help restore electrolyte balance. Whatever the case, it has barely any calories, no sugar and makes my water taste better. So win-win.
I read many recaps and stories of others’ Iron Girl experiences before I did it myself last year but I figured that my sister wasn’t going to do that. So, my awesome plan was to get her to volunteer so that she could get a sense of the environment before race day on August 7th. The Columbia Tri is in the same location and put on by the same organization as the Iron Girl Columbia.
I thought it was probably best if we only signed up for body marking, because that would get her familiar with the first part of the day and then leave us to cheer on for a while before going home to nap. She seemed willing to come along until she found out that we had to be there at 4:30 AM but with a promise of a Tutti Frutti reward later in the day, she signed up to volunteer with me.
Sunday morning wake up call was at an exhausting 3:45 AM. I had to leave the house just after 4 to pick her up and be parked by 4:40. Once we had gotten our shirts and markers, we had a quick intro with the group leader and then waited around until transition opened at 5.
Sunday was a beautiful spring day. Probably the most perfect day you could ask for when going out for a ride. The trees were a bright green from the budding new leaves, it was in the low-mid 60s, and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. I’ve been researching trails and parks within the Baltimore-Washington corridor for going on Sunday rides and the BWI trail loop stood out to me as one worth trying. It’s a good distance at 10.5-11 miles and I didn’t even know this trail existed until a few weeks ago.
Parking for the BWI trail
Getting there was slightly more complicated because I initially thought that 176 intersected with 195 but I didn’t realize until a little too late so we ended up driving around almost the entire airport before finding the parking lot we were aiming for. We arrived around 12:30 pm and the parking lot was crowded. All the spots were filled and there were at least a 1/2 dozen cars waiting for spots to open up. We 3-point turned out of there and went in search of another place to park.
We drove a less than half a mile down the road towards I-97 before noticing a dirt-patch parking area. This wasn’t a place listed on the websites I had read about but there were no signs prohibiting parking anywhere around the parking lot. It was obvious that at least 2-3 other cars had done the same thing because they had bike racks hanging off the back of the car. Another 1-2 cars were there from people parking to fish in the pond adjacent. So it turned out to be the most convenient alternative parking for the BWI Trail Loop.
Yellow arrow points to the recommended parking at Thomas A. Dixon Observation Area. Pink arrow points to the dirt lot where we parked.
Directions and Views of BWI
We started our ride following the trail in the clockwise direction. I was expecting the loop to be more attached and in view of the airport and I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t really at all. You have a few great spots to observe airport goings-on but the rest of the trail is along other roads and through some wooded areas.