I woke up and shot out of bed at 4:23 this morning. Excited for the day, I sprang into action getting dressed and my bike loaded. Poor Hubs got home very late from his hockey game, yet he still woke up to head to the lake with me. Sweet man. He's much better than I deserve.
We thankfully made it out there before they closed the streets off. Unloaded our bikes and stood in line to get marked. Here I am with Lucy's bike. (thank you for the loan Lucy!)
The sun came up pretty quickly and things seemed to make more sense in the daylight. Bahama Mama had the bright idea to get in line for our chips before the line actually started. Smart woman as that line got long pretty quickly!
Of course, in the darkness and in my ignorance, I racked my bike incorrectly. Everyone around us was so helpful; I soon got it corrected. There were a lot of other first timers and the experienced athletes were full of advice. See how I finally got my stuff laid out just right? Here we are, two newbies. Ready for this thing to start already! Bahama Mama wanted to make sure I noted that I had to pee twice. I never have to pee before a race. All that hydrating I did yesterday! Maybe a little bit of it nerves too. Little bit.
I was assured that there would be all types of dress. WRONG! Nearly everyone had on a tri-suit. Bahama Mama and I were giddy when we spotted another swimsuit wearer. Here we are walking down the chute towards the start. We were in the Gold wave, 3rd to enter the lake. Notice who has on bright pink? Okay, so everyone wears dark colors. Um, hello, why would you wear something that is the color of the lake? I wanted to be easily spotted! Waiting. Again, I'm pretty easy to spot. As we walked out I could feel the sand between my toes and the rocks under my feet. The waves were stronger than usual I was told by some who frequent this lake. It was a windy day! They said the water was 87 (30) degrees but brr, it sure didn't feel that warm! We were ready to go and as soon as that airhorn went off, so were we!
I got out about 25 meters, pulling the same strokes that I've been practising. I was breathing just like I'd been taught and then...I began to panic. I couldn't breathe. Gasping for breath, I was taking in a lot of lake water. Which made my breathing that much more difficult and frightening. I looked around, I tried to calm down. The girl in front of my instructed me to swim on my back. Bahama Mama looked back, worried. It was all I could do to tread water. My heartrate was sky high. I was full on hyperventilating. Frantic, I kept turning around looking for someone, anyone to GET ME OUT OF THAT WATER. Waves were knocking me down and I was not getting any calmer. Finally, a kayak spotted me and came over. She instructed me to hold on but I was shaking so hard I could barely grab it. It seemed like forever until we reached shallow water.
Yes, sometimes I have anxiety attacks. They always seem to strike at the strangest moments. (Banana Republic at the mall, oh yes, perfectly normal place to have a break down) But let's just say that in the middle of the lake is probably one of the worst places to have a panic attack. Because unlike Banana Republic, there is no bench to sit on and calm your breathing. I'm the type of girl who always likes to be in control. I'm in control of everything I do at all times. And having a panic attack is the most out of control you can be and still be conscious. In my head I'm telling myself to slow my roll, get a grip, slow my breathing, reassuring myself that I'll be fine. But my head is also saying "OMG OMG OMG OMG!" and for a few moments, that side wins.
I hate it. I don't say hate much. But I hate it. I hate that overwhelming feeling, that feeling that I can't breathe, the fast heart rate that makes me feel like I'm going to have a heart attack. I hate it. And today was no exception.
I'm not a quitter, but I just wanted out of that water and FAST. When I finally made it to shore the nice man in the neon yellow shirt took one look at me, sensed how scared I was, grabbed me and told me to get a hold of myself. He made me put my hands over my head and really focus on my breathing. He asked me if I needed anything. Crying, (but still with my goggles on) I sobbed, "I j-j-just w-w-w-ant to find my h-h-h-h-h-husband!" He told me I could look for my husband once I calmed down a little bit. There were two other swimmers pulled out of my wave. One of them, a guy, asked if this was my first tri. I nodded. He told me not to feel bad, that this wasn't his first and he freaked out too.
I didn't feel better. Now I just felt badly for both of us. Dejected, I shakily plopped down on the shore and watched the other swimmers, feeling awful that I had left Bahama Mama. However, there wasn't one ounce of me that wanted back in that lake. When I thought that I could once again trust my legs, I went out in search of Hubs. I found him waiting for me to come out of the water on the other side. He was undoubtedly surprised to see me come up from behind in instead of out of the lake.
He held me and let me cry, let me shake. He told me he was proud of me for trying. That made me cry harder. I just wanted to go home, but of course the park was closed to traffic and oh yes, Bahama Mama was still out there tri-ing her heart out. I had to get over myself and cheer her on!
So that's how my first triathlon went. DNF. Over almost as soon as it began. I felt like I had let Hubs down, let Bahama Mama down, I felt like I let y'all down and mostly, I let myself down. I was so disappointed, yet I knew there was no way I would have been able to regain my composure in the water. I did the right thing for me at that moment by grabbing on to that kayak.
Bahama Mama, however, did an awesome job! I am SO proud of her!!! Coming off the bike she was worried that she was last. (she wasn't, not by a long shot)
Here she is crossing the finish line!
I knew a few others competing in this tri. Tim, a running buddy, is an avid triathlete and sometimes he even places in these things. He made sure to find me after the race, excited to hear about my adventure. I told him that I had a bad race. He replied, "Of course you did, it was your first one!" I was finally feeling better but of course I started to cry again when I relayed the story to him. Ugh. He thinks I should sign up for another one right away, but I don't know. I'm usually not one to let things like this beat me. I'll try, try again. Maybe not this time. I'm might be okay never getting in a lake again. Ever.
But I don't think it was the lake that freaked me out. Or the swim. Or the race at all really. This has been a very difficult week. Very. And those waves crashing down on me embodied all that I've been through. Just beating me down, pushing me under, taking my breath away. So symbolic, it could have been a book. Whew.
I headed to the gym this evening and busted out 800 meters, just to show myself that I could do it. That's twice as long as the race, albeit no waves. I managed all 800 meters without stopping once. Clearly, it wasn't an ability issue. Clearly.
So there you go. The race report that wasn't. Sound like a lot of y'all had some rough races this weekend too. Thanks for all the Twitter love this morning. Your encouraging tweets and your virtual hugs made things a little better. :o)