St Anthony’s Triathlon

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It’s finally over. I say finally because training and peaking for this tri could not have been at a worse time in my life. In the height of wedding planning, moving from my apartment in Long Island City to “kind of” moving to DC while I “kind of” live at home in NJ commuting an hour and a half each way every day while I figure out where my home will actually be, taking over while my boss is on mat leave (thank goodness for workwives and counterparts to split the responsibility), and did i mention living at home? See also previous posts regarding anxiety and palpitations. 

So why train? Perhaps i should have just defered right? Wrong. When all else fails,  training is the one thing to bring respite in a life of imbalance and stress. If i couldn’t swim, cycle or run, I’d go even more insane. It grounds me. It’s my “me” time. It’s the one time each day i can shut off and shut out and just go without really thinking. 

So I say finally not because I’m happy it’s over. But because i’m happy i have one less thing on my to-do list for now. I knew i had trained adequately - there was no question of whether i should have trained more because I trained as best and as much as i could given the scenario. I checked off all the major requirements : a mile swim, a few bike-to-run training sessions, a mini simulated triathlon, and a 20 mile bike. At the very least i knew i could get through the race - all i had to do was get over the mental stress of the open water swim first. 

For inquiring minds, yes we swim in the ocean. No it’s not easy. It’s never easy. No matter how much you train, unless you live somewhere where you can open water swim train, no amount of simulated pool swimming compares. You can’t just “stand up” in the ocean. There are no sharks, sea life or even shells cutting you in the pool. There’s no line on the bottom of the ocean floor telling you that you’re going straight (hell, you’re lucky if you can see anything in the sea water). And in the pool there’s no weather pattern to spontaneously decide that the wind is going to change the current or temp so much so that your swim gets canceled, cut in half, or too warm for a wetsuit. Nothing can prepare you for this - nothing but managing your own expectations and trusting yourself and trusting your race. 

Thats why i love triathlon more than running. That’s why i don’t quit triathlon despite running becoming a stronger event for me. It’s the sheer challenge of wrapping your brain around your own brain - something that doesn’t quite exist in running. There are all these different layers to break apart and digest, and when you do, the triumph is unreal. 

Ok I’ll step off my triathlon soap box now. If anyone is interested in knowing more, or maybe thinking of training for one, I’m always here to answer questions! 

Onto the race recap:  

I arrived in Florida on Friday afternoon. I knew there was an open water swim late afternoon that i wanted to attend but needed to eat a proper lunch. By the time we got our luggage (thanks United Airlines for making us wait ever so long!) I had practically no time to get my calories in with time to digest before getting into the water (yes those warnings you were given as a child about waiting an hour after eating before you swim are true). I found an awesome spot called Mikey’s Cafe & Organics which not only has a plethora of healthy and delicious options but also caters to an array of special diet needs (paleo, vegan, GF), has kombucha on tap AND has beer and wine for the non-competitors who are following you around probably eye rolling at your quest to find some decent spinach and grilled chicken. 

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I made it to the open water swim which was coached by Leo Briceno who runs GOAT Fitness in St Pete’s. I was completely fine in this session - calm, calculated, graceful in my stroke - and without a wetsuit (just in case the race was too warm to race with one...). I also bumped into a former coach from Team In Training, Tami Luhby, who was there with her husband, competing in his first triathlon. So nice to see a friendly face! 

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My mom and Lindsey met me at the beach and after we trekked back to the hotel to meet Tae who had arrived earlier.

We were staying at the Hilton St Petersburg Bayfront  - I’ve stayed here each time I’ve raced in St Pete. It’s convenient. It’s quiet (unless there’s a soccer game going on in the stadium across the street), and it’s accomodating for triathletes. Refrigerators in the room that fit what you need; microwaves on request. Also this is so minor but they always have chilled water with slices of oranges in the lobby and i filled my (ON Running gift) Sigg bottle each time - so refreshing that I now infuse my water at home too! 

Dinner was at  Red Mesa Cantina , an adorable Mexican place with an outdoor garden and live music and really great margaritas (i had a sip of my mom’s...no tequila for me!) and Pacifico (one of my fave beers). In this moment I thought of deferring the race just to have a margarita.

But no, Day 1, complete. So far no panic attack, no deferral. Two more sleeps until race day.