May 29, 2010

The looong version – Tri recap

Posted in Triathlons at 1:59 pm by Lisa

I was so excited and nervous leading up to it this past week. And yesterday was just nerve-wracking – I had no real idea what to expect and every time I checked the forecast, black flags everywhere with warnings about swimming in the Mediterranean. And I didn’t get my balloons (had a bright idea about tying a balloon to where my bike was parked in the transition area to enable me to more easily find it. Believe me, it would have been a great idea as I came out of the water not being able to see anything (but more on that later).

After an early night’s sleep (interrupted 3 times – thanks, neighbors for choosing last night to have a party!), I got up to meet Dana at her place to get to the race site by 5:30 and get our stuff set up.

The transition area was split up according to the various groups/ages (Sprint-750m swim, 20km bike, 5km run and Popular-500m swim, 8km bike, 2.5km run). I did the Sprint (even though I didn’t know how to swim when I signed up, I figured that if I could do 500, I could do 750, and the rest would be ok. My start time was 7:50 and Dana’s was 6:30 so I went down to the beach to cheer her on. The water was crazy! The organizers had to change the swim route about 3 times because the currents kept changing and once they did get in the water, it seemed like it took forever for the main group of swimmers to get past the breaking waves. In fact, there were 4-5 girls who ended up coming back to the shore, not being able to navigate the incoming waves. Well, that just had me shaking in my boots (or would have if I had been wearing any shoes). I went back to my bike and got my swim cap and goggles and made my way back down to the beach for my start. On the way, I ran into some people from Etgarim (a running group for visually impaired/disabled that I volunteer with – more on that in another post). It was obvious that I was really worried about my swim. After a few encouraging words, I made my way to the beach. On my run down, I heard Tamar and Amy calling my name – at the time, since I couldn’t see anything, I didn’t know for sure it was them, but it was great to “see” them and actually amazing that they caught me at all – so I guess there was a reason for me being such a slow poke. Because, of course, although arriving more than 2 hours before my start time, I still managed to get to the beach after they had began the instructions about where the route was and how we were supposed to swim out and back  to the buoy. Luckily I met Ohad who gave me some translation help as to where I was supposed to be. And then I pushed myself in to hear the English bit. None of it really mattered though because when you’re told “swim out to the red buoy”, if you can’t “see” the red buoy, it’s not at all helpful. And really, I couldn’t see it at all. Investment in prescription goggles is on the horizon!

After confirming with some girls that that distant dot was the goal, I worked my way to the back of the group. The only benefit of not being able to see was not getting freaked out by the waves, although truthfully, the sea had calmed down a lot since the first group went out.

10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and we’re off! I felt good and it took me a few minutes to get past the breaking waves and then I just started to swim. It was amazing! I felt really calm and even though a couple of waves lifted me up and threatened to break before I got to them, I handled it all really well. My strategy was just to keep at least one other person right in my sights to follow and it worked out well. I bumped into one girl I was following and stopped. She also stopped and then turned around. I apologized and then she apologized as well. Only in a women’s only triathlon! Soon the red buoy came into view (it was funny but the waves were fairly strong and sometimes I would lose sight of it, if I was on top of a wave and the buoy was being bounced around and was “below” me so to speak). Anyway, I finally went around and I think I may have heard the kayaking lifeguard call out 10 minutes – which seemed perfectly on-target to me. The way back may or may not have been shorter but again, because I couldn’t see where the shore was I was really disoriented. But soon enough I was able to stand up and with a HUGE smile on my face, started running to the shore. There may or may not be a picture of my goofy face while I’m running in. If there if, I’ll post it!

That beach run was tough and I was breathing hard and was pretty slow, although I did pass 2 girls on the way. Ohad was there to yell his encouragment (he was awesome – I saw him during every section of the race!).

We had to run along a concrete walkway to get to the transition area, again not seeing a thing. Finally find my bike (which would have been easier with a balloon tied to it!) and promptly got all confused in trying to get ready for the bike. Put my watch on, then tried to find my glasses (of course forgetting exactly where I put them), put my helmet on, and then realized that my shirt wouldn’t go over my helmet, so I had to take the helmet off. Only then I realized that I should have been at least standing on my towel to try and dry off my feet before having to get my shoes and socks on. And then of course putting them on standing (why didn’t I sit down for that? I still don’t know.) Ran out of the transition area without putting on any sunscreen, which had been the plan.

But in any event, I was finally on the bike, past the point where we had to walk with it and then the fun started. This was without a doubt the hardest (and most boring) part of the race for me. But I’m going to look at it as the place where undoubtedly I can make the most improvements. We had to go around a 3.9km loop 5 times. Luckily I had my watch telling me the distance (Love my Garmin!!) or I know I would have done an extra loop. I lose count on these things very fast – sad I know not to be able to keep track to “5” but what can you do.

I was lapped by just about everybody out there but it seemed like I was the only one on a mountain bike, instead of a road bike. Couldn’t believe how slow I was! According to Garmin, it took me 55.36 minutes to complete the bike section. (Thanks Pamela for the bike! Who knows how much slower I would be if I didn’t have it for the month to practice, or if I had to rent one of the organizers’ city bikes?) The 2 good things about being so slow is that 1) I know that there’s room for lots of improvement for the next race, timewise, and 2) I knew a lot of people who passed me so I had a chance to say hi to Katya, Orit and Galina. And I saw Dana as she was going into her run section. On my last lap, I was threatened to be caught by the girls race that had started – there was some extra motivation there!

Finally, finally, finished the bike section, after realizing that I hadn’t seen anybody over the age of 11 for half a loop already and that was sort of a downer but I just tried to keep positive and start strong on the run to try and catch some people on the 5k.

I ran for about 300m before seeing someone and it turned out to be Orit so we ran together for a bit but then she had to walk for awhile. I kept slogging away and hit that really awful hill yet again but just tried to think about going down it on my way back. There were a lot of running traffic coming down the hill but very few people going up (I was really slow on that bike!). There was a detour from the sidewalk we were on towards a sandy field, which was not fun at all to run on, but I was able to catch some more people. On the way back down that hill, I saw Sapirit who looked really strong on the bike (sorry I didn’t see you at the finish line!). In the end, Garmin had my time at 30:59 and if I didn’t have to stop to re-tie my shoelace (something else I messed up in the swim-to-bike transition) it would have been even less. Considering the terrain and the 1.5 hour of swim/bike before that, I’m really happy with that time.

Got to the finish line – Dana and her dad were hanging out on some steps waiting for me to get done. Had enough in me to finish with a sprint (yes, another person caught before the finish line!). Probably another goofy picture awaits me with my arms punching the air as they called out my name! But I felt great!

After crossing the line, everyone gets a medal and a rose. I wandered around some, seeing more people I knew. Hi Eyal – thanks for the encouragement! And yes, that was Tamar and Amy at the beginning of my swim! Caught up with them after they had just finished their relaxing breakfast!

I think I covered everything above – I might have another post in my talking about what I’ve learned or what I want to focus on in the future (learning to count or how to properly tie shoes might be some good lessons to learn). And I would be remiss if I didn’t give a huge thanks to Lior, my trainer, who (while might be a bit delusional wanting to be referred to as The Master in my blog – puh-leeze) is an awesome trainer and helped me with every step of this journey, from teaching me to swim properly and doing my first open water swims with me to advice on the bike and kicking my ass during our weekly runs. Thanks Lior!

All in all, a really amazing experience, I can’t wait to do the next one (probably sometime in Sept./Oct. up North.) There’s so much I can improve on so my upcoming blogs will be full of all this training crap. Thanks for reading and commenting and I hope you hang around for the rest of this journey!



  1. Pamela said,

    I am so proud of you! What an amazing thing you accomplished! I loved the play-by-play and your time really sounds terrific.
    Kol Hakavod! Sorry I couldn’t get up to see you.
    Keep on blogging!

    Congratulations again. You’re the best!

  2. Mom & Dad said,

    Congratulations!! Can’t wait to see the TRI-umphant pictures…

  3. Mom & Dad said,

    Way to go. You followed my recipe for success…finish but don’t be last.
    I can’t wait to see the pictures. Super achievement. You’re the “GIRL” girl.

  4. Raz said,

    You rule the school!

  5. Judy and Bill said,

    Absolutely amazing! You are truly courageous! I especially loved the part about not being able to see without your glasses. That happens to me so often.

    Can’t wait to see the pictures.

    Much love,

    Judy and Bill

  6. Patty Putermn said,

    Hi Lisa
    Great blog!!!! I really felt I was suffering along with you the whole way.
    We’re really proud of you. Kol Hakavod.
    I’m waiting to hear the next installment & we’ll be rooting for you in your next triathalon.
    Patty (& Micha)

  7. Hi Lisa
    Well done! We’re proud of you – what an amazing feat! Thanks also for writing the blog so that we could experience it with you.
    Good luck for the next one….
    Corinne, Ilan, Talya and Nadav

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