The Cranberry Trifest is this weekend. This is my milestone race. Like I mark my kids’ growth on the doorway on their birthdays each year, this where measure my progress as a triathlete.
Cranberry 2011 – My first-ever olympic distance sign-up.
I had a good running base from doing the Boston Marathon with Team in Training. We usually cycled a decent amount in the summer. I’d have access to a pool – I’d never swum further than a ½ mile and hadn’t done that in a decade, but I felt comfortable enough about the other two. The week before the race, I decided to rent a wetsuit. (I’d never been in one before) It was a very busy week at work, so I never got to try it out. My training was all about being able to complete each distance. Speed wasn’t a consideration, at all.
Hurricane Irene canceled the race –DNS. There was no triathlon for me in 2011, but I was hell bent on trying out the wetsuit.
Cranberry 2012 – Do-over. Same training approach: Run a lot, bike a lot, swim some.
I quickly broadcast my newbie status by racking my bike in the wrong place. And that’s when I fell in love with the triathlon scene. Two very supportive racers helped me find my (clearly marked) spot and answered all my newbie questions. They were amazing and I was so nervous. I thanked them both for being so nice. As they left for the swim, one of them turned to me, pointed to the other and said, “And just so you know, she’ll probably be on the podium today.” That moment still sticks with me. There she was helping me and treating me like a peer, the whole time.
The swim was fine. I survived being swum over by the men in the heat behind us. (I didn’t need to swim backstroke, at all.) Getting out of the wetsuit was hilarious. The bike was gorgeous. There wasn’t a picture from that day where I wasn’t smiling on my bike. I did lose all my nutrition from my pockets. The run not awful, the lead feeling in my legs was brief. My goal was to finish. I did. 2:57:58.
I was hooked. I was so fired up that I signed up for a Half Iron Man six weeks later. (That’s a different story)
Cranberry 2013 – My first “triathlon season”. I’d done 3 sprints and 1 oly that summer. I’d started swimming in April, and had joined a group of open water swimmers. I started cycling earlier, too. My nervousness was now just the pre-race anxiety that I’ve always had. I arrived and met the same two women from the previous year.
It felt like coming home. Everything went so much smoother than the previous year. I was comfortable in my wetsuit and in the water. The bike was still my weak spot, but the route is so pretty through Lakeville, that getting passed didn’t bother me. The run was hot again. I had hoped to feel stronger on the run, but held a good pace. My goal was to finish and improve my time over the previous year. I did. 2:43:03.
Cranberry 2014 – 2 days away. This will be my 3rd Olympic of the 2014 season. I haven’t raced since Lowell in July, but I’ve been working with a great coach this year and feel stronger than I ever have. My training has had lots of ups and downs around family situations, but it’s been steady. I’m excited for this weekend to see where I will measure on my door frame.