Beach Blast Triathlon Recap

This morning I raced my first Olympic distance triathlon – the Beach Blast Triathlon in Port St. Joe, FL, right on the Gulf of Mexico. I was up about 4:45 and had a slice of leftover veggie pizza from last night’s dinner and got ready to head out at 5:20. I said goodbye to Ryan and Thomas (Robert was still sleeping) and headed down with my bike and gear bag. I was riding to the race area with my friends O and M. (I also rode down here from Fort Rucker with them, and the guys joined us later in the evening so Robert didn’t have to miss school.) O was racing his first-ever triathlon and was also doing the Olympic distance.

We got to the race site, about 2 1/2 miles from our hotel and got a great spot in transition. We hooked up our bikes and got a little bit of our transition areas set up before heading to body marking. After getting all marked up (both upper arms and outsides of both legs with our race number and our age on our left calf), we walked across the highway to the beach to check out the swim area. Yes, we had to cross the highway to get from the swim to transition. Strange – and it was a LONG run. Once we were done checking out the swim area, we headed back up to finish getting our transition areas set up, final trips to the port-a-potty, race nutrition (2 packs of Generation UCAN in 12 ounces of water for me), and wetsuits on. And then we headed to the swim start for our race briefing and then it was go-time!

The swim was supposed to be .7 miles, and it was quite short, even after factoring in the run to the transition area – only ended up to be .45 with the run to T1. I started off much too fast on the swim and my first loop was miserable – a lot of breaststroke and treading water was involved. And then my goggles fogged up – they’ve NEVER done that before, so I’m not sure what was up with that. My second loop was much better as I finally got into a good rhythm with my breathing and everything. I hit the beach and began the run up to the transition area. I finished the swim in 18:16.

T1 took me 3:33 – much too long, but I had some balance issues with cleaning my feet off (the area transition was had little pokey things in the grass and I wanted to make sure I didn’t have any stuck to my feet inside my socks) and in the process of losing my balance, I knocked my helmet and glasses off my bike. I finally got everything together and headed out on the bike.

The bike was supposed to be 24.8 miles and ended up being about 24.5. I felt really good on the bike despite my girl bits starting hurting about mile 13 or so and my left hand going numb starting about mile 5. It was a nice flat ride, other than the 2 climbs on a big bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway – it was an out-and-back course, so we had a bridge climb each direction. I passed 4 people while on the bike and drank my whole 20  ounce bottle of Nuun on the course. It was nice being able to ride in my big ring for most of the time (I only shifted to my small ring on the bridge climbs) and I was really happy with my almost 16 mph average speed! When I got near the transition area, my guys were there with M to cheer me on and it was really nice seeing them and seeing how excited the boys were to see me! I finished the bike in 1:33:41.

T2 took me 3:00 – WAY TOO LONG to go from bike to run. I need to work on speed laces for my shoes so I can save a few seconds with that. I also took the time to consume another packet of UCAN in 8 ounces of water, and I’m glad I did that. I’m also glad that I had taken a hat and my hand-held water bottle with me for just in case. It got warm toward the end of the bike.

With race belt and hat on and water in hand, I headed out on the run. I’m really glad I had the hand-held with 16 ounces of Nuun in it – I drank more often than the water stops. The water stops would have plentiful enough for a 50-60 degree 10K, but in the mid to upper 70s, not so much. I did grab a cup of water at every stop and poured it over my head and down the front and back of my tri top. It helped some, but I was still pretty much done. I did my run/walk ratio of 9:1, walked thru all the water stops, and walked a few more times as well. Everyone was really encouraging everyone else, and that was really nice. Finally the finish was in sight and I finished strong in 1:03:29. My final finish time was 3:01 and change. I finished 103rd overall and 4th in my age group.

There were other members of Team RWB there from our Fort Rucker Chapter as well as a couple of other chapters and we hung out and chatted together after – and got a group picture. Ryan and the boys had worn their RWB shirts as well and got to be a part of the picture! My Team RWB tri suit worked really well and I got a lot of high-5s  on the run part of the course from other Eagles as well as others. They had great food for after the race – hot dogs, tater salad, pasta salad, chips, bananas, Oreos (yes, I had some of those), beer (I did not have one), sodas, water, and gatorade. I had 2 hot dogs without buns and OMG were they good!! I don’t normally like hot dogs, but I must have needed the sodium in them. We stayed for the awards – lots of RWB members placed both overall and in age groups. Of course, they only do age group awards through 3rd place, so my 4th place wasn’t quite enough. But it’s ok! I had a great day!

And since I mentioned my friend O at the beginning, he did really well and I’m proud of him for finishing his first tri, and an Olympic one at that! His wife M got lots of awesome pics, so maybe I’ll be able to “steal” some of them from her and share them at some point.

An emotional rollercoaster day

Today was the day that many Staff Sergeants in the Army anxiously wait for – the day the new Sergeant First Class list comes out. It was my 6th look at SFC and I was really hoping that this year it would finally be my turn, but it was not meant to be. Passed over yet again. I’m not quite sure what the board was looking for, but I wish I could figure it out. I was upset and many tears were shed throughout the morning. However, life will go on, and I will continue to be the best NCO I can be for my Soldiers and the best trombone player I can be. That’s all I can do.

To counter the low I had this morning, our Trombone Quartet had an awesome and super fun gig this afternoon playing at a local assisted living facility. The residents were very receptive and we got to chat with them for a while after we finished playing. People of that era have some amazing stories to tell!

And then after work I went for my first real trail run on some of the mountain bike trails on post. It was a lot of fun dodging all the tree branches and Ross and stuff! I will need to get some trail shoes, though, if I do much more of it.

To end the day, Robert had his first baseball game this season and although the Red Bulls didn’t win, they played well. Robert played first base for two innings and even got an out on a throw from the pitcher! He struck out both times he batted, but he’ll get it next time!