The sun is barely up at 7am with temperatures in the upper 40s. Winds whipped through the transition area as athletes set up their bikes and gear, jostling the bike frames side to side from the nose of the saddle as if they were motioning a unanimous “no”.
I tucked my chin into my jacket and headed towards the water to view the swim course from the dock. A few wetsuit-clad athletes on the beach dipped their toes or feet up to their ankles to gauge the water temperature. One said, “Well, it’s certainly warmer than the air is right now.” That’s a good sign, but it’s going to be freezing on the bike with the current cloud cover and wind.
I sent a text to my athlete to see if she had picked up her packet or if she was setting her gear up in transition. Fortunately, this sprint tri was small with only a few hundred athletes competing, so she was easy to find. She was a bit nervous about the swim, but glad she had borrowed a wetsuit for the extra warmth and buoyancy.
All of her training was complete, and there was nothing more I could do, but remind her of racing strategies, how to remain calm in the water, and wish her the best. She could do it. And she did.
At the start of the swim, I stood on the dock with her kids, husband, and pup–the elite swimmers were running out of the water before her heat even started, but she chatted with a few other athletes, which calms the nerves and made me feel better too. She took one dip in the water and was off at the start of her heat. We watched the swimmers as they pushed against the current parallel to shore; it was an out and back swim of 400 meters, and since it was her first time in open water in a race, she handled the swim perfectly, switching strokes when needed and not panicking when other swimmers decided to swim over her.
Upon exiting the water, I ran over to her and unzipped her wetsuit since there were no volunteers to do this (and there usually are). After the swim, athletes are breathless and tired, so getting a wetsuit off can be difficult.
Once she was in transition for the bike, she put on her shoes, clipped her helmet and was off once again. The bike and run are her strengths, and she pushed it on those events, finishing strong.
I am incredibly proud of her accomplishment, especially on the swim, because her hard work paid off. I think this is the beginning of many more triathlons in her future. Congratulations!