We did it!  We raised $4255.00 for blood cancer research.  I swam, biked, ran and finished the race.  My final time was 3:42:43. To put this into perspective, the first person’s time was 2:09:03 and the last person’s 6:35:04.  More important than time – it was an amazing experience.

My starting wave was smaller than many of the others.  I appreciated this, since it meant fewer people thrashing around.  It took about 400 meters before I could get my brain to stop freaking out.  Once I did that and got into the rhythm, things went pretty smoothly.  I finished in just over 33 minutes.

The transition between swimming and biking went smoothly – until I went to put on my sunglasses.  They don’t fit right so I had a retainer on it – one of those cords that fits around the arms and you can tighten it behind your head.  I forgot to put them on before my helmet  and then got tangled up trying to fit them around my helmet.  I finally had to take my helmet off and start over.  It felt like that slowed me down by a couple of minutes but N said it didn’t take more than 30 seconds.

Once I was on my bike, I noticed a rattling noise.  What was it?  Did I have a loose wheel?  Was the tire going flat?  After about five minutes, I realized what was making the noise – and I had to laugh at myself.  I was riding for the first time with a bento box – a pouch for food that sits behind your handle bars.  I didn’t want to mess with packaging during the ride, so I dumped a bunch of electrolyte-filled jelly beans straight into the pouch.  The noise I heard was the jelly beans rattling around!

The ride went well.  The race literature described the first 11 miles as “rolling hills.”  I guess they were, but I think they only rolled uphill.  Then, there was about 1.5 miles of gradual but steady uphill.  Nearly everyone just set their gears low and easy and made it slowly up the hill, conserving energy for the remaining 14 miles.  After the uphill came about 3 miles of downhill.  FUN!  Then, the course flattened out for the last 11 or so miles.  I did the 28 miles in just over 1 hour, 43 minutes.

The transition between the bike and the run went smoothly.  I really shouldn’t call it a run – I power walked the course with brief interludes of running.  I didn’t plan on doing it but when the moment came, I knew I could run and be miserable or walk and enjoy the experience.  It took me 1:18, which isn’t too bad, really – I’m a slow runner, so even if I had run the course, I don’t think I would have broken 1 hour.

The night before the race, TNT threw us a pep rally/pasta dinner.  At the event, the speaker had everyone yell “GO TEAM.”  At the time, I rolled my eyes, finding it dorky.  During the race; however, those two words meant so much.  Whenever anyone passed me (it was almost always the other person doing the passing) who also trained with TNT – regardless of city – they would say, “go team.”  Whenever I passed any of their friends or family, they would cheer, “Go Team!”  I was part of something larger than myself and it meant so much.

 At the very end of the run, I passed a man wearing a Team in Training shirt.  He held a sign that read “I’m a survivor because of you.”  In that moment, running past the embodiment of the why behind all my had work, I thought I might burst into tears.  This was a problem because my body suddenly wanted to use my breath for sobbing and I still needed it to finish the run!  Luckily, I managed to pull myself together and finish.  I’ve never heard a sweeter noise than the beep of my timing chip as I crossed the finish mats.