The weekend has come and gone, and this has been a pretty hectic week in the office, but I'm still sitting here thinking about my trip upstate--it was by far the best weekend of the summer. Firstly, if you can get out to New Paltz, NY try to check out Mohonk Mountain House, even if it's just for a day (a day pass is only $23 and you have access to over 6,000 acres of land to hike, run, and bike on); this lodge is like a summer camp for adults. Besides having an injured foot at the moment, like I said last week, I was still looking forward to meeting the triathlon coaches and Ironmen competitors who would be at this Triathlon Clinic; I knew they could prep me for my race next week and hopefully calm some of my nerves. (I know--I can't believe my race is only 9 days away!)
There were about 40 participants (I dragged Dino along for the ride too) and we spent Friday, Saturday, and Sunday learning how to train for each leg of the race. Even though this is something I've been doing for the past five months, I was able to really concentrate on the things that needed the most work--like practicing my transition between the swim-bike-run, to swimming in the open water; which was luckily just a lake, not quite New York City's Hudson River. Everyone advised me to save my running for race day since my cardio is definitely good enough to make it through such a long competition. But throughout the weekend I attended various clinics, like a one-on-one meeting with a professional coach and a product expo and gear demonstration. One morning I even went on a 13-mile mountain-bike ride with Mike Halsted, a top-tanked Ironman (Who gets to say they've done that?), and got myself up the biggest hill on the course, called Godzilla (the name should tell you something about it's difficulty). When Sunday morning finally came I treated this mini-distance race as practice for what it will be like on the morning of July 26th. I got a good night's sleep the night before, had a healthy breakfast, and mentally prepared myself for what I was about to do.
When the race started I dove into the water and put into play everything I've been practicing. Somehow my fear of the open water went out of the window. I controlled my breathing and swam at a calm speed so I wouldn't tire myself too quickly (this was only a quarter mile swim course and when I'm in the Hudson it will be four times longer) and I came out of the water in 2nd place, out of 40! I was able to keep my place until mile three of the bike ride when I got a flat tire. Fortunately, I wasn't actually competing because I wanted to save my foot, but if I was, I would have been bummed about this flat--maybe I could have won if it hadn't happened. Luckily, if this happens during my triathlon next week, I now know how to change my tire on my race bike! Despite the flat, I managed to come in 4th place after the bike transition and walked to the end to cheer everyone else on--including Dino who came in 13th place! (And he said he couldn't do this!)
Even with a sprained foot-arch, I felt so good after this race--I am so much more prepared now for the actual thing. I'm even looking forward to the race now, instead of dreading it as I had been feeling lately. The great thing about this Mohonk clinic is that it's geared toward newbies, so whether you're an accomplished marathon runner or your favorite sport is biking, the coaches teach you everything you need to know to prepare for a triathlon. Our coaches-- Barbara Sessa, Mike Halsted, Alex Sherwood, Christine Dunnery, Bob Bomba, and Mark Wilson--showed us how to not look at triathlons as an unattainable goal or a sport that's physically impossible, but rather something fun and definitely, definitely possible for anyone to do (really, anyone can do this if you put your mind to it).
I think I owe this weekend (and my newfound confidence) to the amazing athletes, new friends, and coaches that I met. Meeting them and sharing triathlon stories and accomplishments was my favorite part of the trip. [Check some of them out online at www.hvtc.net] I have to say, I was a little sad to come back to the city. But I feel like I actually may be ready for my first triathlon...and I don't think I'll stop at just one!