And not only that! I finished!!! It doesn’t end there, I did it on my birthday!!! (+++Fun)
It’s important for first-timers to make a list of all the race essentials prior to the race day. It’s only normal to feel jitters and feel sick to your stomach (please say it is or then it’s just me lol ) on your first ever race that could cause you to get disoriented. I have read articles and watched videos on tips on their first race but nervous or not, making a list could be your savior. While being involved in triathlon means being surrounded by a supportive crowd, on races you’re on your own and you are no one else’s responsibility but yours. We don’t only train our bodies but being in this sport teaches us how to be independent as well. Pack your stuff before race day and you’ll be worry-free!
- Swim Cap
- Sports Towel
- Race belt
- Cleats Shoes (I didn’t have one and instead used my running shoes too)
- Cycling glasses
- Running Shoes
- Running Cap
- Triathlon Watch (optional)
We had pasta for dinner and although we ate carbs, carbs, carbs we took dinner lightly because we didn’t want to feel bloated in the morning. I drank plenty of liquids that day and slept early to relax my uneasy soul.
Race day – but looking at it now it’s kinda also about my training journey
The Pearl Triathlon Race (Sprint Distance: 750m swim, 20 km bike, 5km run) was announced if I’m not mistaken April 9, 2018. Quick intro!! I started training for the three disciplines last February 19, 2018 to be exact. I was stale for almost a month after I quit dragon boat and I was itching to train for just anything because I also started to gain weight again but it was not only until February 19 when we knew of the upcoming Doha Triathlon last March 16. A good friend of ours offered to give me swimming lessons and instantly, I felt that it was possible for me to train for a race. My program was “Learn to Swim” meaning I had to start from scratch doing kick and glide, pull buoy drills, etc. I knew how to swim a little, “Langoy Boracay” (Boracay Swim) as they call it but never really had the confidence to swim in the open water. Going back, it was very obvious I wasn’t ready for Doha Triathlon because I couldn’t even complete a 100m swim without stopping. But I still continued training because there was a chance that the Pearl Triathlon could happen even because of the events calendar Tri-club Doha. I held on to that until finally the race was announced and I registered without second thoughts. Without having any prior experience on swimming in the open water. Stupid? Seems to be. But I could say now that it was one of the best impulsive decisions I ever made in my life.
It’s impossible for me not to put unnecessary pressure on myself. I had a lot of doubting moments, which by the way doesn’t help you in any way not unless you use it to challenge yourself. I won’t say I wasn’t prepared when I joined. I trained for two months and I’m guessing my race performance was actually quite okay!!!
I ate my banana for breakfast. Put a birthday playlist to boost our moods. We arrived at The Pearl at 5:00am. We went to the registration area to get our race bibs. After that, we went to the transition area and this is where you see the importance of the list I mentioned. I put my bike on the rack and arranged all my race essentials according to the sequence of when I would need them.
We tested the water and this is when I got panicky because prior to the race, yes I completed my 750m swim in the pool. I did swim in the open water but about chest-deep. I once did an open water when I couldn’t freaking see what’s down under. I don’t get myself. I got my SCUBA diving certification here in Qatar. I obviously know what’s down under and for some reason being above it, being positively buoyant made me scared. Mindfuck, right?
This is a simple representation of how I felt when almost every one jumped in the water.
You can’t see my face and yet somehow you see the face of fear. I was trying to calm down, trying to remember all the days I pictured myself with a medal saying “Best Birthday Ever” and so I began. I tried to remember all the tips they gave me. Like that guy beside me on the photo, he told me “When you face down, close your eyes. Open it back when you breathe if what’s under is what makes you scared.” I did that. I felt my swim cap starting to get removed so I tried to put my face down, as advised by my coach. I’m not proud of it, I did stop a lot of times. But you know, if it didn’t happen I wouldn’t feel this burning desire inside me that wants to do a better job next time. And if you’d ask me why I joined on such short notice, I wanted to be able to gauge myself and see where I need to improve on so I could see how my training after the race goes.
Going back to the race, my swim cap finally got removed and I had to stop and ask for the SUP’s help to fix it. The jet ski came and the guy said “Come on up and fix it here”. I was starting to get hysterical and said back to him, “No, I don’t want to stop. I have to finish.” And when I tried to put my swim cap on, from an unknown source of force, I ripped it apart with my hair tie gone. (I know. Shit.) This moment is when I told myself, I can’t stop. Sometimes being paranoid can help too, well for some they would call it “Being prepared for whatever might happen.” I’ve pictured worse than ripping my swim cap apart. And so, it was not and it could never be the reason I’m going to quit. I thought to myself, I might drink a lot of water but I’m not going to stop. The SUP guy has been very encouraging and kept cheering me on, “Just 100m left”. He kinda really pushed me there and I used that to be able to finish the first leg. It was hard to sight because of my hair being all over my face. But I managed with all the random people shouting “To your left! To your left!” HAHAHAHA. When I got out of the water, I couldn’t believe I did it and that’s when I got all smiley… the whole day.
I tried to be quick as possible but I was concentrated so as not to miss anything. Helmet first, wiped my feet, socks, shoes, race bib, bike! I walked briskly to the end of the transition and started to bike.
That’s my photo still giddy about the fact that I reached that point in my life. Lol. Though I had only recently learned how to swim, I can tell that biking is where I’m the weakest and lacking training the most. But finishing my bike with a time of 46:54 is a big improvement for me. I was able to train road biking once a week for two months and my average time finish would always be an hour or more. My last bike training prior to the race, I finished my 20km bike at 55 minutes. I still have yet to purchase a bike trainer. And I know this sports is expensive and invests time and money but I’m positive that over time, I’ll be able to train more and finish with a much lower time!!!
I started the bike with a very relaxed pace to let my muscles adjust and it wasn’t until I reached the middle of the first loop when I started to pace it up a little. I tried to maintain it and towards the end, I slowed down to let my muscles adjust for the run.
Put the bike on the rack, sip a little water, running cap, place the bib in front. Ate Michal took these photos of me and she cheered me on and showed me the direction where I should start running.
This is where I can say I have improved a lot on over time. I have never done a sub 30 5K run and I don’t pressure myself in running. I was able to finish at a time 31:21 on race day from a 37-min finish time when I started. I started with a relaxed pace, I watched my pace in my watch and slowed down more because it was a 6:00/km pace. I didn’t want to feel tired in the end and so I maintained the 7:00/km pace until I reached 3km and did my zone 4. The weather was warm and the random people cheering felt warm in the heart too. I was literally just smiling the whole time because I couldn’t believe that I was minutes away to the finish line.
I knew that I was one of the last to finish. But somehow it didn’t bring me down. I enjoyed my race and I think that’s what’s most important. Could easily say that it’s one of the best days of my life. Last year, I remember saying I wanted to do it. And now I finally did. I’m a living proof that it’s possible for anyone. Doesn’t matter if you have prior knowledge and experience. If you train and work hard for what you want, in all aspects of life, you’ll achieve it.
I tried, I finished but this is only just the beginning!!!
What a way to celebrate my 25th birthday ☺ Special thank you to Coach Nino for patiently teaching me how to swim, Adrian for patiently guiding me in all the three disciplines, kuya Mendel for being the being a born teacher, and FITQ for being supportive as ever!!! I’m a new member and yet you have been very supportive from the beginning ♥
Thank you to the organizers of the race, Qatar Cycling federation! If you wish to view the results of the race this is the link: The Pearl Triathlon 2018 ♥