This weekend marked the first triathlon of the season! The Azalea Sprint Triathlon was held on Saturday and Sunday. Over 800 people participated in the 300-yard pool swim, 9.3 mile bike and 5K run on and around the UNCW campus. Saturday was spy day. Nicole, Michelle, Michaela and I scoped out the entire race and cheered on our fellow triathlon club crazies. We were able to hoot and holler for Leanne, Brian, Brian, Billy, Bruce and Jess all over the course. We came armed with noise makers and banners and had a heckuva time.

Nicole is jumping for joy!

Michelle, Me, Brian, Bruce, Leanne, Billy, Michaela and Jess

On Sunday, the real fun began. Neal and I arrived on campus around 7:00am. It was 45 degrees and the wind was already blowing 12mph!! I got marked on my arms and thighs and calf and picked up my chip. I took my bike to the transition area and organized all my gear. One hiccup was that the woman next to me had placed her bike on the wrong side of the rack. That meant she was taking up some of my space. I have a policy of not touching another athlete's gear and I didn't want to get her penalized, but she left me a tight space to squeeze my bike and transition gear. I asked a fellow club member (and spectator) what to do (thanks, Ben!) and he went and asked one of the officials about protocol. They ended up moving her bike to the correct spot!

I went to warm up in the pool before my start. In a pool swim, participants submit a 100-yard swim time. A week before the race, the officials assign a swim time to each athlete starting at 8:00am. There is about a 15 - 30 second space between each swimmer. My official swim time: 8:27:45. All the athletes line up according to number along the side of the pool (about 50 at a time). That time on the side of the pool might be the craziest, most nerve-wracking part of the event. Luckily, I was near the end of the second block. That meant, technically, I would only have to worry about one person passing me. That person, though, was Lauren B., an 11-year-old on the WOW swim team with a home field advantage! Here I am trying to psyche her out:

Here are my highlights of the race:
8:25 - get in the pool.
8:26 - watch one of the women in my age group speed away down lane one
8:27:30 - watch the woman ahead of me speed down lane one
8:27:35 - duck under the rope, hold onto the wall and wait
8:27:40 - wait for the starter some more
8:27:45 - GO!
8:28:05 - hit my head on the lane line when I change lanes
8:28:45 - readjust my goggles
8:29:05 - think speed, power, kachow for the next three lengths of the pool
8:31:45 - after 11 lengths of the pool, think ohmygodihavetorunafterthis
8:32:00 - out of the pool, down a flight of stairs, bust out the door, put on shoes and jacket
8:32:48 - run 200 yards to bike area while putting on bike gloves, shades and watch
8:33:00 - there's a RAINBOW!!!!
8:34:00 - don hat and helmet, run bike to exit, jump on and GO!
8:35:00 - pedal, pedal, pedal
8:55:00 - hit a wall of wind on wrightsville avenue
9:12:00 - dismount, run bike to rack, strip helmet, shoes and gloves; don race skirt, shoes and GO! then, retighten laces, can't feel my feet
9:38:04 - pose for the camera and FINISH!!!

Swim: 5:00 [unofficial, according to Neal's watch]

Swim Transition: 48 secs
T1: 3:00
Bike: 33:00
T2: 2:02
Run: 27:00
Finish: 1:10:49
I finished 30th overall and in the top five of my age group!

Movin' So fast you can see my arms!

Touching the Wall!!!

Home Stretch on the Bike

Name Calling: Here I am passing all the TriTeamers yellin' my name.

Pretty in Pink. You know my motto: If you don't have speed, then you better have style.

Above: Proud TriClubbers Nicole F, Michelle G and Me.
Below: I have no idea what were laughing at, but we were so giddy to have done so well and hated to see the weekend end.

As always, my support team made this event more fun than any I've done. Neal was amazing (as always). I'm impressed that he can take pictures and video and cheer while riding his earth cruiser to at least ten different spots on the course! He is a pro - he knows where to go and when and just what to say to keep me motivated! Plus, he got me BoJangles for dinner on Sunday night!

And this time, I had the added support of my TriClub team. I could hear Leanne and Jess and Ben at the pool every time I took a breath. They were there at the start and finish of the run, too! I even got to see Mere and Skyler!  I couldn't have done it without the belief that everyone poured into my mind, body and heart. Thank you all!