Well, I survived the triathlon and somehow managed not drowning in the pool! Actually, I was really surprised at how little effort the whole thing took, despite not being allowed to wear an iPod. As I mentioned in previous posts, I feared combining all three sporting elements on the day of the challenge would send me to an early grave, but I was amazed how on my body seemed to handle the stress. Cycling is so much easier than running! I guess all my training really did pay off!
Before the start of the race, the event volunteers wrote our bib numbers on our legs and arms. They also wrote our ages on the back of our calves. “Can you write 29 on one leg and plus 8 on the other leg?” I asked, however the very youthful female volunteer did not appreciate my wit so early in the morning. She will understand my joke 20 years from now.
My division (females under 40) started at 7:15. As soon as we began our 5K run, the skies open and buckets of rain poured down on us. A sheet of heavy rain made it difficult to see, and the puddles were unavoidable. The dense humid air made it difficult to breathe, but I trudged along not concerned with my time, but more with conserving my energy. In the end, my running time was 29:10.
Unaware and unprepared for the quick transitioning between events, I thought my chip would pause once I crossed the finish line after each leg of the triathlon. Undoubtedly, a huge misunderstanding on my part, so when I finished running, I slowly meandered to my bike. I noticed my friend, Julie, pedaling away and thought to myself “Wow. She’s doing great. Darn. I wanted to get a picture of her during transition.” I then proceeded to lift my bike off the bike rack, strolled to the bike start line and pedaled away. I felt pretty confident at this point, until a swarn of speed racers flew past me. Another friend, Leslie, giggled as she rode past me and called out “On your left!”
“On your left!” became the chant I heard over and over and I felt like the fat kid in the schooyard picked last for the team. “It’s the bike,” I told myself as I tried to pedal faster. “You can do this! Come on!”
As I began my 10.5 mile journey, the heavy rain returned. Unable to see again only with the added problem of my feet constantly slipping off the pedals, I cussed myself for not renting a racing bike, like Leslie. The heavy and not aerodynamic bike required me to pedal the entire time, while other athletes continued whizzing past me on their racing bikes. I could hear their chains spin as each rider rested once maneuvering around me. With the sound of their spinning chains taunting, I remembered a conversation with a friend who told me that racing on mountain bikes can be discouraging when others start passing you. With that, I stayed focus and continued pedaling. On this stretch, they were a lot of twists and bends and hills, but I hugged the right while athletes still constantly sped passed me.
Since it rained so heavy twice during the race, the massive rain puddles were unavoidable. Nasty, mucky puddle water as well as the spray from others’ bikes splashed at my face. I felt a droplet hit my eye and I thought, “Great. Not only will I come in last place, but I will get ringworm, too!”
Then, I spotted Julie on her return trek. “Come on, Denise!” She smiled as she called out and she looked great. I could tell she was really proud of herself. Julie had worked so hard for this day and deserved this moment with all recent problems with her poor hip.
As Julie blurred past me, an older gentleman scooted along side me. He hollered out his words of comfort to me, “It’s all right. You’ll pass me in a little bit.” But, I never saw him again. I assume he made it back to the finish line and didn’t pass out on the side of the road somewhere. As the older gentleman passed me, I thought, “It’s a good thing they write our ages on the back of our legs. It makes it so much less embarrassing when you’re in last place and a 78 year old man races past you.”
Apparently, I also missed the briefing about the number of cars that would drive along side us of during the race. That made me really nervous. Some drivers were incredibly rude and did not give way to the cyclists. With each passing car, I said a little prayer to make it back safely.
While finishing last past place and longing for my iPod, I realized I wasn’t quite last. I managed to speed past a woman walking her bike back to the finish line. HA! Eat my puddle water flat tire, lady!
On my return trek, the hills were not a welcomed sight even though I knew I was close to the end. As I rode along the last stretch, I heard a volunteer call out, “YAY! Good for you! You did it! Well done!” That made me smile until I heard her say, “O.K. I think that’s the last of them.”
Distracted by the cheers from the crowd, I misread the signals from the volunteers who were guiding everyone back to transition. As I cruised back to the dsimount area, I became confused as where to stop. I then lost to control and fell off the bike. How humiliating! In my mind, I debated telling people that I rode the short bus to the race. It would be the only reasonable explanation for riding a mountain bike in a race and then falling off of it. My bike time was 56:12.
Shrugging off my pathetic biking performance, I dodged off to transition. Again, not aware that I was supposed to move quickly during transition, I leisurely drank my water and racked my bike. Then, I noticed other women running to the pool. At that moment, it dawned on me that this was a race and I needed to move faster. With that, I quickly grabbed my towel and goggles and headed off to swim. My chip beeped and I began to run, but then I noticed the girl in front of me was not wearing her shoes. Was I supposed to take my shoes off in transition? Humiliated once again, I quickly ripped off my shoes and tossed them into the grass.
Once at the pool, I slipped on my goggles and walked into the water. Surprisingly, I swam the distance with agility. Julie and Leslie waited for me at the end and cheered as I swap my laps. Just before I finished, Allan and the girls came to the race to show their love and support. I gave my family a huge wet hug. My swim time was 5:25.
Final time: 1:38:07
Given the silly mistakes I made, my time could have been better, but it’s a goal to strive for the next triathlon. Despite the mistakes, I was impressed by my endurance and overall athletic performance, which will only improve with more training and a proper racing bike. However, my friend, Lori, did warn me about the bike when she lent it to me. Regardless, I absolutely loved the experience and I can’t wait for the next challenge: the Chaotic Cotee in September.
Thanks to everyone who posted such wonderful and encouraging words! Your support and love really means the world to me! Also, thanks to Lori for lending her bike to me and thanks to Julie for creating such a cute Moms on the Go: Marathon Mom racing uniform for us to wear.