I set a goal for myself a long time ago to have a double race weekend. I was a little crazy when I committed to it in 2012 given that I have not been focused on tri training to any serious degree. But this was the year and last weekend was the weekend.
On Saturday I competed in the DKH – Give it a Tri Sprint Triathlon as the swimmer on an all female relay team with two wonderful fellow athletes Stephanie and Tara. The venue was perfect, the water temperature couldn’t have been better for the .5 mile swim, and the spirit of the race was one of encouragement and supportiveness. Since I was the swimmer, I started off first. Knowing that I didn’t have to bike or run, I positioned my self at the front of the pack and took off like a shot determine to give everything I had for the team. About half way through the swim I started having a lot of breathing problems and realized that I had left my inhaler at home. I made a mental note for Sunday and then pressed on determined not to panic. I paused along the way for just a moment to provide smiles and encouragement to fellow swimmers and then sprinted on to the finish.
After crossing the timing mat I was in dire straights with my breathing. I had to walk to transition to hand off the timing chip to Stephanie who headed out on the bike. I sat in the grass and used every breathing trick in my book until I was calm and back to normal breathing. Before too long, Stephanie was back in transition after a great ride and Tara was off like a shot on the run. We waited for what seemed like only 5 minutes and then Tara rounded the bend toward the finish line as fast as could be. We all ran across the finish line together as a team and it felt great!
We did quite well and placed 3rd overall in the women’s relay and I placed first in the swim in our category. I haven’t had a “relay 1st" ever, so I was tickled as pink as the polish on my toe nails. I hadn’t done a relay tri for a couple of years and I had forgotten how much fun it is! There were three other participants from my little tri-group in the race who did the race solo and all had a great showing and a great time! Chuckles even took first place in his age group which should be good enough to qualify him for next year’s USAT Nationals for the 2nd year in a row. Marc was 4th and Josh was 9th in their respective age groups. Wow!
Oh – and don’t tell Marc about how I forget my inhaler. That will be our little secret, okay?
On Sunday I competed alongside 5 other tri-girls from my training group in the Cranberry Olympic distance tri. My former relay team members from a couple of years ago and I each did the race solo and the other three tri-girls formed a team. Again the venue was perfect! The water was just ever-so-slightly too warm for the .9 mile swim. The bike course was a beautiful 26.2 mile ride through Lakeville MA and the surrounding towns, including a tour of the local cranberry bogs. And the 6.2 mile run was mostly shaded, very well marked, and had frequent water stops with great volunteers along the way. And most importantly I remembered my inhaler!
I made the mistake of starting the swim in the middle of the pack and was crammed in on all sides. I didn’t even realize my error until it was too late and we were swimming and I was stuck behind a wall of people. Swimming is my best event and gets me the only advantage that I can get in the whole race and I was stuck! It seemed like an eternity before I UFC’d my way out of the log jam. I headed on fast and strong in an attempt to make up for lost time, but it is not really possible. I found myself once again being the local swim angel and encouraging struggling swimmers until…one guy socked me in the mouth in a full on elementary backstroke. I got a little more serious at the point and starting making a beeline to the finish. The water was a little too warm for the wetsuit so I occasionally let some water in to cool my body temperature but kept moving. I started passing dozens of pink caps and other colored caps from the waves ahead of mine and then started catching and passing yellow caps from my own wave. I headed out of the water and across the timing met feeling strong.
I started the wetsuit stripping process and then, well, think John Candy in that movie Planes, Trains, and Automobiles when he gets both arms trapped behind him while driving the car down the highway. I was stuck. Trapped. Except with my arms in front of me. And I couldn’t run! My transition time for T1 was a joke. Over 6 minutes! I just couldn’t free myself. When I finally broke free I dried my feet but then couldn’t find one of my socks. This is really no big deal on the bike, I put one sock on finished my transition and headed out on the bike. I had a great ride, my fastest ever, averaging 16.2 mph. Not very fast for most triathletes, but really fast for me. I rode along playing cat and mouse with two other really sweet women out on the bike course. Each time we would pass one another we would give words of encouragement. Two of us ended up crossing the timing mat together and the third came in shortly after and soon caught me on the run.
My T2 was a little better; however I was still down a sock and spent a couple minutes of earnest searching to no avail. This is not good for a run. Not at all. I couldn’t run with just one sock. So I chucked it and ran with no socks. Now, there is one thing we all need to be clear on. I am a swimmer, not a runner. I don’t actually run. I walk and jog and walk and jog. Telephone poles, it is all about the telephone poles. Jog 3, Walk 1, and repeat for 6.2 miles. Pretty much the only time I varied from this was on the one big hill and whenI did a couple of cartwheels at mile 5 because I was so happy to be almost done! As I neared the finish line I broke out into the fastest run I could muster and came across with a great big smile. I had two major blisters going from not wearing socks, but I didn’t let that slow me down or make me cry.
I had predicted 1:30 for my run, but finished at 1:23 which I think is just under 13.4 minute miles. For me, at the end of an Olympic distance tri, is lightening fast. But I must give credit where it is due here. At the suggestion of a friend I painted lightening bolts on my toenails. I really think they made me bike and run faster than ever!
My age group stats for Sunday were pretty good and my overall stats won’t embarrass my family. Swim: 10/46 (195/643 overall) Bike: 38/46 (572/643) and Run: 44/46 (626/643). All 6 of us had a great race and had a great time. Michelle A. beat us all followed by the relay team of Cori, Michelle G., Joanie. Then I finished next followed shortly afterward by Sue. After we had all finished the race, we sat down and had a great meal together with lots of laughs and stories from the race course. What great fun!
I have been saying all season that this is my last year of triathlons for awhile. Well, this weekend changed all of that for me. Even without serious training I can still hang in there and still have a whole lot of fun. Maybe next year I will do a sprint and an Olympic solo in one weekend. Nah, probably not. That’s just the adrenaline talking.
There is still one more triathlon to go for me this season. This final race is coming right in between my two great big adventures. I will once again swim on a relay team but this time with Michelle G. and her husband Dan as the biker and runner. I cannot wait!