Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Yes, I know.

I haven't been stamping. I've been too busy sciencing at work, and training for a triathlon. Here's a narrative about the triathlon, that I'm putting here because I already put it on my facebook page, but my darling husband won't join facebook and wants to read it:

So everyone wants a full report of my triathlon. Here's what I haven't blocked-out:

On Saturday there was a first-timers meeting... as I was without question a rookie, I went. Unfortunately, I had to take my kids because my husband has poor time management skills. Whatever. I have no idea what was discussed because my kids acted like I never take them anywhere (this is true) and behaved like monkeys. But I did meet a really nice volunteer; she answered my newbie questions and gave me my race packet. I also took the time to drive the bike course, just to be familiar with it. The route went past a cemetery. I hoped that wouldn't prove to be prophetic.

The triathlon was held on Sunday at Lums Pond; the transition area opened at 6 AM, race started @ 7:45. I thought by showing up at 6:30 I wouldn't appear too eager, but would still have plenty of time to get my crap together. By 6:30, they were already parking people on the grass, and just after I parked, they started turning people away, making them park in another area. It was a mad house.

I got my bike out of The Volvo, put the front wheel on, and headed to the transition area. I had to go back and get my all-access red wrist band, because the red wrist band is almighty, and the most important piece of equipment to have. I carefully studied what everyone else was doing with their bike, racked it up appropriately, and went back for my milk crate full of gear. I read online that I should use a milk crate so that I could use it later to sit on when I needed to put my bike shoes on. I was already tired from all this walking.

I got all set up, then got my timing chip and put it on my ankle, hoping that the neoprene wouldn't cause a problem (I'm allergic to neoprene). Lest you think this is foreshadowing, it's not. The neoprene was fine. Then I went to body marking and let the nice people write all my stats on my person with a Sharpie. They had kinda crappy Sharpies. I should have brought some from my collection.

Okay, things started moving faster after that... pre-race meeting, National Anthem, last-minute shuffling of my stuff. The line for the bathroom was ridiculous, and trust that I needed to go. Luckily, Curt & the kids showed up just then to distract me.

The duathlon (run, bike, run) started, and about 1/3 of the people headed out for their first run. I wondered why I hadn't just done the duathlon. Bygones. I finally got to the bathroom, took care of business, and headed out to the beach. By that time, the first wave had taken off already. I was in the third wave [Clydesdales & Athenas (aka "People who are not afraid to eat")], so I still had ten minutes to freak out. I chatted with some of the other people in my wave, and before I knew it, I was in the water, counting down. I had read on the internet that I should put my goggles on before my swimcap, so they wouldn't get knocked off in the melee. People who put their goggles on top of their swim cap were obvious newbies. Goggles stayed on just fine. Thanks, internet!

Lums Pond was 80 degrees, so that was a relief. I was worried that it was going to be cold, and it wasn't (for those in the know, it was not wetsuit legal, which was fine with me, since I don't have a wet suit (see above re:neoprene allergy)). It was, however, green. Very green. No time to worry about that. 10 seconds, 5 seconds, GO!

And so I did. I went. After about 25 yards of the very practiced freestyle I'd spent months learning, I decided that breast stroke was the way to go. I had read on the internet that triathletes hate the a-holes in the water doing the breast stroke. I didn't care. I was under the assumption that there would be buoys lining the course, so if I got into trouble I could hang on and rest. This was not the case. So, I swam. I was slow, and people in the next two waves caught up and passed me. I stayed out of their way. I passed a guy that had been in the wave ahead of me and felt a little better about life. He might have been walking. I kept going. I never took a break, never called for one of the surfboard-riding life guards, just kept swimming. I learned later that it took me 41 minutes to swim half a mile (although there was some argument later about how it was actually longer than 1/2 a mile). I had never swum for 41 minutes in my life.

I was almost to the shore when I heard a crazy amount of splashing next to me... there was a lady running past me. The water was only knee deep, but was still so green that I couldn't see how deep it wasn't. So, I lumbered onto my feet and almost quit right there. Jelly legs. But then I saw my kids cheering, so I ran. Ish. Some kid handed me a cup of water, and I remember thinking, "what the hell am I supposed to do with this? I just swallowed half the pond."  I poured it into the little container I had in my transition area to wash my feet off.

I grabbed my bike shoes and socks, but forgot about the milk crate, and sat on the ground. As I stretched toward my feet I got a huge cramp in my diaphragm,and realized that THAT was why you sit on the milk crate... too late. I struggled to get my shoes on, helmet, gloves, and sunglasses on. I grabbed my bike and headed out. There were already people coming back in from the bike portion of the race. I did not let this bother me. Much.

I locked my first shoe in, swung my leg over, and locked my other shoe in, and started pedaling like I knew what I was doing. I wondered how far I had to go to make it look like I had made a valiant effort. I looked for places to hide out. Just then I heard my sister yell, "You got this!" and I nearly wrecked my bike turning around to see what fool was yelling at me. As I now had a witness, I decided to keep going. And eventually, it was pretty good. 19.5 miles went reasonably quickly... I passed some people, some people passed me, I saw a few with blown tires, and only almost fell off once, when I was trying to put my water bottle back in its holder. I never even needed to unlock my shoes from the pedals, which was a relief, because I know I would have effed that up. Turns out that the hardest part of the bike is not where the rubber meets the road, but where the bike seat meets my girl parts. Those seats are not designed for comfort, even with $90 padded bike shorts.

I got back to the transition area, and very nearly fell over as I swung my leg over to get off. I was rescued by a nice passerby, who I'm pretty sure was already done with the race. As I put my running shoes on, I heard the announcement that they were going to start the award ceremony. Clearly, I was not going to be getting an award, major or otherwise.

I started running. Well, that's a lie. I started walking and eating some candy. I half-walked, half-jogged for about two miles. I ran the last mile. Ran it. And when I saw the finish line, and heard people I didn't know cheering for me and tell me I was almost there, I kicked it up a notch, and just for a second, I was the blue-chip runner on my track team again, just like I was when I was 12.

And just like that, I was done. My daughter gave me a jelly bean. My son gave me a tackle hug, and then promptly knocked over a (nearly empty) watercooler. My sister gave me a necklace that she made for me. It has five stones, three for the tri part, two because she liked them. Or five for the 5 Ks I ran. Whatever. It's lovely. My husband held my hand and told me he was proud of me.

I was woefully undertrained. I literally did not train, at all, for the biking portion. I learned how to snap my shoes in and out of the pedals in my living room the night before the race. I had only run about a mile without stopping before the race, and only a few times. I focused on the swimming because I didn't want to drown.

When I was a kid I was allergic to chlorine, so I couldn't really learn to swim. If I put my head in the water, my face would swell up, and my eyes would swell shut. I was reasonably comfortable in a pool, and a pro at treading water. At some point in high school I determined that I was no longer allergic/sensitive to chlorine, but I still never bothered to learn how to swim. That's right... I committed to doing this triathlon before I knew how to swim, and for that, I should probably be committed.

I didn't finish last, but even if I had I would have considered this exercise a success. I'm not a triathlete yet, but I think I will be. Swimming may be my new hobby. Don't worry, bacon is still a close second, then all the other stuff I like to do, then biking, and then running, somewhere after Phil Collins, whom I hate.

And so, my "Go big or go home" motto was proven out once again. Do I recommend doing a triathlon without enough training? Absolutely not. But if I can do it, anyone can. Really. And I'll be better trained for the next one, for sure!