I have a LOT of vacation and holiday time at work, so I took the afternoon off to go do the Lake Terramuggus Tri. It's a sprint tri- a short training event. It's about half the length of the one I'll be doing in DC. My idea for yesterday was to DO the event to get used to the feeling of transitioning, and to get used to the idea of stripping off all my gear and putting on more gear. My coach came and gave me and my teammate advice and feedback. Here's how I fared.
I was a bucket of nerves. What if the other triathletes were mean to me? What if I put my stuff next to some hard-core athlete and pissed them off? I'd been obsessively reading triathlon rules online, but I still had a killer case of heartburn. And I lose my appetite when I'm upset. I'd barely eaten all day.
Finally we got to the race and I registered and got my number inked on my arm and leg, and I got my timing chip. And then I came back and stuck my bike on the rack. This would become a problem. See, I love my bike with deep warm squashy love, and I baby that thing. Before most rides, I check its tires, check for loose spots, massage its tight areas, pet it and whisper sweet nothings to it. Last night, I just pumped the tires next to my car, and didn't do anything else. I'm sorry, Bike, I really do love you more than that.
My coach advised we go warm up. Since I have wetsuit freakout issues, I thought that was wise, and got water flowing into my suit. I took a few strokes around to try and loosen up, and saw the bottom of the lake with lots of fish darting around. "Cool!" I thought, "Fish! Maybe they'll make me hungry by the end of the swim!" And I looked up to see my coach pointing to the start, saying "GO THERE! SWIM! NOW!" And M was pointing, "SWIM THERE!! NOW!" So I freaked out and frantically dog paddled over to the actual starting line.
Heart racing, adrenaline shakes, the whole nine yards. Nervous, much? Along came the countdown and off we went. A swift kick in the head and a chop to the ear and the pack was past me. (Caveat: everyone who hit me turned around and said "sorry".) Pretty soon, it was me with the breast-stroking tired people. I guess I"m a realllllly slow swimmer.
I'd now like to thank my brother for instilling in me Little Sister Syndrome. Basically, it's a learned behavior- anytime a strong boy comes along, this latent killer instinct kicks in. So I started matching the guys around me stroke for stroke. Ultimately, I was in the top of the last third or the bottom of the second third out of the water. This just means you should pray for my swim coaches.
Oh, and seeing the fishes did not make me hungry. In fact, seeing the little suckers darting about just made me feel slow. Curse you, fishes! You shall never motivate me again!
As you emerge from the water, all the water runs out of your wetsuit, which makes you feel like you are peeing. I have modesty issues. Besides, I get queasy from the change in body orientation. Luckily, I had racked near a few strong guys, so they were long gone and I had plenty of space. On went my bike gear, and then it was off to the ramp. Of course I was panicking about the time, so instead of putting on my gloves as I had planned, I screeched as if they were bugs and threw them away. Whoops. And running bike shoes is fun: Clopclopclopshuffleshuffleshuffle. And onto the bike route.
I'm happy on a bike. Pretty soon, the cool breeze on my wet trisuit had me feeling much better. It took my legs about a mile to start feeling normal. I started forcing fluids, but was so revved up from the nerves that I was pretty shaky about taking my hands off my handlebars. This meant I didn't eat or drink nearly as much as I should have. At least, Clif Bars Shot Blox are my friend. Chewy gummy squares- num num num. Clif Bars, sponsor me.
There were a few uphills, but plenty of nice curving downhill- all in all, it's a really delightful bike route. Just one problem:
I felt an ominous chatter in my back wheel. You see, my rear brake is a little sensitive. Sometimes, it makes a chatter sound and feels like I'm riding in sand. That's why I coddle it BEFORE a ride. I felt that feeling, but freaked out about stopping. Would the other triathletes try to help me, and thus I'd ruin someone's race? Would they be angry at me for not having my bike up to snuff? Could I lose the time? Would I get a penalty? I was hurting- badly- on the uphills, but if I spun like crazy, I could hold a steady 17mph on the flats and get upwards of 25 on the downhills. I elected to stand and mash pedal on the hills to survive. At the end of this post, I will include the DOH! moment.
Back in transition, I sat to tie my shoes. Most of the others have speed laces. That's smart, eh?
The run scares me the most. I'm a horrible, horrible, slow runner. I waddle. I whine. I feel like a set of good lungs atop a pair of leaden-hosen, the type made of real lead. The run crosses a basketball court and a tennis court, but the second I hit pavement, I was totaled by killer cramps in my calves. I hobbled up a hill, and had to stop to stretch them out. (My coach says I probably didn't eat or drink enough.)
I started shuffling again. I felt like a brick. A leaden brick. It was probably a good mile, mile and a half, before I started feeling like I could do real running motions. And then came another hill.
This is where I realized that I had been wrong to be scared of the other triathletes. Yes, there's a few hard core weenies who don't want to be friends, but for the most part, they are a really nice, laid-back group of people. I mean, they love at least one of the three sports, and here they are, actually doing them. So they are happy. "You'll feel so much better soon- it feels so good to get to the top of this hill!" said a voice. I looked over my shoulder to see a guy in a yellow shirt. "You're doing really good," he said. "It's my first one!" I wailed. "Great job! You're past the worst of it!"
Then I passed a cop stopping traffic. "Good job! Looking strong!"
Then a family had set up a water stop. "Water? You need water! You're almost there! Good job!"
Then a state trooper. "You're making it look easy!"
I don't care if every single person was lying to me last night. I needed to hear that and those people are all sweeties and I have great love for them all.
Finally, the finish. As I approached the line, I heard the "clopclopclop" of two people behind me and I decided I was going to WIN THAT LITTLE SPRINT.
|I have the white hat.|
And that blurry shot M took is the only time in my life I will ever look like a real runner.
The DOH! moment:
As we packed up, and prepared to rack my bike back on my Beetle, I decided now was the time to fret over my wheel. I spun it. It turned a quarter turn. I spun it, harder. It turned less than halfway.
Yes, my brake was cheated to the right. I had ridden the whole race with my brake rubbing against my wheel.
And that is why my quads and hamstrings burned like fire all night and into this morning.
But I think back to the time that I passed a Shirtless Dude Who Was Very Proud of His New Aerobars and His Abs, and I totally wasted him on an uphill... I came up from behind, leaned around, and rocketed away from Shirtless Dude... WITH A BRAKE PROBLEM. That kinda rocks, right?