As I ran toward the transition area, I felt about as calm as I'd felt in the whole race preparation. I guess I'm a fairly strong climber- I regularly pass people on the climbs when I ride. Don't ask me how I achieved that. DC is a very flat course. It would be wet, which made me nervous. Remember the Crash? I crashed on a day very like Sunday- rain off and on, standing water, wet roads. But still... BIKE RIDE!
I met Coach Rick, and he handed off my cochlear. He hovered wanting to be helpful, but knowing that the rule of tri forbid too much help. I stripped my wetsuit, and pulled on my helmet, my arm warmers, my socks and shoes, and this time, I remembered my gloves. I was all suited up. I pulled my bike free. Coach Rick was done for the day, and I was off to the bike course. In just a few minutes, I was on the bike, and cruising.
They say to start slow, so I did. I guess I have a lot of leg strength, because very soon, I was passing people. It's such a flat course that I could easily take my hands off the bike to start eating and drinking. I had my clif bar and my shot bloks and my gatorade... full-on bike picnic.
It was one of the most enjoyable rides in the rain I've ever had. I paced strong and fast (my splits showed I held a pace of 17.5 for this part of the course, and moved up about 300 places in the field- in other words, I passed a lot of people.) The TT machines would blow by me like I was standing still- I'd hear their distinctive chatter well before I'd hear the rider's shout of "ON YOUR LEFT".
Soon, I discovered one of the fun things with the non-competitive section. Where I was in the race, none of us were going to be age group podium contenders. We were first timers, regular gals, or just people seeking a personal best. I passed and was passed by a certain group of people. Finally, one other girl and I started yelling, "Hi! Passing you again!" at each other. Once I yelled, "Let's trade places again!"
I was SO glad to have ZERO flats after this Summer Of Flats. Whew!
We rode up the Rock Creek Parkway, into Maryland. We did a hairpin turn and rocketed back to DC. In a few places, the race volunteers slowed us down like we were NASCAR drivers (usually, for a road hazard or especially sharp turn).
And the cool thing about going with Team in Training? There were over 750 of us, so that's a LOT of people in purple tri suits. It's incredibly awesome to be rocketing along and to see some guy rocketing back on the return leg, also decked out in TNT purple. (I think we look hot in purple spandex. Call me vain, but there's a lot of easy-on-the-eyes triathletes. I might keep racing just for the eye candy.) And again and again, I'd hear a call...
"ON YOUR LEFT.... GO TEAM!"
And all too soon, it was over. I was back into the crowd, clipping out of my pedals, and getting ready for my nemesis...