Today was the big day: the Cotton Country Sprint Triathlon. I've actually been dreading it all week; and Thursday am horrified to discover one of those untimely events that only women experience - I'll avoid stating the obvious, except to say that it left me worried about hydration and electrolytes, how cranky I get and how sore my lower back gets, things like that. In any case, not a good omen. But interesting in light of what I carried home from the race, which you'll read about later.
As well, I'm paranoid about the lack of time I've spent on my bike. Every since I went back to work (teaching) I plan out these days that I'm going to ride or swim, and then there's some meeting, and I can't. For one, brief moment I even consider backing out. But I've told too many people. I can't back out now. In any case, I'm worried that I'll really suck, but then I remind myself of the 3 sacred goals of me, the Virgin Triathlete: 1) Finish, 2) Don't be dead last, and 3) Have a good time. On Thursday, the new tri suit arrives (the first one was sewn incorrectly and had to be returned) so my last excuse not to run is gone. Friday, I pack up the munchkin who will be in this triathlon with myself and Husband, and off we set for Lubbock.
Saturday, I wake up feeling nervous. Worried that I'll just embarass myself. I remind myself of the three sacred goals. We drive out to Levelend, where it is surprisingly cool. Luckily, the race T-shirt is long-sleeved. I get marked, and find out that I'm the only Athena entered. An evil voice whispers in my ear "you don't even have to try. Just mosy!" I push the evil voice away. At 9:00, the race begins. It's a reverse triathlon, run-bike-swim. Nearing the turnaround, I am very nearly the back of the pack. I'm running faster than my usual slow steady pace, and am promptly passed by a much older man running slowly but steadily. For the rest of the run, I"ll try in vain to catch him. I never do. Husband and Son pass me yelling, "great job, Misty" and "way to go, Mom," respectively. So do the volunteers along the road "you're almost there! Way to go!" That's the cool thing about Triathlon, all the upbeat attitudes. But, I'm going too fast, and have to stop and run a couple of times. Taking a cue from Jayne Williams, I tell the people passing out water, "it's all part of my strategy: I'm saving it for the bike!" All the while thinking to myself, "I'm saving it for the nap on the trip home". But I don't finish last; I finish third from last. As I come into t1, the guy yells out, "36:35" and I think. "That can't be right," I think, "I've never run that fast." I'll know for sure when they post the splits.
Pull of the running shoes, strap on the "clipless" bike shoes, and I'off! As I round the last corner onto the straightaway a guy by the side of the road warns me of some ruts in the road, "don't let your tire catch!". I think that's what he said, anyway, so I thank him and ride out. I'm excited about sitting and riding a nice, flat 13 miles until I get out onto the main rural ride that comprises most of it: the wind is unbelievable. It's blowing in my face really hard with occasional gust from my left that push my back end sideways, causing the evil voice to whisper in my ear two things: "your butt is so wide that it catches the wind" alternating with, "that guy didn't say that, he said 'get your tire patched!'" My paranoia re. the last part causes me to look down several times to check and see of my tire is low, but I push on, dropping down and trying to make myself as tiny a wind target as possible. Unbelievably, I manage to pass five or six people on the bike, incluing my nemesis, the elderly man who kicked my butt in the run, but that's all; the ride back is nice because the wind is at my back. I find that the cadance meter, newly installed on my Trek 1000, to be extremely helpful in this regard. I round the corner to find my son and husband waiting for me with camera in hand as I head into T2. Earlier, I had snapped my goggles into my hearing aid case, believing that I needed to be able to hear on the bike for people coming behind me but worried that I'd accidentally jump into the pool with it in (I haven't mentioned it before, but I'm hearing impaired and wear a super-high tech digital device on my left ear) so I did this. I pull out my hearing aid and put it in its case, grab my goggles, kick off my shoes and socks, and head for the pool.
Maybe snapping my goggles into the hearing aid case wasn't such a great idea, because they keep filling up with water and eventually come apart in the middle. However, I am aware of my husband snapping pictures and son yelling encouragement when I turn, and blindly swim on, make the turns, finish the swim, and eventually clamber out of the pool. This was the point at which I became aware of an interesting phenomenon: my body was talking to me. particularly my legs. They said, "sit down, now". Which I did. Wobbly. Interesting. I sat for a while, trying to get my wits about me, while my husband and son were asking me if I'd liked it. Hard to answer now. Eventually I get up and walk to the transition area, and I notice my husband is grinning like crazy as he puts out bikes away. I put my hearing device back in and start packing up. People I've met at previous triathlons come up and ask me if I liked it. One woman tells me that she remembers me talking about it two months ago and is really happy I actually did it. I am too. I'm still processing the psychological impact it's had on me. I'll write more about that when I do.
At the awards, son gets a 2nd place medal as an age-grouper. Husband takes 1st place in the Clydesdales (out of about 7 total; they are surprisingly competitive) and I get first place Athena, since I was the only athena. My total time was 1:39. Our 1st place trophies? Really cool little tiny bales of cotton with the race logo on them and "First Place" on it.
It is cotton country, after all. :-)