I'll mention the best thing and the worst thing about my experience.
First, the best. When I got to the transition area, which was neatly arranged on soft, thick grass I was stunned to see them. There they were all around me, in such numbers as I had ever seen before.
Remember that scene in Jurassic Park I where they look out over the rise and see all the Brontosauri? Majestic music swells, and you see them, gentle, beautiful giants, lumbering gracefully, and that is the picture I'm trying to put in front of you at this moment when I saw what was in the transition area.
Clearly, Bend, Oregon is where My People are. My peeps walked around on solid legs, their bad selves wearing their size L and XL Sugio, Speedo, and Tyr suits with pride. They were tall with hips, thighs and calves that said, "I mean business!" Oh, sure - there were some little petite bird-like people scurrying underfoot with worried, tense expressions, chattering about the cold water. We paid them no mind, and shared tips about body glide and sweat. We had other worries than cold water, which are the subject of my only real complaint of this triathlon. There were far more Athenas than Clydesdales, in my opinion, and it was ironic that there was no Athena or Clydesdale division.
Other than that, the race was very well organized, with one glaring problem: The first wave took off at 9:00. I was in the 9th wave, so I took off at 9:45. That's right. 9:45 in the morning, after the temperature was already into the 80's. The waves were arranged in ascending age order and gender, which meant the oldest would be on the run around noon, when the temperature was expected to be in th upper 90's. This is the latest triathlon I've ever done, and as it happens, my only real complaint. I asked the race director about that later, and she said that from now on, they're going to start it an hour earlier, with fewer waves. yay! Other than starting so late, the race was awesome.
I walked into the water to prepare for my wave, and that's when I understood it, the chattering about the water. The water as COLD. Not that I was surprised or angry that a mountain stream was cold - but it was startling none the less. It was so cold my feet ached. Take your breath away cold. Hella cold. Damn cold. Mama can your boys still have babies cold. When I started the swim, my face hurt with how cold it was.
Did I mention it was cold?
Siren would have HATED this swim, because the closed-eye trick wouldn't have worked; occasionally water weeds would be floating on the surface, and when you reached to make a stroke, your fingers would become entangled in some. Other than that, though, the water was clear, clean, and did I mention, cold?
The best part of the swim was that it was down-river. The current was strong enough to get you a serious PR on your swim, and I got mine: about 20 minutes for 1300 yards. My T1 time was better; I think I'm getting pretty efficient at getting the wetsuit off. I no longer even attempt to dry my feet; I just brush off whatever debris has collected and shove socks and shoes on them. I figure it's just a sprint, so I don't worry about any residual dampness.
The bike was through new neighborhood and then out along a mountain road, pleasantly uphill but downwind on the way out, a little more downgrade but into the wind on the way back. It was 14 miles, and I did it in about 57 minutes. Not my best time, but I'm working on not blowing out my legs so that I can have a good run.
The run was flat, a double loop. It was nearing noon as I was finishing, and I was started to feel pretty hot and a little shaky toward the end. I had a decent time, (for me) with about a 11:30 minute mile. Then I headed across the finish line, where a volunteer handed me a "finisher's medal": a cowbell with the race logo painted on it Neat! I always wanted one of these to have at races to wave noisily at my friends.
I hung out in the medicial tent for no real reason other than I was damned hot and I desperately needed shade, NOW. I sat on a cot and drank ice cold water while they gave me a bag of ice to apply to myself. I shoved it into my skinsuit and it was awesome. The EMT's could not for the life of them figure out why "race directors in Oregon seem to like to start races late, when it's hot". Me neither. next time, I'll bring more water. Otherwise, the race was fun, and I had a great time. I love my cow bell. I think I was in the last half of my age group, but I wasn't last.
Now I'm off to Pocatello, ID. See you soon!
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