Here follows a riveting, step-by-step recap of last weekend’s rain-athlon. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll be forever changed. You’ll never get this four minutes back.
After taking most of Thursday to get my head back on, I did well Friday. It finally came down to the fact that I couldn’t face being a wimp. It came down to ego. Facing the triathlon was the lesser of two evils. I needed the bragging rights, I couldn’t sit home pouting while everyone else put on their big pants and did the race. Plus – did I mention? – they have free beer.
Once I figured that out and got moving I felt better. I got organized, printed a triathlon check list and realized I’d done well getting everything arranged and packed. The alarm went off at 4am, the car was loaded and we were set to go. Weather.com never changed its mind; this is what our drive to Tunica looked like:
That’s rain, not a crappy picture. Although it is also a crappy picture. Hey – it was 5am and I was only on my third coffee.
I stalled on the Happy Face a bit when we arrived, getting out of the car in 52 degrees of windy rain. We set up my transition in the rain and mud and went into the hotel to stay as warm and dry as we could until the start. The lobby was full of people in varying stages of concern, irritation, or resignation, making me not the only one with the Idonwannas. One of my friends walked out and went home. I felt slightly envious.
Sitting on the lobby floor I wrestled with the now sentient and obviously reluctant wetsuit which, as I pulled at the rubberized neoprene, continuously snapped back into its original shape like a new rubber band, clinging to my calves as I pulled and stretched with increasing effort. I finally got the reluctant thing – I’m pretty sure it wasn’t any happier than the rest of us – about halfway up my thighs. Standing, I jumped in place and tugged on the suit, because jumping up and down helps? At one point I got my arms into the arm holes but couldn’t stand straight because the crotch was still halfway up my thighs. Normally this type of thing would be a bit embarrassing, bent in half, in public, captive to a large stretchy garment of rubber, but everyone else was doing the same dance.
The best part? When I finally got it on, found a stranger to zip me and was able to stand straight? I had to go to the bathroom. And it wasn’t optional.
Thank you, nice lady in the bathroom, whom I’ve never met before, because with my hair smashed inside the rubber swimming condom and my body squished flatter than a pancake you looked for a moment as though someone was not in the correct restroom, and yet you didn’t scream.
Waiting for the start, standing in barefoot in the wet, muddy grass in a sleeveless wetsuit and 52-degree rain made the jump into 68-degree water feel nice. Even nicer, I felt no fear of the swim. I wasn’t much faster than last year, in fact it seemed to take much longer – because this time I knew where I was going? – but I made it. I ran through the squishy muddy grass to my transition site. The wetsuit that didn’t want me is now my best friend, “please, I love you, don’t leave me” and I plopped in the mud, finally jerking it off my feet, pulling socks on over the mud – who cared at this point – and crammed on my bike shoes.
Running through the grassy muddy transition I worried about all the stuff that could get crammed in my cleats and if I’d be able to clip in, but the Gods of Rainy Triathlons provided a handy-dandy shoe washing station:
That’s not me ^^
This is me:
This IS my Happy Face ^^
(DISCLAIMER – I am not a member of the Very Awesome Thunder Tri Team, but Kat C. loaned me this jacket to stay warm on the bike. See? Awesome people.)
The bike was great! I was hitting 20 – 21 mph! It was so easy! No strain, quads kicking in and not complaining, calves are silent – maybe it’s a miracle? I’ve had a miraculous cycling miracle with my 2014 training plan of four bike rides? This is AWESOME! I’m golden! I’m like … in a shitton of trouble, turning left halfway through the bike into a straight-on headwind blowing misty rain in my face. I dropped from 20mph to 10 in about 13 seconds. A woman in my age group passed me and disappeared into the distance. Dammit.
If you’ve never done a run following a bike ride, even a really slow bike ride, it’s weird. Cycling cadence is much higher than a run cadence; your legs get used to going round and round faster than usual, so when you head out on the run it feels like you’re still slogging through the mud of transition, yet you’re gasping for air, doing a 100-count-per-minute cadence. It seems to take most of the first mile to get the message to my legs that they can relax now. I managed to pass the lady who’d passed me on the bike and came into the chute knowing I’d left everything on the course, finishing 6 minutes slower than last year, all of it lost on the bike.
Saturday afternoon sitting around the pool with everyone I found myself thinking, “I could still register for tomorrow’s Olympic distance”, and I considered it for a moment, before realizing I was completely untrained for it. I knew, given my sincere desire not to injure this year, that it was a bad idea. But if I were trained up enough…