Did you take a close look at the image of the finishers medal I posted yesterday? The potato swimming, biking, and running. Hideous.
Well, get a load of this shirt. It's even better in color, right?
I am going to be stylin'.
[Ya, you'll never catch me in that.]
Luckily, Matt, a fellow Triology member, had warned me that the shirts and medals were bad. Plus, bad medals are nothing new to me. Remember the wood Olesak medal that was also given to 5k finishers? And then you've got the spelling error in my marathon medal (missing a space). [Shaking head] Still, somehow I love them all for what they represent. I just won't look directly at them ;)
So you ready for a long post? Yay! Let's get to it then...
Friday afternoon I packed up my bike, gear, etc, etc, made a quick stop for pool time at my brothers, and then by 3pm I was on the road north to Idaho. I loved driving up there by myself. I sang and sang and then sang louder. I listened to the full Phantom of the Opera soundtrack and then switched over to some good hip hop. I'm diverse like that.
About three minutes after arriving in Burley, ID I picked up my packet and found a green slip of paper that said, "Congrats! You are a winner. Pick up your prize at the stage between 5-7pm on Friday." I laughed to myself and then called Krick. If you haven't discovered this yet, I am lucky. So once I told Krick she said, "Of course, you did. Are you surprised?". There were a couple prizes to choose from, but I stuck with a red Under Armour duffle bag. Pretty sweet.
Once Krick and Randy arrived they picked up their packs and we hit up the "carb load" spaghetti dinner. Secretly I had packed a can of chicken noodle soup in case the dinner was crap. And I am happy to report that I didn't have to eat the soup. Not only did they provide a TON of food...more than I could finish...it was home cooked food, not just jarred marinara, etc. It was delicious. I want to find the recipe for that marinara. It was completely fresh and very tasty.
We then sat around and waited for the pre-race meeting, meanwhile running into a group of Triology members and Randy met up with a mission friend. Finally the pre-race meeting came on the PA and I was informed that I was not in the 7:50am wave as I had planned, but in the 7:10am wave. I should have been ecstatic. But, racing is such a mental game that I started to panic in my head. The water would be cooler, I didn't get to learn from earlier waves, and I now started before Randy. [But, it saved me on the run...it was so hot! Starting 40 minutes earlier was a great thing, in retrospect.]
As I sorted this out in my head, we went over to the T1 area and setup our bikes. What a process! We had to lube up and clean our chains, fill up our tires, wipe down the bikes, attach the numbers, and place everything in the order we'd need it.
Look how many freakin' bikes there were. Is that not insane? We setup on a row close to the exit. I think it was a smart move.
The next morning Randy and I woke at 5am and were out the door by 5:30am. It was 61 degrees outside and our nerves were centered around the fear of how cold the Snake River water would be. We got to the start line and setup out T2 station. As we setup our station Randy decided that he needed to know how cold the water was. So we walked over to the water. I refused to know. I had decided that I was just going to take the shock of it with the first dive into the water. But, after Randy dipped his foot in, he relieved our nerves with the proclamation that the water was warm! After making sure he wasn't fooling me, I confirmed this by checking for myself. We then laughed about wanting to skip around the park declaring, "The water is warm! The water is warm!" It was an exciting moment to say the least. [If you had thought your were diving into 45 degree water to find out it was 70 degrees, you'd understand. Trust me on this one.]
Next up, wetsuits. Putting on a wetsuit should be it's own event. If anything, someone should walk around a Triathlon start and film it for youtube. Randy and I were cracking up as we sweated to get on our suits. But, after one failed attempt that caused my suit to flip inside out and stick to my skin, I did get the suit on successfully.
Shortly after Krick and Asher showed up and before we knew it the Pro Wave was starting. My wave being only 10 minutes from that point. I went from complete excitement to total fear. Seeing all the Pros take off was intimidating. Was I really doing this? [Please don't drown. Please don't drown.]
But the minutes ticked away and suddenly I found myself entering the bull pin ready to get in the water with the rest of my wave.
About 4-5 minutes before the gun went off, we all got in the water and situated ourselves.
This one is like Where's Waldo....Where's Vieve?
I placed myself away from the shore and towards the back, expecting to be a slower swimmer than the rest of the group. I probably could have started at the front and scratched some time off the clock. Next time.
At 7:10 they counted down and we took off. I had thought the swimming would be terrifying. I've heard stories of getting swum over, kicked in the head, punched, your foot grabbed, etc. It sounds frightening, right? But, it wasn't that bad. At the start it was a bit crowded but as I passed a couple swimmers it got quickly more disperse and I was able to get into a good stroke pattern. And found myself checking my location about every 5th breath. I kept fairly straight, but was still nervous about running into someone or wasting time by going in the wrong direction that I believe I ended up wasting too much time keeping all this in check. Still, I kept at the front of the pack and on course.
We swam with the current which helped, but it didn't seem to be as big of a current as I had expected. I doubt you could have floated on your back and reached the finish of the swim.
About 200m before we approached the shore a guy ran into my side. It took me by surprise, but I moved about 4 feet away and kept pushing forward. However, as soon as I got back into a groove, he ran into me again. I moved. Then again, a third time he ran into me, this time punching me in the back of the head with his pull. I wanted to take his head and push it under the water. [You like that? Back off...]
Nonetheless, I finished the course. Without drowning! And made my way up the ramp to T1. As I ran back to my bike I peeled off the top of my wetsuit so that by the time I reached my bike I only had my legs to remove. I quickly slid the wetsuit down, bagged it, toweled off, and then dressed myself with socks, shoes, gloves, bandana, and helmet. Once I was ready, I started to run towards the exit [note: running in cycling shoes....not easy!], but as I did so Krick yelled out to me that I had to drop off my bagged swim gear. So running back, I tied up the bag, and went to bring it to the drop, but a sweet volunteer offered to drop it off for me. After I handed it over, I was on my way.
I mounted my bike and started to ride feeling really good about the results of my swim. I was in the front of my wave and felt that things were going perfectly. I waved to Krick and Asher and was on my way. Shortly after my lead started to slip away. Biker after biker after biker started to pass me. I felt that I was biking faster than my typical speed, but it wasn't cutting it. And I started to get discouraged. What was happening? Why was I going so slow? Then it got worse as passing cyclists started to say things like, "Keep it up!"..."Good work". It hit me...I am THAT person?! I've always been on the giving end of the encouragement to those who appear to be struggling. Now I was the struggler? WTF!
I easily started to give into the negative feelings. But, as I turned the half-way mark I decided that I wasn't going to be getting any faster. This was my first triathlon. I am supposed to enjoy it! So I kept biking as fast as I COULD, but started to enjoy the moment. The scenery was beautiful farmland with a rising sun back drop in the sky. I watched the other bikers. I thought about many things. It was the mindset I needed as we headed into the final stretch filled with rolling hills. And I soon found, that I may not be good at speed, but I am not horrible at climbing as I passed a few bikers and kept in front of others. So maybe I am not a complete loss?
The last turn into the final stretch was intense, nearly a 120 turn. So honestly, I am just glad I didn't crash at that point. In that moment alone, the bike wasn't a complete failure. And the crowds were huge finishing, so not only did I not entirely embarrass myself, I was pumped back up by the cheers as I rode into T2.
It took a short 2 minutes to drop off my bike and pick up my running gear. Out of T1 we ran across a grassy area and up a very steep hill. There were a lot of people walking across the grass and when we hit the hill nearly everyone started to walk. After years of running races, I've come to know a secret. Run the hills. Beat the competition. Even if you run it slowly. It's worth it.
I think many of the competitors I passed looked at me with skeptical grimaces. I know they thought I wouldn't sustain, but they were sorely wrong.
I told Krick after I finished that all runner's should participate in a triathlon. It will make them feel like a superhero. Lightning fast. In reality I was running at my normal 10k training pace (not race pace, since I normally don't swim or bike before running at race pace). But, compared to what I was surrounded with, I was fast!
Since iPods were banned, I decided to occupy the time by counting how many people I passed. I started doing this 1 mile in and counted to 100 before deciding to give up. I deducted anyone that passed me, which totaled 7 people; only 1 of which was a woman. Pretty f'n great!
The run was surprisingly my favorite of the events, simply because I felt like a rockstar. And you may not think of it as a surprise, but during training it was my least favorite. That does say something, because I never hated it. I just loved swimming and biking THAT much.
I came into the finish line sprinting and crossed the clock at 03:03:--, but with the elites starting 10 minutes prior, it makes sense my time was 2:53:56.3. I don't have any finishing pictures, because Randy was coming into T2 as I was crossing the finish line. But as I said to Krick, "I have enough bad finishing photos. I don't need another."
After I finished, I received my medal, drank a couple bottles of water, looked up my results, and cheered over them with Triology. Then I met up with Krick and we waited for Randy. I have to give props to my brother-in-law. He didn't train for the triathlon, but was capable of finishing. I don't know if I could say the same if I were in his shoes. It takes a certain kind of mindset to do that. You might call it crazy. I'd say it's impressive. These races require physical endurance, but more so they require a mental stability. If you lack one, then you better have the other. So way to go Randy!
We then packed up and I drove home.
I have to say thanks to Randy and Krick for being up there with me. For letting me stay overnight at the house. Krick for being our photographer and support team for the day. I know it was difficult for her not to be out there with us. And if not for the surgery earlier this summer she would have dominated this race. But, I am proud of her for putting her health first and toughing it out on the sidelines to keep herself from harm. If it's worth anything, she's an outstanding cheerleader!
So now what do I do with myself? Anyone have any ideas?