Friday, September 24, 2010

My Iron Lung

Hi old friend, I've been sucking at updates lately. I'm going to try to be better as I hopefully ramp up to Boston Marathon training. Here is my recount of the Title 9 Tiathlon:

All I can say is wow. It was awesome. 3 months ago, I could barely swim. Today, I am a triathlete. Of course, I didn't get a great nights sleep. The alarm went off at 4:30am. I packed and repacked my bag 4 times last night. The Weather Channel said 50 degrees. Ugh, what a morning for a swim. My excitement started to build as I loaded up my car and bike to drive 45 minutes to Hopkinton. I listened to my iPod, getting myself psyched up. As I neared the park, all I could see where cars with bike racks. Arcade Fire's 'Wake Up' blared as I drove into the park, and I got a little weepy.

I first saw my friend Christina when I walked into the transition area. I ran over to get marked with my number 264. The guy who did it gets a A because I still have to large 624's on my quadzillas, biceps and a big ole 39 on my calf (my age). I have to admit that I was loopy. The whole time between walking into the area to walking over to the swim start was a blur. I remember standing with Christina, Rachel, Liz and Rani (who was in the next rack over). Rani and I did a warm up swim. The water was warm - the air temp was not. The reservoir was very rocky - like big boulders. I got my first race injury by cutting my toe. After our warm-up swim, I wandered aound taking it all in. All women chatting, getting ready. Everyone was so nice and supportive.

We lined up for the swim according to swim cap color. Liz and Rachel were in the first wave - they are pros. Rani was before Christina and I. It was cold waiting for our wave. We were the 5th wave. The water level was low and it was even rocky at the start. We all waded and doggy paddled out to a treading water start. I am a swimming novice so i use a noseplug. I was having issues with that and my goggles so when everyone took off swimming, I was still futzing. The swim was long. It seemed like they kept moving the finish. I survived by side-stroke and backstroke. I was slow. I passed a few people, but not many. Then the last wave started and a few of them caught up to me. Boy, that chafed me. I started to really churn and finally got to the finish. Scott was there on the beach cheering me on.

My transition from swim to bike was unimpressive. I struggled with my wetsuit for the first time. Scott was behind me trying to take pictures with his phone (which would end up on FB without my consent) as I wrangled with my seal outfit. As I'm drying off my feet, I see someone run by me. WTH? You mean, someone has swam AND biked??? There were 2 girls next to me and we all kind of looked at each other in disbelief. And off I was on the bike. Holy hills, batman. Add to that, I had my bike tools strapped on ghetto-fashion with velcro. My bike needs a redesign from the comfort rental bike to a lean mean racing machine by my next race. So - the tire pump half falls off, clanging and banging against my tire. Not good. I had to pull off the road and figure something out or toss my pump in the woods. I strapped it to my Camelback and pushed it as far out of my way as I could. I learned many things on my ride. I learned about my gears. Trial by fire. I learned that age is just a number as calves with 49, 42, 53 owned my a$$. Hills suck running and they suck biking. I can share the road with cars even if an old dude in a Crown Victoria nearly took me out. I saw Christina running as I climbing the last blasted hill.

I ran my bike in, dropped my helmet and Camelback and I was off to the run. My transition was 1 minute. My legs were like bricks as I pumped them. This was the one leg of the race I could make up ground. I was finally passing people. I passed a few on the bike and even less on the swim - but on the run for the very first time - no one passed me. The spectators and race volunteers were so encouraging. You are on your last legs and they are telling you that you are a winner. As I crossed the dam on the reservoir, I saw a triathlete with a medal around her neck. I asked, are there finisher's medals? Everyone gets one, she said. I fist pumped and said, awesome. I dug in and pumped harder. I love my medals. I love my tchotchke. This is the 7th race I've done this year. Every time I've crossed a race where it is timed and they are calling out names - they never call my name. I want to hear Amy from Quincy. Today I did! 624, Amy from Quincy...congratulations! Christina, her family and MH were cheering me on. I was a triathlete!

The end of the race, I just searched for Rani, Liz and Christina. We hugged. We snapped photos. We ate some grub and dropped more money on tech shirts. Ok, that was me. Everyone was beaming ear to ear with pride. Even as it rained gently, we didn't leave. The race director made the announcement that the last triathlete was about to cross the finish line. We all immediately ran to the finish to cheer her on. It took her 3 plus hours to finish, but she was smiling and hold her head up high. And she probably got the loudest cheers of the day.

I want to thank all of you who encouraged me and for my virtual support group of Christina, Rani and Rachel. We are going kick a$$ in November ladies! Thanks to Liz who swam with me almost every week and that was a big help as the swim was my fear. And I big shout out to Scott who supported me, worked with my crazy training schedules and wrote me a blank check for whatever crazy tri-gear I felt I needed.

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