The swim is my only concern. In my training swims in open water, I would take on a lot of water or air, and stop to burp, or breathe, or rest. My stroke is fast enough, if I can keep on moving. The shallows near the shore are rocky with lots of weeds. To get in we all have to bellyflop into the water rather than try to pick our way over the rocks. It’s really cold and there’s a big shock when the cold water spreads into the suit though the zipper on the back. The tall weeds under that water are as tall as trees and remind me of Harry Potter with zee Grindelows in the deep. Watch out for zee Grindelows! I have to stop thinking like that or I’m going to scare myself. I get going near the front but there’s lots of room for others to pass and I let them, rather than try to keep up and run out of breath. Breathing is everything during the swim. This is when I get a happy surprise! I figured that all the other blue caps would out pace me but there’s a whole bunch of us that are the same speed and I actually manage to finish the swim alongside those same girls I talked with before the race. I'm swimming steady and strong. At the bridge I want to wave at everyone above. Coming out from under the bridge, I flip to my back and come out looking right up at someone. I give him a smile and a little wave. Following closely to shore works well. It keeps me in a straight line, and away from the crowd. There is little jostling in the water. It’s nothing like the stories of being kicked and punched when there's a mass start. I’m glad for someone's hand to help me out of the water at shore.
I see Dayna and Tammy there at the railing and wave to them as I get out of the water. They recognize me even in my wetsuit and swim cap! It's nice that they came to see us off.
Transition takes me a long time because all my things are in a plastic bag to keep them dry from the morning rain, so I have to pull them out in order to change clothes. The order is important ‘cause have you ever tried putting your shorts on over your shoes? or put your shirt on over your bike helmet? while soaking wet? I know what I'm doing though since I've done IronGirl as a practice race earlier in the summer and learned some tricks like having your shoes already untied.
The wind is ferocious. My strategy is to hold on at a steady pace, without burning myself out, so I can make up the time in the other direction with the wind at my back. I'm down to the small ring, and barely moving. I'm timing myself with a wristwatch wrapped onto the handlebars. At 20 minutes for the last five kilometers pacing, let's see. Red lights flash in my head, with alarm bells. I'm not going to make it by 2:00 pm cutoff.
Some people call me "dear". "On your left, dear". It's a little weird to hear such an intimate expression. Besides, in this wind, no one is "dear". You're tough, or you're done.
A Miele passes me! It's orange. My commuter bike is Miele. Later another Miele passes me! It's white. Those must really be old. I wonder if they are older than my Bianchi. I think they are. I give friendly shout outs to the riders cuz these are the first Mieles I have ever seen other than mine since they are so retro. And unlike mine these guys take care of theirs.
Lake Erie looks really rough. I'm sure glad we didn't swim in that. These big lakes are no place for a triathlon. But hey the wild lake is pretty, and I can enjoy the view since the wind is finally at my back.
We turn back from the lake, and the wind is helping instead of hurting. It's down almost to 8 minutes for 5 km. That's a lot better. My accountant's brain adds it up, and I can make it there on time. The wind took my speed, but not my strength. I power ahead. Then we turn left. More wind in my face and I can't see where we turn next so I know I’m gonna be riding into it for a while! I'm swearing now. The wind needs to end.
The tunnel is fun. It's cool to be able to bike through something like that. I zoom down into it, and start screaming and hollering just to hear the echoes, and then fly up the other side. It is the only hill on course and it’s shallow, and now the wind is at my back for good.
I see four guys changing flat tires.
We get to the river. Some guy passes and yells, "gear down and save your legs for the run". I want to yell back, "This is the low gear!" I know what I'm doing and have it where it's comfortable and won't wear me out. It’s 20 minutes to bike cut off, you're this far behind and think you can give advice?
I make it to transition at 1:40 pm. Plenty of time. The volunteers all yell and point, all the way to the back. I know. My number is 22. I have to go all the way through to where I leave my bike. I'm not running in my cycling shorts, so I switch to the tights. I also put on sun screen. My awesome leg tattoo needs its sunscreen. I pass off the rest of the bottle to another girl in transition who forgot hers.
I find a guy that is running steady and join him. We chat about tattoos and getting kids active. The distraction carries me through most of the first lap with lots of time to spare. Cut off is 3:30. There's Dad! He's just finishing the race and tells me to get going. I haven't stopped and he didn’t lap me on the run even.
|7:45 on the dot.|
My 2nd lap is about the same pace as my first, with run-walks mixed however I feel like doing them. I've got plenty of energy left to get running after each walk break. I pass a few people, so I'm not dead last on course. I talk for a while with a lady about Wisconsin, and running, and her hip. Her hip is sore. I've had that, in marathons. This race is easier than a marathon. I have no blisters, no painful legs, no stiff legs the next day. Not having the marathon pains makes me realize how massively in shape I am. I notice that we have been walking a lot. That's fine 'cause we are both on second lap. She will make it, but I have to go. I say bye and get on with running.
I finish in 7:45 on the dot. Where's the bananas? There's supposed to be bananas. It is the best banana you will ever eat.
Triathlon is a different breed of pain than the marathon. Marathon pain is intense and concentrated in my legs and feet and joints. Triathlon pain is an afterburn in my muscles, all my muscles, even that spot between the shoulder blades that I didn’t realize could hurt.
Me and Dad meander off to the car and recount the day all the way home. We lounge in the hot tub and I decide to wear my hat for the next week straight. It says FINISHER on it.