First off, trivia. Can you see me in any of the swim photos? I am there, number 17, totally rocking it. Bobby even got a photo of me doing the front stroke which was a rare occurrence, that water was cold, no way my face was staying in that for a long period of time.
Back-track… Leading up to the Oregon Dunes Triathlon I was not planning on participating. I was going to do my sprint triathlon in Lincoln City in mid-June. But then they changed the date to September and here I am training for a sprint and no race to run. For specific reasons I wanted to finish a triathlon before Bobby graduated and now time is limited. I looked up a few races around here but not many fit my schedule. I found this race and I knew it was going to be hard and full of hard-core triathletes who were way to focused on winning and time et cetera. So 12 days before the race I did a trial to see if I would finish, get an estimated time and see how sore I was the next day. Funny thing, I was just fine, not amazing or fast but good enough for me. I signed up.
Five days before the race and everybody registered for the sprint got an email, “The Swimming Distance Has Changed” read my subject line. My heart dropped. I was already terrified as it was. What was 500 yards became 820 (750 meters). I ended up emailing the race director because they originally had a swim cut-off time of 30 minutes, my 500 yards took 15-20, I could only imagine that the 820 would take nearly double the time. He replied saying they lifted the cut-off and offered to come take a practice swim in the lake to practice the day before. Even though the communication of swim distances was so late in the game, the correspondence was nice to have.
Day of the race, Bobby and I get up before dawn and start driving to Florence. I am so horrified I am not hungry. I eat anyways… two fruit leathers and later a blueberry muffin. I am trying to set up a transition area and there is hardly any room, no more than about six inches once the bike is racked. I decide to just not care at this point. I set my bucket down and cover it with a garbage bag (it was supposed to rain).
I received a bunch of advice from my triathlon friends and they were all useful tips. But one that I think helped the most just starting the race was one get in the water and sit there for a few minutes. The water was cold (58 °F) and sitting there helped my body get acclimated and ready to swim without feeling too uncomfortable.
While waiting for the next 10 minutes to pass by to get started I met some people that were nice to joke around with about how crazy this was. It was nice to see a familiar face during the race a couple times and realize that I was not the only one doing this alone.
Time to swim. Bobby told me before I got in the water to just sing Dory’s song when I started to get tired and that it would be over soon. I think I sang “just keep swimming, just keep swimming” the ENTIRE time, especially when someone was picked up out of the water. I don’t know about him but it horrified me (not that anything out of the ordinary happened to him just that he was done with this crazy thing). I just kicked my feet and moved my arms a bit faster to “not let that be me”.
I finally got to shore, my toes were cramping and like little ice cubes. It was time to get out. I finally stood up and walked with Bobby to the transition station. He said it had been only 24 minutes.. say what? I did that in 24 minutes?! Consider the mission accomplished already.
I choose to completely change into dry clothes during this transition (one I was cold, two it was forecasted to rain and I wanted my base layer to be dry). It is my personal opinion that changing stations should have benches, getting out of wetsuit is already difficult. I may or may not have fallen down once or twice while trying to get it off at a fast pace.
Now I was ready for the bike portion, before the race they added/mentioned the course went through rolling hills. Liars. They were monstrous hills. What I predicted would take me a little less than an hour took me a little over an hour. Not bad but not great. These hills were bigger than any “hill” I have ever biked. Going uphill sucks however it makes for a very epic way down. I refused to use my brakes for the entire course and did I go fast down those hills.
About my bike, you remember Pegasus, right? Well he is currently in the “nearly dead” status. So we got a new bike, and I love it! It is a commuter bike ready to hold three baskets, one is already welded onto the front. Anyways, I got a lot of comments from people consisting of:
“I think you brought the wrong bike.”
“Where’s your other bike?”
“That’s not made for this.”
“Good luck with that.”
And you know what?! The dialogue in my mind at the time went something along these lines…
“1. You should have seen my last bike, this one will at least live through this race. 2. My bike has fenders and your back is all muddy now. Take that. 3. My bike has an awesome basket to hold all my Red Vines. Now what? Suckers.. Cause I’m not sharing.”
And that’s all I have to say about that.
Once I was done with biking I was tired. And just plain ready for this whole thing to be over. I didn’t even want to think about taking the light sweater off and then transitioning my bib to a different shirt, it seemed too much of a hassle… I should have just done it then instead of a mile into the course. Bonus, I had the no. 1 rank for transition 2 (number might be inflated but it was still under 60 seconds)! And a run is just a run, I hate running but I did it.
The whole race when I wasn’t singing “Just Keep Swimming” I would think of progress that I made. During the swim it went along the lines of “1/4 done just get to half way. Okay I made it keep it up. 3/4 out of the way finish strong.”
During the bike it was “Hey I am 1/3 already finished FOR THE ENTIRE RACE now that the swim is out of the way.” As each mile passed it out add a tenth to my tally. I rang my little bell that was my rallying cry when I was half way done with the second portion.
The run consisted of thinking “Alright let’s get this thing over with.” “2/3 of the race are already done. Let’s get the finisher’s medal. Each step is a step closer to the finish line.”
I tried to stay positive once the race started. But I won’t lie it was a bit out of my league. But I finished and near my estimated time. I estimated it would take me 2 hours and 40 minutes and it actually took 2 hours and 44 minutes. It overwhelms me to think about it still, I can’t believe I actually did it. However I am glad its over with. So relieved. I think I would do another triathlon but probably a tamer course with more rookies like myself. You know, the ones who don’t care what their time is and are just happy to be finishing. I don’t mind that I came in dead last, I am proud of myself for accomplishing something that I didn’t think (or even desire) I could do a year ago. And that medal looks pretty good on me.