It is rather strange to think that a week ago today I was in my first triathlon! So, how did it go?
At the start I wasn't too optimistic, I have one day a month when I need 6 ibuprofen to get through the cramps... and race day was looking like it was going to be that day. I kept popping pills while the swimmers in the earlier waves did their thing, and in the end I either took enough or it was all in my head because I didn't end up doubled up along the race course pale and sweating bullets.
The swim was not what I expected. At the Palouse Sprint Triathlon the swim is done in the aquatic center pool. Swimmers circle swim, four to a lane, grouped with other swimmers with the same estimated swim time. The waves are organized starting with the slowest swimmers and ending with the fastest swimmers so that the race is finished in a timely manner. I was in the 3rd wave (of six), but I had the slowest estimated time in the slowest lane in the pool. I want to make it clear that I REALLY appreciate the volunteers and organizers of this event... it is a huge amount of work, and I love the venue and will return. That being said, things went a little rough in my lane. I started coming off the wall last. In two laps, I had passed the person in front of me. Then I came into the wall and everyone was just sitting there. Pool racing etiquette states that when you want to pass, you tap the foot of the person in front of you and the allow you to pass when you reach the wall. The ladies in front of me had probably all tapped each other and where sorting it out, at least that was my guess. I just did an open turn and kept on swimming - in retrospect, very stupid (sorry ladies!) but I wasn't sure what they were doing and I didn't want to stop swimming. So now I've jumped from 3rd to first. In a lap the lady behind me wants to pass. I let her. Meanwhile the other two people are doing crazy things like passing in the middle of the pool. Apparently there was a head on collision and I'm happy I wasn't the one to get smacked into. Now, as you can imagine, people are now swimming both directions... the volunteers need to know who is first and who is getting lapped to make sure they count the laps correctly. A little kid is holding the number board for our lane and isn't putting even putting it into the water. With all that is going on I have no idea what lap I'm on, but I see that the board now reads '"19" - which it is never supposed to read. On lap 19 it is supposed to go to double orange squares, alerting the lead swimmer to go one more length and exit the pool. Now I have no idea who the lead swimmer is, or if she is lapping me, or by how many laps that may be by. My friends who were cheering for me told me afterwards that after "19" one of the swimmers asked if she was done, didn't get an answer, swam another lap and exited the pool. I ended up getting out my lane 3rd.
Despite the frustration of not knowing what was happening during the swim, my position turned out to be nice for the rest of the race. Since I was one of the last people out of the pool in my wave, I had only two people pass me during the bike. But, since the race was out and back for both the bike and run, there was a constant stream of people coming the other way who would offer encouragement. It was an ideal situation, I didn't have worry about drafting or passing, and I didn't have to worry about being stranded in the middle of nowhere by myself while having a race induced heart attack ;) The ride out into the just harvested fields was actually beautiful. Moscow mountain was rising against the blue sky, it was warm without being hot, and what little traffic there was on the country road was well managed by cheerful Lion's Club volunteers. The course is nearly flat, with just enough of a grade to feel the down hill coming back. There did happen to be one field that was in the process of being harvested, but the combines where far enough away that I only inhaled a little chaff.
Ah, yes. And then the run. The run had what felt like an inordinate number of hills, but I used my patented "slowest jog in the universe" and just ate up those little hills with little relentless steps. Off the bike my knees felt great, but my calves tightened up, probably because I didn't have any hill training. I felt warmed up by the time I got to the turn around and was able to push a little harder and come into the finish line at a true run. Yeah!
I had estimated a time of 1:30 and I came in at 1:21:26 still feeling strong. Swim 12:26, bike 38:06, run 30:54. Now if I can shave 12 minutes off my time maybe I can keep up with my mom next year...