(First read: The Night before the Race and Pre-Race)
So then we walked down to the lake and started. And I could have drowned, but I didn't. There were some people hanging onto the sides of the boathouses, which they can do, as long as they don't move forward. It looked real nice, resting. I was very tempted, but I knew that it was psychological: if I stopped, I wouldn't start again. So I kept going. I couldn't swim with my face underwater. When I tried I went off course and I almost hyperventilated. So I did sidestroke, backstroke, breaststroke. Anything to keep moving. And I didn't think about fishes. I believe they were over at the wet bar having early morning cocktails.
The crappiest thing about the swim was that my muscles were very cold. Normally when I swim, the warm up is important. After I've been in the water awhile, the swimming is easier. The hardest part, right up there with the swim, was hurrying out of the water. The race volunteers were like, "Great job, the worst leg is over." And I said, "Am I the last one out?" And they were like, no. But I didn't see anyone behind me. Maybe they were still hanging onto the sides of the boathouses.
Immediately you start running. In a normal triathlon, the next leg is the bike ride, but for some reason this race was split up. So then I ran uphill for a while. I was totally out of breath and waterlogged. My shorts weighed two tons and I didn't dry my hair off, so it was flopping in my face. The morning was muggy and I was carrying four pounds of water around with me, uphill. I had a couple side aches too. I kept going. And I passed a few people.
I actually felt guilty about passing people, that's how stupid I am about competitive sports, and probably a big reason why I try not to compete anymore. But it was also invigorating to pass them. I'm sure they knew I was coming, because I was breathing like Darth Vader, so they had the chance to pick up speed if they had wanted too. I normally don't sound like Darth Vader when I breathe, the race just brought it out in me.
Then you run into the bike area. You change your shoes, or you don't, and you put on your bike helmet and they yell at you that you can't mount your bike until you pass this line here, and they say you have to go around some random cone before you can leave the bike area, and you're off. For me the ride was the best part. I don't know why, it's just less rough on your body or something.
I tried to keep up a pace of 15 mph or more. It was rough, but I did it, I believe, though I was at a disadvantage because I was on a front suspension mountain bike with road slicks. The road slicks helped enormously, but it was really hard to compete with people on a road or tri bike. I saw several people with regular fat, knobby, mountain bike tires and I thought, "You poor fool." And then I felt sad for them as I passed them. I wanted to shout out, "Next time you really should, at the VERY least, get road slicks!" but I didn't.
The race organizers said the course was mostly gently rolling hills. I would argue that the hills weren't gentle. They were beastly. The country was beautiful, however. There was a lot of lake footage and the occasional pastureland, with bleating goats and whatnot, and some rich area right next to the lake with a big extravagant sign that said, "Cash Country." Hmm.
Then we hurried into the bike transition area and jumped off our bikes and put our running shoes back on and ran another mile and half, uphill both ways. I passed a few people and felt sorry for them. I kept thinking, "Why the hell am I doing this? Never again."
As I neared the end, I passed a guy who had had the audacity to pass me during the bike leg. Ha ha. And I passed a girl. They were both walking. As I got closer to the finish line, there was a guy announcing finishers into PA system. He was like, "It looks like 218 is trying to pass 440," and I was like, hell no! to myself, and I sprinted. For no real good reason at all, other than that I had just passed her because she had been walking, she was much younger than me and she was all decked out in a tri suit and I looked really trashy in my running shorts and top.
She didn't beat me and she was nice enough to pat me on the back. I would have said something nice to her, too, except that I was about to throw up and was looking for a place to do it. But I sat down on a curb and was able to stifle the urge.
My conclusion? Probably one of the hardest physical things that I've done. It required a lot of focus and determination, as you might expect, and there was, quite honestly, a lot of questioning. Why the hell am I doing this? Why am I doing this? What the hell is my reason for doing this? This sucks (not a question, but I thought it a lot). I'm never doing this again (more of an imperative sentence). Another hill? This bites. Stuff like that.
But when I finished, I ate a banana and drank a Coke and thought, "That was pretty awesome." And then I thought about all the ways I could do the next one better. I ran into some people from my swimming class and one of the lake swimmer guys was there (he finished 3rd in men's). Someone told me that I looked really strong during the run and ride, which confirmed to me how deceptive my poker face is. Bwah ha ha ha ha.