I set out with two goals, and two goals only:
1) finish …and finish in under two hours; and
2) run, bike and swim the whole thing – no stops, no walking, no getting off the bike, no walking up hills. Maybe that’s three or five goals. Anyway.
I arrived around 6:15am for an 8:00 am race start. It felt like basically nighttime. And you gotta love this picture. The shining alien light beaming off my right leg. The weather was cold, and I forgot a jacket. I wandered to the registration desk where I was marked in Sharpie tattoo with my race number.
I checked the tire pressure in G-Force (my bike) and it was low. Pulled out the ole Joe Blow and tried to pump the back tire. Nothing. The part of the tube where the tire pump attaches (again, I don’t know the terminology for anything) was bent. I was thinking, holy cow, I am going to have to change a tube before the race even starts? But I was also prepared for that, so I tried not to get stirred up. The frustration helped warm me up, though. Instead of freaking out and going straight for the tube, I tried to make the pump happen, and it worked. Both tires were pumped and ready.
I hauled my stuff over to the transition area, and found a place to park G-Force. I laid out all the stuff I would need for the Run to Bike transition (T1), and then Bike to Swim transition (T2). I felt ready.
The race announcer gave us the rules and a summary of the course. He warned us about the bike course being “quite challenging, especially with the 1.5 mile hill which appeared around mile 3.” Sweet.
Before I knew it, the race started, and I was running. Ahem, I was jogging at the pace of old ladies in walkers. The run was on trails, but fabulous. At mile one, I looked behind me and there were only about fifteen people back. Which meant about two hundred were in front of me. And at that moment, I tripped on a root and nearly lost my footing. Sweet.
I finished the trail run, passing about six walkers, with my 5k time around 38 minutes. Yes, slow. I told you. Sweet.
My Run to Bike transition was pretty fast and smooth and flawless for a big klutz like myself. The massive hill that welcomed me on the bike around mile 2.5 was not fast, nor smooth, nor flawless…and I was heaving and puffing like a four-hundred pound male smoker. Don’t know why a male smoker, but whatever. I was sucking wind hard enough that people in front of me would hear me coming and look behind glaring, perhaps thinking a train was on their heels. Choo choo, I’m suffocating here, people. Choo choo, better watch out. Slow fat know-nothing triathlete on the way up the hill. Choo choo, I watched as people, one-by-one, fell off and dismounted their bikes and began walking up the hill, bikes in tow.
G-Force and I were suffering in the granny gear, and squeaking like rusty wheels, but I was not getting off that bike. I looked down at my CatEye, and I was travelling at the speedy pace of 6 MPH on the hill. I actually saw a small, yellow snake slither along parallel with me, and thought, I have got to pick up the pace. So I did, to about 8 MPH. Sweet.
Around mile 4, that particular hill was over. However, that bike course consisted of one hill after another, with the biggest, steepest hill around mile 8 or so (but it was short). The remaining hills were also pretty short, thank goodness, and I was finished with 12 miles with very little drama, but a quite sore rump.
I am a lousy runner, clearly. But I was able to pass many folks on the bike, and it felt good. I can thank the Expert and Ironman Gfor the bike portion: the Expert for telling me that we ex-weightlifters are good for bikes and Ironman G for the Friday workouts that pushed these big ole legs up the hills. I didn’t check my time rolling into the crowded transition area, but I saw one of the race volunteers waving his arms and screaming, Dismount your bike! Dismount here! Dismount here! People were cheering and it was a pretty large crowd.
Well, I kind of panicked at the volunteer screaming, and just like my first Silver Comet Trail adventure, I clipped out my right foot and my left foot was stuck.
I hit the pavement. Sweet.
The crowd kind of went “gasp”! and then “ooooooh!” and then when I stood up, they let out a big “ahhhhh” of relief, and clapped. The same volunteer who scared me, had rushed over and tried to pick me up under my armpits when I fell. He was about 120 pounds, and I kept telling him no no no no, I’ve got it, and I wanted to scream, If you try and pick me up, I am SO going to unintentionally bring you down with me… so that was awkward. But finally, I was on my feet. I felt like a clown, especially at the sports photographer who managed to continue taking pictures of me. But all was okay.
Actual injuries = 0
Pride injuries = 1
I still had a swim to do. I unbuckled and unlatched everything and ran to the pool. This volunteer was screaming No Diving! No Diving! Yeah, I got that under control. The swim was a piece of cake. I think that was the ideal. The swim took place in the pool, alternating lanes, and I was passing slower pokes than me. Before I knew it – a thirteen year old boy helped wrench me out of the pool, and I was finished. My first triathlon time was 1:40:00. Ish. Not sure the official results yet.
Things I wasn’t: fast, coordinated, smooth looking (as shown by this awesome picture below).
Things I was: calm, focused, and a finisher.
The Slow Fat Triathlete book had the most valuable information for chubby first-racers. Lots of info about the transitions, the pre-race checklist, and the best advice of all: a slow fat triathlete must not care about what she looks like during a race. Between my super sexy spandex and the T2 fall, I could have been devastated by the way I surely looked. And I did not care. Thank you SFT book.
Although this was a baby triathlon, I think I am hooked. Thanks for all the well wishes. The day was great, and the kids loved my new Sharpie tattoos.