I was watching the weather report all last week and it read something like “Gorgeous sunny fall weather every singe goddamned day except Saturday, when it’s expected to be cooler and maybe rain a little in the morning, but if you’re doing a triathlon for the first time you shouldn’t be worried or anything because we’re just saying chance of some showers, not like a torrential downpour of epic holy-shit proportions or anything, ha ha ha ha.”

Ha ha HA. So anyway, it rained on Saturday, like a whole fucking lot. It was pitch black and water was drumming on the roof when my alarm went off, and I know some of you are thinking, well, you DO live in Seattle, but I’m telling you it was like some kind of cosmic joke, the sudden appearance of miserable February weather in the middle of an otherwise perfectly lovely September.

I had put a lot of thought into my transition area but had failed to consider the possibility of everything being wet, so I kind of improvised with draping towels here and there and tucking my shoes under some clothes, but really, I shouldn’t have bothered. Everything got completely drenched, and it didn’t matter anyway because, you know, it rained on me the whole time.

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I was in the fourth wave for the swim and while we stood around waiting I was insanely grateful for the wetsuit, because while it wasn’t completely freezing out or anything, it sure wasn’t comfortable. We all watched the Elite swimmers—the nutbags who were doing the entire race twice—complete their swim in about five minutes, which was humbling and also sort of made me want to stick out my foot and trip them as they galloped by.

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Then it was my turn, and all us yellow-caps splashed into the water at once. It was . . . oh, let me get back to the swim part.

So! When I finally heaved myself back out of the water (spoiler alert: I didn’t drown) I knew I should be running at top speed to my bike, but uhh, there was definitely some walking at first. Also, some gasping and wheezing. Eventually I managed to force myself into a kind of half-trot and got to my sodden transition area, where I started peeling my wetsuit off, forgot the timer chip strapped around my ankle until JB—who was standing nearby—reminded me, got out of the damn suit and put on my helmet, shoved on my shoes, then almost forgot the timer chip again. Smooth move, Ex-Lax.

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I ran my bike to the mount-up area, jumped on, and thus began the easiest part of the race by far. I’ve never ridden my bike in the rain before so I was tentative at first, especially on turns and going through puddles of standing water, but overall it really just felt exhilarating and completely hilariously insane. Like, seriously, who rides their bike in a damn monsoon while wearing nothing much more than a swimsuit? Apparently I do! WHEEEE!

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The bike course was a 4.5 mile loop that we had to do twice, and I’m sure I was much faster the second time around after getting my bearings and not being so worried about hydroplaning or whatever. There was one hill that briefly wiped the smile off my face both times around, but I still felt pretty good—lots of people had to get off and walk, while I motored along with . . . well, not ease, but it was definitely doable. And thankfully, short.

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When I got back to my transition area (they call this T2, if you want to be all, you know, slangy and shit) I was like a drowned rat—my shoes, socks, clothes, everything was soaked and I had dirt and crap all over me. JB was there saying encouraging things and I blurted “I CAN’T FEEL MY FEET” because no kidding, I couldn’t. My feet were almost totally numb, and I don’t know if it was the cold or the wet or my laces or what, but when I started running I felt like I was hobbling on two dead stumps or something.

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My feet seriously felt like that for the first three-quarters of the run, which really sucked, but there wasn’t much I could do about it. The run was really short, only 1.5 miles, and when I was heading back in my feet finally woke up and my knees warmed up and my ankles stopped feeling like they were made of cement and I could take longer strides and it was just starting to feel like something I could actually DO when I realized it was almost over. I passed a volunteer who jumped up and down and shouted “EYE OF THE TIGER, BABY!” and I could feel this enormous grin stretching my face in half and I passed another runner and I could hear someone behind me and I passed John Curley who shouted, “You’ve only got 50 more yards to go! If you’ve got anything left in you, use it up!” (side note: he was enormously motivating and awesome during the whole event, and I take back every single time I have called him an annoying-ass doucheburger) and I sped up and I could hear the person behind me running faster and as we approached the finish line we were both sprinting to beat each other and she beat me by a stride.

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But I was the one with the massive blissed-out smile, so there.

My finish time was 1:05, and I was 94 out of 245 racers. In my age group, I was 10 out of 27. The numbers didn’t really matter to me, but I can’t lie, I feel good that I was in the top half.

I feel best about how I did during the bike segment. In retrospect, I wish I would have ridden the loop once just to be familiar with it, and of course I wish it hadn’t been raining, but I never felt tired or out of energy. The run could have gone better if my feet hadn’t felt so weird, but at least I didn’t slow down and walk. I’m glad I was able to pick it up at the end.

Sooooo, the swim. Yeah. The swim, frankly, sucked. As soon as I was in the water, I kind of freaked out, and I basically stayed freaked out the whole time. I couldn’t get away from people and find my own space, and some people flipped over right away and started doing backstroke so they were extra kicky and oblivious. I just could not keep my face in the water, no matter how hard I tried, and I don’t know if it was the stress or the exertion or the fact that it was so rainy and dark and creepy and the water felt like BLEAK MURKY DOOM (I couldn’t see a damn thing, and I know I’ve made a big fat deal about how I hate seeing seaweed and lake-slime and stuff but it’s so much worse not to see anything, oh my god), but all my training went flying out the window and I basically did a janky wannabe freestyle stroke with my head up the whole time. It wasn’t quite a dog paddle, but it certainly wasn’t efficient, and it was exhausting. I was breathing in short panicky gasps and twice I had to flip onto my back just to regroup.

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At least I wasn’t alone, other people were obviously flailing during the swim too. And I actually did okay overall despite how I felt—I ranked 14 out of 27 in my age group for the swim, and finished in 11:21. It wasn’t like I had to be rescued or anything, but I was disappointed that I didn’t perform better. Not that I didn’t go faster, but that I couldn’t do it with a proper stroke. I hated that I got so scared and had to take those rest breaks, because I can absolutely swim that far without any problems in a damn pool. I know it was all mental, and that pisses me off.

Well, I wanted to fess up to the partial swim-fail, but overall I feel positive about how I did. Physically I felt pretty strong the whole time, and I crossed the finish line giving it everything I had.

You guys. I did a fucking triathlon, you guys. It was both harder than I thought it was going to be (the swim, the rain), and much easier. It was fun, of all things. I didn’t expect that. I expected to feel good when I was done, and I did. But I didn’t know I’d be smiling almost the whole way through.

I can’t even say how grateful I am for all the support you’ve shown me on this thing, through comments and emails and Twitter. It made such a difference, in so many ways.

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And you know what? I’m committing to the Danskin, a sprint triathlon in Seattle next summer. 12 mile ride, 5K run, and . . . a half mile swim. I’ve got almost a year to get ready, and by god, I’m going to get over this water thing and I am going to be faster and stronger and I am going to kick ASS.

Comments

237 Responses to “Tri tri again”

  1. Niki P on September 22nd, 2009 5:27 pm

    I am all weepy here for you. Well done. The smile at the end says it all.

  2. mommymae on September 22nd, 2009 8:59 pm

    this? is awesome. great job! i hope to do a mini-tri, but need a bike first. that’s the part i dread.

  3. Nicole on September 22nd, 2009 9:39 pm

    Amazing! Is there anything you can’t do??? Seriously. I’d like to know. Because it might make me feel better about myself.

  4. Anonymous on September 23rd, 2009 12:03 am

    Speaking of swimming, you might want to follow this guy on Twitter for the next 23 hours, he’s going to be swimming the English Channel tomorrow: http://twitter.com/epicbillbradley

    Apparently part of the training for that kind of swim is SWIMMING IN OPEN WATER IN THE DARK, which would really be freaky! I guess you have to steer by watching the stars? Or your guide boat?

    Also.. salt water, jellyfish, cold. Whoa!

    So as you perservere through your continued swim-training this winter, remember, it could be worse :)

    And I’m thinking of doing the Danskin as well next year… as is Carol up in Woodinville (here’s her blog entry with some photos of the finish of this year’s Danskin: http://northwestladybug.blogspot.com/2009/08/training-day-1-for-seattle-danskin-mini.html)

  5. Jennifer on September 23rd, 2009 12:04 am

    Speaking of swimming, you might want to follow this guy on Twitter for the next 23 hours, he’s going to be swimming the English Channel tomorrow: http://twitter.com/epicbillbradley

    Apparently part of the training for that kind of swim is SWIMMING IN OPEN WATER IN THE DARK, which would really be freaky! I guess you have to steer by watching the stars? Or your guide boat?

    Also.. salt water, jellyfish, cold. Whoa!

    So as you perservere through your continued swim-training this winter, remember, it could be worse :)

    And I’m thinking of doing the Danskin as well next year… as is Carol up in Woodinville (here’s her blog entry with some photos of the finish of this year’s Danskin: http://northwestladybug.blogspot.com/2009/08/training-day-1-for-seattle-danskin-mini.html)

  6. Jennifer on September 23rd, 2009 12:05 am

    p.s. if you follow the link above to Carol’s blog, remove the trailing closing parenthesis so the link resolves! Argh!

  7. Bridget on September 23rd, 2009 7:20 am

    FANTASTIC!

    I love your smile during the whole thing and that is what it’s all about. It’s great to do something for you….keep up the good work!

  8. Boy Crazy on September 23rd, 2009 7:53 am

    not sure if you’ll even get to this (being that its the 200th and somethingth comment), but I had to delurk to say CONGRATS!!! I love the picture of you on your bike with the green in the background. Great shot.

    I don’t know if they have races like this in Seattle, but my husband and I do a triathlon that doesn’t have swimming — it’s a downriver paddle (mild whitewater), off-road bike rice (mostly logging roads and single track), and a rugged trail run. It’s really fun, and you don’t have to swim!!! (the scary part for me).

    Nice work. And great photos. I found myself smiling a mile wide reading the part about the volunteer yelling EYE OF THE TIGER! Now I’ve got the song stuck in my head. :)

  9. Teresa on September 23rd, 2009 9:42 am

    CONGRATS!! I envy your determiniation, and I envy your accomplishment. I would love to do a triathalon. You should be VERY proud of yourself. Im proud of you.

  10. Kristen on September 23rd, 2009 9:56 am

    Congratulations! :)

    You are an absolute inspiration! What an incredible accomplishment! I am so happy for you :)

  11. Kirsten on September 23rd, 2009 11:14 am

    Awesome job! Well Done!

  12. Miss on September 23rd, 2009 12:31 pm

    That pic of you on the bike is one of the coolest pics EVER.

    Congrats on finishing!!

  13. Amy on September 23rd, 2009 10:14 pm

    Holy crap, Linda. You kick some serious ass! Way to inspire!!

  14. Margie on September 24th, 2009 12:42 am

    KICK ASS!
    Good on you for being a woman who DOES COOL STUFF, doesn’t care what you look like while doing it and enjoys yourself. Your hard work paid off – congratulations!

  15. Frema on September 24th, 2009 11:42 am

    OK, this in no way compares, but I’m doing my first 5K run this Saturday, and I’m nervous as hell about it. This was inspiring, so thanks. And congratulations!

  16. Becky Mochaface on September 24th, 2009 2:35 pm

    Congratulations! Well do I remember that horrible horrible jelly leg feeling in the transition from biking to running. Which is exactly why I have since refused to do triathlons of any length. And which is also why people who actually do them – again of any length – are rockstars in my eyes. So yay you, you rockstar!

  17. Anonymous on September 29th, 2009 12:12 pm

    Hi. I have been reading your journey over at bodies in motivation and I wanted to let you know I enjoyed your race recap! You looked great out there! I did my first Triathlon in March and it was a reversed super sprint (run/bike/swim) because it was March and March is cold. The swim was in a pool but I had a similar problem with my swim and had to do a head-out-of-water free-style-like stroke. It sucked but I survived and made it to the end. I apparently don’t do well in a heated pool after running/biking in the cold. My face felt like it would explode under the hot water!

  18. K on September 29th, 2009 12:13 pm

    Oops. Forgot to put in my info above.. I’m the anonymous at 12:12.

  19. An Acorn Dreaming » Blog Archive » A Rabbit Hole Full of Cookies: My Body War returns on October 6th, 2009 9:12 am

    […] Old!  I’m 38, for god’s sake.  Dana Torres is in her 40s and swam in the Olympics.  People do triathlons for the first time in their 30s.  They run marathons.  Some professional athletes are still in their 30s.   I’m not 88.  […]

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