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.

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Victoria
12 years ago

I’m so so proud of you and I feel like I was right there cheering you along. So inspiring. Well done! Congratulations on being so awesome! WOOOO HOOO!

michelle
12 years ago

I got all teary and goosebumpy reading this. Love the smile. So impressed with you. Thanks for continuing to be such an inspiration.

lisa
12 years ago

Hooray for you! It’s been so fun and inspiring to read about your journey to this day. You should definitely be proud of yourself.

On another note, I LOVE that photo of you on your bike!

Lily
12 years ago

You are the first runner I ever saw with such a wide grin on her face. Congratulations! And YAY, you did a triathlon!

Jane
12 years ago

YAAAAAY YOOOOOOU! Very proud and inspired. I have just joined a gym… maybe one day I’ll do a triathlon too. For now, I’ll just focus on getting to the gym three times a week, cos my lord, that’s hard enough for now.

Hey, look how far you have come.

Jane
12 years ago

Oh, and PS – I met up with Chiara recently in Wellington after discovering her blog a few years ago through you blog. If that makes sense. Essentially, you match-made a new friendship without realising it. Thanks for that, she rules.

Kate
12 years ago

{STANDING OVATION!!!!} You did it! You awesome, brave, tough, INCREDIBLE woman, you! So, SOOOO proud of you.

I saw the pictures on Flickr and thought “Man, it looks like she’s enjoying herself! How is that possible??” You are gonna get me SO in trouble with my husband, being all inspiring and shit. Now I wanna do one!

mnerva
mnerva
12 years ago

Way to go, Linda!!! Congrats on finishing, and finishing well. You have come so far, and it sounds like you are on the path to only succeeding further. Very impressive. And I love the smiles in the pics, shows how much you enjoyed it.

Penny
Penny
12 years ago

You are so inspiring. I wish I could do that. But I would drown first, then fallen off the bike breaking my neck and for the grand finale I am sure I would fall a lot like humpty dumpty while trying to run but only succeeding in looking like I was being attacked by killer bee’s! So I have such high respect for you, dead feet, crazy swim antic’s and all in monsoon conditions. You Rock!

Jamie :)
Jamie :)
12 years ago

I’ve been waiting all weekend to hear this story! You are freakin’ incredible!! Congrats on being such a badass!!

Kim
Kim
12 years ago

Strong work! I’m inspired- maybe I’ll see you next summer at the Danskin. Sounds like a good way for me to work off baby weight following my November due date. Let’s hope it doesn’t happen during another record breaking Seattle heat wave!

Scott Dierdorf
12 years ago

I gotta say, the smile is intimidating. It one level of badass to do a triathlon in the first place, but it’s another to *visibly enjoy it* while it’s happening – with the breathing and the exertion and the pain and everything. Well done! And now I am terrified of you!

=-)

Jo
Jo
12 years ago

Yay! You are a super star and such an inspiration :) Congratulations!!

Chiara
12 years ago

YAY! I am so excited for and proud of you! You look amazing and awesome. I miss you!

KT
KT
12 years ago

That’s awesome!! I love the big grin on your face. Congratulations!

Also, that fifth photo (the panning shot) is brilliant.

Donna
Donna
12 years ago

Yeah, no shit what Scott said, not only did you do it, but you had a damn smile on your face the whole time, WTF is that about anyway?
I am so proud of you, you totally rock, and damn you look cool in all the pictures, ripped and tough! You are a bad bitch these days!

kristin c
12 years ago

HELLS YEAH!!!! I’ve been waiting for this post…..you are so awesome with your excited blissed out grin. Dude. You are an athelete. Congratulations. I just KNEW you were gonna LOVE it and decide to do another. You’re a badass and total inspiration.

Danielle
Danielle
12 years ago

Hooray for you!! What a great accomplishment, congratulations!

Chaya
Chaya
12 years ago

Congratulations! I also teared up reading this, man. Thanks in large part to your inspiration, today I did the 30 day shred for the first time since having a baby 2 months ago. You set an awesome, positive example, and I’m determined to make exercise a daily part of our lives again. Rock on, Linda.

And I think I might see you at the Danskin next year!

squandra
squandra
12 years ago

YEAH! Atta girl!

JMH
JMH
12 years ago

You are amazing. The end. :)

NancyJ
NancyJ
12 years ago

Congratulations!
You are an inspiration to all of us to face our fears and keep going.

Shannon
Shannon
12 years ago

You so totally rock! I’ve been waiting for this post and I love your HUGE grin in all the pics. Awesome.

Frank
12 years ago

Congratulations! Way to go. Great accomplishment.

Bethany
Bethany
12 years ago

Congratulations, Linda! You ROCK, and are incredibly inspiring.

Sara
Sara
12 years ago

Whoooo! You got the bug, girl! :)

Sounds like you had an awesome race. And you now have a totally epic “my first triathlon” story.

Amanda
12 years ago

I am in awe of you. I consider you a Mommy Hero. There’s no reason we all can’t get out there and take that first step.

Marisa
Marisa
12 years ago

You kick ass! Congratulations on your first triathlon.

Diane
Diane
12 years ago

Wow, so awesome. You are a rockin athlete and such an inspiration. I have a huge grin for you.

Beth
12 years ago

You rock, congrats.

Sarah Miller
12 years ago

Dude, you already kick ass.

Christine
Christine
12 years ago

Holy cow, you did a TRIATHALON. You’re ahhhhhhhmazing!

Jenny
12 years ago

Linda, you’re so awesome! WOO HOOOOOO! Go Team Beluga!

Ter
Ter
12 years ago

Wooo hooo!!! Huzzah! Yay! Congrats! Almost makes me entertain trying something like that myself, though I doubt a year would be enough time for me to get over myself enough to begin training :) I did do a walk/run a couple three years ago and came in 3rd in the walker division overall. Mayhaps I’ll try again? And I have to agree — that pic of you on the bike? Badass!

jonniker
12 years ago

Oooh, congratulations! I’m so excited and happy for you. This is awesome. Awesome!

Also, I’ll confess that I LOVE that you waved to JB in your little swimsuit and cap before the swimming portion with a big old grin on your face. It’s one of the cutest pictures I’ve ever seen (I know, I’m supposed to think it’s BRAWNY and STRONG. I’m SORRY.) You are so CUTE there in your wet suit and I kind of just want to hug you there.

Jen - Mom of 4
Jen - Mom of 4
12 years ago

I love the fact you had that kick ass smile on your face the entire time! You have motivated me to do a sprint tri. I’ve wanted to do one – in like forever – but I am going to sign up TODAY and do it. Thanks for taking us along!

Eric's Mommy
12 years ago

I cannot get over how awesome it is that you did this.

Way to go Linda!!

Teralyne
12 years ago

I am so proud of you way to go Linda!!!!!

PattM
PattM
12 years ago

Way to go Linda! I totally get your excitement about finishing–I finished a half marathon in April. It’s a high that lasts. then you start thinking about doing it again or stepping up to the next level……Well done, girl. Looking forward to your inspiration for the next race; I’m looking for a tri here in my area. If you can do it, so can I!

Joy
Joy
12 years ago

Way to go!!!!

Mandi
Mandi
12 years ago

I’m seriously SO proud of you!! You rock.

beach
beach
12 years ago

Your smiley face makes me smile….awesome job Linda!!!

Sandi
Sandi
12 years ago

Dude! ROCK ON! You are inspiring! What a great accomplishment. I hope to finally do one of these.

Kim
Kim
12 years ago

Congratulations!! You should be very proud of yourself.

kristin
kristin
12 years ago

YOU ARE AMAZING. PERIOD.

kristin
kristin
12 years ago

No, EXCLAMATION POINT!

;)

Milla
Milla
12 years ago

Awesome! So much fun, right?

Joanne
12 years ago

What a smile on your face at the finish line. That’s when I started to tear up! Congratulations!

agb
agb
12 years ago

way to kick ass —- your triathlon training has been the only thing to inspire me to get off my lardbutt in ages. f-ing awesome.

Jen
Jen
12 years ago

Congratulations! You did something I could only wish, dream, hope to do. You look AWESOME in the pictures!!

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