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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Amy
Amy
14 years ago

Your description of the swim nearly exactly matched the description of the swim in my first (and only, so far) triathlon. I just could. not. put my face in the water. I did the same head out of the water part dog paddle part side stroke part back stroke. Total survival mode. I was nearly the last person out of the water and I did not care. At least I didn’t drown!

Barb
Barb
14 years ago

YOU ROCK!!!!!!

Jenn
Jenn
14 years ago

I sound like your damn mom or something, but I’m SO proud of you! Truly inspiring. Congratulations and I’m pumped to hear how training goes for the next one!

Karen
14 years ago

I LOVE the big huge smile at the end – it brings tears to my eyes! Congratulations! That is SO exciting that not only did you swim, you ran and you biked and you had fun and you want to do it again! You should be so proud of yourself, what a wonderful accomplishment.

cbrks12
cbrks12
14 years ago

So proud of you that you’ve brought tears to my eyes. Congrats!

Must Be Motherhood
14 years ago

YOU RAWK! I love love LOVE the smile in very photo. You look like a kid on Christmas morning. Don’t sweat the swim. They are always tough for those of us who fear dead bodies and sharks in lakes.

Do you know your training convinced me to do the Chicagoland Danskin triathlon next weekend (eep!)? Well, you did. (I’ve done several before, but not since my 20s/pre-children). And I want to THANK YOU for the kick in the ass.

Jessi
14 years ago

I’ve been waiting all weekend to hear the details! I’m so happy you enjoyed it. You’d never think something so physically demanding could be so fun. You SHOULD be proud of yourself – you did a triathlon!

Claire
14 years ago

You go! I kept telling my husband about this thing all weekend because he’s training for one and I am glad you did so well. I’m 10 weeks pregnant but already, soon as I get this kid out and all, I am totally taking a page from your book in terms of getting back in shape. :)

Lawyerish
14 years ago

YOU DID IT! Awesome job. I feel strangely proud.

MichelleRenee
14 years ago

Congratulations!

I’m so excited for you. What an awesome accomplishment.

Your motivation has reached NH.

My whole family has moved off their asses and started the 30 Day Shred.

It started with you.

Thank you!

warcrygirl
14 years ago

Holy fuck you are awesome. Any chance you’ll be doing any rain-training next time around? You know, just in case.

Amy M.
Amy M.
14 years ago

I’m so impressed! You look amazing & really strong. Even happy! Just running a 5k I looked like death. Very inspiring!

Did your boys get to watch any of it? (Though child-wrangling is tough in a monsoon…)

patois
14 years ago

Look at those so fabulous shit-eating grins! Congrats to you.

pam
pam
14 years ago

you are fucking awesome. congrats!

Becky
Becky
14 years ago

Linda you kick so much ass! I also had a tear in my eye reading this…..I feel like a proud Mama!

kathleen
kathleen
14 years ago

yes yes yes yes yes! huge congrats. so glad you enjoyed yourself while doing something crazy scary– you are awesome.

Jen in Dallas
Jen in Dallas
14 years ago

OMG – you’re my fucking hero. I can barely get myself to the gym a few times each week to get my 30-45 minutes of cardio in! I’m running a 5K in November and have been thinking about ditching it lately. But fuck that – I’m running it, and I’m going to kick ass. Who knows, maybe I’ll get my lazy, out-of-shape ass out and do something as cool as a triathalon someday. I’d love to be able to show my girls (11 and 5) what a badass their mom really is under all this fluff! You’re a huge inspiration – both physically and from a mom perspective. My baby boy is 14 months and we’re starting to experience the hell that toddlerhood can be – and it’s worse this time around with a boy! Thanks for being awesome and making my day.

Andrea
14 years ago

You = badass superhero. I’m seriously goosebumpy and teary reading this. I noticed your gigantic smile in all the pictures. You LOOK like you’re having a blast!

Seriously this is so inspiring and motivational and it makes me want to do better about my own health and fitness. Not kidding about the hero part.

Pam
Pam
14 years ago

I am so proud of you, too — and I don’t even know you! I am envious of your will power and in awe of your strength!

Heather C
Heather C
14 years ago

YOU JUST DID A TRIATHALON OMG!

Seriously, you’re an inspiration. I remember reading your blog when you were a non-exerciser, doing your first workout tapes. And now this!

Seriously, I have no excuse not to do the Wii Fit this morning.

Liz
Liz
14 years ago

The day after my first tri, I signed up for my next one. I totally agree with you– it’s FUN! I was totally caught off guard by just how enjoyable the whole damn race is.

The best way I’ve come to think about it is (and I probably stole this from someone else or an annoying bumper sticker or whatever): the race is the reward for all the annoying ass early mornings (but my bed is WARM and why am I cold OUTSIDE and RUNNING and this SUCKS) and late evenings (wait i was going to flop on the couch and stare at bad TV in a total numb zone of holy crap the day is finally OVER why am I at the gym this SUCKS) days. If you commit and get through all of those, then you get to do the race. And it is FUN!

You’re a rockstar. Well done, triathlete.

Erica
14 years ago

YOU ARE AWESOME!!

Kate
14 years ago

Congratulations!! You did awesome.

Reading about your training has been so inspiring. Looking forward to your next race.

Sarah
Sarah
14 years ago

Very proud of you, Linda! Very proud.

Suzanne
14 years ago

CONGRATS!!! At the end of July I completed my first tri…Danskin sprint and so I know your feelings of complete, holy shit, I just did a freaking triathlon!!! It brought it all back. The complete joy, the huge smile on the face (even though you can’t figure out why the hell your legs lost their ability to work upon getting off of a bike…even in dry warm weather!), the nerves, the wonderment of how complete strangers cheering you on give you the extra kick you need. Be proud. Display that medal. You earned it. And best of all, your boys just saw from their mama that if you put your mind to it, you (they) can accomplish anything!

megan
megan
14 years ago

Linda you completely rock!! And are a total inspiration. As someone who has been struggling lately with getting to the gym or to go running (complete with whining), you’ve given me a kick in the butt that I’ve needed. :)

jen
jen
14 years ago

So this is like comment 76 or something but I just couldn’t not say SUNDRY YOU ROCK. Congratulations!

jetsy
jetsy
14 years ago

WOOOOO-HOOOOOO! You rock! And you look superbuff in the pics. Excellent job.

Laura Porras
Laura Porras
14 years ago

Brought tears to my eyes and goosebumps to my arms…thank you for such an inspirational story. The best part of the entire post was your enormous smile through the whole thing – thanks for putting one on my face this morning. I just started training for my first 5k and I will continue to come back to this post as needed :)

Stephanie
Stephanie
14 years ago

I am so proud of you! You rock!

Shannon
Shannon
14 years ago

You rock. And I am so bloody inspired…you make me want to get my ass out there and just sign up for a triathlon (scared of swimming portion, yes)and train and just DO IT. You have no idea how much these posts motivate me. Congratulations!

Antropologa
14 years ago

That is very impressive!

Grace
14 years ago

Applause, applause, applause! What I like best about this? Is that in every shot where we see your face? You’ve got a huge grin!

Congrats on the finish & your plans for your next race.

Erin
14 years ago

Dude, you rock! Hands down, 100% ROCK! Awesome job, you did it!!

sheilah
sheilah
14 years ago

Yep…I thought of you on Saturday. Did you hear me cheering? Wow! You rock, girl!

Melissa
Melissa
14 years ago

Damn girl, you rock! Great job and I love that you had a smile plastered on your face most of the time. You are inspirational and I bet JB and the boys are proud of you!

Rachel
Rachel
14 years ago

Wow. And also? YOU LOOK AMAZING.

Mama Bee
14 years ago

Wasn’t Saturday’s monsoon totally randomness?! And then it totally cleared up and was beautiful! WTF, Seattle.

Um, I pretty much just had a panic attack reading your swim story. I started realizing that I was holding my breath and willing you to swim! I’m kind of crazy like that! My bad.

Pocklock
14 years ago

You are AWESOME! What a fantastic accomplishment.

I’d like to you know…try, but there’s these donuts…

WAY TO GO!

Cookie
14 years ago

Congratulations! What an awesome accomplishment.

Stacee
Stacee
14 years ago

You’ve done the impossible, Linda: Made me think John Curley might be anything less than totally annoying. What an accomplishment! :)

I already tweeted it on Saturday, but you’re awesome and inspiring and amazing. Yay, you!

Kathryn
Kathryn
14 years ago

You rock. You make me feel like I, too, could be an athletic person if I put the work into it. No one else has ever made me feel like that, and so thank you for the inspiration. I don’t know if I’ll ever follow through, but it is incredibly empowering to know that I could if I only made up my mind and committed to it.

Heather D.
Heather D.
14 years ago

Good Job Sundry!! My husband started doing sprint tris this summer, he has done 6 (crazy bastard!) and the swimming is the hardest for him too. He kicks butt, usually in the top 5 for his age division but when he swims he doesn’t know how to put his face in the water. It seems to work though.
I guarantee that the photos from his first one don’t show blissful grins! You should really be proud of yourself!!

SJ
SJ
14 years ago

I’m so proud of you! You totally rock and give me the inspiration that I need to get my ass in gear to do something like this. Because you know I want to, I’m just scared.

Good job, you are amazing! And you did a fucking triathlon! Woot-woot!

Jen G
14 years ago

The first time you posted about the race – I was all – hmmmmm – I bet my trainer could help me with that. I even emailed my brother who is an excellent swimmer and asked about lake swimming and wetsuits and stuff. Then I chickened out. And after reading this – well – maybe next year. I bet I could do it. I used to swim on a team, in a pool, always in last place mind you. I would have to get a bike and start riding outside. Running would be the somewhat easy part. I’m not making a full commitment here – just sorta saying it out loud and really freaked out that I’m putting this on the internets. I must be fucking insane.

Redbecca
Redbecca
14 years ago

RAAAAHR! Yeah baby, you seriously kick some ass! Way to go!! Shit, you’re so pumped you got me pumped up, too!
I’m so happy for you, and love that you loved it in spite of all that rain. Congrats!

Amy
Amy
14 years ago

WOW, Linda! What an amazing achievement! I love the huge grin on your face in several of those photos…especially the blurry speeding-by-on-your-bike-steed image. It looks like you are totally thrilled with your experience!

Georgia
14 years ago

Way to kick some ass!!!

Melinda
Melinda
14 years ago

YAY!!! Way to go Linda!

Carrie
14 years ago

Oh! My hero!