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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C @ Kid Things
12 years ago

Holy hell you are inspiring. Congrats!

Jenna
Jenna
12 years ago

you DID IT girl!! I made the mistake of reading this at work, though, and broke out in tears in front of my co-workers. (And I don’t think my it’s-all-allergies claim took). :) Regardless, you’re my insipiration. Seriously. Thank you.

She Likes Purple
12 years ago

So fucking inspiring. You already kick ass, but no doubt you’ll do it next year, too.

Kathryn
Kathryn
12 years ago

I am so excited for you! I did my first tri on Saturday as well. I had a great time, and I agree that the swim SUCKED. It was in the Gulf of Mexico, and there was a red flag. I didn’t know there was a red flag until after the race. I guess that’s a good thing. Way to go — you look like you had such an awesome time!

Emily
12 years ago

No kidding, Linda: you are an AMAZING inspiration. Congratulations!!!

Shanna
12 years ago

I found you the other day from I can’t remember where…hmmm…but this tri looked AMAZING! I haven’t done of of those, but it looks like fun! Too bad I’m an awful swimmer! Does you husband take all the pictures? They’re great and you look so happy!!!
Congratz on your time!

aimee
12 years ago

Wow! You look so BAD ASS in all those pics–especially the one where you’re flying by on the bike. Way!! To!! Go!!

Sean
12 years ago

Wow! Congratulations. That is so, so awesome. Athletic events—especially ones involving swimming, but really especially all of them—terrify me. Good luck on the Danskin next year!

Alex
12 years ago

Of COURSE you’ll kick ass–you’re Sundry!

Jinxi
12 years ago

SO FANTASTIC! What an accomplishment.

Thanks for sharing the story and photos. What a fun journey.

Gina
12 years ago

You are a fucking ROCK STAR!!!

sarahbeanne
sarahbeanne
12 years ago

Once again, you have inspired me to not do a wimpy ass walk after work. I guess I’m biking and running… and hopefully smiling as much as you are! That almost made me cry! So proud of you!

victoria
victoria
12 years ago

This brought tears to my eyes. You look so happy, and strong! You totally rock.

Jen @ lifelove'n'wine
12 years ago

I teared up reading this…I’m so proud of you! What a great motivation:) Congrats!

Erin from Iowa
Erin from Iowa
12 years ago

Dang it. You made me cry the happy cry. You go girl.

joaaanna
joaaanna
12 years ago

Awesome, awesome, awesome! Congratulations! I just LOVE that in each picture you have that big ole grin on your face! Way to go!

Brenda
12 years ago

You’re my hero! I would have stayed in bed when I heard the rain….and I live in Portland…and we didn’t have that much rain on Saturday. And I would have been a bag of blisters after all that running and biking… well, maybe not with the biking. That I can do without getting a blister… but I can not run.

But you totally ROCK!

Christy
Christy
12 years ago

Wow! Very impressive! The swimming would get me too. And, maybe the biking in the downpour. It’s not supposed to rain like that in September in Seattle. It’s unofficially still part of our summer.

Katherine
12 years ago

Holy Cow!! You did a triatholon. I’m in awe. I would bow down to you, you know, if the internet would allow that. I thought about running a marathon (or a half-marathon) until after one month of training I could barely run 5 miles. Then I realized that it probably wasn’t going to happen.

Crys
Crys
12 years ago

YEAH FOR YOU!! Great job! You’re quite the inspiration, I’m so happy for you!

Colleen
Colleen
12 years ago

Congratulations! You are so inspiring, I am beyond impressed with your perseverance in pursuit of your goals. As for the swimming, I don’t know if I could do that in a million years, so bravo to you! Especially with the conditions.

Veronica
Veronica
12 years ago

Dude!!! You used to be my hero. But now, now you are GOD. Holy spinoly… the water. The rain. The riding a BIKE in the rain… what the?! Words cannot express how proud I am of you and your HUGE, MAJOR accomplishment. Now you’re a triathalon stud! how friggin’ awesome is THAT?!

Angella
12 years ago

You DO kick ass. Way to go, Linda. Not to get all cheesy and shit, but you inspire me.

shygirl
shygirl
12 years ago

You totally rip. You are such an inspiration, and we are all so proud of you! Go Sundry!!

Erica77777
Erica77777
12 years ago

I totally teared up reading this!

You are my hero. And you look GORGEOUS, my dear–love the shit eating grin!

tara
12 years ago

dang. you almost make me want to give it a try.

Rachael
12 years ago

Take it from me, a Triathlon Widow. They are f’ing addicting.

HollyLynne
12 years ago

Any swimming done in a lake in the rain in a large group as part of a FREAKING TRIATHLON is a win in my book. Congrats!

cat
cat
12 years ago

Woo Hoo! Kick Ass! Congratulations on a job well done!

I am doing my first triathlon this Sunday and I hope I have as much fun as you did! The chances of it raining are pretty slim (Phoenix) but it could reach some pretty hefty temps by the run. I just want to finish with a smile like you did!

jeremy
jeremy
12 years ago

Awesome job! I did my first TRI in August. I was in the same boat as you with the swimming, I took lessons and was still pretty nervous about it. But then my brother in-law gave me some great advice a few days before that chilled me out. “Just relax and have fun! You’ve done the training, you’ve put in the work, you’re body’s ready. Now just have fun with it!” I did and had a great time doing it. I panicked a little on the swim as well – getting hit by arms and legs and breathing hard, but I got through it and did really well with the bike and run. Bummer about all the rain for your tri, but hey you still got through it and it made you tougher. Nice job! You’re now a Triathlete!

caleal
caleal
12 years ago

All right, so you’ve already got 130 comments on this, but dammit, you deserve hundreds more. WAY TO GO, LINDA!!!

Artemisia
12 years ago

AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Kelly
12 years ago

Congratulations, Linda! You’re such an inspiration!

Lindsay
12 years ago

Sundry. You rock. The pictures of you smiling while performing are just fricking awesome, and you look about 18 in that last picture. Just full of vitality. Good for you on so many levels. Also, this post really highlghted how JB is so supportive of you. Yay him too!

Christine
12 years ago

Woo hoo!! You are fab.

Paine
Paine
12 years ago

Congratulations! Thank you so much for sharing this. The pictures made me smile. I’m so proud of you.

Joanne
Joanne
12 years ago

Linda – so brilliant. And the swimming does get easier. And open water is way harder then pool swimming.
You’ll kick ass!

Erin
Erin
12 years ago

Congrats! I also wanted to say that I’ve found this really encouraging. I’m running my first chipped 5km run this weekend (I ran another on New Years Eve, but it wasn’t chipped) and I’m nervous and wondering what the hell I’ve agreed to do. It’s good incentive to read other people setting and achieving their goals, so congrats again and thanks!

lisa-marie
12 years ago

Congratulations!

ZestyJenny
12 years ago

OMG. You are so fucking inspiring.

Laura
Laura
12 years ago

I read this and cried. I was so moved that I read it to my partner while I cried and took wipe-my-eyes-sob breaks. Such a beautiful experience that you shared with us.

Rock! :D

moojoose
12 years ago

It seems like everyone around me is doing the triathlon thing these days, and I’ve just been rolling my eyes and baking more cookies but something about reading these and seeing your journey just made me think, you know, maybe I can do that, too.

I have something like 40 lbs to go before I’ll feel able, but I’ve set the goal: Triathlon (even a tiny one) before I turn 30.

Thank you for showing all of us that we can do this.

Amy
Amy
12 years ago

YOU ARE FKN AWESOME! You did it AND you looked good doing it. Damn, I love you and hate you all at the same time. Woo hoo!!! Might get me off my fat 42-year old ass yet. You made it look fun!

Kristi
12 years ago

You are an amazing ROCK STAR! Plus, you look HOT! Great job!

Jamie
12 years ago

YOU ROCK! Is it weird that I got all misty while reading this post? Seriously, you are AWESOME!

becky
12 years ago

you are amazing and awesome and inspiring and (this feels strange to say to someone i have never met, but i’ve been reading your blog for years now) i am so proud of you. it has been so incredible to read about your journey to get here and i am so excited for everything that is opening up for you.
i think i’ll get off my ass and do something new today!

sooboo
sooboo
12 years ago

Top half!!! Impressive, you rock it like a rock star! Count me in as someone you totally don’t know, but, as a longtime reader, I feel proud of you too.

Courtney
12 years ago

Very, very cool thing to do Linda. Congratulations!

Trenches of Mommyhood
12 years ago

You rock! I’ll do triathlons vicariously through you while sitting on the couch eating potato chips, m’kay?

Amanda
12 years ago

Congratulations! I’ve been looking forward to this recap. You’re a rock star!