After turning my alarm to snooze 3 times, I finally get out of bed. I drag to the bathroom. I drag to The Boy’s room. I drag back to my room. I keep coming up with arguments to not attend the race. I keep coming up with arguments to attend the race. I drag to the fridge and I see my bumper sticker. The final argument has been argued – I will be in that race and I will finish. I get my suit on, my sweats and my shoes and I attempt to get The Boy going. He doesn’t understand why we have to get up so early. His heat doesn’t start until 8:41. It’s 6 am now – why am I bothering him? Explaining to a tired, grouchy hormone filled teenager the law of distances and that they take time to traverse (ie – we had an hour and half drive to even get to the race and then the headache of finding parking) is not an easy task. I finally told him that if he wasn’t up and ready to go in 5 minutes I was going to leave him. While I am letting him make the decision, I load our gear into Harrison (my car) and load our bikes on to the rack. I double check both my gear and his. I’m pretty sure I’ve got everything we need; now I just have to get The Boy – if he’s going. Lo and behold, he’s up, dressed and grouchy. Yep – he’s going to be a fun one to be around. So much for relying on him to push me - I know he was just waiting for me to say, “you know, let’s not go – I’m tired”, but I didn’t. And I think he was a tad upset at me for not quitting before we even started.
Leg 2 – The Swim
The Boy slept the entire way to the Montrose Recreation Center. By the time I finally find a parking spot (not too far from the transition point for the bike), he is almost chipper. Almost. He is in Heat 4 which is scheduled to start on or about 8:41 am. I am in Heat 14 which is scheduled to start on or about 11:15 am. The discrepancy in time is discouraging. The Boy will end up waiting around 5-6 hours for me to finish - a thought which sends his almost chipper mood packing. I didn’t think I was that much of a drag but apparently, to a teenage boy who has to wait on his mommy, I was. To tell you the truth, I wasn’t thrilled at having to wait 4 hours for my heat to start and I was a little worried about getting to work on time that evening as I was doing the math in my head, so I was trying to figure out how to get in an earlier heat. After talking with the race organizer, I was given permission to join the same heat as The Boy – Heat 4. The Boy and I were both happy with that.
I notice that The Boy is starting to get a little nervous. He admits to me that he’s worried about the swim, he knows it is his weakest event. I just nod my head and stretch his arms – he doesn’t want platitudes from me, he just wants to vent. I let him vent. Meanwhile, I am thinking to myself, “You’re going DOWN Boy! I’m gonna swim past you so fast your suit will fly off!” But I’m a good Mom – I continue to keep those thoughts in my head. And he’s not paying attention to me anyway or else he’d ask what was up with the smirk.
He’s next in line for a lane. The swim monitor points him to a lane and says, “Go!” and off he goes. 5 other people go after him and by luck of the draw, the next lane that opens up is one that The Boy is in. I am jumping up and down in glee at this – I’ll actually get to SHOW him how much better of a swimmer I am than him. Na na na na boo boo! When I’m told to go, the boy has 8 laps down with 12 more to go. I get in and swim – not too fast, I want to pace myself – find my rhythm and forget about the childish desire to beat my offspring in this watery contest. Honestly, I am impressed with how I am swimming. I’m not stopping and I’m not exhausted. I just keep going. Occasionally I look up at The Boy’s lap marker and say “hooray” each time I’m a lap closer to him – yea, I’m going to beat him, he just doesn’t know how badly.
Leg 3 – The Bike
Man, to be a boy. It would make these sorts of things so much easier. I may have closed the gap on the swim between The Boy and me but his 15 second transition time has my 5 minute time beat and crying for mommy. He rips off his trunks, throws on a pair of socks and his shoes and is out of the transition gate before I even can say “hi”. Guess he doesn’t want me to rub in the fact that I took his swim out and gave it a good solid spanking.
When I got out of the pool, I figured I had a new personal record (PR) with a time of around 11 minutes. That thrilled me. That’s a good time – especially since my last recorded time was 13:46. I keep thinking of my PR while I was changing for the bike. Towel. Pull on compression shorts. Pull on bike shorts. Pull on shirt. Pull on bike shirt. Towel feet. Put on socks. Put on shoes. Put on bike gloves. Click on fanny pack filled with gloop, protein bars and camera. Put on helmet. Try to click helmet locked. Try to click helmet locked. Try to click helmet locked. Helmet finally locked, head out the transition gate. I think I had a better time this time. Not the 9 minutes I had at Highline, at least, and anything is better than that.
I really should pay attention to the course maps that they send out – they are filled with information. Like where a water station will be, how long on a particular road, what roads will be crossed, etc, etc, etc. The information I gather from the map – 1) that the water station is about ½ way in and 2) that it’s a round trip, not there and back, route. I also identify that I will be making a large square. That’s it. That’s all I get from the map. Once again I am relying on the race committee to ensure I don’t veer off course.
It’s a beautiful day for a bike ride. The sun is shining, there are a few fluffy clouds in the sky and the autumn air makes the colors more vibrant. There’s no rain, no thunder, no lightening and I’m doing pretty good on the bike so far. It’s a level road with minimal rise and falls and no rain (did I say that already?). I think to myself that THIS is the way a bike race should be – level. But I could do without the bugs. There are tons and tons of bugs. And they all seem to find their way in to my mouth. No need for protein bars, I’m getting the fresh variety on a minute-by-minute basis. I’d prefer to not get the fresh variety so I close my mouth but that doesn’t help because, regardless of the flatness of the route, I am breathing hard. The Drill Sergeant hasn’t shown up yet and I wonder if she’ll even be needed. I’m doing good, still peddling, haven’t walked my bike yet, wondering where the halfway point is. I keep trying to remark on something funny, something unique, something worthwhile to write about but my mind just keeps going blank. It will focus on something for a fleeting moment and then blissfully zone out. Aside from the protein bites, nothing fantastic, remarkable or interesting happened on that ride.
Until I came to the water station. I was already at the water station and I couldn’t believe it! According to the race materials and map, the water station was the ½ way point. It was so amazing that I had already rode 7.5 miles that I had to stop and take a picture. It was the first time I had stopped and I was about 30 minutes in to my ride. Which was amazing to me – I was making some good time! I might even catch up to The Boy at this pace! (Not really - but it’s good to have goals) I am so excited that I ride up to the water station, which was being manned by the Montrose Fire Department and their ambulance, and asked them for confirmation – “This is ½ way, right?” Dude in the ambulance, “No Ma’am. We’re only about ¼ of the way in.”
Shit. 30 minutes and I’ve not even gone 4 miles yet. Ugh. This is going to take some time. I thank the ambulance people for the water, take a picture of my befuddled face and head back out. I am not quite as bouncy as I was when I saw the water station. It’s starting to get hot and I start thinking about rain. I eat more bugs and I think that at least when it’s storming, there are no bugs. My left knee starts to hurt and my right foot goes numb and my left shoulder is twitching. In fact, it’s twitching so much that when I raise my arm to take a drink out of my water bottle, I hit myself in the eye. But I’m still peddling. And I’m wishing for a hill to walk up so I can coast down. And my mind is still blank, not holding on to any one thought for more than a fleeting moment. I keep getting passed and I keep thinking to myself, “As long as I keep getting passed, it means I am not last.” Not the most sound of reasoning but it worked for me.
There were 3 big hills of which I walked all 3. The scenery was beautiful, the workers friendly. And not one single volunteer said to me, “Way to go! You’re almost there!” Not one. And it was so nice to not be lied to. The only lie I got on a regular basis was, “You’re doing great!” cause I wasn’t doing great, I was just making it. And just making it does not “great” make. However, I came to the conclusion that all of the volunteers that work on the race course need to get their distance judge-o-meter fixed. They’re all off by about 4-5 miles. One of the last volunteers I talked to told me I had about ¼ of a mile left. He was wrong. Way wrong.
I started down a slight hill in to a residential area and I knew I was coming to the end of my route. I actually started to pick up speed. Not much but it was more than I was giving. My knee was still giving me issues, hurting every time I extended, but as long as I didn’t think too much about it, I was able to continue peddling. I finally crossed the railroad tracks that led back in to the rec center and I knew my time on the bike was coming to an end. I pull in to the transition area, hop off my bike and hobble in to the rack. My knee, when I stretch it out, is ok but hurts like a big ole goat head in the sole of my foot. I look for The Boy’s bike and see it. I figure he’s out on the run. I put up my bike, rip off my helmet, gloves, bike shorts and bike shoes and start putting on my running gear. A pair of yoga pants, a light shirt and my fancy-dancy running shoes. And then I see The Boy. He’s done. He’s finished all 3 legs and I’m just starting the 3rd leg. But at least this time they weren’t putting the timing devices up as there were still people out on the bike course. I ask The Boy if I should do the last leg. He asks me how my knee is cause the hill is steep. I tell him it hurts. He tells me to get it done.
I put on my iPod and head out for the last leg of the Tri.
Leg 4 – The “run”
I’ve put together good music for the last leg of my race and my knee stops hurting and my right foot is no longer numb. At least, I don’t recognize these as issues any longer. My music is getting me going and I’m a walkin’, just a walkin’ to the beat. I am wondering when the sock rubbage is going to come in to play but for now I’ve no issues. It’s a little bit of an incline but nothing that is worth all the chit-chat I heard about in the transition point. I wonder what people are talking about, this isn’t a hill, it’s just a rise. Puzzled, I keep walking on – past a pond with the most ducks and geese I’ve ever seen and off on to a dirt path. And then I see it. “The Hill”. And it’s a hill, all right. I look straight up and see the top and realize that I am about to scale Mt. Kilimanjaro. And I have to go up it. I have to go up it to go down it to get that bumper sticker on my car. New aches are showing themselves. It feels like my thigh muscle is always constricting around my kneecap and the shoulder twitch is back – making taking a drink quite a humorous action. But I keep on walking and eventually I make it to the top. There’s water and cookies at the top and I take a moment to drink and eat and talk with the volunteers. I tell them thank you and head back down. No turning back now, I am definitely going to finish this Triathlon.
I see the end of the race and it’s in shade. I see the cones leading the racers to the finish line to get their time marked. And I see my Boy, waiting for me. He’s got a smile for me but it doesn’t match the smile I am wearing myself. I am going to finish this race and I did not die. My Boy tells me he is proud of me as I collapse at the other end of the finish line. I finished. And as stupid as I feel for it, I’ve got tears in my eyes. I EFFIN FINISHED.
My Official Time:
Swim: 9:53.9 (I REALLY blew The Boy out of the water!)
The Boy’s Official Time:
The Boy placed 2nd in his age group (I won't tell him that there were only 2 in his age group) and 91 out of 126.
I finished 13th in my age group out of 13 but I EFFEN FINISHED and I was first in the swim in my gender (and I beat a lot of boys, too!).