Saturday, July 10, 2010

I Didn't Drown

I’m alive. I finished. I didn’t finish last. In the infamous words of our 43rd president, “Mission accomplished”. Sweet wounded Jesus that was no joke. My first impression of race day was that the bike makes everything a giant pain in the ass. It’s a pain to load. It’s a pain to unload. Next, is that there’s so much gear I had to bring along: the bike, the helmet, the shoes, the sock (I forgot one), the drinks, the gels, the sun block, the sunglasses, and the change of clothes. I showed up at 6am and because of having to get my chip, get marked in magic marker with my race number and age on various parts of my body, and having to stow my bike and all the crap I had to bring I barely had time to pee and get down on the beach.

Time is 100% perception. When MJ and I scouted the last race a month ago it seemed that they were starting the waves of swimmers rather slowly. This morning, as I was waiting to get in, it seemed that there was no time at all between waves. I can’t remember the last time I was this scared/excited about anything. They told us to go and I jumped into the water. I panicked about 25 meters in. I was so amped up that my heart was beating a mile a minute and I didn’t think I was going to make it. The thought that was in my mind was, “You can’t do this.” Fortunately, I kept swimming during my panic and when I reached the buoy to turn north I realized it wasn’t that far of a swim so I settled down. I also, and I think this was a HUGE key to me not freezing up completely, resisted the urge to find out if I could still touch the bottom. After that the swim was fun. The only awkward moment was deciding when to stop swimming and walk out of the water.

Soft sand is not fun to move through after a swim. I got to the transition area, which was a lot farther away than I think it needed to be, and tried to make the transition to the bike. I took my time putting on my shoes (without socks) and shirt and drinking some water and eating a gel. I reminded myself to keep my heart rate under 150 and set my watch. The bike ride was boring. The course didn’t go through a neighborhood it just went through a section of road that seemed to connect a bunch of neighborhoods. I was really surprised that I was passing people, but I was. The bridge was tough going up but a blast coming down. I got passed by a hot chick at the U-turn point and followed her for most of the rest of the ride. She was Ponte Vedra “put together”. Other than that what I noticed was how much more efficiently her bike was working than mine. She shouldn’t have been going as fast as I was in the gear she was in. I need a new bike, but I don’t have the $850 to spend on the “entry level” road bike I test rode last week. I honestly think I would have dropped 20 minutes off my ride if I had a good road bike instead of the dump truck mountain bike I’m riding. It’s no big deal, just a note. I passed her going down the bridge, only because she was afraid of the speed. I wasn’t. I was tucked over and trying to be as aerodynamic as possible going down the bridge. I got up over 30mph and tried to glide as far as I could. The transition area was only a couple of miles away.

I got off my bike, caught my breath, drank some more water, and headed out on the run. It was a tale of 3 different miles. The first mile was hell. I was trying to keep a steady pace and a steady heart rate. I knew if I could maintain long enough I would get used to it. I got comfortable about a mile in and cruised. I was very happy to be passing people, and that kept me going. The running course was just out a mile and a half and back. The “out” was under a tree canopy on the east side of the road in front of the 8 figure mansions. There was no tree canopy on the ghetto ass west side of the road in front of the not quite as high 8 figure mansions for the “in”. I felt bad for the people that owned houses on the west side of the street. It must be pretty embarrassing when people can see your whole house from the street  - all 8 thousand square feet of it. I almost walked the last mile. The only reason I didn’t is because I wanted this sumbitch to be over, and I was still passing people. The finish line was around a corner so I was able to pick up the pace and look like I still wanted to be out there. I finished my first triathlon strong and that’s all I wanted to do.

The best thing about the triathlon was the support. It’s even better than the support at running races and I didn’t think that was possible. That’s before we get to JG, EG, and IG standing in the sun to cheer me on as I try not to die. There’s also no better sight than seeing and hearing CG, LMJ, and MJ cheer me on. MJ personally took 90 seconds off my time making the transition from the water to the bike with her encouragement and mere presence as I trudged through the soft sand. I know it was a Herculean effort to get LMJ up and out of the house in the wee hours to see me finish just before the awards ceremony started and I truly appreciate it. This was a lot of fun and my body isn’t torn up. I’m looking forward to doing another one, and I need to finish an Olympic distance before the end of 2011. No rest for the stupid.


MJ said...

I can't wait to show you the pics! You looked really relaxed and happy. Could you hear LMJ yelling "GO DADDY GO" as you rounded the last turn? She was a great sport. So are you. Congrats! We love you.

Beth said...

Congrats to you!

Christina said...

Sounds awesome! Glad you finished without drowning, falling off your bike, or tripping down the road.

PS, If you want to give my bike a whirl, you can totally have it. It is pretty awesonme, all you'd have to do is go get it from Mom and Dad.

KJI said...

What an accomplishment. You rock! The swim alone would finish me off.

Cora Spondence said...

This is your first fix, you've inhaled very deeply and now I know the Ironman Triathlon is in your future.
Way to go, dude!

EJG said...

You write so well, I felt like I was there doing the whole race with you.

We are so proud to know someone who attempted a triathlon race.... and as relieved as MJ that you survived!

When's the next race!?