The story of my recent triathlon, in three parts.
Part I – in which I feel overly confident
I arrived the day before and registered, receiving my bib number and hot pink participant shirt complete with a Betty Boop drawing on the front (it was, of course, a women-only event). Derek and I then spent the evening with our Ft. Worth friends, eating dinner at a food truck hub, seeing the movie Gravity in 3-D, and glimpsing a beautiful view of the Bass Performance Hall from a parking garage just after a rain.
These Ft. Worth friends have one of those magnets on their refrigerator with lots of different faces and a movable frame that you can use to describe your feelings at any given moment. On Sat. night, before I went to bed (we were crashing at their place for the night), I moved it to “confident.”
Part II – in which I am tempted to cheat
Sun. morning Derek and I arrived at the venue and I got prepared to the best of my ability. It was then that I started noticing the high quality of all the other bikes (or am I even allowed to use that word? Is it technically “cycles”?) being checked in by the other triathletes. I was starting to feel a bit out of my league (but there wasn’t a face on the magnet for that one…) and actually quite nervous. Then they (the “triathlon people”) took a big sharpie and wrote my competitor number on both biceps and my age on the back of my right calf (so everyone would know what age group I belonged to), and we lined up.
The organizer attempted to make announcements, the only one of which I deciphered being that the bike course had increased from an advertised 12 miles to almost 15 due to construction in the area. To most competitors, I’m sure that news wasn’t really a big deal, but to someone (cough, me) who hadn’t exactly been on a strict training regimen, it proved to be a problem.
I hopped in the pool and did my swim portion without incident (I actually kind of liked it!), and then I transitioned to the bike segment also with no problem. And then. Y’all. The bike portion killed me. Not literally, of course, but halfway through the first loop (we were to do three), I was already plotting how I would skip the third loop altogether. At first these thoughts were just my imagination running away with me, but then more and more people kept whizzing by, and I started seriously debating whether or not anyone would find out if I really did skip the last loop. If you recall, each competitor’s age was scrawled across her calf, so I could see that that person who just zoomed by was 71. Seriously. And then a few minutes later, a couple of 12-year-olds flew by. At this point, I realized people don’t just half-heartedly sign up for a triathlon: it’s serious business! No wonder they didn’t have a “first-timers FAQ page” or anything.
Part III – in which I wrestle with whether to laugh or to cry (spoiler alert: I do both)
Somehow I made it through one full loop and 3/4 of another, and then it was decision time. By this point, I had already not only been passed by most competitors, but lapped by them, as well. But when I rounded the start/end point of the loop, I (guess) I am proud to say, I ignored the rest of the bikers turning into the transition area again and started out on my third loop. Bless the hearts of the spectators who were cheering me on, saying things like, “just one more” and “looking strong.” (I’m calling BS.) And the next thing I knew, I was alone with the asphalt.
Now may be the time to tell you that I did finish the entire triathlon, but I came in dead last. Last. As in I had two police motorcycles trailing me for most of my 3rd loop, opening the road back up to traffic as soon as I’d cleared each barrier. As in the guy at the water station on the far side of the running loop had packed up and started driving off before realizing I still had another loop to go, so drove all the way back out to his spot and poured me an individual cup of water when I passed. As in the only strawberries that were left in the cool-down area were the ones that are a little too soft (you know what I mean?). As in the rest of the triathletes were showered and changed by the time I crossed the finish line, and I even overheard the mom of the 12-year-olds hustling them off to church as soon as they received their awards for best time in their age group. (Side note: Who does a triathlon before church, as in, “Oh, I think I’ll just fit this quick amazing feat of athleticism and strength in before heading off on my normal routine,” as if it was no more than a walk to the mailbox? It’s almost as if they had leftover energy or something.)
Somehow, through it all, I still came out smiling. I will say this; it was a beautiful morning (minus the wind), my fellow competitors were kind and encouraging, and at least I can only get better, right? One of the funniest things that happened was when Derek and I went to retrieve my bike after finishing, and this is what we found:
My lone bike, with nothing for company but blue netting. They’d even dismantled the racks!
Overall, I mostly laughed about it all. In fact, I didn’t actually cry until I was alone in the car with Derek on the way home, and even then – although I can really cry when I get going – it was only a couple of tears (mostly from embarrassment, I suppose).
Needless to say, when I returned to our friends’ house to shower and change, I switched the magnet on the refrigerator to exhausted.