Well, ladies and gentlemen, I survived my first triathlon. As we drove to West Point at 6 am on Sunday, we saw a rainbow, which I interpreted as a good sign. I was with my friend Gary (pictured with me above) -- we've known each other for more than half our lives at this point, from back in the day at band camp. We arrived, picked up our race packets, then off to body marking (you get your number written on both upper arms and upper thighs, and your age is marked on your right calf -- I found this to be very interesting when I passed people or when people passed me on the bike and run). My Mom and stepdad were there for support -- Stephen was volunteering to help out at the race that day so he had the honors of decorating me with my number (106).
After setting up my transition area, I wandered down to the lake to check out the water temperature -- glad I did. Although it was cool outside, the water was like a bathtub. I decided to skip the wetsuit. I started chatting with some other women in my swim heat (the starts are staggered by gender and age), and, once I told them about my fear of getting kicked in the face during the swim, they recommended that I stick to the back of the heat and the side -- I took their advice. Aside for some leakage in my left goggle and a bit of lake drinking, the swim went fine. I wasn't kicked anywhere important, and only got jammed up in "traffic" once or twice. As I finished and ran up the beach, I checked my watch -- 12 minutes. I thought something might be wrong -- I never swam 800m that fast -- and in talking to others later, there was a general consensus that the swim seemed short. Whatever.
On I went to the bike transition. Swim cap and goggles off, socks, bike shoes, shirt, sunglasses, gloves and helmet on, and off I went. The bike was 25km of rolling hills, so I pushed hard on the flats and downhills and accepted the slowing on the uphills. As I biked, I found two songs going through my head -- these songs often seem to get into my head on long bike rides. Spinning Wheel, by Blood, Sweat and Tears, on some of the hills (what goes up, must come down), and Hold the Line, by Toto (not relevant at all to the terrain, but a good pace for grinding up hills and for general race stress, according to some).
After the bike, I switched into running shoes, swapped the helmet for a visor, and lost the gloves and sunglasses. At this point, for a little extra boost, I ate a Clif Shot gel -- I had trouble opening it so it oozed all over the place, but I managed to ingest enough to get me going a bit. I washed it down and it was off to the 5km run, which started, of course, with an uphill. The run was quite hilly, and I was tired at this point. But I kept on plodding along -- this was the last leg of the race, and I'd be damned if I wasn't going to finish it. A few things kept me going. The run had some switchbacks, so I ran into Gary as I was starting out and he was coming back from the first switchback -- we called out to each other, and slapped high fives. That pumped me up a bit. Next, I ran into one of the women I had met at the swim start, and we chatted some before she pulled ahead of me. Finally, around the second mile, I fell into pace with a woman, so we chatted through the end. In addition to doing the tri that day she is training for a marathon in October, so she had done a 16 mile run the day before. Yikes! Thanks to Carolyn, wherever you are, for distracting me during the last half of the run. I saw Mom and Stephen near the end, and they gave me a huge cheer. As I ran up to the finish, I glanced at the official clock, which read 1:57. I was so happy to finish in under two hours! Carolyn pointed out to me that my time would be even better than that, once they calculated for the staggered start times.
Exhausted, proud, and hungry, I was pretty much in a daze the rest of the morning and for my trip back into the city. By 1pm I was back home on my couch.
My official time was 1:42:52 -- 11:59 for the swim, 53:16 for the bike, 30:42 for the run, and the rest transition. Thanks to all who have supported me along this journey, with special thanks to my family, my trainer, Rodez, my swim class teacher, John, Jimmy, for paddling across the lake twice while I swam and for my swim/run, Frank, for the brick (bike/run), Hannah for the wetsuit, all the well-wishers along the way (your calls, texts, and emails really meant so much to me), and for the Lovely Miss Katie, who planned the celebration party. My favorite tri-related comment goes to my brother, who said something like "who would have thought that you would be the first person in our family to do a triathlon?" Yes, it's true, my siblings are quite a bit more athletic than I am. See you guys at the next triathlon!