The one I have been waiting for was worth the wait.
If it could have gone down any more perfectly, it would have seemed surreal. I knew what my goal was, I worked hard to get there, and despite a few minor mishaps, it all went off without a hitch. But there was a hiss…
Yes, a hiss that your bike tire makes when you’re unscrewing the cap to check the tire pressure in transition while chatting inanely to no one in particular right before your valve stem blows off. You know that hiss? I wasn’t familiar with it, but one guy pointed and said, “There’s a bike tech over there!” I ran to the bike tech and he couldn’t get the valve stem back on the tire, but fortunately I had a tube with a longer valve stem in my bag, so he said, “Go get ready!” and I set off to warm up while he put on the new tube. Thank you, Bike Angel Man! The bike was all ready to go when I came back from warming up, and I was ready except for the man who tried to snake my spot in transition while my bike was gone (like, did you climb out of your warm sleeping bag into the freezing cold at 6 AM? No, you didn’t!)
It was FREEZING. I mean maybe 40 degrees and colder in the shade. You know, at the shady swim start and in transition. I hopped down to the swim start, where I ran into my old friend Kathy, who was the person who ever started me on this crazy triathlon dream many years ago. What a coincidence! We never ended up doing a triathlon together, but my first race in 2010 was a result of a New Year’s resolution we had made waaaayyy back in 2002. It was so great to see her on this special day!
Anyways, after talking barefoot on the frozen concrete for many minutes, my toes and feet were completely numb as I walked into the water and put on my goggles. SNAP, the nose piece broke in 2 places. I turned to my husband, Mr. Prepared, who looked pissed. Like, don’t you ever check these things ahead of time? He tried to slice off more rubber for a new nose piece while I appealed to the crowd. A lady ran back to transition for her backup goggles. I waited nervously, knowing it was my only hope but also aware that I am very particular about my goggles. Somehow, they were perfect without adjustment and absolutely no leaks! Thank you Goggle Angel Lady!
The swim was cold. I couldn’t get going into a rhythm at first. About halfway through the swim, I decided that I am definitely not interested in doing an open water long-distance swims AT ALL. I had penciled one in on my race calendar for 2013, but it will be scratched. A mile seems long. 8K would seem impossible, boring, and not fun.
However, this was fun- an Olympic distance is still so racy, like a sprint, but really requires training and preparation to do it well. And each distance is just long enough that you are grateful for the change of discipline when it comes. I was more than ready to get on my bike; however, I couldn’t feel my hands or my toes. I threw on a long underwear shirt to help defray the icicles forming on my body. Fortunately, I had done a little pre-ride of the first 3 miles the day before, and I knew there were a few quick uphills, so I prayed I would warm up. I could hardly shift with my hands so numb, and I started to get discouraged, but I realized that every person was in the same boat as me, and if I worked hard enough, I could warm up my body. My hands started to thaw around mile 6, and I got into a good cadence, pacing myself off some guys in front of me. I picked off quite a few people on the bike, including some Air Force cadets (c’mon- don’t you guys work out all the time?). I was almost thankful that I hadn’t lost any more body fat this summer, as it seemed the really skinny people were having a tough go getting warm and fast. My legs felt very powerful and fast (thank you, Evil Genius, for your awesome taper), the bike was fast (thank you Charlie @Mountain Pedaler for the back tire size tip), and I went about exactly my goal speed! The last climb made me ready to get off the bike and onto my wet, frozen feet.
I slipped off the long underwear, threw the sticky gels out of my shorts, and climbed into my running shoes. The only small problem was I couldn’t actually feel my feet. One guy yelled as we exited transition, “All I feel is numbness!” I shouted back that it sounded like a perfect grunge song. As Sarah’s kindergarten teacher said afterward, it was like running on stumps. I figured if I kept pounding my feet into the ground, they would have to wake up, right? They did…at about mile 4. I had finally started my watch (so typical) on my way out of transition into the run, so I was pleasantly surprised to see 8:48 at the first mile marker. I knew if I could keep it up, I would be able to put together my goal 10k pace, despite the numb feet. I think Taylor was a little surprised to see me at 27 minutes after my first lap. My hip started to hurt pretty badly at about 4 miles, at which time I promptly gave it an internal verbal lashing. The last 2 miles were pretty tough, but I could hear the little girl singing at the aid station at mile 5, and I just kept looking right in front of me and trying not to look too far ahead. Honestly, I didn’t really “kick” at the end, but I knew I had my goal without actually knowing for sure. Sure enough, 2:39:28, under my goal of 2:40:00, and good enough for first place in my age group.
What an amazing end to this season. I feel so blessed and lucky to have so many good people who supported me and motivated me and helped me reach my potential. I feel very grateful I was able to complete the season injury-free and finish all of my races. These gifts will not be lost on me at all. I look forward to what the next racing season brings!
Desert’s Edge Olympic Triathlon
Sunday, October 7, 2012
Highline Lake State Park, Fruita, CO