The latest in my series of “What does not kill me (or get me mugged) makes me stronger” adventures was the Sigourney Tri in July. This sprint triathalon included a 330 yard swim, 5.4 mile bike ride and 2.02 mile run. I'm always on the look out for something new and different, and I figured, Hey, why not? What could possibly go wrong?
This kind of thinking only occasionally leads me to disaster.
I enjoy these kinds of physical challenges because they give me plenty of time alone with my thoughts. I usually I don't pay much attention to myself, but there's something about running (or biking or swimming) that forces me to actually think about what I'm thinking. I gotta say, there may be a good reason why I tune myself out most of the time.
|My race number, or how old I felt after the race.|
The first “Oh, so this is what could go wrong” moment hit as we were lined up according to our estimated swim times. I used to be a lifeguard and I used to be on my college's swim team (small college, smaller team, bathtub-sized pool), so I estimated that I was a slightly faster than average swimmer. (Besides, being completely honest about my 5K pace time always puts me behind the walkers. It was my turn to be optimistic.)
Please note I used the past tense when referring to my swim experience. I am convinced that most former athletes (or former anythings) tend to underestimate the importance of the term “former” when given an opportunity to brush off those skills.
Regardless, I found myself lined up on the pool deck between a current lifeguard and her high school-age friend. My confidence was already beginning to ebb when these girls started questioning their ability to finish the swim.
“Oh, so this is what could go wrong,” I thought. I could drown or I could get lapped by the 20 people following me. My internal monologue for the swim was pretty simple: “Stroke, breath, don't drown.” Words to live by. All three of us survived, and none of us were lapped.
The transition from swim to bike went pretty smoothly, although I may have wasted valuable time double checking to make sure I wasn't removing my sports bra along with my swim top.
“Oh, so this is what could go wrong.” The sight of my codfish-white belly probably traumatized enough people.
The 5-mile bike ride gave me plenty of time to think. I realized that while I like riding (moderately) fast, I don't like turning corners (even moderately) fast. After watching the riders ahead of me lean (dangerously far) into the corners, I tried to console myself with the old “it's not a sprint it's a marathon” platitude.
Then I remembered it was a sprint triathalon.
Eventually I reached a zen-like peace with being passed by young men with tree trunk-sized calves, curled over the handlebars of their high-tech racing bikes. My competitive spirit kicked and I picked up the pace as we neared the turnaround point. I even managed to pass someone myself. (So what if he was only 12 years old, and wobbled all over the place.)
I started to enjoy the thrill of riding fast, and the rush of the wind in my face. I felt free! I felt like I was flying! I felt like I was hardly pedaling at all!
Because I was hardly pedaling at all. I was going down hill. And what goes down hill must eventually go back up....
“Oh, so this is what could go wrong.”
By the time I made it back to the park to leave my bike and start the run, my butt cramps had butt cramps. I wondered if I would be able to unclench long enough to get off my bike, or if I would have to run with the seat stuck between my cheeks.
“Oh, so this is what could go wrong.”
The second transition was even smoother than the first, and I was able to dismount without disrobing.
|So, this went wrong.|
I had hoped the run would be my strongest part (relatively speaking) of the event. And it might have been. If it wasn't for the swimming. Or the biking. Or the swimming and biking. As it was, I ended up doing a “Lego” run, going block by block. By block.
But I did keep going, and I did finish (24 seconds slower than I really hoped to finish). And it didn't kill me. And I did have fun.
And I am going to do it again next year.
Because anything worth doing just for fun, is worth doing 24-seconds faster.