I did it! I did it! La la la la la la! I completed the triathlon! Yes, it was only a sprint triathlon, but still, I did it!
The morning of the race I awoke apprehensive and slow moving. I told myself that it was going to be fun, that it was like getting up to spend the day at an amusement park where you know you will have fun even if you are on your feet all day. This would be just another form of adrenaline rush. No biggie. Besides, most of the other people would be doing it for a bit of recreation anyway. I will just fit in with the crowd.
Little did I know that most of the other competitors would be some of the fittest people I had ever seen clad in the spiffiest gear people can buy. There was a relay team warming up on bikes, all spandexed appropriately aloft their thousand dollar bicycles perched in some sort of mechanism that allowed them to pedal in place. Looking around the transition spots, I noticed almost everyone else had some fancy shmancy wet suit on. Whatever, I thought, it’s the Hudson River, not the Arctic Sea. Apparently, however, the wetsuits help with buoyancy. Oh, Great…everyone else has an advantage. No matter, it is not a contest anyway, I told myself. It was just about achieving a personal goal.
The wind was higher than normal kicking up from the northwest. On the Hudson River, this means waves. My brother Dan had hoped there would be rough water, thinking that since he is not a fast swimmer, the waves would slow everyone else down. I found out after the race the waves and current actually caused trouble for some folks. Apparently, some people got caught in a current and were sucked around the jetty and had to be rescued with jet skis. It is kind of funny actually. Of course, I am only at liberty to say this because no one got hurt.
The transition from swimming to biking was not really that hard. If I was tired at this point, it was not from the swim so much as my continued shock that most everyone else I saw seemed more prepared than I was. I felt like I was in over my head even though I had left the water. I soon realized, and to an extent, was comforted by the fact that I could only go so fast on my recreational bicycle. As I took to the pedals, I felt there was nothing I could do but my best and ignore the person after person who, no matter how fat or old, passed me by. I reckoned that where it came to the bike part, any competition of skill was skewed by whoever had more money to buy the fanciest bike. I think I got my bike when I was ten, and the gears are rusty. Oh well. Realizing all this turned the bike segment into quite a lovely outing. Towards the end, just as I started to get nervous about the upcoming run, I noticed that the event planners had strategically placed pep signs, my favorite one being, “Pain is Temporary. Quitting is forever!” Well, Good Heavens, I thought, that doesn’t leave me much of a choice, now, does it?
The transition to running was hard as expected. I couldn’t manage a very good pace. By this time, the day had gotten quite hot, and most of the course was placed in direct sunlight. They only had water at the beginning and middle of the course, making the hot trail, especially up the hill, rather excruciating. Just as I thought I was pulling into a home stretch, they pulled a fast one. Going directly back, apparently, did not equal the full distance, so to make up for this, they decided to add a little loop right in the sunniest spot they could have possibly chosen. It felt like falling victim to a sadistic joke, running around those cones at the very moment I thought I was so close to finishing. Praise the Lord, the actual home stretch was in the shade, and as I ran through, they announced my name and people applauded, and I got a bunch of free stuff including a medal and some kind of nasty, blue carbonated energy drink.
Overall, the race was not nearly as tough as I thought it would be. I think I could have definitely prepared better, especially for the run. Next time, if there is a next time, I will use a real road bike to see how much time I can shave off. I may even where a stupid wet suit. (By the way, the water wasn’t even cold). The race was over before I knew it. It felt like just a really intense hour and a half work out. I am thrilled I did it, for not only did I achieve my goal, but I can have the confidence that I can do this kind of thing, and I know what to expect if I ever do it again.