These are the things I learned in my second triathlon:
1. get speed laces
2. don't run without socks if you've never done it before (two matching blisters on the bottoms of my feet will be reminding me all week)
3. if you smile the whole time, it goes by fast
4. having friends on the course makes for a happy day
5. wear a one-piece suit; they totally rock
6. learn where to go out for the bike and run from the transition area before you're racing
7. it's OK if you're not a great swimmer, or don't really swim efficiently at all
8. get a timing band that's not made of Velcro (a chafe spot on the back of my ankle will remind me of that all week)
This is how it happened:
I woke up to a sunny Saturday morning in my Portland apartment on the hill to find myself excited about riding out to Canby for a day of swim, bike, run with all my TE homies. My BF and I met my compadre, Anona Miles, near the river in SE Portland and off we were into the early morning light. I practiced getting aero in my attached bars on my road bike and noted the pleasantness of the day. I wondered how hard the swim and run would be, since I had only swum once in preparation and gone running twice over the past month. I was counting on my Minnesota-Land-of-10,000-Lakes roots to get me through the water and my years of being a runner to help me on the 5K.
We made it to Canby with only one mishap (see Anona's story) and plenty of time to get into our rad outfits. The energy at the event was so happy and positive, I knew it would be a good day. Being my second triathlon and all, I tried to play it super cool, like I totally knew what was going on. I showed Anona how to lay things out with a towel near your bicycle, then supplied her with Gu packets like I had a whole backpack full of them!
Susan found us and snapped some shots of our outfits before we applied temporary tattoos to our legs and butts to look supercool. (This, by the way, totally worked and we did look supercool :).
On to the racing part.
A pool swim, hmmm. Four people to a lane and I was planning to use my most efficient stroke, the side stroke (pick an apple, put it in the basket – that's what I say to myself the whole time). When the big red clock struck 9am and the whistle blew, I was off with a splash! Back and forth I swam, finding my rhythm, remembering to breathe in my bright pink swim cap and one-piece tri suit. I looked up at the red digits that are the clock and thought “I've only been swimming for three minutes!?”. And on I went. I got passed by the man behind me, only to have him slow his pace a whole bunch. I had to tap his foot for three lengths of the pool before he would let me by again! I was pleased to see the red kick board indicating that I was almost done with the swim and made my final effort to end the wet part of this day. I flopped out of the pool like a whale.
I ran out to my bicycle and heard Katie yell my name! It put an extra spring in my step and I tore off my cap and goggles and slipped into my cycling shoes (zippidy do da). I clicked on my helmet, awkwardly jogged out of the transition area in my cleats, and jumped on my steed. Off we sped into the beautiful Oregon countryside, just me and my aero bars. I said 'thank you' to all of the volunteers as I rode by. The sun warmed my skin and the wind dried me off. What a perfect day! I felt sleek and powerful as my bicycle and I navigated the course. I offered words of encouragement to the other cyclists I passed and pushed hard up the hills. Whenever the thought of running came into my mind, I pushed it out, determined not to let it slow me down.
It seemed like no time before I was back at the transition area and waddle-ran to my area. Katie was here to cheer me on. She said “Don't breathe, just go run!”. I tore off my cycling shoes and tied my running shoes, cursing myself for not getting speed laces! I could have shaved a good 30 seconds off my transition time, I just know it. I clicked on my race belt and flailed my way onto the run course. I was off running through the trees on the grass and following the direction of the volunteers. My legs felt heavy, but very warmed up! My suit felt so good and it made me feel fast! I saw Anona out on the course and high-fived her (she looked super awesome in the TYR two-piece suit). A little later, I saw Jeff out ahead of me - it's so wonderful to see your friends out on the course. I was having such a joyful triathlon experience.
I found myself coming up on Jeff with about half a mile to go and when I reached him I said, “Let's finish strong, Jeff!” He immediately took off in a sprint and I hung on, battling to the last 200 meters on the track finish. Katie and Anona were on the corner and hollered for us. Susan was just going out on her run leg and she shouted words of encouragement. I managed to pull ahead in the last 100 meters and flew across the finish line like a gazelle, with Jeff hot on my tail. I was so overjoyed to be done, it felt really great and my body was tired and happy! Two thumbs up for triathlon and a nap in the grass.
Editor's note: Anna was 1st in her age group, 2nd place female overall, and had the fastest women's bike split of the day! Congratulations, Anna!