Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Triathlon is a Family Affair

by Renata, Team Estrogen staff member

When you think of team building activities, you usually think of boring things like bowling, or a picnic - but not at Team Estrogen - we go and do a triathlon! The Gator Grinder Sprint Triathlon in Canby, Oregon that is! This is also our chance to test out our new cool tri outfits! I wore the Zoot TRIfit Electric Racerback Tank and the TRIfit 6" Shorts with no issues - you can read about them in our “Staff Picks”.

I have done this tri every year since 2006, and have even inspired my teenage kids and their friends to get involved. My first year, I got first place in my age group! Every year after that, I have completed it a minute or so slower. The second year I think I was second, the third year, third, and so on. This year, I decided to try to beat my last result, so I started training earlier than usual, in October. I signed up for swim lessons (because this year I wanted to do the crawl, not the breast stroke). I even joined a tri group at my club for extra inspiration. Thank you Jim and the BAC Tri Club members for all your inspiration!!

All the training went well, except when I timed my 500 meter swim a few weeks before the tri, well, it was time to go back to the breast stroke. Maybe next year, I told myself. I kept up the running and biking in anticipation of the big day. I even borrowed my co-worker Katie's super-duper-aero-time trial helmet to be faster (she was out of commission for a little while with an injury). The kids did their thing to train, but that's another topic.

The day before the tri, Team Estrogen was buzzing with excitement, thanks to Anona's and Anna's energy. We all knew they were going to kick booty. That night, I packed up the car with 5 bikes, one for me, 2 for my kids, and 2 more for their friends. Yup, there were 5 of us going! The kids practiced transitioning, sort of, but mostly I heard a lot of laughing, which was great, since I always try to encourage the 'fun' part of all this.

The day of the tri, I got up at 5:30, rallied the kids and got all the gear into the car. After picking up everyone else at 6:30 am, we headed down to the race. My swim heat start time was early - 8:40 am. We all checked in, got our goodie bags, t-shirts, timing chips put on our ankles, and numbers marked on our bodies. We had people in almost every single heat. I would be out on the course when my kids started, so they were on their own. It's a good thing I brought them down here a couple of weeks ago to check it all out so they knew how it all worked - but silly me, they knew it all anyway, they're teenagers, right? Nonetheless, it's always a good idea to 'check out the course'. We set up our bikes and gear in the transition area, warmed up a bit, and then it was time to jump in the pool. Lane 5 position 4. I was glad I was the last swimmer in my lane because I didn't want to slow down the others 3 athletes. I did manage to keep up with the others, even passing one person in my lane. After counting down ten laps, it was time to get out. In all, a pretty uneventful swim.

I was so happy to have the swim behind me! It was time for my favorite and best leg, the bike! I quickly dried my feet, got my socks and shoes on, then my glasses and helmet. One of the straps got stuck inside, so I had to take it off and put it back on again. Not an easy thing to do quick with a narrow, tight fitting time trial helmet. I finally got it on, and by then my glasses had completely fogged up. Darn, I didn't think of coating them with some anti-fog wipes! Next, my shirt, oh but wait, I can't get it over my helmet! Off it goes again. I struggled with my shirt, trying to pull it over my head and on my wet body. Helmet goes back on, then the gloves, and I'm off running to the mounting area, squinting, struggling to see under my fogged up glasses. I hopped on the bike and off I went. I pedaled hard, picking people off one by one. I felt fast. Katie's aero helmet was doing it's job.

Through town, around a detour, and onto a flat stretch I flew. It was time to shift into the big chain ring again and power down the road. But as I shifted, I felt a horrible dreaded thing...no chain. NO! I screamed inside, it can't be. My chain fell off? To the outside? If this has happened to you, you know there is no safe way to get that thing back on without stopping. I thought about reaching down and trying to get it on while I was still moving, but that would have been really stupid since I had never done it before, nor did I know if it was even possible. I stopped, got it back on, but as soon as I started pedaling, it fell off again! NO! NO! NO! I screamed OUT LOUD, as most of the people I had picked off went flying by. This time I turned the crank a few times after I put it on, shifted down to the small chain ring, and made sure it didn't fall off. I got back on, started pedaling, and very carefully shifted back up to the big chain ring. Then it got stuck! O.K. this can't be happening I thought. But it was! There was no holding back now. *#+* and *+#* flew out of my mouth quite loudly as the chain fell off once more, and riders went on by. Yes, they did ask if I was all right, but I can't remember what I said. I hope it wasn't something horrible. The chain was kinked behind the derailleur, and as I tried to turn the crank, the chain ring gnashed it's terrible teeth into the chain and held on tight!

By the time I finally got it loose, it seemed like an eternity had gone by. I got back on the bike, but I didn't dare shift until I couldn't pedal any faster on a long descent. I did end up catching a few of the riders ahead of me until a car passed me, and slowed to a stop right in front of me. With no room to pass on the right, and the volunteers waving him by so I couldn't go around the left, a few more adrenaline inspired words flew out of my mouth. As we slowly got going again, my game of leap frog with the other riders was just to much fun to quit now! So, I finished the bike leg and quickly transitioned to the running leg.

After my chain escapade, my goal changed to finishing instead of beating my time, and thanks to my tri group training, the run didn't feel so horrible after the bike. It felt good to finish. Then came the best part, cheering everyone else on, including my kids, as they came across the finish line with smiles on their faces!! We all did great, and it was a blast! Afterwards, we took some pictures, put on our cool Zoot recovery tights, and had a great barbecue while waiting for the results.

My son was 1st in his age group, my daughter 4th, and their friend a 3rd. I'm glad I thought about abandoning the race for only 1 second, because I ended up 3rd out of 12 in my age group! I'm looking forward to next year, and moving on up into the next age category, 50+!


  1. Congratulations and way to hang! I predict an age-group first place next year, Renata.

  2. Way to go Renata! Fortunately, we are BOTH moving up in age groups next year - I'm one group older than yours :-)