Triathlon Goal Complete!
Olympic distance triathlon is a 1500m swim, 40km bike, 10km run. The best in the world do it in under 2 hours. I was hoping to do it in under 4, and I succeeded at the Thousand Islands Triathlon in Brockville with a finish of 3:53:14!
Disclaimer: I am not a swimmer or a biker. I have been doing those two sports for a total of 9 months now. And it’s been in a pool. And spin class. I had zero opportunity for open water swimming this year, and was on my actual bike outside about 10 times over the past 6 weeks. So yeah, I’m pretty stoked about my accomplishment. I’m also shocked at how hard it was, because no matter how much I expected to be challenged (and I’m always up for some hard work), it was still ridiculous.
The Swim. There is zero comparison between the pool and open water. Not that I wasn’t warned by many! The water was cool but comfortable in my wetsuit. I bobbed around unable to find my form at all. I drank a lot of the St. Lawrence, and swam on my back to catch my breath half the time. Quitting was not an option (but it was extremely tempting). I stuck it out for the second 750m lap, one buoy at a time, with a kind kayak volunteer keeping me on track. I’m glad I didn’t quit, since I found a bit more comfort with a heads up front crawl – until the water got choppy. More swimming on my back, more delicious sea water. Made it back before the Sprint men caught me! Getting out after using my legs so much more than I’m used to was tricky, but I got my bearings. Amidst cheers for the last Olympic swimmer out of the water, and literally holding back tears of joy and relief (need to stay hydrated), I woggled to the transition zone.
The Bike. Let me say first, how disorienting it is coming out of the water after an hour. I had to sit. I dug around my stuff, messing up my area, and decided against eating anything. Getting the wetsuit off wasn’t too hard, thankfully. I forgot to put on sunscreen and my belt with my phone. At least I had the helmet and electrolytes. Folks, this was not a flat course. Whoever said that needs to check themselves. If it was this “flat” on a run I would have turned around and gone home. I don’t think I want find out what a “hilly” bike course is. But quitting is not an option! Let’s get through this and loop two, with I Will Survive playing in my head. My high gear was skipping links so I was stuck with faster rpm and low gears. Foot almost slipped off the spinning pedals once, there was my opportunity to fall but I didn’t! I guess my stock push pedals need to be upgraded. Kinda lonely, and even the cars passing me seemed put off that I was still out there, beeping and passing too close. A race motorcycle came to check on me, yes I’m fine, just slow. Finally, the home stretch after a long and mostly solo two hours. I was welcomed again, this time as the final bike finisher, by the cheering crowd with the motorcade behind me, honking me home.
The Run. Oh my God thank the good lord above this was last. It was not easy shaking off the incredibly hard work of the hilly bike but if there’s anything that can cheer me up it’s a run beside the water. Gorgeous sailboats! As I ran along the docks, I said a small prayer to never have to do an open water swim again. Four loops of the island, with a nice cool dark train tunnel en route, complete with an led strip light show and music (the Watchmen!). Even managed to snag a spray of sunscreen from a lounging boat owner on the dock. Saw my perfect family on the bridge right before my last tunnel trip! Very satisfying and fun route. I do wish I had had the wherewithal to stop and get a selfie in the tunnel during the race.
Oh yeah, did I mention I bailed? ON THE RUN. Second loop, stepping up onto the curb while high fiving the volunteer. I have never fallen in 8 years of running, so there’s a first for everything. Luckily no blood, just some pride spilled, and my fancy pants remained intact.
All in all, the body fared really REALLY WELL (however sunburned). Under normal running race circumstances I would say I could have worked harder, but I honestly left it all out there on every leg of the course. My mind wanted to quit this triathlon more than my body ever has in a marathon, this was 100% mental grit for me. Each time I went for a second loop I thought it was ridiculous how far I had chosen to go. I guarantee I would have been extremely satisfied doing the Sprint – but in the end I’m happy I did the Olympic. Managed my sea legs, no saddle issues, and a strong run at the end. Cross training with the swim and the bike is a permanent staple for me now. Maybe next time I’ll check previous finish times and make sure I’m not likely to win the prize of last finisher!
So, when’s the next one??