Monday, May 17, 2010
The Rookie is an unusual race. Not because of the distance or the location- but because of the competitors. Although its short distance (300m swim, 11.2 mile bike and 2 mile run) is appealing to the novice triathlete, they seem to be far outnumbered by the elites. Truthfully, the event is a little early in the season for most beginners to get their feet wet (heh heh), but the tough ones are still out there.
I wasn't even supposed to be at the Rookie. I had spent all day Saturday under the covers trying to get over either major allergies, the beginnings of a flu or a cold. Or all three. I have no idea but I knew I was miserable.
When the alarm went off, I snoozed for an extra 30 minutes then convinced myself that I should at least show up. thankful that I had laid everything out the night before so all I needed to do was feed the pooch, make a peanut butter pita sandwich and load up the vehicle.
Few things are as morale killing as driving in the rain to a race you aren't sure you'll be able to finish, let alone start- but there I was, driving through alternating patters of sprinkle and drizzle, drizzle and sprinkle. But somehow, I arrived at the Texas Ski Ranch and things began looking up.
I was greeted enthusiastically by the Red Licorice volunteer transition crew. I hung out with Buffy and her groggy but supportive husband Terry, Jennie from PAC, Angela from Rogue and Sally- a woman I met at the Champions Du/Tri. Then it hit me- I am truly part of the tri community. Boosted by this realization, I tucked my swim cap and goggles into the shoulder strap tri top and marched out to watch the first few waves.
And go to the bathroom about 10 times.
My swim wasn't perfect, but it went a lot better than many of the swimmers who immediately swam to the first jump dock and clung to it while they calmed down or caught their breath. I could have gone out harder but my head and shoulders felt so achy- I wasn't sure how hard to push it. Then I got boxed in by TWO breast-strokers. Uhg. I finally swam over the left arm of one of the ladies and tried as best I could not to kick (too hard) until I was sure my feet cleared her face. I didn't want to totally ruin anyone's experience but I needed to get moving!
As we crawled out of the water, everyone told us to wipe the sediment off our faces. Gross. But my head felt a lot more clear! Interesting. I guess the waters of the Ski swamp have healing powers- temporary ones at least.
Second time to use my clipless pedals in a race! My transition went smoothly and I trotted out to the mount line. Leilani and Joey were there to send me off with some encouragement and off I went to hunt down the mountain bikers- my favorite prey.
The course was nice- a good ratio of hills to flats, horses, cows and sheep. All the volunteers had foam hands pointing us in the right direction - very cool!
Question: Is it wrong to be happy when you pass a 14 year old on the bike? (Answer: No, because she will pass you on the run).
I end my ride, averaging 15 miles per hour. A little slow for me but I'm okay with it. Leilani is on the megaphone announcing my arrival and telling me to "show 'em how it's [bike dismount] is done." As I struggle to clip out- but I make it in time, halt my bike, slip off just before the dismount line and head on in for the run.
Two miles. Two little bitty miles. A warm up for most. The best thing I can say about my run performance is that its the first tri where I never stopped to walk. What made the run tolerable was that it was an out and back so we could cheer people on! I saw Buffy barreling towards me on her way back home and we slapped a high 5. I heard cheers of "nice job, Red Licorice!" and "looking good!" from the other runners and the volunteers and i gave it right back to them. It was like a mini-Danskin (sorry guys- you just wouldn't understand).
I finished well- not exactly strong but with a smile. At the finish line I reunited with my friends and we congratulated each other, some sipping beer, some sipping PureSport recovery drink but all wearing our Rookie medals.
Then I went home and went to bed.
And it never rained!