My favorite book growing up was Peter Rabbit. To recap, Peter disobeyed the rules of his Mother, planned poorly and found himself in a real pickle in Mr. McGregor’s garden. Thinking all was lost, Peter began to cry until he saw another door across the garden and he mustered up the energy to execute his plan of escape. After all, he could not become a victim like his father had years before, [heavy pause] he had been put into a pie by Mrs. McGregor.
It has been one week since I traveled to Dewey Beach to compete in my 2nd triathlon and I can finally come clean that I cried like Peter Rabbit.
My first triathlon, 13 years ago in Maryland, was a disaster. I did not swim once to prepare and I had not swam long distance since I was eight. Crazy how fit I must have been as a child, because I was completely exhausted after five strokes. I was floundering, trying breast stroke, doggy paddling, pleading with God and anything I could do to get out of the pond alive. Once I did reach dry land, my arms were jello and it was nearly impossible to remove the wetsuit that I had borrowed and never tested. Rolling around to remove the suit while people laughed and then trying to ride a bike with numb arms and legs, left a bitter taste in my mouth.
This triathlon was going to be a completely different experience. I set out to accomplish two goals. First, to overcome my self-inflicted fear of long distance swimming and secondly, to rehab my torn calf muscle that is apparently the big red flag for– “HEY YOU ARE NOW MIDDLE-AGED”. Read older blog post here http://tinyurl.com/lg2s8a3
It was a beautiful day and I was excited. I had spent the last four months gathering advice from triathletes, swimming in various ocean conditions as well as the pool. I borrowed a great wetsuit, tried out all kinds of goggles and figure out, as strange as it might sound, that I could actually swim faster doing the backstroke than freestyle. I was ready for the ½ mile swim.
I did combo work outs, learned what a ‘brick’ was and rode the stationary bike soaking wet in the YMCA multiple times a week. I borrowed a mountain bike and rode it outside. Once.
I was limited to running once a week because of my torn calf muscle and would need my compression socks. I knew I mentally could push myself, a weird perk of enduring the mental anguish one faces while running a marathon.
The day had arrived and 899 triathletes and fans walked down the beach. My wave was ready to go! After an interesting start in rough seas, as I was basically attacked by a fellow racer, grabbing at me and yelling and that she couldn’t do it, I backstroked far away from the group and made my way to the last buoy. I was thrilled once my feet hit the sand. I was five minutes ahead of my target time, the rest of this race would be cake.
I took the time to pull up my glamorous, black compression socks and I put on my borrowed helmet. I jumped on my borrowed bike to head out on the 15 mile tour.
I went to change gears about ½ mile in and that is when it all went downhill, on a mostly flat course. Partially in third gear with a ticking sound that alerted me to the fact that things were not operating smoothly, I had a sinking feeling in my gut. I continued to try and play with the gears to no avail.
People were yelling to me as they sped by, “Change your gears!” “No shit. Thank you Captain Obvious”, is what I was thinking in my head. Outwardly, I smiled and yelled back that I was trying, something was wrong with the bike. By the way, I curse the age marked on the calf. It is salt in the wound when you are being passed by much older individuals who don’t even seem to be physically fit.
To give you a better visual, I was like a hamster running as fast as I could on a wheel with the bike moving like a tortoise. I was not even to the half-way point and my thighs were starting to burn. I saw a few competitors with flat tires and thought to stop and ask them to look at my bike. I wasn’t sure of race etiquette, but something told me that was pretty annoying and not to do it. I thought of the bright side, at least I don’t have a flat tire because I had no pump and no clue how to change a tire.
I made it to the half way turn and “sweet grandmother’s spatula”*, riding into the wind was ridiculous. I continued with a cadence that was so spastic; people were staring at me as they sped by.
That is when the dark moment came. A lot of cursing, questioning my ability to do anything right and then, crying. Not sobbing, people, just a few wet drops fell from my eyes; I was lost in Mr. McGregor’s garden and I needed to find an alternate escape route.
If I could have taken just one of my aching arms off my bike, I would have slapped myself back to reality. Instead I went with positive, encouraging words and started to sing a few lyrics to keep myself entertained. Thank you, Robyn Thicke, for your top hit. Not sure how many more times I could have told myself, “You’re the hottest bitch in this place.” Although, I didn’t feel so lucky.
The bike fiasco cost me an extra 25 minutes. I arrived back in the transition area where the entire bike bar had collapsed. Good news, I didn’t do it. I threw down my bike, and headed out and continued singing Blurred Lines, only because at this point I could not think of any other songs. If ever there was a time I needed my iPod, it was then. I had a decent run and crossed the finish line, two minutes over my target time.
Long blog short, I achieved my two goals but failed overall. I took my eye off the big picture. The race is a tri, meaning three parts. Lesson learned for life, work, physical challenges, etc. Fully commit, over prepare and double check all equipment.
Tip of the Week: Padded biking shorts have been created for a reason.
*Quoting Anchorman. Mark your calendar, December 20, Anchorman 2 in theaters.