This is only vaguely related, but one thing I learned this morning was to always go to the restroom before a morning run, especially in a new place. It was a rough lesson that I’m not likely to forget. When doggie bag dispensers look like the next best thing…
I had been thinking of trying a triathlon sprint for quite a while. Swimming and biking have always come pretty easily to me, but running was the activity that seemed to serve as the insuperable barrier to my participation. Running was the challenge, so running became my focus. First the Couch to 5k, then 5k to 10k. I registered for the Blue Lake sprint triathlon in the victorious moments following my first ever 10k run.
Whatever I thought a sprint triathlon was going to be, it was so much more hilarious.
Transitions between activities were only one mystery while mentally preparing for the event. How does one effectively change from swimming garb to cycling clothes? Do I really need a wetsuit? Because I don’t own one and can’t reasonably afford one. How can I be sure no one will steal my bike while I’m swimming or running? These details cycled through my head in the few months before the race.
Packet pick-up time came. I asked the kind packet pick-up volunteer whether there was a bag check of some sort. She said no, but that I could keep everything I wouldn’t be using during the race in the trunk of my car. Hearing that I don’t own a car and would be biking to the start/finish line seemed to cause her momentary confusion, but she rallied and suggested the 1.5′ space next to my bike where folks keep their gear not in use during a particular leg of the race (aka “the transition space”). Then she added, “I mean, you can’t carry anything on your bike that wouldn’t fit in that space.” Visions of bringing a “transition couch” danced in my head. Maybe next year.
I rode out to Blue Lake, which was a nice 10 mile warm-up ride. It got out a lot of pre-event jitters! I figured mine would be one of the heaviest bikes, and that my Pedalpalooza banner proudly waving from my back rack would let folks know I was in on the joke. When I met Lois the Hairdresser, who had a plush unicorn strapped to her back rack, I knew everything was probably going to be okay.
Race time came, and we convened on the lakeshore. At least three other women were decked out in swimsuits rather than wetsuits, so I wasn’t totally alone on that score, either. The horn sounded, and all the people in my category jumped in to swim in one giant chaotic mess. I accidentally got up in at least two women’s business doing freestyle and decided to kick out to the edge and go backstroke after the first buoy. Much better, and the view improved from soupy to blue. That’s when I started smiling, and I didn’t stop for the rest of the event. I have always loved swimming, and it was a glorious day in a beautiful damn state.
Funny thing about not wearing a wetsuit: if you’re not wearing it, you don’t have to take it off in order to start biking. That made the transition easier! Getting on my bike with banner waving immediately made this feel like a Pedalpalooza ride. I couldn’t stop ringing my bell and thanking volunteers and spectators. Marine Drive was closed to auto traffic for this race, and that was the most delicious dessert I could imagine on a day like that.
By the time I got to the running part, I realized that I might actually finish this race, after all. What I lacked in speed I made up for in joy. The finish line almost seemed anti-climactic given how much fun the rest of the event had been. I would have been sad that it was over if it weren’t for the fact that I got to bike all the way home after the race.
If I do it next year, I actually might bring a couch.
What I learned at life that day: triathlon sprints are hilarious events.