I hope my little story will not sound too mundane in light of this tragedy.
We left our hotel at 5:15 to get to the race site by 5:30. Transition opened at 5:45.
Transition, just like LBTEPA and Jessie taught me.
Then there was some pump drama:
There was also some number drama, when I realized that the volunteer had put my age on me instead of my race number. Thanks to whomever gave me the tip to bring markers. Then there was rack drama, and some drama with women around me not sharing space. I guess they missed the memo. The memo about being nice. Whatever! If triathlon teaches you nothing else, it teaches you to let things go. There's already enough things to worry about, you don't need to add more.
All my D.C. tri peeps were fantastic, walking around taking hundreds of pictures and checking each other's transition areas. It was so much fun, I hardly had time to get nervous.
Carolina, me, Casey, Sandy, Ryan, Bryan, Heather
The Bad News Bears
I had to leave my glasses in transition, so if I wanted to see anything, I had to put my prescription goggles on. Walking around in black spandex and goggles is a look, people, believe me.
There were about 210 D.C. Tri Club members competing, and we all walked down to the swim start to watch each other take off. It was awesome to have so many people you know surrounding you and encouraging you, cheering and trash talking.
I love this photo! L-R: Lindsey, me, Greg, Sandy, Bryan (photo courtesy Sandy C.)
My wave—females 50-59 and male and female first-timers any age— started around 8:45. I had been up and on my feet since 4 a.m. by the time I got in the water. Amazingly, I was not nervous. I knew I could do this. I'd swum 1,500 meters many times without stopping.
The water was nice and warm, and I just told myself this was just like swimming in the pool.
Err, not so much.
Right away I was off course, alone, and last. I tried to speed up, which was dumb, because all that did was leave me breathless. I tried like hell to be in the moment, one of several mantras for the day, but it was tough. Funny how this never happens in the pool! The volunteers in kayaks were so attentive—one even told me to get the water out of my goggles. They were that close. Plus they shouted encouragement. Just. Freaking. Awesome. The only way out was to keep breathing and put one arm in front of the other. With 800 meters left, I finally started swimming smooth and easy.
I was slightly disappointed because I had done this distance—and longer— so many times. But whatcha gonna do??
Unlike Philly, there were no big strong people to help you look elegant getting out of the water. Lucky for me, NOD was there to document everything.
I am too standing up.
This is not your mother's triathlon. Wait! It actually IS your mother's triathlon.
Running uphill to transition.
T1: 4:35 Which was an AWESOME time! But it was mentally rough running into an empty transition area. I tried to just focus on racing my race. From my rack to the bike mount was about 125 yards. I ran as best I could in my cleats over tarmac and grass, uphill (again with the hills!), and finally got to the bike mount, where the kindly volunteer told me, "Don't worry, you have all the space you need to mount!" since there is no one else here!
How does this thing work again?
The bike was one long loop and one short loop that you did twice. I felt confident because I had put in the mileage and knew that I could do this. Many, many, many people blew by me and I started thinking that maybe I wasn't so far behind after all. But they were soon gone, and I was alone, which was just hard.
If only I had remembered!!
If only I had remembered what my friend Sandy told me this morning, as we were debriefing via e-mail:
You were definitely NOT alone out there. Even though you didn't see us until you came around the bend to the finish, we were all running right by your side the whole time....cheering you on in our hearts!!When I read that? I started crying.
I still had fun on the bike. I tried to remember that I was in a race, despite all evidence to the contrary. Like say, competitors, for instance. It was pretty flat so no downhills to fly down, and conveniently? No uphills! We were sharing the road with traffic, and the cops were fantastic, holding back cars when they saw me. I felt like a rock star. I thanked every single one of them.
I also sang "Woodstock" (Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young) about 10,000 times in my head. I have no idea why.
Bike 39K: 1:32:53 (15 mph) I was pretty happy with my time. Exactly what I expected.
T2 3:45: Everyone was gone, which was all kinds of depressing. And the ladies who shared my rack had taken ALL the spaces, so I wasted time shoving bikes out of the way. So. Annoying. But Number One Daughter and BF were at every stage cheering me on and ringing the cowbell which brought a smile to my face.
T2 is a lonely place for the back o' the pack.
Two out and backs. Out 1.5 shady miles and back PAST the finish, where I could hear people cheering finishers (oh the humanity!) and then out another 1.5 sunny and slightly hilly miles, and back. I started out feeling OK, not the usual legs-in-cement feeling. That was soon replaced by the death-march shuffle, though, so it all evened out. I saw a few people I knew on the course, which was nice, and managed to pass a few people. 21st C Mom had wisely suggested that I come up with a run strategy, so I set my watch for run 10 minutes, walk 1 minute. I also planned to walk all the water stops. I stuck to run 10, walk 1 for probably the first 5k.
First 5k. Stick a camera on me and I'll run every time.
NOD and BF were fantastic, cheering and telling me I was right on pace. Which I think I was at that point.
And then? It was all over.
Only it so wasn't all over!!
I was either being passed as I took walk breaks or passing as I started running. I didn't feel bad. Then again, I didn't feel so good! After about ten hours, I saw the 1/2 mile to go sign and I started running again, this time downhill. I could see the finish in the distance.
The Perfect Ending:
You know how time and distance seem to blur in a race? Well, I was dead certain that the finish was not the finish, that there was going to be some crazy-ass run around the park and not a straight shot into the chute. So certain, that I started walking again, figuring I still had a long way to go.
I was wrong. Someone yelled to me that the finish was right around the corner, and I looked up and saw a tidal wave of people rushing to the net calling "Go Jeanne!"
I could NOT believe it.
There were all my friends, cheering like maniacs—for ME!
Let me tell you: It's very hard to maintain the death-march shuffle with that kind of support, so I managed to kick it in to the most beautiful sound in the world. People cheering for ME.
I cried. I kissed Simon (sorry big guy!) I hugged everyone.
Me kissing Ironman Simon. Words I will not likely ever write again.
Run 10K: 1:27:01 (14:02 min miles)
How could ANYONE be disappointed with friends like that?!
To quote from the final scene of "It's a Wonderful Life,"
Remember, no man is a failure who has friends.Not to wax hyperbolic (as if!), but it was like V-E Day, V-J Day, Christmas, New Year's and the happiest day of my life.
But it took me from the this morning until 11:37 p.m. to realize that.
Final time: 3:54:54
After much hugging and crying and kissing everyone packed up and left. We were all a little sad because this race was the end of the New Triathlete Program—as one person said, "the most fun I've had as a grown up." The masseuses were gone and so was the food, so the kidz and I loaded up the car, I did a little striptease in the parking lot and we headed to WaWa (the "7-11 of Whole Foods"--Lindsey), where I forced myself to eat a soft pretzel and chocolate milk. I had only had oatmeal, three Gus and Gatorade all day long. (And God only knows how I managed it, but I gained 4 lbs from that regimen. Sigh.)
Then I drove five hours through a hurricane back to D.C.
I thought I'd feel like death on a cracker today, but aside from being a little tired, I feel fine!
And I'm pretty sure that I want to try that again!