Sunday, May 17, 2009

Columbia Triathlon 2009 Relay Report

The Cast:
The Swimmer: Carolina. C. had parked outside of a friend's house til 11 p.m. the night before, waiting for the friend to come home so she could borrow her wetsuit. The friend never showed. C. showed up at the race site at 6:30 a.m. sans wetsuit, but with the hopeful crazy idea that our runner would be bringing one.

The Runner: Sheriece had fallen down a flight of stairs earlier in the week, spraining both ankles, giving me (it's always about me!) the scare of my life as I contemplated the horror of having to ride AND run this race. (Oh, and I was really worried about her too. No, really!) Plus? She was graduating on Saturday, the day before the race. (Let's just say that S. is not known for her teetotaling ways, even on a normal weekend.) Saturday morning she wrote to tell us she would indeed run. I was off the hook and giddy with gratitude.

The Cyclist: Yours truly. I had managed to fall off my bike on Thursday night, landing smack on my right hand, outstretched to catch all <cough> lbs of me. I seriously thought I had broken my wrist, and it was still sore and swollen on race morning. Then, while walking down a very slight very muddy hill into transition at 6:30 a.m., I managed to slip and fall down boom. An omen?

The Weather: Rainy, windy, cold, cold, cold.

Thus began the Columbia 2009 Triathlon!

The wind was blowing. The rain was raining. The feet were freezing. The bitching was in full force.

I set up what I could in transition, feeling confident that the rain would stop at any minute. Swimmer C and I walked about 10 million miles to the D.C. Tri tent over by the finish area, where we found our peeps and saw D.C.'s Perpetual Racing Mayor Fenty, and tried to stay out of the off-again on-again rain.

And the wind.

S. was supposed to arrive at 7. We called her then, only to discover she was sound asleep. FAIL! So, no wetsuit, and no runner. FAIL!

Our swim wave was set to go at 8:15. Carolina was cool as a cucumber. I was, as usual, one big mess 'o nerves.


Somehow—don't ask me how, I have no idea—S. got there around 8 a.m., found parking, walked a trillion miles wetsuit in hand, and our race commenced:
L-R: Sheriece, Carolina, Julia in triathlon's first event: Putting on the wetstuit. I directed. Photos courtesy the lovely Sandy.

While former water polo player Carolina was bringing home the swim, I was standing by my bike changing my clothes a few dozen times. Short or long sleeve? Jacket or no jacket? It was blowing. It was raining. I had cleverly left my helmet upside down on my handlebars so that it made a lovely rain catcher. I finally settled on short sleeves no jacket. I was worried sick about the notorious hills in this race, especially the slick downhills. My goal was to complete the 41k in under 2 hours; my happy goal in 1:50; but mostly I wanted to prove to myself that I could survive with no falls.

It took me about two minutes to get on the bike and clip in. (Don't ask.) You know how at the beginning of a race how you kind of know whether you have it or not? Yeah. I wasn't feeling it. I was tired, cranky, wet, and did I mention cold? (I don't honestly think I've warmed up yet.)

After about 30 minutes I settled into a groove, my heart calmed down and I made a mental decision to give it my all—whatever that looked like.

The worst thing about the wind is the nonstop noise. It's really loud! It was incessant, except for maybe one mile-long stretch where I immediately noticed something was different: It was quiet, almost peaceful. No wind!! It didn't last. The course winds out into the country, past goats and sheep and cows and horses. The roads are not closed to traffic. Spectators are sprinkled throughout the route, particularly along the hills, giving lots of encouragement. I saw one mom and her daughter sitting in the back of their station wagon, legs hanging over the edge, half-heartedly waving flags back and forth while stifling yawns, as I ground my way up a hill at -10mph. I said to them, "You two looked bored silly!"

Just doin' my job, people.

I made it up every hill. And I tried to let lose on the downhills despite some hairy curving descents over wet leaves. There were times—I SWEAR I'm not making this up—when I had to peddle on the downhills because the headwind was so strong I would have ended up standing still. I got passed by several people but I also passed a few folks, including one guy decked out in full aero-regalia. Heh. I even managed to pass a few people on the uphills. (Believe me, I'm shocked too.) And then, like the great racer I am, I passed a few people along the last mile-long straightaway to transition. That felt great!

Total time according to Columbia Tri people: 1:57 (including T1 which is really not fair!)

Sheriece, God bless her, I don't know how she did it but she pulled off a quite respectable 10k with two swollen ankles and a snoutful and no sleep.

TOTAL: 16/20 3:37:44
SWIM: 9th 30:54
BIKE + T1: 14th 1:57:27 (13.014671198978291 miles per hour)
T2: 7th 1:12
RUN: 17th 1:08:12 10:59 min/mile


And thus begins triathlon season.


LBTEPA said...

Yay! What a great start! What's coming up next?

LBTEPA said...

Oh, hang on, was that a bit enthusiastic?

Trihardist said...

How auspicious.

But hey! you did it! And kudos to you for giving it all you got! I think I would have stayed in bed.

Runner Susan said...

TEAM? I think it should be TEAM I LIKE TO PASS PEOPLE, next time!

Thomas said...

After the introductory chapters I just knew you would burn that race.

Hey, is that the tri club I'm apparently a honorary member of?

Jade Lady said...

"Whatever it takes...."
"Never falter..."

These must be your mottos!

eileen said...

FANTASTIC! Great race and I think you finally posted a picture that shows what a tiny tri-goddess you are!

Lesser is More said...

Awesomeness! I saw you about 5 miles into the course headed out on the bike, but since a) I was on a motorcycle moving at 20 mph in the other direction, b) It was windy and I doubt you would have heard me, c) It was raining, which made it even harder to hear, and d) We are not allowed to cheer for people while officiating races, I did not say anything. Glad you had a good experience despite the weather. To be honest, I saw many pros, who also had to pedal hard while fighting the wind on the downhills, struggle out there. Great job!

SuperSnail said...

Jeanne, I'll relay with you again ANYDAY!

Thank god you guys called me...

Carolina said...

Go Team Go! I definitely think we win the award for most exciting/dramatic relay team.

(PS Sheriece, invite me to read your blog so I could spy on you too)

21stCenturyMom said...

Nicely done, ladies! Very well done, indeed.

And when the wind gets really quiet like that it means it is at your back. Cherish those moments!

Maryland Girl aka Michelle said...

Great Report! The weather was crappy! Glad to hear your ride went well!

Rainmaker said...

Awesome, nicely done!

Oh, and the fact that you passed someone in full out aero-gear is totally kick-ass. Sweet!

Catharine said...

Rock on, Queen Jeanne! It was as nasty as you described, but you did it! I knew you could...

ShirleyPerly said...

Well, I see Mother Nature is having fun and games up where you are too. But way to show her who's boss. Other races will seem easy compared to this one, I'll bet. Well done to all of you!

Judi said...

WAY TO GO! You did good jeanne!! your RR's are SO funny too. :)

cami said...

Hi Jeanne! I'm so happy I found your blog're so inspiring!

Petraruns said...

Well done Jeanne - nice job despite the various obstacles. You look GREAT on a bike by the way. And nice gear.

Jack said...

You're inspiring, that ALMOST makes me want to try a tri!


This is too funny. I did the triathon, too and did not like the weather!! :) follow me at:

Kelly said...

GREAT job on the race! Good job not falling on your face too.