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.
Final times for TEAM WEDONTNEEDNOBIGFANCYNAME
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.