I have to admit, I’m not an official triathlete YET. But I did complete a sprint duathlon in 2 hours, 38 minutes and 25 seconds.
After weeks of weather in the 90-105 degree range with only brief bursts of cooler, 80 degree weather, I was quite thankful for the rain all day Saturday. Of course, that also compromised water safety for Sunday’s race.
I went to attend the orientation and pick up my race registration packet (complete with: a color-coded swim cap to determine which heat I was in, a bracelet that identified me as an official athlete, a disposable timing chip and plastic ankle strap and race numbers–a sticker for my helmet and paper numbers to pin to my shirt and affix to my bike).
At the race orientation session, the organizers walked us through what the day would be like and also informed us that due to the storms in Philly Friday night and up until Saturday afternoon, they weren’t sure they’d be able to do the swim. Water run-off from rain washes bacteria from the streets into the river and also increases the current. By that afternoon, the bacteria count was already too high to swim and the current speed was increasing. They told us they were 85% sure they’d have to cancel the swim if water conditions didn’t improve overnight.
I went to Evan’s house (he lives 20 minutes away from where the tri was held, compared to my 1+hours), picked up a spaghetti dinner at a local Italian restaurant, checked out the RiverCast and saw that the water conditions were continuing to deteriorate.
I had met with a trainer to discuss my triathlon training plan almost 2 months ago. She did this race last year when storms caused the swim portion to be canceled. I knew it was a possibility and had mentally prepared for it, but my achilles tendinitis flare up in the midst of training compromised my ability to train for this potential outcome.
At this point, I had really mixed feelings. A canceled swim meant that I’d have to do an additional 1.9 mile run instead. I’m still struggling with my runs–specifically, when they’re outdoors because I don’t know how to measure my pace without a nice little digital reading telling me how I’m doing (I know–a Garmin would probably help tons). As a result, I run faster than my body is comfortable and able to run, and I burn out quickly. The other reason I was disappointed is because I had made vast improvements with my 750 meter swim time. I started off at 27 minutes and had gotten it down to 20-21 minutes. The swim course in this race was largely down river, which meant that I could take advantage of the current and decrease my time further. I was guessing that I’d complete it in under 20 minutes. At the same time, I was a little relieved. Although I had faith in my swimming ability, I knew that 2 weeks earlier, a man had died swimming in the very same river for a triathlon. Although I don’t know what caused his death, I’ve heard stories about swimmers getting panic attacks or accidentally getting kicked in the murky water and drowning as a result.
In the midst of trying to manage all of these conflicting thoughts and feelings floating through my head, I saw that Jessica left a comment on my blog that I decided would serve as inspiration for my race. She wrote (in part), “You are going to rock the triathlon, girl! I wish for you: strength, endurance, peace, and glory.”
Had I found an ultra fine point Sharpie, I would have written those words–strength, endurance, peace, and glory–on my forearm to refer to throughout the race.
At that point, I decided that I was as prepared as I was going to be for the race. I trained. I mentally prepared myself for all sorts of outcomes. I decided to be at peace. I spent the next two hours stretching, fielded calls and texts from family wishing me luck, read some more of Aimee Bender’s The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake and curled up in bed by 10pm, falling asleep quickly and peacefully.
Until 3:30am that is…
I know. This is a long story. One that deserves more pictures. I promise there will be more tomorrow. Until then, I’m still recovering. And I am also trying to download the darn pictures. See you tomorrow!