Tuesday, October 06, 2009


With the running of a short triathlon, I checked off a bucket list item on Sunday.  Folks who have been around us in the past 6 months know that my wife has really enjoyed working out and getting physically fit. She has a trainer that she likes and a determination that I really envy.  It all started with her 24 hours of booty ride to raise money for brain cancer research but has now taken on a life of its own.

About a month ago she hit me with a challenge for us to run a ‘tri’.  I told her that I would like that, too.  I had no idea at the time that she meant “Let’s run a triathlon SOON.” 

My travels have made it easy for me to not workout like I should.  I didn’t run at all in Iraq during August for obvious reasons.  Since my return, my travel schedule has been no less crazy though I have done somewhat better in recent weeks.  For instance, I’ve rented a locker at the local YMCA.  I have really enjoyed swimming laps before work.  Even with that, I knew I wasn’t where I wanted to be for a triathlon.  I started referring to it as a try-athlon.  Oh how accurate that was.

We signed up for the Take Flight Triathlon that took place in Huntersville this past Sunday.  The event consisted of a 250 meter swim, 10 mile bike ride, and a 3.1 mile run; short for a tri.

Things didn’t start all that great for me.  As I arrived at my bike storage location I dropped the pop tart I was having for breakfast from my pocket.  Just having a pop tart at a triathlon is like interviewing Bill Gates and taking notes on a Mac.  I would have gotten fewer funny looks had a dropped a dime bag or “Bring Back Bush” bumper sticker.  We checked in and got marked with our numbers (magic marker on skin) around 6:30 am and then had to hang around for over 2 hours until our start times.  I took a nap in the truck.

Dr. K started the race about 7 minutes in front of me.  She insisted that I enter a higher 100 yard swim time and it was this time that was used to set starting positions.  The swim section was in a pool.  We were to swim up one lane, turn and push off and under the lane ropes back to the other end.  The pool had 10 lanes, so the whole course was 250 meters.  It was good that I got to watch her swim as she is a really good swimmer.

Almost before I knew what was happening it was my turn.  3..2..1..GO and I’m swimming.  All I hear now is the rush of water by my ears.  I’ve got a long way to go so I’m concentrating on my stroke keeping it long and consistent.  There were times when I felt like I wasn’t moving in the water at all.  I glanced up at one point and counted 2 more laps than what I thought remained.  Curses!  I did manage to do crawl the whole way.  I passed 3 people and didn’t get passed so I felt pretty good at this point.

Then I had to run wet and mostly naked outside and around the building to the transition area where the bikes are kept.  It was now about 9:15 on an October morning.  My blood was pumping pretty good but it was still a bit chilly.  I find my bike and stuff, get dry, put on shirt, socks, bike shoes, helmet and I’m off on stage 2.

After fumbling with my pedals for the first 200 yards I get the bike moving.  I’ve got the wind in my face and no sound but the tires on the pavement, oh yea, and my breath that is really not in the sprit of the moment.  The breath getting a bit short and there is too far left to go.  I saw a young woman wipe out on her bike going up one very steep hill (there were no non-steep hills).  She said that she was OK which is good because I don’t have to feel bad about not stopping.  I wasn’t stopping in any case, I just didn’t need to carry guilt, too.

As I mentioned, the hills were rough and I had to coast a few down hills to keep moving and I wished that my bike had one lower gear than it has, but I didn’t stop and after what seemed like an hour I got back to the starting area.  Now it’s off the bike, off with the shoes and the helmet and on with the running shoes and number.  My legs are mush and my lungs are struggling,  but it’s time for a 5k so up and off with me.

Here is where it really gets bad.  I start to cramp in my calves and my stomach felt like it is about to reject the pop tart I had for breakfast.  It was about this time I hear another runner yell “Number 447, you suck!”  Wouldn’t you know it was my lovely bride who had already looped around the halfway point and was headed to the finish. 

Then is gets worse.  I gotta go.  I tell my body to forget it, but it insists.  I gotta go #2 and soon.  I’m looking around for a porta john, abandoned lot, phone booth, anything, but there is nothing.  So I do what I’ve got to do.  I find a resident and plead for a toilet.  I really didn’t have to plead.  Just the fact that I stopped running to ask let her know that the situation was dire.  She may have rightly decided that it was either going to be her bushes or her toilet so she led me into her house.

Once the pressure and about 5 pounds was released I was back on the course and doing much better.  I was able to run the final 2 miles to post a not awful time.  Final results for the event with splits is available here: http://www.setupevents.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=event_results&id=1546.  You’ll find me down in 300th place in the men division.  Dr. K’s times were better than mine in every phase of the event to beat me by 3 minutes and 148th place among the women. As usual, I’m very proud of her.

As difficult as it was, I look forward to going back next year.  I’ll be sure to do a little more than 1 months training next time so I can shave a little bit of my time.  I’ll be sure to go before the race, too.  At the very least, that item is done.  Triathlon: Check.

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