Sunday, May 14, 2006

There's a first time for everything ...

I am a TRIATHLETE!! A genuine certified triathlete!! Woohoo!!!

Alright, yes folks, I had my first triathlon this miserable, cold, rainy, windy Saturday morning. It was nice. I received three wake-up calls from my CoolRunning buddies. So nice to have their support.

I quickly tried "not to dawdle" and finish prepping for the race. Sprint triathlon held on Ile Ste-Helene, Montreal. 750m swim, 20k bike, 5k run. When I arrived shortly after 8am, the line-up for registration and bib collection was long, and only got longer. I still wasn't at the entrance into the building at 8:30. Only got in around 8:40 and had to stand in the rain until then.

I got dressed into my triathlon suit (the nice blue one that Dirk gave me - thanks, Dirk!) I had no clue what to do next or where to rack my bike. We were supposed to have a general briefing at 9am but no one knew where. So I asked around and found out what to do with my bike and racked it like a good wanna-be triathlete. I tried to prep my clothes and shoes and was happy I had brought all sorts of extra plastic bags as I lay everything down by my bike. My neighbours were a brother and sister and we ended up hanging out a little bit and made each other laugh, which was great for my nerves.

Finally, we were told that the briefing was to happen, and in my tri-suit, barefoot, I made my way back around to the pool, the long way since they hadn't opened the gate yet. Good thing I decided to keep my polar sweater on ... it was FREEZING!! The pavement felt like ice.

I heard nothing during the briefing which was basically a bunch of very wet athletes crowded around someone trying to scream past the first three rows of people but not succeeding. The sound of the falling rain drowned out the voice. I still didn't have any more information than before, but at least I knew what pool we would be swimming in.

We waited and waited in the cold and rain and wind. The first wave warmed up in the pool. It was heated to 22-24C but the air was frigid above it. No "Get ready", just a gun going off BANG! and off they went every 5 seconds in all 8 lanes. We had to wait for all the swimmers to get out of the pool before the second wave (me!) could go in. At one point, M. and I were so cold, we went to the bathroom to heat up our bare feet in the sink. Ah! My feet were so cold, the warm water made them hurt.

BANG! and off we went. I swam fourth in my lane. 50m pool. I tried to do a few flip turns but couldn't get the proper coordination to do it without losing too much breath - I was too nervous! I got passed once then ended up passing two other people and got out on the heels of K., the girl who was beside me when racking my bike. OUF! It took two attempts to get myself hoisted up and over the ledge of the pool which was at least a foot above the water. Is it my imagination or based on K's time, I did a 14 min.+ 750m swim? But unfortunately I took forever at my first transition - but I wanted to be warm! Getting dressed in the rain wasn't easy. And my hands were so cold, I had trouble putting on my gloves.

Off I went to the cycling portion. We entered the Gilles-Villeneuve racetrack at a certain point that after 5 times of going around, I was not able to recognize when it was time to get off the track. I shouted out "C'est où la sortie?" but the volunteer did not answer so I thought it was a bit further. And it was a bit further, almost 4k further, as I horribly realised when I went around for my sixth loop. OH!!! All that extra energy expended battling the wind again!

I finally figured out how to get off the track and back to the transition area. This time I was a bit faster and just had to change shoes and headgear. Off I went. My legs felt alright, better than the last brick I had tried during the week. And it was STILL raining, making the running course a jungle of puddles and mud. Completed the 5k in 24:16. I probably could have pushed it a tad more, but I never felt like I knew where I was going and almost veered off in the wrong direction a few times. I did the second loop and was directed finally by a knowledgeable and helpful volunteer to veer left to the finish.

There was a lot of mud again and I watched the path as I ran to avoid the worst of it. Then I heard some people screaming to go left. So I moved to the left of the path. The screaming continued. Good thing. They meant for me to leave the path and go left on the grass to the finish line. It's so great that this was so clearly not indicated on the running path.

So that was my race - cold, wet, windy, late and super badly organized - but EXCITING!! I'm happy with my race speeds, can work on the transitions now that I know what I'm doing, and will try to be more observant of the course instead of counting on volunteers. And heck, any other triathlon stands to be a piece of cake compared to this one ... and I'm already planning for the next one. Oh, I've created a monster here!

Time to hit the hay - I've had way too little sleep in the past week and Dirk will have my head. (But I did have a good 2-hour nap this evening!)

Happy Mother's Day to all you mothers out there! I'm taking my kids out for smoked meat ... yum :-)

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