And just like that my confidence was swept away with the howling of the wind..
We arrived the night before the Olympic triathlon. We dipped our feet in the cold waters of the shore. I had one raspberry daiquiri that felt like four.
We dined at a table next to a family with 5 kids all looking to be under 7 years old. They were well behaved and received the envious stares of a couple with one rambunctious toddler.
I briefly thought of my teenagers who could care less about my race the following day while I glanced at my husband across the table. We were alone. My husband played peek-a-boo with the baby at the table next to us. I felt relief that the young years of parenting are over, but wished I could grasp their interest once more. How incredibly boring my children think I am…
We went to bed early the night before the race. I woke up several times during the night fearing that I would miss my alarm but I never do. I awoke to the sound of athletes outside my window. I felt the tug to get ready early even though I was in one of the last waves to go.
The weather conditions were brutal. It was very windy and hot. I was one of the last few people to start swimming. The first half of the swim was against the strong wind. I couldn’t put my face in the water. I was nervous, breathing fast with a racing heart. Every time I put my head in the water and came up for air, I was hit by the waves. It seemed like I sucked in more water than air. I struggled, sputtered, and coughed. But I did not panic nor did I give up.
The swimming was the hardest part. I felt exhausted before the rest of the race started.
The biking was also challenging. The course was very hilly. The wind blew with a sustained speed of ~25 mph with stronger gusts that were strong enough to take down branches and trees and blow the dirt from the nearby fields into my eyes.
I had to stop a man on a motorcycle for water. I didn’t care that I didn’t know him, that he already was drinking out of it, or that the water was warm.
I struggled up the steep hills against the wind. I hit the brakes going down the hills because the wind took my wheels like a kite and I drifted all over the road. Sometimes there were curves at the bottom of a steep hill. I’ve never road a bike on hills like that before nor did I train for it.
I had to be careful for cars since the roads weren’t closed. I almost got hit by a car going through an intersection that did not stop for the crossing guards. They threw up obscenities towards the reckless driver and mumbled apologies my way.
I was told to slow down on a hill because of loose gravel. A rodent dodged out of my path. My bike helmet was too big and painfully chafed the back of my neck. My skin scorched burning in the heat.
By the time I reached the second transition I was very tired. A man who was already done offered to lift my bike on the rack. He also offered me a pair of socks. I didn’t need the socks. I will remember to go without them next time. I looked and looked for my socks I didn’t need, but I was sitting on one. I left to run with one sock on and one sock off.
Running is my strong suit. I pride myself in not doing a lot of walking during a race. There were a few points that I broke down and walked. I walked under the beating burning sun against the wind up a hill. I prodded myself along by thinking that I was almost done. All the Gatorade and water did nothing to quench my thirst. With the exception of a little cup of ice, all of the drinks I was given were hot.
It took me over 4 hours to cross the finish line, but I didn’t give up. Unbeknownst to me, I signed up for an extremely challenging race under ideal weather conditions.
So far the recovery is going smoother than the marathon recovery last month. Marathon recovery is much more intense and painful. This time I feel more exhausted than I do sore. I spent a lot of time yesterday just bored out of my mind but I couldn’t find the energy to do anything. I couldn’t find the strength to grasp the words that were fluttering through my mind.
In the end, I feel more prepared for the Half Ironman next month. But on the flip side, I feel less confident.