This race starts before the race. Yes, I know we all say that. It's in the preparation, blah, blah, blah. But that's not what I mean.
See this race started, in my head, on Wednesday at about 6:30pm. This is when Martha tells me that people got lost on the run at Bonelli. Just what I need to hear. I'm all over the nutrition. I've got my bike in order and have good shoes. I'm bringing my wetsuit regardless. But getting lost? I don't want to get lost!
Fast forward to Saturday. I got in a slow speed accident backing out of a parking space. No damage to the car, but I could already feel my back tightening up. Then, if that hit wasn't enough, one of our accordion doors that enclose our washer and dryer decides that it no longer wants to stand up. Instead it wants to be laying down, on me. So I take a blow to the right side of my head (no damage) while trying to catch the door after it fell on me. Nice.
I can't sleep, and get up a few minutes before my alarm goes off. I've packed the night before so I'm off. At 4:30 am to get to the gate that opens at 5:30 am.
I sit at this gate until 5:25 when I realize no one is around me. (yes always the Diva, I'm earlier than the park opens). I drive around to the gate closest to the event. Yay! There are people here, but we're still not moving. About 5:45 I get out of my car and walk half way to the parking attendant booth, nobody home. I guess the park employees didn't get the memo about the park opening at 5:30 instead of at sunrise. Finally, about 6am we get in.
I unload my gear and head to where I think registration is, but find transition instead. I set up on an end cap 3 racks back from bike in/out (score!) and head out to find registration. I get all my stuff and then I wait.
We're supposed to start at 8:00 am, with my wave being at 8:10, but this doesn't happen. We probably start closer to 8:10.
I meet a few women in my wave. With no other person there I know, I need to make a friend, if only to zip up my wetsuit. We line up with our Yellow Cap wave and we're off.
A mile is a long way. I've swam the distance before, multiple times. But usually in some sort of lap form so I know how much more I have to go. The first buoy looked like it would take forever to get to, but I did it, and noticed there were 2, no 3 opportunities for me to chick some of the male swimmers. One was even a red hat, meaning in the first wave! This gave me something more to focus on.
I did end up passing all 3 of them, and swimming through LOTS of lake weed. So much that I couldn't put my face in the water because it was touching ALL of me. Gross. I'm pretty sure I had a mild panic attack here, thinking that some how, the lake weed was going to drag me under. So I swam a bit straight away from it, not necessarily towards the buoy.
Then I saw it, swim out. I threw myself into a sprint. I really wanted to finish the swim in 45 minutes, ended up out of the water and to the transition mat in 48. Good enough.
Slow, 3 minutes! But I caught my breath, shoved down a gel and water, got on my bike gear and left.
I don't want to talk about this one. The first loop I was getting my legs, the second was the best, even though my shot bloks jumped out of my bento box, the third, well, it was the third. By this time most of the Cops had left their posts. I had to stop for 30 seconds to 1 minute at a light because of this. Yes I know I could have ran it, risked my life (not really as time would tell) and a ticket, but I heard Linda's voice in the back of my head, "Safety first, Yasmin!" so I stopped. I also lost my momentum. I finished the bike thinking, maybe I can just skip the run, but no I trained for this, so what if it's not necessarily going as planned and you'll miss your aggressive goal (Finish in 3:45). Go for your original goal (4 at the most).
There was no one left. Now I realize, the bulk of the people there were probably doing the sprint distance, but I've never seen transition so deserted when I got off the bike as I did here. Oh well, off with the bike stuff on with the run stuff (including my nutrition belt) and go. No wait, get the race belt, now go.
Started off a bit too fast. Aimed for a 10:30 -11 min/mile pace. Should have started at the 11-11:30. The run started on a paved trail, ran through dirt, a parking lot and finished with a sprint (or as much as I had left to give) through grass.
I start running and there isn't a soul around me on the trail. I wonder if I'm the last person on the course. I run through the first 3 miles or so and I see her. Ripe for the picking. I set off, not really deviating from my pace, and I pass her. Now I know I'm not alone and have another goal, not to let her pass me.
I run through a part of the trail that makes me wonder if Aragog (the giant spider in the Harry Potter Books) is going to come steal me for his children to eat. Or maybe I'm running on the bank of the river in Deliverance. But I get through this without seeing a spider or hearing banjos and continue on.
I see her next, in turquoise and black. She's my new target, I start closing in, and realize, wait, she=he. I didn't think any guys were left out here. I'm going to chick another guy and he'll stay chicked. (see, I chicked plenty of guys, maybe 5, on the bike, but I'm pretty sure most of them were on their 2nd or 3rd loop at the time). I run to the turn around and as I'm on my way back I realized some of the guys I chicked on the swim also stayed chicked. AWESOME.
So now I'm enjoying the run more than I thought I would whilst on the bike. I see the last aid station and it's abandoned. But they left the water! So I grab a cup and continue. It's all about continuing and not posting a DNF. Then I see him. The final guy/person I'll pass (I know this in retrospect). It takes the better part of a quarter mile, but I do it. Now I'm in the home stretch. People are telling me the finish line is right around the corner.
Then I saw it. In all it's inflated glory. Now you have to realize I'd pretty much convinced myself that it would be starting to droop, all deflated. The timing mats being the only thing left. Maybe one or 2 people with the timing company. But it was there, with mats and even some people left to watch!
I started my sprint as soon as I got on the grass. I was pretty sure, if my watch was any indication, that I'd missed my 4 hour goal already. Also, I didn't know what kind of gopher holes might be in the grass, so my sprint was slower than normal. The fact that I could even muster up anything was a surprise to myself.
"Here she comes, number 217. She's finishing strong. Yasmin Wood!" I love the announcer at this point. Then I adore him because he says, "here are some true athletes, people. These guys have been out here the longest and they're still strong!" I could have kissed him. Right at that time I was happy, but berating myself for not pushing more on the bike or the run or, heck, the swim, to get me to one of my goal times.
My overall time was 4:00:56. So I missed it by 56 seconds. That's in the margin of error, right?
Now I can say, I'm an Olympian. Watch out Phelps.