I tri-ed….again…..

This past weekend, I participated in my second triathlon of the season – …Emmett (ID)’s Most Excellent (Olympic Length) Triathlon – along with my son and husband. After my first attempt in the Boise 70.3 earlier in the summer, I was determined to compete a little more respectfully. And though I accomplished that goal, I also got to experience a few hiccups, some laughter, surprises, frustration and a little warmth at the race’s end. What else would a person new to the sport expect? Here are a few highlights. Cowbells and kids. Luke, my son, was a happy participant in the kids’ triathlon held the night before the adults’ event. He had been excited about it for weeks, and was especially thrilled his Nanna was in town to watch him. Watching small children (especially my own) swim, bike and run is absolutely the most adorable thing I have ever seen. Here’s a short pre-race interview. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O1QDtYCASp8 He got a cowbell for crossing the finish line. Drive-thru hazards: Endurance events are a perfect excuse to eat a lot, and specifically, to eat sweets. After Luke’s race, we ate some pizza then drove through Roe Ann’s drive-through for a cold, creamy dessert. Immediately after we drove beneath the awning, we heard a screechy, whiny, awful noise. Yep! Our bikes were on top the car, seats completely ripped off.

I had visions of riding upright, seat-less for 25 miles (either that or enduring some serious chafing from a taped seat). We raced down the road to see if we could find a sports store, all while I’m saying, “Let’s face it. We are in a town with a population of 6,000, on a Friday night at 7:55 p.m. We are hosed!”  Thanks to advice from a 7-11 store employee, we arrived at an Ace Hardware which conveniently had a bike shop attached — at 7:59, one minute prior to closing. That store saved our butts, both literally and metaphorically. Broken U-Hauls. I don’t like to get to races (or airports) early–it’s too much anticipation and wasted time. With a 9 a.m. start at a beautiful lake about 8 miles from town, we arrived for our bus-ride about 7:30 a.m. Shortly after that, we discovered that a U-Haul for transporting our bikes to TI (Transition 1) had broken down. Fast forward 1+ hour, and we arrive at the lake at 8:45. That left 15 minutes to pick up my race chip, get marked, find my spot on the bike rack, throw my belongings on a towel and squeeze into my borrowed XS wetsuit  (which usually takes 15 minutes alone). This translated to an insufficient (or nonexistent) assessment of the swim course, which later had ramifications. Short breaths. Despite all my lake swims over the summer, in which I had gained tremendous confidence since the hypothermic-breast stroke-70.3-debacle, I hyperventilated at the start of the race when I got caught between two swimmers and couldn’t finagle my way out. I saw a boat in my immediate vision and swam straight to it. Fortunately, they let me hang on while I caught my breath and repeated no less than 50 times, “Melinda, you can do this. You swam in a lake all summer.” Missed buoys. After I started swimming again, I was pretty excited to catch a group of participants who had passed me during my brief rest (“maybe I’m not so bad at this swimming thing after all!”). Unfortunately, I kept swimming off course (and getting yelled at by race directors). My goggles were foggy, the sun was coming over the horizon, and I didn’t realize there were two buoys at the turnaround instead of one. So I swam towards a group of yellow capped ladies, swam around a buoy (so excited to be on the home stretch!), and was immediately told, “Hey lady, you missed a buoy.” Nothing like swimming backwards on a course and getting to stay in the water for at least an additional 5 minutes. Where is the justice? Pedal to the metal. I made it out of the water, lost my sunglasses and forgot to put on my race number. But fortunately, my antique bike didn’t fall apart from the previous night’s disaster. I rode a decent pace (17.25 mph) and it was so nice to pass a few folks on the course (after being demoralized in the previous tri)!! Hot fun in the summertime! Despite 90 degree heat, a cloudless sky, a lack of shade, and an upset stomach from eating too much on the bike ride, I jogged my way through the 10K successfully (more self-talk, “one leg in front of the other….”). I doused myself in water at every stop, ran through hoses and even put ice beneath my hat (thanks for the tip, Kirsten) to get through it. It’s amazing that an 8:40 pace affords me the opportunity to pass a slew of runners (and only get passed once). All and all, it was a great little race. And despite a few hiccups, I think I am now addicted to triathlons. And apparently Luke and Rob are, too.

Melinda Hinson