Sunday, June 16, 2013
Hubby Ferrett and I drove to Oregon, Ohio Saturday afternoon to pick up the race packet at Maumee Bay. I happened to arrive just in time to hear the orientation talk. Which included a talk about how there have been a number of deaths at triathlons. Not from drowning, but from people panicking in the water and having heart attacks. He told us how it was going to be intense and disorienting and that it was important to relax and pay attention to our reactions.
After taking a look around, we checked into our hotel, then met up with dear friends Steve and Lea, who had driven down from the Detroit area to cheer me on. After a lovely dinner and a soak in the jacuzzi, it was early to bed. But somewhere in late afternoon and evening I noticed pain in my left foot, just to the side of the ball of my foot, below my toes.
At about 4:30am I woke up about halfway out of the bed, thanks to a crash of thunder that was the topic of discussion among runners the next morning. Dayum, that thing was loud. Fortunately, all the wild weather passed in the wee hours and by the time we got to the race site the weather was merely overcast.
Ferrett woke me up at 5:00, which was a damned good thing since I'd cleverly set my alarm for 5:20 PM--I am dumb. But thanks to Ferrett, we were able to have some of the complimentary breakfast and load Greta, who'd spent the night safe in our room, back on the car. We had a late checkout at the hotel so that I'd have time to come back and shower before lunch. I found myself limping a bit. Bending my toes up or down hurt.
Got my race numbers written on me, my ankle tag attached, and my wrist band--no race bib for this one. Ferrett walked with me while I warmed up. Then I slithered into my wetsuit and went down to the water to take some warmup strokes.
The water was really murky. Like, can't see my hand in front of my face murky. And choppy. This is when I realized that I hadn't spent enough time in the water, and that I should have gotten into it in my wetsuit, because it made me float higher and made it harder to lift my head out of the water and look around. But hey, it wasn't THAT far out to those buoys.
Then the race waves began. Elite men and men ages 19-29. Men ages 30-39. Men over 40.
Yes, all the women at once. I don't know if large group had an effect on what happened. But it might have been a contributing factor.
Because when I got into the water and started swimming in all those arms and legs, I suddenly went into a complete panic. I tried to swim the crawl, but I was gasping for air. I tried lifting my head to stroke and got a nose full of water. I finally had to roll over and start back-stroking. Even then I felt like I couldn't get my breath. The mass of swimmers left me far behind. And I couldn't swim in anything like a straight line. I probably swam an extra 30% of the distance zigzagging around.
But I didn't stay alone. Because just 5 minutes later, the Olympic-distance swimmers entered the water. So pretty soon I was surrounded by a lot of aggressive swimmers, definitely making things more difficult.
Eventually I reached the turn. It seemed like it took forever. I reached the second buoy and headed back toward shore. Still trying to turn over and swim freestyle, still not able to keep calm and keep my face in the water. Still zigging and zagging. I resorted to the side stroke and breast stroke, and slowly, slowly, sloooowly, the shore neared. At last I was able to stand up and stagger toward the beach. Olympic distance runners were jogging past me, but I was still trying to catch my breath. And my foot hurt. So my exit from the beach was...leisurely.
And Ferrett was there, cheering me on.
Change of shoes, and off on the bike. Quick departure. Except I manage to drop my chain right at the mounting spot. So, pulling over to get the chain back on. Argh.
The bike ride was...not brilliant. It was very windy, and I was slow as hell. And my legs were unhappy, probably not helped by the adrenaline mess from the swim. But I kept pedaling. And eventually the biking ended. Back into transition, off the bike. Staggered a bit, but stayed upright--yay! And Ferrett was there, cheering me on--awesome hubby!!
Change of shoes, and a wander to find the beginning of the 5k. As I walked through the transition area I was completely unsure that I could actually manage a jog--my foot wasn't happy about any of this. But once I actually reached the start of the 5k I manned it up and began my slow, crawling jog. I was being passed continually, but I kept chugging on. Lots of those people took a breath to cheer me on; it's one of the awesome things about participants, that they are so supportive. Finally reached the turnaround, and did my own cheering on of the few sprint people who were behind me.
Without any music to help my pace, I was having a little trouble keeping the pace up. And when I could see the finish line, halfway around the lake, there was a moment when I almost gave up and dropped down to a walk. But I doubled down mentally and kept up my excruciatingly slow jog.
And eventually I turned that last corner and headed toward the finish line. Steve and Lea were there along with Ferrett, cheering me on as I jogged those last few yards. Ferrett has a funny video of me staggering forward, snatching a cup of water from one volunteer, my finishers medal from another, pausing just long enough to rip off and return the timing chip from my ankle, and then staggering out of the finishers chute. I look completely grim and all business.
They were all waiting to hug me. I waved them off while I bent over, hands atop a traffic cone, and caught my breath for a moment. Then, still wet, sweaty, exhausted, I took those cheers and hugs.
On the advice of other friends who've done tris, they took me straight to food. As I described the event, Steve asked me, "So...did you *enjoy* this?"
I had to pause. Honestly, there were almost no moments of it that I can point to and say, "That part was enjoyable." But as a whole? It made me very satisfied.
And I'm already planning how to improve my training for the next one. There will definitely be more pool. And more open water swimming.
And, I fear, a trip to the doctor for an x-ray. Because this foot is not happy. Not swollen or anything, but definitely sore.