Sunday, August 11, 2013
Well, I didn't get to bed until 1am. Daughter learned that her granddad is probably going to die this week, and so needed Mom support.
Alarm went off at 4:30, but I was already kind of awake. Got out of the house in 20 minutes. Arrived at the ferry terminal and learned that taking the car over was NOT an option. Repacked my gear to go into my backpack and parked the car. Rode across to the island on the ferry, and once there opted to ride the two miles to the race site rather than wait to pile onto one of the buses.
The race definitely is in its first year, and the organizers decided to DIY it instead of hiring a race organizing company. I appreciated the initiative, but it meant that there were a number of problems. First of all, the transition area was set up about a quarter mile from where we were entering the water, even though there was a large grassy area right next to the beach. But that area is state park, and the race organizers did not have the sway to get cooperation from the state park.
The race organizers told all participants to be on the 7:30 ferry because the race was going to start exactly at 9:00 and they could not guarantee that people arriving on the 8:00 ferry would have time to register or pick up their packets. But then 9:00 came and went and they just kept registering people who'd arrived late--not setting a good precedent, and penalizing those of us who were on time and had to just stand around.
At 9:00, many of us walked down to the water to check out the entrance area and to be ready for the start. There, the only lifeguard tried to point out the buoy markers to us. They were white, flat against the water, and impossible to see in the glare of the sunlight. At 9:10, we were all instructed to return to the transition area for a "race meeting" which was starting in 5 minutes. 15 minutes later, that meeting finally started. Then we had to walk down to the beach again. Where we were told - again - to exit the beach so we could enter it one at a time over the chip timer, since they hadn't actually arranged for start waves.
By the time we got to the beach, they had found another volunteer with a boat to go out and park on the far side of the buoy so we'd have SOME idea of where to swim. This freed up the lifeguard on the waverunner to actually, you know, guard lives. But one lifeguard wasn't really enough for this to be a safe swim. The chop in the lake was bad. Like, a few people just u-turned and dropped out, and 4 others got pulled out of the water. They are very lucky that no one got into real trouble while the lifeguard was loading people onto the boat and so not looking at the rest of the swimmers.
What I REALLY wasn't prepared for, though, was the seaweed. I was continually kicking through it and it didn't stop as we got to deeper water. A couple times I got a foot tangled in it enough that I got swamped by a wave while trying to kick myself free. It was creepy, and I will just have to be prepared for it next time.
I was fourth to last out of the water, and jogged back to the transition area. Got on my bike shoes and helmet and headed out. Riding on the island was FUN! It has several wineries and lots of charming little restaurants and businesses. I want to go back there some time and be able to stop at places!
I managed to catch a few people on the ride, but had NO legs by the time I got off the bike. My transition was really slow because I was literally leaning on my bike as I walked it across the grass. Then realized that I hadn't drunk ANY water during the biking --dumb mistake. Changed shoes and started at a jog, but my Achilles was having none of that, so I only jogged about the first half mile. I briefly considered quitting, but thought, "Screw it. I can walk 3 miles."
Everyone who I'd passed on the bike eventually passed me, and the people I had been in front of on the bike passed me as well. I was dead last. I stopped and visited with the volunteers along the way, who all initially offered me a ride and, when I said I was determined to finish, cheered me on.
I was limping when I got to the end, but I decided to come across the finish line in style and "grapevined" my last few steps.
By the time I was done, I was completely spent. I left my gear scattered at my transition site, grabbed my towel and water bottle, and staked out some shaded grass to rest on. Lying down was not an option, though, because I was cramping up between my shoulder blades something fierce--I haven't ridden my road bike nearly enough to be comfortable with the position yet, and carrying the heavy backpack while riding to the beginning of the race was definitely impacting my back in a negative way.
Ate trail mix, drank water, and visited with other riders while we waited for the kids' duathalon to finish. Once that was done, the organizers asked us to please fill out a comment card and then to consider that comment card to be our ticket to lunch. Went straight to the table to fill out the comment card. When I was finished, I found that I was at the back of the line to get lunch because most people had ignored their request and just started in on the lunch line. I felt like I was being punished for following the rules, and so did the other people who'd filled out the cards. Still, it was a small frustration.
My biggest problem with the way the race was run, though, was the incredibly lax security in the transition area. Nonparticipants were being allowed to wander in and out, and when I took my bike for the bike leg, the volunteer just pointed me in the right direction and didn't bother to check that my wrist band number matched my bike number--I could have taken any bike! Worse, once the awards were over I went to the bathroom and when I came back most people had already grabbed their bikes. At that point, there was NO volunteer watching the transition area. Anyone could have walked in and walked out with a bike, or stolen backpacks and gear. I immediately filled out ANOTHER comment card on my way out.
I then had to ride the two miles back to the ferry with the backpack on, and boy let me tell you I was DONE TO DEATH with exercise. My back hurt, my seat hurt, and I was bone tired. Fortunately, I arrived just in time to get on the ferry and didn't have to wait around for half an hour. Loaded my bike, found a place to sit, and then?
Started to wonder when I can do this again.