Yesterday was an emotional roller coaster. I finished, so I have yet to get a DNF. But this one was wrenching.
Two minutes into the swim, I wanted to quit. I was ready to swim over to kayak and tell them I was done. It took a lot to get me to keep going. I wanted to cry. My inner coach told me that was stupid. If you want to cry, cry on the bike. Crying takes too much energy, and you need all the energy you can muster to get through the swim.
The fastest swim time was just over ten minutes (for a half-mile swim); my time - 45:27. I got out of the way of the wave that started four minutes behind me.
Once again, I just couldn't maintain form. But I did better this time: I probably only back-stroked 80% of the swim.
After I passed the first buoy, I worked into a rhythm of crawl stroking for a few seconds, sighting the next buoy, then back-stroking a bit. It worked. I swam without the wetsuit, and I think that made it a little easier. I was a little faster than I was on the swim at my tri in June. But I was still the last person coming out of the water (despite the fact there was a wave that started behind me).
Although there was just a handful of people left at the lake, I got lots of cheers as I came out of the water. The Hubs talked about that a lot at dinner (we were with my parents). As he described it - probably as much for my benefit as for my parents' - people cheer because they see that I didn't quit, that I pushed through the struggle, and that's worthy of cheering. It's not just about being fastest.
And onto the bike course. My bike, my true love. When I was in college, a fire alarm went off the evening before finals week. My roommate opened the door of our apartment and saw a small fire in the hallway. My first thought? "Maybe I should grab my bike." Not my wallet, not the disc with my finals on it, not my signed Edgar Martinez baseball card: my bike. That's home much I love my bike. I've never said a coarse word to my bike - until yesterday. After we loaded her into the car, I turned around in my seat, looked at my bike, and said, "If you were a horse, I'd punch you in the nose."
About ten minutes into the bike leg, I started up a hill. I'd screwed up down-shifting because I was interacting with the elderly couple along the route with cowbells. And I could feel a cramp coming on. I walked up part of that hill. The bike route included a loop the riders did twice. I vowed to pay more attention to shifting next time. And I walked up it the second time, too.
Because it was a loop, I could not tell when I passed someone if they were on loop two, and far, far ahead of me, of if I was overtaking them time-wise. I assumed everyone was on their second loops, but a few were not. I caught up to a woman about ten years older than me. We chatted briefly, then I passed her. And then I realized my front tire was flat. I re-inflated it with a CO2 cartridge. It allowed me to keep going, but the Slime tube didn't reseal, so it flatted again. The woman I mentioned told The Hubs (he was just a little ways up the road), so he was keeping an eye on me.
After walking up the hill a second time, as I was thinking I was getting close into town, I realized my front tire was flat again. I stopped and started walking. The Hubs caught up to me. I was starting to cry. He got the floor pump out of the car as I started unscrewing the valve. The Hubs, in an attempt to cheer me up, said, "You're doing great!" And that's when I started sobbing.
"No, I'm not! I wanted to quit during the swim, and I didn't. I wanted to cry during the swim, and I talked myself out of it. It just isn't fair. And now I'll probably get disqualified because you're putting air in my tire."
Full-on, melodramatic melt-down.
I was still crying as I mounted by wounded steed and pedaled away. As I approached the turn into the park where the transition area was, someone shouted "You're almost there!" and I replied, "Thank God!" Wait, what? Kim, you love the bike, you know the run is going to wreck your gimpy foot, and you're looking forward to getting off the bike? Have I been transported into an alternate universe?
The run wasn't bad. The first mile was on trails, the rest was on asphalt. It was mostly shaded. I ran/walked the 3.8 miles in 50:47; slow, but I never stopped (except to pick a blackberry - they're ripe kind of early this year). I gave The Hubs a big hug after I crossed the finish line. He is a champ.
One person got disqualified. From the looks of it, he didn't do the second loop on the bike leg. The fastest legitimate time on the bike leg was 49:15, for an average speed of 23.8 mph. The DQ'd guy did it in 34:16. His bike-to-run transition time was 14 minutes, so I'm guessing he spent a chunk of time arguing with a race official. It's a shame, but it's hard to imagine someone accidentally missing the turn off for the second loop. It's described in the race information, it was painted on the pavement, and the on-course volunteers were yelling directions.
This blog entry is already really long, so I'll put my "lessons learned" in another blog.