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DEAD LAST FINISH... and proud of it!! (with pictures)

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Monday, September 10, 2012

A couple months ago, a dear SparkFriend (love you Jeni!) says "why don't you sign up for a triathlon?" "just do it, pick it and do it!" Ok. Sure. Why not. I have PLENTY of time to do stuff like brush up on riding a bike, and oh yeah, trying to SWIM swim... PLENTY of time quickly turned into "IM NOT READY!!!" Procrastination at it's best... I couldn't swim the entire 400 meters without sucking air and water and backstroking to gag. I never did get around to trying out the full 13 miles by bike. And hills??? What hills??? Oh, but I have that RUN thing in the bag... Oh dear.

In the days leading up to the race, I'm freaking out. I reach out. "What did I do this for?" And a VERY wise spark friend Lynn says "Just relax, HAVE FUN, and count those lucky stars that you are able to run/walk, swim & bike!" She's RIGHT! Of course she's right! I kept that in mind a LOT during the event. I had wasted so much time agonizing over details such as "what if I'm the only one needing to backstroke" or "what if mine is the only mountain bike in a sea of sporty road bikes".

There is a quote that is pretty well known in the racing community. "Dead Last Finish is greater than Did Not Finish, which trumps Did Not Start." I have always believed that. In fact, on my RoadID I had those initials engraved to remind me of that. (DLF~DNF~DNS) But it's kind of one of those things that you believe, but don't really think it will actually be YOU that needs that comfort. Sunday, September 9th, 2012, that saying really MEANT something to me.

I had a ton of nerves that morning. My dear friend Renee traveled to meet me to be my cheering squad. She did her job very well! She helped put me at ease. Even allowing me to rip loose a dance move or two for the camera on the pool deck before my pool entry! Having your own personal paparasi is cool, capturing moments like getting your first ever body markings! (yeah, that was pretty cool!)

I'm in the pool. I ease my way towards the back of the queue line because most of these people just LOOK like they know what they're doing. Turns out most of them DO and they easily pass and leave me in their wake. But I'm proud of my 400 meters, certainly not the best of the day (by a LONG shot) but I managed to keep moving, not needing the usual breathers that I would take during my training swims. Success. And, side benefit of exiting the pool near last... your bike is REALLY easy to spot on the rack:

All of that worry over transitioning... and I do it in 3 minutes and 39 seconds. Not too shabby for a newbie! I'm on the bike and the wind feels fabulous! There's hills. Oh my. There are a LOT of hills. There are a lot of LONG hills. I pedal so slow that I wobble, in danger of falling right over. It's an out and back course, so all of the cyclists are returning and most every one of them offers a quick bit of encouragement and I offer a smile and a thanks. They're the best!! The volunteers are cheering wildly while directing my turns. And then I get to the turnabout point and I see it.... The car that had been following me down this country road wasn't a car... it was the ambulance with it's lights on signaling that I am the last cyclist. In stead of freaking out or crying or feeling defeated or heaven help me, QUITTING, i smile even bigger! The next volunteer I see, I shout out "you can tell the ambulance that I don't need him, I'm going to make it!" LOL! The next volunteer I say "Shine up that last place medal, I'm earning it!". I hit a particularly tough hill and have to dismount and jog my bike up the rest of it. I remount, and on the downhill I let out a giant "WEEEEEEEEE" just like the little piggy on the commercials. All I needed was a pinwheel to be happier at that moment. I read my RoadID. I knew I was going to finish. I get back on the main road, I see racers with their bikes already mounted onto their vehicles, leaving to go home. Wow, good for you! You must have turned in a great time! I'm having a great time too! And I still get to run a 5k!

I'm off and running. Amazingly enough, I still have juice in my legs! HEY! I *do* have this run in the bag!! Feeling good!! Going to finish soon!! There is a water stop at the 1.5 mile mark, I know I'm half way there and I see a lady walking just ahead of me. I whisper like a conspiracy to a young volunteer as I pass that "i'm gunna take 'er!" and I just grin. I jog up to her, she says "that's great for you that you have gas left, I'm out". I slow to a walk and let her catch up to me. We walk the remaining 1.5 miles together. She's a first timer too. She had it on her bucket list to finish a tri before turning 50. She did! And I did it with her!! I could have jogged the remaining leg, somehow, I had it left in me. But I was accomplishing what I set out to, and I learned sooo much more.

So, yeah, today, I AM A TRIATHLETE!
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