On the drive to the lake I reminded myself of my goals for that day, I decided to keep it simple:
- Don’t drown!
- Don’t get hurt!
- Don’t hurt anyone!
- Have fun!
I was one of five cars in the parking lot when I got there. I started my pre-event work, check the bike, put air in the tires, get all my gear pulled together. MK arrived shortly after I did and started the
same stuff. The one thing that was hard to miss was the extremely heavy fog, you couldn’t see a thing. I had taken my camping headlight which helped a great deal. I removed my rear rack from my bike and took off all the non-essentials, like my mirror and extra water bottle cage.
MK and I moved to the transition area. This is a space setup with bike racks where you put all your gear. You “transition” from the swim to the bike and then from the bike to the run (if you’re running). You basically have a postage stamp area for your bike, helmet, shoes, snacks, towel, etc.
I kept waiting to get nervous, but it never happened. Throughout the setup I was perfectly calm like I’d done this a million times. I had done a great deal of reading and prep before the event and it
seemed to be paying off. I had all my stuff setup and checked and double checked so I wondered around. I talked to people and watched as the rest of the 749 competitors wondered in.
MK and I attended the pre-event prayer which was interesting, there was a gentleman that said a prayer, then other competitors said additional ones, it was sorta neat. About 15 minutes before the scheduled start MK and I fought our way into our wetsuits and headed to the water to warm up. Once at the beach we were greeted by the first delay, the fog was still to think, we could not see the swim buoys and the lifeguards could not see us.
We wondered around some more and waited. The next delay came and we decided it was much warmer in the water anyway and started to try to warm up. I will say this, everything I’ve read and or heard about how great triathlon people are, is completely, 100% true! I have never met a nicer group of athletes as a group. There were so many people that came up out of the blue and asked who we were, how we were and offered both serious and humorous advice. Everyone seems to be truly excited that they could share in someone’s first time experience with triathlon. One guy informed us that no matter how the day went it would be great because we would set a PR…he wasn’t wrong!
The race finally started with the “Mini” divisions. These weren’t as chaotic as the longer race starts; they went out of the gate two by two. Once they were on their way they started the men’s “Sprint” distance. I watched as a couple hundred people hit the water pretty much all at once. Again I waited for the nerves to kick in, but still nothing. I looked at it as another workout, no big deal and while I was pleased I was not wasting nervous energy I also felt I was missing out on something, but there was still plenty to take in. Finally it was my turn. MK’s group would go after mine. “Go” we hit the water and as predicted the full contact portion of this event started. There were arms and legs everywhere, I got hit and pushed and kicked a few times, again my goals were simple, don’t get hurt and don’t hurt anyone. Mission accomplished.
Once we got out past the first buoy the field stretched out. I was extremely surprised that I seemed to find a nice rhythm almost immediately, I felt good, calm and relaxed. I struggled a little with the sighting techniques we learned the day before, but I still managed to get from buoy to buoy. I wasn’t setting any speed records, but I getting through the swim without any real issues. About half way through the swim the Elite Olympic distance men caught up with those of us at the back of the pack. Some young man grabbed a handful of my ass and pulled himself over me, I managed to not panic and when I came up I informed him he could at least buy my dinner first! I rounded the last buoy and as I stood up and headed for shore I heard MK yell encouragements, she was getting ready for her swim.
Goal #1, Done! I did 750m in 21:56! I'll take it, and like the gentleman said...it's a PR!!