Monday, October 15, 2012
Holy crap! 2012 is racing toward the finish line, and I have been slacker-blogger. Let’s just say this year started out with a frozen half marathon. Sure, running a half marathon along the lakefront in January seemed like a great idea--it wasn’t. If you’re not familiar with the Chicago lakefront in the winter, imagine running against an incessant a face-ripping wind that, no matter how many gallons of ice melt is used, turns the path to a slick glassy surface. Oh, except in this case, right before the finish line, where the ice melt actually worked and created enormous, freezing cold puddles that soaked your feet (which, in turn, turned into ice blocks, thanks to aforementioned wind). Many times when I’m finished running a particularly challenging race, the masochist in me is like, “That was fun! Let’s do another!” That was not the case here. Then I was scheduled to run a full marathon in April. Two weeks prior, I was sideswiped with “borderline pneumonia.” I began to wise up and thought, “Nah, let’s not run 26.2 miles without any lungs.” See? I can be smart.
So that brings me to the summer. I decide to try my first tri (that’s triathlon, to you). A few friends and I pick a “good one” in the early half of the summer. As I had mentioned earlier, I tend to be a masochist when it comes to races, but also wisdom eludes me on occasion. Instead of trying my first tri with the “sprint” distance, I figure, let’s go for the “Olympic” distance! It ends with a 10k---heck, I can poop a 10K! The biking is a mere 25 miles—I mean, how hard is a sport where you are sitting down the whole time?!? And the swim?!? Well, I’m an excellent swimmer, so the almost-mile swim didn’t seem so bad. But I make sure that I train, too. I am a little smart. I hit the local YMCA to get my swimming and biking in during the winter. I soon get my swimming rhythm back (I am a Pisces, you know) and can swim a mile in 20 minutes. Piece of cake. I do, however, fall victim of “the slapper” at the Y pool. This gentleman apparently has the swim stroke equivalent of a mixed martial arts boxer's roundhouse kick. So, when you are sharing a lane with him, if your stokes are not in synch, you will be slapped. Oh, I was slapped. Hard. At least he was very apologetic about it, but I knew to keep my distance in the future. I figured it was good training for being slapped and kicked during the triathlon. See, no problem! The biking, like I said, is sitting down, so that’s no biggie. I thought that during the race, if I get tired, I’ll just pull over and rest during the water stations. Well, here’s what really happened:
I’m in the water, wetsuit on, ready to go. I’m looking out over the water at my turn around marker---F! That’s far!!! A half-mile in laps is nothing, but when you seen it stretched out before you over water, it’s a little intimidating, I must say. But I’m ready. I’m psyched. I still think I’m gonna jam out this swim. I’m the last wave of the triathlon because I’m an old lady, so they make us go at the end. And I’m off! Here I go. Slap! Kick! Hey, no problem, I’m prepared for that. I just keep my distance. I’m off again! Swimming. I’m swimming. The water is brown and murky. Every time I put my face in the water I start to panic. I can’t see! Soon I’m in deep. I can’t touch!! Soon I’m in full panic mode. I can’t swim!!! I hold onto a rescue kayak to catch my breath. I’m panicking and crying. I tell myself, “You can do this! It’s just swimming! Go! Swim!” So I’m off again. As soon as my face hits the murky water, it’s panic time again! Hold on again. “You can do this! Stop freaking out. Just swim!” I’m off again! Panic! Panic! I hold on again. “You are not a quitter! You are not a quitter!! Just swim!!!” I try to swim with my face out of the water. It takes me forever. I look at all the people swimming and think, “How the hell are they doing this without freaking out?!?” In my mind, it was impossible. After several more failed attempts to make progress, and being one of the few people still left in the lake, I decide I’ve had enough. I am pulled from the water in utter humiliation. Tears of defeat. It was not a pretty sight. But I figure, I don’t care if I’m disqualified, I will still do the biking and running. Like I said, it’s 25 miles of sitting and a 10K (poop!).
So I get onshore and head toward the bike transition area. I’m the last person. “Where do I go? Where do the bikes start?!” I get pointed to the start. I get on my bike and start peddling. Hard. I have a lot of time to make up here. Did I mention that I am LAST!?! There will be no resting at the water stops. Oh, wait, yeah, I soon learn that there ARE NO WATER STOPS!!!! It is like 90 degrees out here!! I’m pushing with everything I have to try to catch up to someone. Anyone. No such luck. And, yes, I am LAST! Argh. But I keep it up. I ride as hard as I can (I do something disgusting, which probably saved my life, but we won’t mention it here--did I mention there were NO WATER STOPS?!). I roll into the finish line and begin the run. Just a 10K, right. I’m hot and exhausted. My legs are numb. No, really, I cannot feel them at all. In hind sight, I blame those damn biking shorts squeezing my legs to death. Anyway, I try to put on a brave face and have some fun with the 10K. I actually pass some people, even though I don’t feel my legs moving. In the end, I am not disqualified, but am given a finishing time. I’m not proud, but I’m exhausted. Such is my story of how I became a try-athlete. And, no, I will not be doing that again.