I decided to get away from the office for a week, and take a trip to Florida to visit my parents. My folks “Winter” in the South, like all good retired New Englanders. I call it “Heaven’s waiting room”.
I’m cursed with the lack of ability to relax, so I scoured the internet to see if there were any races near my parent’s place. Luckily for me, the 25/75 Championship Triathlon was scheduled nearby, so I registered for the Sprint distance. (750 meter swim, 12.4 mile bike, 3.1 mile run) The Port St Lucie Club Med hosted the event. I found a local triathlon shop nearby and rented a nice bike.
Florida weather is unpredictable. It was cloudy and windy most of the week, with temperatures in the 70’s and low 80’s. The humidity kicked my butt as I continued my daily training. I found an outdoor pool to swim laps and rode a crappy recumbent bike while watching “The Price is Right” with retirees who exercised on 30 year old equipment.
Back to the weather. All week, thunderstorms threatened the area and the weekend report was bleak. I half expected the event to be canceled. The day before the race brought a storm of Biblical proportions. Six to Seven inches of rain before 1 pm, and strong winds. I took this video from parents’ dining room window.
That’s not a sidewalk that you see-it’s a flood.The video doesn’t portray the intensity of the storm, but you get the idea. Flooding was widespread, roads were closed, and many neighborhoods around Stuart and Port St Lucie were underwater. I didn’t have a great feeling about racing in these conditions.
Sunday morning, I woke at 4:30 am. It was still pouring. Yippee. I stood in the kitchen, making my tea, eggs, banana, and peanutbutter breakfast, and questioned my sanity. “No turning back now.” I thought. When I left the house at 5:45, it was still raining. I had my rental bike, pump, wet suit, goggles, cap, towel, running shoes, bike shoes,…..and a million other necessities that a triathlete needs for a race. With a pit in my stomach, I rolled along the highway, imagining the miserable day I was about to experience.
Halfway to the race location, the rain stopped. It wasn’t quite sunrise yet, but I could see some breaks in the clouds and was hopeful for improvement. My mood lifted, I tuned the radio to a local Rock station, cranked up the volume , and started singing at the top of my lungs. Just like that, I WAS READY! WOOHOO!
I set up my bike in the transition area, chatted with other athletes, visited the bathrooms a half a dozen times, and drank my pre race GenUcan. Time to kick ass.
Twenty minutes before the swim start, I wiggled into my wet suit and made my way to the river. I was repulsed by the color. Black. Dirty black water. Gross. The starting gun went off, and into the churning mess I went. It was a rectangle course, and it took almost half of the distance before I got away from swimmers kicking me, hitting me in the face,swimming over me, across me, and under me. The wind picked up, and the swells were so high, it was difficult to sight the buoys. I like to swim a tight course, but had a hard time navigating. Finally, I rounded the first buoy and the course opened up a bit. At the second turn, the current tried to push us off course. One guy in front of me was “tacking” wildly, making it difficult to pass him. Every time I tried to go around him, he moved right in front of me. Desperate to do something to get out from behind him, and between his legs, I made a fist and socked him in the…ahem….sensitive area. This got his attention and he moved over. (Am I bad?) I exited the swim and started peeling off my wet suit as I ran to transition. I heard people calling my name! It was my sister, her family, and my parents jumping up and down, cheering for me.
I never look behind me when I race, and this day was no exception. Arriving in transition I had a momentary “unusual” experience. I stopped and looked around me. Most of the bikes were still racked. How can this be? I was in the second to last wave? Had I passed people? WAKE UP, Patty, and get going! I managed a quick transition and was off running with my bike to the exit.
The bike course was flat and technical. The storm left behind puddles and debris on the roads. This poorly designed course had multiple traffic circles, several complete 360 degree TIGHT turns at round-abouts, at least four 90 degree turns, and a few bumpy brick stretches. Strong winds on the open course added to the difficulty. There were plenty of course volunteers, and I thanked every one of them as I sped by. I averaged 18 mph, which was disappointing to me, but only a handful of people passed me. Heading into transition, one of the volunteers said, “Great job-you’re in a good position. Keep going.”
I couldn’t find my asthma inhaler, and I usually need it for the run. Exiting the main area, I watched a few runners dodging puddles, but being an Oregonian, I blasted past them, running right through the water. (Those that know me at home, know that I hate having wet feet, or getting my shoes dirty. HAHA) I ran my heart out. While I struggled with my “mental” race, I was determined not to let anyone pass me. Can I keep this pace? Can I make it? Will I stop and walk a bit? WHERE’S THE FREAKING MILE MARKERS? When I felt myself slipping, I actually started praying. Yep. Good old Irish Catholic girl. I meditated as I ran, calming my breath and shutting out the negative thoughts. Rounding the final turn before the home stretch, I once again saw my family cheering. There was a 180 degree turn twenty or so yards before the finish line, (REALLY???) and finally, I was done! I got hugs from my family and I felt great.
We hung around for a while and then walked to the pool for the reward ceremony. I had no idea what my results were. A long while later, I found out that I had won my age group! YES! I was ecstatic. Turns out I was 9th overall female finisher and 54th overall. I missed my Sprint Pr by 45 seconds, BUT I PR’d the 5k run by over a minute. 1:25:40 was my official time for the Sprint. 23:54 for the run.(7:41 per mile) Not bad for a 55 year old gal.
I’m glad I had this opportunity to race in Florida and even happier I got to spend time with my sister, her family, and my parents. That made the trip special!
Thanks for reading my blog. I encourage you to get moving. Make healthy choices. Enjoy your journey. Share your story with me!