I Tried a Tri

It’s a funny thing when you accidentally venture into uncharted “waters”. Last December, when I was diagnosed with 2 torn tendons, a torn muscle, and a few other torn things that I can’t pronounce, I anxiously awaited my first Physical Therapy appointment. I was told to immediately stop running, and in fact, “Don’t walk any further than you have to.”

Once PT started, I was both devastated at the fact that I was done running for several weeks, and elated that I could at least bike and swim. Thankfully, I could “feed the beast” that was my need to exercise! I rushed off to find an indoor pool that had a temperature I could endure. I’m a bit of a wimp when it comes to being cold, so there was no way I was going back to my old 24 Hour Fitness Club. THAT water was frigid!

UntitledI found a pool that had nice warm water, and started working out once or twice a week. Boy, it felt good to swim again after so many years. I also go t my bike out of the garage and figured out how to ride it after several mishaps. Being January and all, I would have to say that the first several weeks of riding was a bit of a challenge.

January bike attire in Oregon for the "Non-cyclist"

January bike attire in Oregon for the “Non-cyclist” Yes, those are snow pants and boots.

Oh yeah, now, THIS is a fashion statement. I rode 19 miles round trip to a Pt appointment in the freezing rain. I was smart enough to bring a change of clothes for the ride home.

Oh yeah, now, THIS is a fashion statement. I rode 19 miles round trip to a Pt appointment in the freezing rain. I was smart enough to bring a change of clothes for the ride home.

Let’s just say that I was desperate enough to do anything that would get my blood pumping, and since running was out of the question, I got out and did what I could do! A few weeks into this cross training, I had a crazy thought and started researching Triathlons. What the Hell? As of one year earlier, I hadn’t run more than around 6 miles at a time, and by now, I had 2 marathons, and numerous 10K’s and half marathons under my belt. Why not a tri?

I searched online and found a Sprint Triathlon in McMinnville, Or. This event was on June 1st, so I had almost 5 months to train for it. I signed up immediately, without a second thought. Off I went to the Sporting Goods Store to find a legit swim suit, and managed to buy one that I didn’t hate. (Have you ever tried those swim suits on? They are tight, short, and torturous)

My tri training went well for a few weeks, until I was able to start running again, Then the obsessed runner emerged and swimming and biking went out the window for about 2 months. I dove (hehehe) headfirst back into running and ended up completing 4 half marathons in 6 weeks. This was not the smartest thing I have ever done, because by the last one, I was barely able to walk the last few miles, due to the recurring injury I had exacerbated. Stupid over training again. Oh, when will I learn?

Fast forward to the weekend of the tri. I had studied up on the methodology of preparation. I had researched all the things I needed to bring, prepare, have on hand, and I packed my transition bags so that I would look like a pro! Well, not really. I had plastic grocery bags and a large “pine scented” kitchen garbage bag holding all of my transition items. HEY, at least MY area didn’t stink! The only thing I didn’t prepare for was getting sick. I caught a nasty cold 6 days before the event, and was pretty much in denial the whole week.

When I woke up on the morning of my inaugural triathlon, I had a sinus headache and was coughing up thick green crap. (Sorry). For several moments, I sat in my hotel room and contemplated driving home. BUT, I rallied and thought, “What the Hell.” Off I went.

Fortunately, the parking was easy and there were only about 200 athletes in this whole event. The facility was fantastic, and I never even had to wait in a bathroom line! It was raining when I arrived, so I was glad I had the handy plastic bags to lay out by my bike in the corral.I met some great people while waiting for my heat and the friendly conversation kept my nerves at bay. I had this picture taken about an hour before the race began.2013-06-01 08.19.04When I got in the pool at 9:35am for my start, I was in a lane with 3 guys. The rules say that if you want to pass a swimmer, you are supposed to tap them on the foot and they they should wait at the end of the lane so you can pass. We started our swim and warmed up in the first 100 or so yards. Once we found our own rhythm  our paces started to differ. Someone tapped my foot, so I waited and let him pass. Then I tapped the foot of the slug that was in front of me and he must not have wanted the only chick in the lane to pass him because he never did stop and allow me to pass. There was no way to pass him while swimming because there were people coming the other way, so I just hung back and followed him. I nearly drowned from having to swim so slowly. There were moments when I fantasized about grabbing his legs and pulling him under, but I kept my cool. I started stopping in the shallow end and waiting until he got a ways down the lane, just so I could get a few legitimate strokes in. LESSON: If you are going to enter an event where you are asked to estimate your swim time, PLEASE make sure you actually KNOW that time, and put yourself in the appropriate lane! 11:56 had passed by the time I got out of the pool.

The transition to the bike went pretty smoothly, once I got my socks and shoes on. Off I went for the supposedly flat out and back. The “OUT” was mostly flat and downhill, and some of the hills were long and more steep than the description read, so I was not looking forward tot he ride back. I threw all caution to the wind and just barreled through the ride. I ended up averaging almost 17 mph, which is faster than I had ever trained. I felt strong and unbeatable! A few times the voices in my head told me to slow down, because I was going to burn out my legs for the run, but I kept screaming back at those voices, “Who cares, I can walk the 5K! I’m on FIRE here!!!”

Back at the corral, I slapped my bike back into place, and tore out to do the run. This part was tough now, because my throat was closing and my lungs finally felt the morning’s effort. “It’s only 3.1 miles Patty. You can do this in your sleep.” I kept giving myself pep talks all the way. I knew there was water at the turn around, and in my haste, I had forgotten to grab the hand held water bottle I had packed. This was not good. I managed to keep a steady pace all the way through the run and finished strong, despite the fact that I now felt like I needed a hospital, or at least an oxygen mask. I had these two pictures taken just after I finished.

Feeling strong and so elated that I did this.

Feeling strong and so elated that I did this.

2013-06-01 11.07.37

Never miss the chance to “Badger up” at a race.

I had to hurry up and leave right after the race because of another commitment, so I didn’t stick around for the fun festivities. The next morning, I got an email with the results, and to my all time shock and awe, I had taken first place in my division! I can’t wait for my medal.

I will definitely do another triathlon. Next time I hope to be healthy, so I can see what this old body is really capable of! Go ahead and sign yourself up for one of these. Woot woot, it is a blast!