This is not a test.
You read that right.
On Saturday, June 11, 2016, I participated in my first multi-sport event.
Let's back up, shall we?
I've watched the Kona special as long as I can remember. First of all, I love a good sports documentary as much as anyone and secondly, whatever my dad wanted to watch, we watched as well. Thirdly, the Kona special is so well done, that is has really got something for everyone. The elites racing for dominance, the age-grouper reminding you that anyone can do hard things if they put their mind to it, the celebrity taking on a challenge they never thought was possible. Ah, the Kona Special... gateway video to endurance sport.
When I started running, I entertained zero thoughts of triathlon (or marathon, or half-marathon, but I digress). Then, a funny thing happened. A colleague asked me to do an 80k bike with her and while training on a $179 department store mountain bike, I got hooked on road cycling. Then, last spring I bought a road bike. And went to the pool a few times.
And... my husband got concerned.
Rightly so! We are busy. I'm out of the house for 12 hours a day and most nights I don't come home, I go right to an arena to watch one of my sons play hockey or lacrosse. Triathlon training takes time. And dedication. And work. And the ability to swim. We decided it was best for me to keep any serious plans of triathlon until 2027. The year I turn 50. The kids will be 20 and 16 by then. There will be time. Not sure if I'll be any good at swimming by that time though.
But, I still kept cycling and improving. Of course I kept running. And life worked out that I was able to put in some more dedicated swim time. And I began to feel comfortable. And then, it was June 2nd and a Facebook notification from Multisport Canada came into my newsfeed and it said that there was still time to sign up for Woodstock. On June 11. My husband would be out of town the entire weekend. My parents were happy to help with the kids. Emma was already driving her extra wet-suit over and Sam was re-planning her weekend so that she could come along and help me for my first time (when I figure out how I got to be so lucky to get such AMAZING friends, I'll let you know).
A Triathlete Was Born
Or something like that
|About to get into the water for my first OWS, wet-suit swim... 50 mins before the race.|
Ah, the swim. The event I was most worried about. I spent the entire 25 minute drive to Sam's place telling myself that I could swim 400m and it didn't matter how slow I was that I'd do it no problem. All I had to do was breath and find the calm. I had swam 400m straight the day before (in the pool with a pull buoy, but... details). I could do it. Just finish the swim, "and then I'll start to Carfrae everyone" as I told Irina. HAHA.
Getting into the water before the race with Sam was a good move. I felt comfortable right away and figured out Emma's too long (I AM THAT SHORT!) wet-suit and my stroke. This isn't going to be bad at all! I'll just hang back, breath easy and front crawl my way through those 400m. Even my sighting was dead on right away. Pro. Obvs.
Sam kept swimming while I went for the briefing and I met her again before we went down to get in the water. She was looking over my competition and picked out a lady with a braid that I was told I had to beat, "no matter what." This girl was going into the water with a bathing suit! She was hardcore! I'll do my best Sam! Sam also told me it was choppy closer to the turn buoy, so to be prepared to breast stroke and take it easy.
The horn went and I started the triathlon feature on my watch, walked forward and started to swim. I felt great! I started to pass people! This is amazing. Stroke, stroke breath, sight, I'm catching feet, WTF is this, I'm a pro... I'm, gah! I'm swallowing reservoir water, gah, gah! Gah!!!! Backstroke! Abort! That feels all wrong. Breast stroke. But with my head up. Okay, okay. I'm okay. I'm not actually freaking out. I just want to get back to front crawl, but every time I try, I get a few strokes in and then choke on some water. I always turn around when this happens, but don't go on my back again. Instead I employ a super effective and likely after this point, much copied, head up breaststroke, doggy-paddle, side-kick thing. Whatever, it keeps me moving forward. I realize that I'm in the back of the group, but I'm not last. I do not even care. Flap my arms, kick my feet. Try to front crawl. Hey! This is working again! The chop is gone! I keep my swim calm and controlled and swim for the exit. I get all confused by a HUGE tree in the way but I can hear people yelling, "Swim under the tree! Swim UNDER THE TREE," and I'm up and out of the water and on the ground before I know it.
And then, I'm back on my ass. Whoops! A volunteer helps me up and all I can say is, "I didn't die! I didn't die!!! Shit! My watch stopped with that fall. Okay hit lap. I didn't die!!!" Sam see's me and tells me to stop with the smoke break and to run! I exclaim my happiness about being on this side of the grass and she gets a great video of me running through to the bike. "I didn't die! I backstroked though! I didn't die!"
31/35 for females out of the water!
17:14 for 400m
Into transition with my watch in my mouth stripping off the wet-suit with much more ease than I imagined seeing as I couldn't find my body glide when I put it on. Until I got to my feet. How the hell do I get out of this thing! WTF am I doing? All the while a constant refrain of "Shit. Helmet. Chin strap. Helmet. Don't forget the helmet. HELMET." Is going through my head.
Finally, I realize that I need to step on the wet-suit to get it off of my feet. Okay. Timing chip didn't come off (HELMET). Where is my shirt. Okay, shirt is on (HELMET). I grab my bib and the belt won't click together (is it broken? HELMET. No.). I get that on and yes, get my helmet on and done up. I shove my foot into my bike shoe and it won't go. WTF!!!! Oh! There's my body glide! No time for socks or drying my feet or anything. Okay, I have time for a quick drink of Gatorade and a piece of gum, but I dump the water from my bike (IDK! would it have made my ride lighter?!).
OH MY GOD, BRAID GIRL IS GONE!!!
I rip out of the transition area. There are two people ahead of me with their bikes enjoying a Sunday stroll through the park. Can I pass them? What are the rules, WTF! I see the countless Kona races flash by and I decide I can. I fly by them on cleats and realize that bike shoes aren't bad to run in. People are cheering my effort on and I'm about to get my ride on. I clip in, surge forward and immediately take a girl on a mountain bike on the hill. Sorry sister, I've got a braid to catch.
My heart rate is through the roof. Screw it, I think. Its only 10k, LET'S GO, REVOY, LET'S GO!!! And at that moment, the music from the Wizard of Oz comes into my head. Do you know when the Wicked Witch is riding her bike through the tornado? That's me right there. Its wind AF and I'm spinning like a mad-woman and thinking, "I'll get you my [braid-girl]."
About 3k in I realize what a mistake it was to dump my water off of the bike. I am DYING of thirst. I am so happy I had gum to keep my mouth somewhat from drying up like a prune, but the wind and heat and rolling hills (WTF!!!) are all not the best. My race is spent gearing up and down, spinning like the Witch and screaming "LEFT" at a bunch of people. I got passed too. Twice. By men both times.
I finally passed braid girl at 8.5k.
Rank is 7/35 on the bike
26:17 for 10k
I un-clip too early and have to one leg pedal my way to the dismount line. I yell to the guy, "And to think I cursed every single leg drill in Trainer Road." I hop (haha, no but it sounds good!) off my bike and start to run down the grass that I had zipped up 26 minutes ago into transition. I turn off the road too soon and have to barrel thorough the orange traffic cones to get back on track, but I ain't got T-I-M-E to worry too much about that. "Now's the easy sport!" I yell at the guy who got me back on track. Then I yell to some spectators, "Who runs in these bullshit bike shoes?!?!" They ALL yell back, "I do!!!!"
HAHA! So much fun!!!
I get to transition, and its a gong show. Shit is everywhere! Okay, there is my shit. I rack my bike, tear off my helmet, look up, see braid girl (FUCK!) and shove my runners up and tie them. I a'int got time for socks, yo! I look up and braid girl is GONE! GONE!! AHHHHHHH. I don't think another second. I'm gone. Time to Carfrae. Its too bad, braid girl but, sorry-not-sorry, running is my thing!
Running out of transition, I see Sam who yells at me, "Go get Seagall! Seagall!!!" I have no idea what she's talking about, but I know she means that its time to catch braid girl. I wonder how Sam managed to find out her last name! That's some friend dedication, yo (I don't even know now what Sam was yelling, but she was totally telling me to get after that girl.)!
This is so weird. Running is not feeling good at all. Must be the grass. No biggie, I never did cross country so I'll just give-er when we get on the road. Wait a minute, this is gravel. ARE WE RUNNING THIS WHOLE BULLSHIT 2.5K IN MIXED TERRAIN?!?! Every single person in front of me is walking. Monkey see, monkey do.
The lady in front of me has a 61 on her leg. Good God! WHAT ARE YOU DOING, NICOLE!!! You've run marathons in much worst shit than this. Who cares what your legs feel like? Get going. GO.
So I begin to run and pass. Pass. Pass. Pass. Pass. See you.
Water station. Drink, dump. Run, run.
1k. Okay, we are on asphalt now. Pick it up. Pass. Pass. Pass. Oh. My. God. It is 5,003 degrees out here. Where is my visor! I didn't even put on my visor. I was too busy chasing braid girl who is long behind me now (she may have been right behind me, but that's not the point).
I go through the water station again and am back on the gravel and grass and bullshit run. I see a girl in front of me not going too quickly. 3..... 7 on her leg. CRAP. I have to pass her too. Damn. Sorry 37, see ya later. Then I come up to a girl with a 31 on her leg. She's not in my AG! Its 5 year increments, right (Nope, its in 10 year increments). I don't chase. Screw it. I want a good finish photo, so I don't race her to the end (I'd like to think I'd have taken her). She crosses and then so do I with my hands up. I can hear the announcer being very excited because four of us finished on top of each other, but I don't care. I hit stop on my Garmin, grab my cup of water and keep walking over to the shade of a big tree and lie down on my back. I'm dead.
8/35 on the run.
13:27 for 2.5k.
I'll be back. Of course. I did just bad enough and just good enough to want revenge. On the swim. On the run. I'll take the bike. The bike I'm fine with. I felt strong the entire time on the bike. My transitions were on point. The only mistake I made was not taking water on the bike. Look at what dry-spittle mixed with gum does to your face
But yeah, I'll be back. I ranked 5/11 for W30-39 (and 1st and 3rd overall were in my age group), and 4/7 for W35-39. Most importantly, I came out of the water in 31st place and finished the race in 18th for all females. I'll take that improvement any day. Next time, I want a better shot at a medal though. You don't get a medal unless you place.