It all started last Monday when we were late for Jazzercise. We decided to go running instead. Next thing you know we were talking about my 64 year old mother-in-law coming into town during the weekend to participate in the Towne Lake Labor Day triathlon. One thing led to another and we started wondering if WE could participate in the triathlon. How hard could it be if we could run, swim, and ride a bike?We called our friend Alyssa and asked her what she thought about the crazy (stupid) idea. She said we should go to the TL lap pool and see if we could swim 400 meters (16 laps) in about 16 minutes. We headed out to the pool and timed ourselves. We swam the laps in about 13 minutes. It wasn’t hard at all! We were so confident we then ran 3 miles. We had this!!! We were going to do this!!! I even looked up training for a triathlon in a week. This should have been a sign when I did not find one google hit. We also asked our sweet friend Tiffany (expert racer) if we were crazy. She gave us the go ahead as long as we signed up for the Sprint, not the Olympian!For the next six days we ran, swam, and biked. We usually did two of the exercises consecutively each day. Sunday night my mom made a wonderful pasta and we went to bed early to get a good night’s sleep.
Monday morning Karen, Dave, Christa, and I rode our bikes the short distant to the race sight. It was so convenient having the race in our neighborhood.The people signed up for the Olympic triathlon would go first and swim 1 mile, bike 24 miles, and then run 6 miles. The Sprinters (ourselves) would swim 1/4 mile, bike 11 miles, and run 3 miles. We patiently waited and watched in awe as the Olympians started their swim. The groups were staggered every few minutes based on gender and age.
The next thing you know it was time for the Sprinters to line up and my cute husband in his red cap was taking off into the lake. Christa and I were the second to last group (females 40 and under) and were wearing green caps. The ladies 41 and up (this included 70 and 80 year old women) were a couple minutes behind in bright pink caps.
We were up. It was time and we ran into the lake. Mind you, I am not a fan of swimming in lakes. It has been years since I have swam in one. I don’t like what could be in it. Well, I am happy to report the brown lake water and what could be in it was the least of my worries. As soon as I started swimming, I realized something. I COULD NOT SWIM!!!! I know this sounds crazy, but because there were so many people in front of me and behind me the resistance proved brutal. It took everything I had to move a few inches. I didn’t know what to do. This was not the same thing as swimming laps in the pool. It didn’t matter that I had goggles on and could not see one thing under water. I could not swim. I did the only thing I could think of. I turned on my back and just did the backstroke. I would do that for a while and make progress, turn around and try to frontward swim, realize I still couldn’t swim and then go back on my back. Christa took off ahead of me in the start and I had no idea where she was. I was embarrassed that 99% of the people were swimming like pros and by this time the hot pink ladies were passing me up. I was worried that Christa was going to finish way sooner and then think she had to wait for me. The plan was that we were going to stay together.
I finally finished the swim and as I was walking out of the lake I felt like I was going to die. It took everything to walk to transition to get on my bike. I was super elated to see Christa and realize that she was still putting shoes on. She had only gotten there about a minute or two before me. It turns out she too spent most of the swim on her back! Ha ha!
Lesson learned: The Swim Part is HARD!!!
This actually was the BEST part of the race. It wasn’t easy, but at least we could sit down and lower our heart rate. We were using our mountain bikes because we don’t want to invest in road bikes unless we get serious about doing these. Everyone was super nice and supportive until we came upon a couple of people “watching the race” who started making fun of us for being on mountain bikes. Granted we did have a bunch of people passing us on their road bikes, but we were still holding our own. It was inspiring to see the 60 year old lady who just had spine surgery pass us up and we even had a man with one arm speed past.
Lesson learned: Road Bikes are better!!!
By the time we were starting our run it was VERY HOT!!!! It wasn’t even the temperature that was bad, but the humidity. It was brutal. It was fun running through our neighborhood and seeing some familiar faces! One of my favorite memories was running past the Heritage (retired people) and they were sitting on their patios cheering with music blaring to give us some pep. One house had cute little old people playing the polka.Lessons learned: It is ok to run/ walk after you have swam and biked! Nobody will judge you! Having people cheer you on makes a difference! Our sweet friends Tracy and Kristen came out to cheer us on!!!
Bottom line….This was the dumbest and best idea ever. Best idea because we did it and finished. We actually finished the triathlon in less than 2 hours (1 hour 53 minutes). There were 552 registered sprinters and we beat 50 of them. Not too shabby for a week’s training. Which leads to the worst idea. We should have trained longer.Here are some of the other lessons we learned:
Take advantage of ice baths…especially in the heat.
All ages and weights can participate. We had an 80 year old lady finishing at the same time as us!
We had three goals: Have fun, finish, and not finish last. We are happy to say we accomplished all three.
Our question for you, who is ready to sign up for a race?