21 Jun

Tri Panic Part 1

So last week, I decided I better sign up for some triathlons. I figured it would be a really bad idea to have the Ironman be my first ever. So I perused the “events in my area” on the active.com website and came across three nearby, upcoming events. I signed up for all of them.

This was on Tuesday. After signing up, I realized I hadn’t really been swimming for a few months. I also figured out that the first triathlon was five days away.

Eileen had helped convince me to throw myself right into the fire. “You don’t have to win the things; you just need to get used to how they work and get some confidence.” She was right.

Still, the prospect was a bit intimidating. Thursday morning, I went to the new public pool to swim laps for an hour; and then on Friday, I put on the wetsuit and swam in my mom’s 65-degree pool for 25 minutes. The swims gave me enough confidence to know I’d at least survive the swim portion.

Come race day, however, that confidence momentarily left me soon after starting my first triathlon ever. The triathlon in question was in Verona, Wisconsin. Thirty minutes before my “wave” of the race took off, I saw the swim course for the first time. It was a little longer than I had envisioned.

The race director informed us that we’d be swimming three counter-clockwise, triangular laps. After each lap, we had to get out of the water, run around a tree on the beach, and enter the water again. As I stood around, awkwardly awaiting the start, I nervously asked the only guy I knew at the race, “so, we have to keep all the bouys to our left?”

When it finally came time to start, I felt pretty good. I took off strong, but a minute later, I was breathing once every stroke and not quite getting enough oxygen. I slowed down a little, but every time I put my face underwater and breathed out through my nose, I saw the murky water fiendishly concealing the bottom of the lake, and for a couple strokes, I was dizzy with the probability that I would drown soon.