22 Jun

Tri Panic Part 2

In our last episode, Tim had just begun his first triathlon ever, grossly under-equipped for the swim portion. Two minutes into the race, gasping for air, he felt like he was near drowning. Let’s see what happened next. . .

More than any other sport, swimming requires you to be aware of two very distinct visual worlds. Your face is either in the water, looking not only at the threatening depths below but also at the frantic bodies of your fellow competitors swimming alongside you; or your face is out of the water, noting the spectators on the shore, the bouys lining the course, or the pier you might start swimming towards if you have a nervous breakdown. The problem is that in the frantic first minutes of the race, when the rhythm of your strokes is a bit quick, you sustain neither view long enough. That is, you are constantly switching between these distinct visual worlds. It’s disorienting. You know how in the movies if a character is lost or overwhelmed or drugged, there’s often a crazy point of view shot where the camera looks all around? Like say the character is a little boy lost at a carnival or something. You’d get one second of the bearded lady laughing maliciously, and then another second of some large man yelling, “step right up,” and then one second of a little girl crying cuz she dropped her cotton candy, and then one second of of some other carny yelling, “the most dizzying ride ever!” and then one second of a bunch of twirling lights. You know what I mean?

This is what it was like two minutes into the race, at which point I decided that I needed to slow down a little if I was going to survive three 10-minute laps of this thing. It took another minute to calm down, however, what with the occasional hand brushing my foot or the occasional pair of kicking legs appearing in front of my face.

But a few minutes later, when I got to the final turn in the course (marked by the only yellow bouy on the water), I thought, “well that came fast,” and the whole thing felt achievable. And in fact, as we neared the shore to get out for our first beach turn-around, my feet found the bottom of the quarry sooner than most (due to my above-average height), and I found myself running through the water way faster than all the chumps around me.

Nevermind that the “chumps” around me were the 50-54 wave of men who had started two minutes behind me, I was kickin their asses!

The next two laps went literally swimmingly, though not all that fast. My wave of men were wearing gold caps. By the time I got out of the water, after approximately 31 minutes, there were no gold caps in sight.

But I felt good since I had survived, and now I had a chance to get on my bike. I’ve been biking a lot this spring/summer. And when I go out for solo rides, I beat everyone else on the road. They don’t know they’re competing with me, but I always win. And unlike the swim course, the bike course was familiar to me. I rode it once last week. Since I didn’t know how fast I’d be on the run, I decided to go pretty hard on the bike. It was fun.

Before the race, they write your race number on your biceps in permanent marker and they write your age on your calf. So as you’re biking, you can see how old everyone is as you catch up to them. I tell you, I passed so many of those 50 year-old bastards. A few times, I shouted, “How did it feel to pass me on the swim, huh? Did you like that?” And then sometimes I’d add, “Bitch.” Unless the 50 year old was a woman, then I didn’t say “bitch” (except maybe once or twice).

I passed more people than I can count. I did nothing but pass people. Two times, the guy I passed tried to fight back and pass me again, but I shouted “turbo!” and passed him.

The transition to the run was pretty uneventful. One of the officials watched me change into my running shoes. “You don’t have one of those tabs in back to just pull it on and go, huh?” I was still a little cocky from the bike portion so I replied, “Yeah, you watch me go.” A minute later, after I had my shoes on, I added, “bitch.”

I was a little sluggish at first on the run. I felt detached. I was just kind of moving forward, unaware really of how fast I was running. The first quarter mile culminates in a pretty steep uphill climb, but at the top, you actually turn around and come back down the same hill. It was then, as I was running downhill, allowing gravity to propel me forward, that I began to feel better. And then, like the idiot I am, I thought, “well, might as well run this as fast as possible.”

After the first of three laps, as I was running up the initial hill again, I approached a small man who was walking. I looked the back of his calf and saw a menacing “50.” I leaned into the hill to pass him and shouted, “on your left,” but he started running. And actually, he was a bit faster than I was. He gained about 20 yards on me, and for the next lap and a half, he gave me something to chase.

I was catching him by inches, but then on the final lap, he stopped to drink some water. I was pretty tired at this point, so I only whispered “turbo!” before I flew right by him. He gave chase, and for the final half a lap, I could hear the beeping of his heart rate monitor. I didn’t dare look back, but I could hear the beeping. I wasn’t losing him as fast as I wanted. The beeping remained loud and clear behind me. It wouldn’t go away. It was like the tell-tale heart; it was driving me insane. When I rounded the final corner, though, I could see the finish line, so I sprinted toward it with everything I had left.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with the results. It was a tiring feat, lasting two and a half hours. I was exhausted for the rest of the day. But the good news is I beat everyone over 50.

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