I did not even one time think, “I might die,” not once, no times, on that whole triathlon. I mean, it was really hard, don’t get me wrong. But, I was prepared. We saw some friends at the beginning who, as a family, were doing it as a relay (their team name was “Not Daughter’s Name’s Idea” ha), and the dad has done it many times. He owns a bike store in town, and knows that I’m not really a biker, and asked how I was feeling. I’d told him that I spent most of my time training for the really steep hills (oh! elevation pic!)
than anything else. At the end, he said that he didn’t want to tell me how tough the 10K run course was. “I’ve lost my religion on that run before.” It was hard. I did spend some of my training time doing hill repeats on my bike on a super steep hill–the Maple Street Hill that anyone who hangs in the residential part of Kalamazoo might know about–and I have often used that as a place to do running hill repeats. There were some times on the run where I thought to myself, “clearly, some more of my hill repeats should have been on my feet instead of my tires.” Alas.
But, the lake. Oh my. I loved it. The weather for the whole thing was perfect for one–I suppose overcast would have been nice, but it wasn’t too hot, so the sun didn’t really bother me on the bike and run, but the lake was 77. I don’t own a wetsuit, so didn’t have one to wear, and I think I’d kind of been pissed had I put out the money. I mean, most people still wore them (they make you float, so your swim is easier–I heard someone say, “I will cheat in any legal way possible!” nice.)–this tri allows them up to 79 degrees. Anyway, I think I would have been too hot.
I’ve written lots here about my time at summer camp as a kid. One of the things I learned about myself there–and I’m sure I would have learned it elsewhere, but it came into sharp relief for me there–is that I’m a serious goal setter. One of the goals I always wanted to reach while there was a thing called Shark. To do this, one had to swim 50 miles (in the lake–no pool at camp) over the course of the summer (I went for 6 weeks), and achieve time goals for 15, 25, and 35 mile clubs before the final times in various strokes and distances for Shark. The times were secret, and remember as a counselor being so amazed to learn them and that I’d actually done them (twice! For re-shark, you only had to swim 25 miles, though.). ANYway, to get all those miles in, you had to be in the lake a whole freaking lot. And, you weren’t allowed to be out of the cabins before the 7:00 wake up bell (anyone splashing in the lake would have awakened people–sound carried up from the lake into the cabin area, plus there were cabins right next to the lake for the oldest campers). So, I would slip up to the bathroom (far from the cabins) at 6:50, get into my bathing suit, brush my teeth, and meet a counselor or older camper with lifeguard training down at the docks right at 7:01. She would get in the row boat, and I would dive into the lake, breaking the still scum off the top upon entry. Swimming to junior camp and back was half a mile, which is really all there was time for before breakfast. I’d often swim to the dam and back (a mile) after rest hour (before afternoon classes), and another half mile about 20 minutes after dinner, but before evening entertainment. I smelled like the lake all the time. On Saturdays, free days (we had classes M, T, Th, and F, and Free Day on Wed., with planned activities and space for free time), I mostly swam. And, I loved it. As a counselor, I spent a lot of time rowing for other girls who were swimming for Shark, and to this day, we have a sort of bond. It’s a lovely memory.
ANYway. Yesterday morning, as I waited for the Olympic distance women’s wave to start, knee deep, and sort of on the outside so that I wouldn’t get kicked, I had some nerves. But, once I started swimming, it just felt so good. I didn’t really do any open water swim workouts–just lap after lap in the pool at the Y–mostly because I don’t have a lifeguard and a rowboat handy (although, I do have a kayak. still no personal lifeguard.), so I wasn’t sure how I would feel with no flip turns, or opportunity to stop if I needed to, or change to hand paddles or fins or whatever.
Turns out, I felt good. I had to remind myself to keep it in check because I knew I was facing a hard 25 mile bike, and a 6 mile run of some kind, but that was the smoothest mile in the water I can ever remember. The hardest part was that, on the way out, the sun was in my eyes, so I couldn’t see the buoys, and just had to look for the splashing of the wave in front of mine to make sure I was swimming in the right direction. It smelled like the summers of ’91 and ’92–the Shark Summers. It felt strong. I loved it. Someone recently told me about a 10K swimming race, and I said “who does that?” Maybe I do. Who knows?
Turns out, I did OK, too! I won my age group (there were only two of us, let’s be honest), but I had a legit time in comparison to age groups younger, so I’ll take it! And, I’m pretty pleased that I was just under 3 hours. I’m seriously thinking about the next one.