Monday, June 9, 2008

The Tejas Triathlon

600 yard swim. 11 mile bike. 3 mile run.

It was an hour and seven minutes of pure hell.

For some reason I allowed my friends to convince me this was a good idea. All things considered- it was. In my post-Little 500 days, I have struggled to find a new athletic challenge and people to do it with. At IU, cycling is a cool thing. It's respected and admired. Connecting with people who share that desire to push their bodies to their physical limits is difficult.

But it took a couple of young women from my Sunday school class to literally shame me into signing up. What can I say- I have my pride. So sure enough I signed up and had basically a month to prepare. I was in good running shape from soccer. I still ride my bike on a regular basis. But I had not swam laps in a pool since high school. And I have never done all three consecutively in the same event.

I could tell from the get-go this first triathlon was going to be an interesting experience. So I started swimming in the morning at the downtown Houston YMCA. Let's just say there were quite a few muscles that had not been used for a while. I got on a running program as well and kept my cycling routine intact. But I never actually did a transition until the day of the race.

Sunday June 8 came quickly. I had bought special triathlon gear and all the little accessories that would shave minutes of my time. Even at 7am, it's hotter than hell in South Texas. The race official lined up the age divisions marked by their respective colored swim cap. The official fired the pistol and 35 men ages 20-25 hit the water.

The swim was by far the most difficult. Bodies are piled on top of each other and the water was so murky you couldn't see a thing in front of you. Breathing is even more challenging when water is constantly splashed into your mouth. Luckily I have four guys in front of me who slowed me down or I would used too much energy. When I left the water, ran up the beach and into the transition area, I realized how tire I really was. My arms and legs felt like lead weights. All I could was: "I have to get on the bike now?!"

However it was the bike that saved me. The bike was my domain. I got into a rhythm and kept my pace right around 20mph. I caught my breath and regained focus. I most difficult challenge for a cyclist in a triathlon is not drafting. Drafting in a triathon can mean major penalties. I was very careful to avoid this at all times. Even though I held back my pace and conserved energy, my legs once again felt like lead weights in the transition area.

For the run, I picked a pace that felt comfortable and hung on for the ride. The nice thing was that there were other racers all around you that you could pace off of and use to push yourself. Even better was all the spectators that cheered you along. Every mile there was water which I splashed down the back of my neck. Once I was in the last mile it was go time.

I was so tired and I thought I was going to die, but after some gatoraid, pizza, leg massage and a Budweiser, I was golden.

I can't remember enduring that kind of pain, but I definitely caught the multi-sport bug and I plan to sign up for another.

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