Here’s a little bit of wisdom I gained over my vacation: Don’t get discouraged when a 71-year old passes you during a triathlon. I’m not kidding, even though there are probably thousands of septugenarians who can dust me in any number of competions. Speaking of competitions, I competed in jeff & brede’s intergalactic triathlon in Katy on July 9th and it went fairly well after an inauspicious beginning. Certainly it went better than last year when I came out of the swim a groggy-headed mess and nearly puked and croked on my 32 minute, 3-mile run.
Back to this year, but rewind to Thursday, July 6th. Circuit training at AHS for the Gazelles. Planks. Leg lifts. Chicken-leg thingymajigabobs. Now Friday, July 7th. I can’t move, my back is immobilized. Uh-oh. Jessica keeps telling me “I told you so”. Saturday, July 8th. Drive to Houston. More pain, even less mobility. Oh sh….. Thanks a lot Gilbert.
Sunday morning. My back still hurts, but a little less so. I resolve to work through it. I had already decided to have zero expectations for this triathlon. Expectations end up in mental self-flagellation anyway. As my friend Greg says, “I have preferences, not expectations.”
So I’m lined up for the swim start (a pool swim), and behind me is the 71-year old. He’s done 28 triathlons. He submitted a slower swim time than normal for this one. I’m worried that the swim time I submitted was too fast. Don’t worry I tell myself, just compete and have fun. My back is feeling a little better. I don’t have the usual fear in my throat or butterflies in my belly. Whatever happens, happens. About halfway through the swim, the old guy swims by. I’m unfazed. I’m not doing as well on the swim as I would have liked, I’ve switched from breathing on alternate sides and alternate strokes to breathing on only one side on every stroke, but I feel ok. In the past I probably would have given up. This swim is so short it doesn’t matter anyway. I’m out. Transition. I run along side the old dude and we chat. I’m having fun. Attitude is everything.
The bike goes well. I”m down in a crouch for most of the ride. Speed is the fastest I’ve ever averaged. Maybe I could go harder. The skunk and the manure don’t bother me. It’s pancake flat. I think about going slower and spinning near the end to prepare for the run. Whatever. I’ll go until I can’t go. The run will take care of itself. I hop off the bike. Uh-freakin-oh. My back is frozen in the bike crouch position. I can’t straighten up. I run to the transition hunched over. I leave my race number on the ground because I don’t want to bend over to pick it up. Some hall monitor yells at me that I MUST WEAR A RACE NUMBER. I go back and put it on. The back still feels like a painful straightjacket.
Out on the run. There are no mile markers so I have no idea what my pace is. It feels like I’m going v…e…r…y s….l….o…..w. I’m passing people though. Some girl running the other way (it’s an out and back) says, “wow, you’re going so fast!” I feel embarrassed. My back loosens up a bit. I wish I could run faster. I try to pick it up. It feels like I’m shuffling. Near the end, I look at my watch and want to break 21′ for the 3 miles. I finish in 21:04. Oh well.
All-in-all, I’m happy. No idea about my overall time, but feel I did pretty well. (Secretly, maybe I placed?) No. The results are posted. 39th overall. Fifth in my age group. The swim was 30 seconds slower than my training swims. The bike was a pleasant surprise as I haven’t been riding much. The run was …not disappointing (no expectations remember)… acceptable.
It’s refreshing to compete without expectations. It probably helps me go faster too, at least for right now. I don’t start out too fast. I race “within myself”, whatever that means. My mental outlook stays mostly positive (I did have one “I’m quitting” bout during the swim). So I learned from the old dude.