Starting Small

The Gator Grinder is a very small local sprint triathlon in a somewhat rural community 40 minutes away. I had never done this race before and I thought it would be a good one to test out my recently repaired and rehabilitated shoulder as well as just give me a boost to get started.

Denis and I headed out not too early in the morning as my swim heat didn’t even begin until 9am, 90 minutes after the first heat. It was a typical Oregon rainy, spring morning. Setting up in the transition area was wet, bikes were getting wet, I had my gear covered in plastic, but there was no getting around the fact that drying off on the bike after the swim was not going to happen.

The swim took place in a nice little community pool (indoors) and was the only time during the race that I was warm. A 500 yard swim which I was surprised to find later when I looked at my results that I had done it in exactly the time I had predicted when I registered for the race ( I didn’t use a watch other than to know the time of day as an experiment from Siri Lindley’s Tri Club). The best part was I was able to hoist myself out of the pool when I was done. During an earlier heat, I had watched a woman struggle with it and I made a mental note to be sure I could get out on the first try. 🙂

No surprise here on the bike, it was wet and slick. The race organizers had done a great job of keeping everyone safe and informed about areas that might be a problem. It was a narrow road out in the country and an open course, so we had to share the road with farm vehicles. I literally could feel my shoes filling with water as I rode through unavoidable puddles. (I don’t like having wet socks on, so I was glad I chose not to wear them for the bike). The only time I came close to slipping was on a downhill curve where I picked up some speed and at the bottom was heading across a bridge. I could feel the bike start to slip a little under me, but somehow I managed to keep it upright and escaped what would have been a nasty crash. After that, it was just slogging through the rolling course until I came upon a house that was on fire! Fire trucks were everywhere. I had to slow a little. It was hard to tell if this was one of those houses that they use to train on putting out fires, or the real deal. I hope it was not the real deal because that would be sad for the people who lost their home. The last mile was a nice flat wide shoulder, so I scooted on into transition and got off the bike.

One of the things I find difficult during transition is getting my socks on before the run. I can’t really seem to get my balance enough to do it very quickly. I noticed nearby there was a guy sitting on a bucket he brought. He got up to go on his run, so I decided just to sit on his bucket and get my socks on. I don’t usually like it when people bring buckets because they get in the way, but I was thankful for that one.

Off on the run. At first, I was surprised that my legs were moving so well. That lasted about 20 seconds, then gravity took hold and felt like it doubled. I just tried to remember two things, one, have a good time because I was almost done and two, try to work on speeding up my cadence (I am snail’s pace slow). Since it was an out and back route, I occupied myself with giving high fives to the people who were on their way back. Then it came to a two loop track at the local elementary school. Right there I felt very, very slow as I was passed repeatedly. Once I returned to the back portion of the run, I could see that I was now being overtaken by all the fast swimmers and bikers who started the race after me. They were all too serious to be willing to accept an encouraging high five, so I gave that up and just concentrated on getting to the finish. It didn’t take long and there was Denis, waiting for me. No fanfare crossing the finish line, just my one super supporter. We checked my results and I was fairly surprised by my swim and run times. I had run nearly 5 minutes faster than I thought I would, so that was a pleasant gift at the end. After getting into some warm clothes and some food, we stayed for the awards and raffle (I won a water bottle) and went home.

What did I take away from the first triathlon of the season? 1. I am not fit and have a lot of work ahead to get to over 9 times the distance I just did. 2. Siri Lindley was right about getting rid of the watch (something I will explain in a later post) 3. Races are always much better if you just go out with the intent to enjoy the day and do your best. 4. Those swim caps that you pick up from previous races work great to keep your bike saddle dry while it’s sitting in the rain.

I am thankful for safe races, a husband who supports me, and the people who are donating to my fundraising campaign. Click the donation link in the menu if you would like to join in funding breast cancer research.

Addendum: While I was out on this little course, Aimee was taking on Ironman 70.3 Santa Rosa. She finished in 8:21:27. Way to go!


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