|Here's my "No, I'm totally not nervous!" face.|
Today's race was the Chisago Lakes Sprint Triathlon, in a small town about 40 minutes north of St. Paul. I did this race last year, and I love the course: a short swim, a beautiful, mostly-flat bike ride, and a nice run course. There's also a half-Ironman option for the race, with a swim course that stretches way across the lake, making the sprint course look even shorter by comparison!
This morning, temperatures were cool, and I rejoiced during the car ride on behalf of the half-Ironman athletes, who wouldn't have to compete for hours in a sludge of heat and humidity. We got to the race site, and I set up my bike, shoes, sunglasses, hat, and other miscellaneous gear at my spot in the transition zone. Fog sitting on the lake resulted in a few minutes' delay. You can see the remnants of it in this picture of the half-Ironman start.
The swim was wonderful. I've written about my troubles with swimming in the past, and I felt nervous before the race that I'd panic in my first open-water swim since last August. But my wave started, and I took one ugly wrong breath in the water and then settled into a good rhythm, which lasted for the rest of the swim. I wasn't fast by any means, but I was hanging in with my wave, swimming with the pack instead of bringing up the rear. Yes!
(Fun fact: just as the wave before mine started, the announced told that group that the race field's oldest athlete was in that field. How old was he? 87. He got a huge round of applause. So cool.)
The first 10 miles of the 24-mile bike leg were blessedly uneventful, and I felt strong. Then my back wheel started to sound a little bit clunky. I worried for a second that I was getting a flat for my second race in a row, then wryly reminded myself that no, I would now definitely know a flat when I saw it.
Half a mile later, I knew a flat. Rats.
I pulled off to side of the road and started to pull out my spare tube and tools. I can fix a flat tire, but my problem is that I'm so slow. (This week's goal: spend an evening fixing a flat over and over until it's easy.) But unlike last time, I was stubborn: no quitting. If it took me an hour, I'd bring up the rear of the race.
Then a truck pulled up, and a guy jumped out wearing a "Forest Lake Cycle and Skate" t-shirt. Turns out that there were bike shop employees driving around the race course, looking for people in situations like mine. He was a complete gem and helped me change the flat in 10 minutes or less. He also pulled a piece of glass out of my tire that may have lingered from the last flat and caused this one, too. I was so grateful. People: please patronize that business.
And then I finished the bike leg! No DNF for me today!
|I'm in the "dismount" zone, preparing to demonstrate |
what is obviously going to be a very graceful dismount.
I crossed the finish line and saw Josh. I was covered in sweat and probably smelled like Eau de Lake Water, so I gave him a high-five. (Totally romantic.) The food tent was my next destination, and the results were eclectic. Breakfast was the theme. There were bowls of dry cereal and a big jug of milk sitting out on the table. It seemed like a good idea for about a minute, but I resisted. The best food in the tent? Pancakes, hot off the griddle. Divine.
|Cookies and pancakes: a really nice breakfast.|
|He's scary, isn't he!? Look at those broad shoulders.|
And a sprint triathlon's early start time means I'm back home by noon with a pile of Chipotle and a watermelon granita by my side, with the newspaper waiting for me and a Twins game coming up on TV. That makes for a very nice Sunday.