Splash, spin, step

Last minute glance back at Jeff for encouragement

Last minute glance back at Jeff for encouragement

Saturday was the Deschutes Dash and my date with destiny! The weekend was off to a great start as Jeff and I packed up his Suburban and headed to Bend on Friday afternoon. About the time we hit Sisters I checked to see what my race number was and how many people were in the Olympic Triathlon. I was #26 and there were 204 racers. Hmmm, I considered this. That’s not that many racers… oh, no… it is entirely possible that I could come in LAST… oh no…. I began to panic. The races I’ve done in the past seem to have a LOT of people and 204 doesn’t sound like that many. I DON’T want to be last. I was traveling with Mr. Optimism who took my panic in stride and offered up logical, rational, calming responses to my panicked “I don’t want to be last” mantra. Among my favorites were “You’ve been training, just do your best!” and “You know, even if you do come in last, and you won’t, who cares! You’re out there to just have fun!”

Jeff’s words were appreciated, but they didn’t have the calming effect I know he’d hoped they’d have. Here’s the thing, in race world, even in amateur suburban mom race world, no one wants to earn the labels DFL (dead f***ing last) or DNF (did not finish). So there I was ruminating in the very real possibility that I might earn either.

We made it to packet pickup and then onto dinner where I decided having a big microbrew was a form of carbo loading. Back at the hotel I re-checked of all my gear and load up my bags for the two transition sites. I needed a bag for all my biking gear and a different bag with all my running gear. There are many little logistical things to keep track of in a triathlon so you don’t end up forgetting socks or your helmet or sunscreen… while I was making little piles of gear and muttering under my breath what each was for, my stomach was churning with anxiety about the race.

After a fitful night of weird dreams (the strangest of which involved me being startled by a dwarf janitor, whom I then kicked across the room) I awoke to race day. I set both transition sites up, walked through a part of the course so I knew where to enter and exit transition and headed up to the swim. I had a new wetsuit I’d just purchased the week before and it fits well, but regardless of the fit it always seems like putting it on is a lot like stuffing a sausage casing. So on it went and at 8:15 I started the race.swim

The water was 62 degrees (a little chilly at first) and the trick with this race was to be towards the left where the current is fast and the duckweed is sparse. All in all, the swim was easy. Eventually I put my face in the water and tried to breath like a real swimmer but it took awhile. We swam under a few bridges where the spectators could watch (hence the swim pictures) and before I knew it the swim was over.

run to t1

Because my friend Leanne had done the course the previous year and I’d look at the course overview I knew it was kinda flat, then uphill and then REALLY uphill. I’m sure a seasoned biker wouldn’t think too much of the 1,800 foot elevation gain over 13 miles but I’m not a seasoned cyclist. I did my bike training in my living room while watching Barefoot Contessa and rocking out to my iPod. There were three really big, long hills where I was in the highest gear and concentrating on a spot about 12 feet in front of me and doing a lot of positive self talk…. “Don’t think about the whole hill, just the 12 feet in front of you.” “YES, I, CAN!” “Just keep riding. Just keep riding…” I made it to the turn around and then it was literally “all downhill” from there. Going up the steepest hills I was riding at about 8 mph, on the way down I was going 30+ mph. I do not have nerves of steel and I kept thinking about how much skin I’d lose if I crashed so I rode the brake and kept it at 25 mph for most of the way down.

Heading into T2 I heard cheers from some good friends, the Engles, who were in Central Oregon and had come out to cheer me on! I felt so loved! With legs that felt like they were filled with bricks I headed out on the 6.2 mile run. OMG! I knew if I could make it to mile 3 my legs would feel better so that was the goal – make it to mile 3! Though I hate to admit it I actually stopped and drank at the two aid stations, rather than “grab and go” which I usually do. I also walked probably a total of 2 minutes because it was hot and I was soooo tired and soooo thirsty! At mile 5 I began to inwardly cheer knowing I was close to the end. I crossed the finish line to the sounds of cheers from friends and the man I love. My feeling of accomplishment was, and still is, amazing! I had DONE IT!

tri finish

We live in a culture where we are encouraged to be humble, modest and to downplay many of the things we’re proud of accomplishing. For today, I say to hell with that. I am so proud of myself! I’m proud I had the courage to start, I’m proud I had the temerity to stick to the same goal for three years, I’m proud I finished, and I’m proud of my results. My swim was 17:53; my bike time was 1:40:00 and my run was 1:00:00. I finished 104th out of 204 racers; among women I finished 28th out of 84; and in my age division I placed 6th.

happy ending

Since setting this goal three years ago I’ve learned a lot about training, hydration, wet suits, and what the length of the pool is at 24 Hour Fitness. My biggest lesson though, hit me at mile 5 of the run, when I knew the end was minutes away. It was then that I realized how much more capable I am than I generally give myself credit for. It was very clear to me that I can have big goals and I have the ability to achieve them. Like everyone else, there will always be a chance that I earn the DFL or DNF label, but that fear is nothing compared to my sense of triumph and pride! As I conclude this post I just one lingering question,  I wonder what a 1/2 Ironman feels like…


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Leanne
    Jul 21, 2015 @ 04:39:43

    I’m so proud of you! And a half-Ironman would be awesome!! It’s the logical next step 🙂 I can’t wait to discuss race options with you. Until then, continue to bask in the glory of your accomplishment!


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