It went way better than expected. I had over-estimated the time it would take me by 25 minutes. The dreaded swimming was the funniest leg of the race. Most importantly, I got to race, unexpectedly, with a great friend!
The day started with a grumpy guy friend who had joined in last minute without training. I had to tell him to keep his grumpiness to himself, as he was sapping my energy. Kudos to him because he understood and moved on. Another colleague of mine also decided to join in last minute without training either. Both guys registered for longer distances. I have to admit that these two guys joining in last minute, without training, and doing longer distances bothered me slightly. After all, I had trained for 12 weeks, which might seem a little over-killed but I wanted to be prepared. I hadn’t prepared for these two guys stealing my sunshine though, so I worked hard at brushing this off my shoulder.
As we were logging our gear from the parking lot to the transition area, I bumped into a good friend whom I hadn’t seen since we both lived out west over a year ago. Upon recognizing each other, we shrieked with joy, clapping our hands together and jumping up and down. Utter glee! To boot, we were both doing the super sprint!
I helped my “grumpy” friend prepare for his start, watched him go through the swim leg of the race and shouted encouragements as he exited the water through the transition area. Although I remember specifically locking eyes with him at that moment, he told me later that he never saw me. Funny how the brain works. I never saw my colleague. I had to prepare for my own race start.
I can’t say I was nervous. I had been nervous for the previous three days, but at that moment, I was just excited. I could feel the same excitement of the fifty or so other participants, wading in the water, waiting for the start signal.
You have to picture a group of noobs with poor swimming technique, all bunched up, unable to pass one another, splashing like drowning ducklings, flipping on their back within a 100 m of the start. It was surreal. I had a blast!
I remember noticing that my girlfriend was lagging a bit behind me and thought that was strange, as she is a fierce beast. I got out of the water, trying to register how I fared in the swimming leg, and saw my “not so grumpy anymore” friend, encouraging me. He had already finished his sprint. My girlfriend caught up with me at the transition area and she was ahead of me when I finally started biking. Very quickly I passed her. Strange, I thought again. After a kilometer, I turned around and I couldn’t even see her. Something was wrong. The biking leg was definitely my strongest. I passed multiple people (ok, most of them were on hybrid bikes or worst mountain bikes, but I rejoiced in passing them). At one point, I met my adversary. I passed this guy on a hill. He caught up with me after a while. I passed him again. He passed me again as I had to pull over to fix my jammed bike chain. We played like this for the reminder of the race.
The first 100 m of the running leg was on a beach. In retrospective, I should have walked this part as I hurt my knee already weakened by the effort. The unstable surface didn’t help. My adversary guy got ahead of me and a bit before the turn around point I saw him running back to the finish line. I told him that I tried to catch up and wished him a good finish. I don’t know if he heard me. Once I turned around, I finally met my friend, running strong. I yelled out encouragements and she shouted some back. I was happy to see her.
I finished the race with a smile. Middle of the pack overall, but second in my age and sex category. Now, I like to stop the story here, but on honesty principle, the woman that finished first in our age category, did so with a good 10 minutes on the rest of us. So basically, there was her, and there was the rest of us. Haha!
Very soon after, my friend crossed the finish line and I learned then what had happened. She had gotten some water in her ear, that caused her pain and balance issues. We could hear it in her voice, as she was giving her explanations. Needless to say, she was unable to push through the hills on the bike. After a short recuperation, she managed to exclaim: “That was an awesome way to spend the day : great fun, great friends, great race!”. I agreed and snapped a winning picture.
A few days later, the strength of character of my girlfriend became clearer and clearer. I sent her a note to congratulate her and tell her how inspiring she is. She had had a difficult race, but kept going. Most importantly, she went through it with an amazing positive attitude and allowed herself to enjoy her race. I admire that. What’s more, her positive attitude blended with my happiness from completing the race and made my day an even better day.
That race was fun because I tested my physical capacities and proved myself I was able to do stuff I didn’t know I could, but this day was great because I was surrounded by friends who overcame difficulties, be it grumpiness or physical discomfort, and showed me a good time!