That. Was. Freaking. Awesome.
Part I of my St. Anthony’s race report will summarize the 99% that rocked.
All right. This was the reason that I refused to make birthday plans. When I first started meeting fellow triathletes, they all said, “Do St. A’s, it’s great!” Then I signed up and they said, “Oh, the swim is rough!” Always ask for the full story before pulling out that credit card, y’all. It didn’t help that in my first two triathlons I totally panicked in the swim and did breaststroke the vast majority of the time because I was afraid to put my head in the water.
This time I had a game plan.
In the days leading up to the race, I had been all up in Romans. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” So I decided that reminding myself that I was surrounded by His love would be good to keep repeating in my head as I was swimming. I’m thankful that He gave me some of the calmest water and gorgeous weather I’ve ever seen to boot, tee hee! 🙂 I looked out at the endless buoys and said, “Okay, self. Just swim from one buoy to the next. That’s all we’re going to do.”
The horn sounds. I start to swim. I make it to the first buoy. “Hey Joan, you dead? Nope? Still surrounded by His love? Cool, next buoy!” Stroke, stroke, repeat! Sometimes a wave would catch me off guard. One time I swam a bit off course and a lifeguard redirected me. I found myself actually having fun! I had a cramp in my left hamstring and one in my right calf, but it wasn’t enough to stop me. It was the first time I had swum that distance without stopping at all! After God knows how many orange buoys, I made a right turn and There. It. Was. Land! OMG! 3 more buoys and then I will be getting my bike! I felt great! I wanted to laugh because I was so happy but decided that not taking in water was the better call. As I get closer, I hear my Mom’s voice shouting for me. A friendly volunteer was waiting to assist me up the stairs – one thing I hadn’t planned on was not having land legs; I’m thankful she was there! Whee, part one is done! Off to T1.
So while I’ve not feared death via Red Rocket, I had had a couple of falls when I first got her and was trying to clip in. She and I don’t exactly have the closest relationship. I – may have only ridden her twice between Feb 1 and the race yesterday. Maybe. I was refitted about a week and a half earlier but still didn’t actually test her out until I left T1, hahahahaha! I wheeled her out to the mount line, clipped in with my right foot, a bit apprehensive because my seat is now higher than I prefer. “Dammit, we are NOT falling today!” Boom. Lefty is clipped in. Off I go! “So uh. I guess USAT says I can’t listen to music, but that doesn’t mean I can’t think about music!” I started going through some of my favorite hymns in my head. Trying to remember lyrics got me through 5 miles! 🙂 I didn’t allow my lack of practice to mess with me, as I know that I will have lots of time to
beat myself up re-evaluate after the race. Each time I started to feel fatigue, I would remind myself: “Every Stroke. Every Revolution. Every Step. God is with me.” I smiled, and much to the amusement of police officers, shouted with joy.
Around mile 12, I stopped. That’s right. Dead. Stop. I’m too much of a punk to take my hands off of the handlebars as I ride. This was a tough call for me to make, as I freaking hate stopping and starting on that bloody bike, but I figured that running out of energy/hydration was a bigger risk than falling, so I’m having a damn picnic with my Bonk Breaker and water in the middle of the race, tee hee. I started again, confident that I could do so without falling over. “Every Revolution.” Whee! My friend had told me the bike course was awesome, and I did find myself loving it. There were lots of lovely smells and sights! An organizer warned me about a sharp turn. I sloooooooowed down – and made it! “I did it!” I shouted. A cop watching said, “Not quite, you still have 6 miles to go.” I shouted back, “I was talking about the turn! You can’t bring me down!” I giggled and kept pedaling. One hill and a brick road later, the dismount sign appears. “This is it, Joanie! This is happening!” I dismount, unscathed. In to T2!
I dig running. And not just because I perceive it to be the safest of my three disciplines. By the time I got here, I knew that I was going to finish. However, while I felt the most physically prepared for the run, I was the least mentally prepared. You see, those bricks that my coach put in my plan? Whoops! My legs felt fine but who knew that running right after the bike also had a mental purpose? Like, seriously. As I was running I started to think, “Dammmmmnnnnn I’m going to be racing for another hour! Lame!” Quickly, I decided it would be a sad hour if I kept thinking like that, so I switched back to the mantra. “Every step.” I was amused to see lots of bystanders cheering us on. A dude was even playing the violin! I thanked him each way as I passed. I saw lots of people that I know running in the opposite direction (yes, EVERYONE I know is faster than I am) and cheered them along. I complimented people who had cute outfits. Some time after mile 5, some one told me that the finishing chute was just ahead of me. I was doing it! I made the final left turn, was elated to see that there was still a 3 in front of the minutes and seconds, and started beaming. I heard people cheering me on. My timing chip beeps for the last time. I did it! Someone hands me a wet towel. I screamed with glee. “I’M NOT DEAD!”
In fact, I don’t know that I’ve ever felt more alive. God is the best.