I had been watching all of the waves previous to mine, so I knew what was up. The athletes were hanging out by the first buoy until the loud guy shouted at them to go. It had been similar at St. Anthony’s. I could do that. The pink caps were called into the water and off I went. Sadly, I made the assumption that they were standing while waiting. Everyone looked so calm, right? How could they be treading? Come on, Joanie. You can tread. Don’t panic.
“GO GO GO!”
Guess that means I should start swimming.
I remembered what had been so effective in my previous race – don’t think about the whole distance. God is going to get me from buoy to buoy. The lake was so clear and the water felt so warm! Almost immediately I found myself having fun. I got into the rhythm of my strokes. I never realized that when my arm hits the water that it’s got a nice bass to it! I started adding words to the beat. Right, left. Right, left. I love to swim and Jesus loves me. Oh look, a buoy! Still feeling like a champ. Don’t forget to kick GUUUUURL don’t forget to kick! Note to Coachie: I’ve got to do better with swimming straight. Someone forgot to put the lines in the water AGAIN. A lifeguard (or three) caught my attention when I was a bit off course. No matter!
The water was so clear that I could see my arm underneath it. Out of the corner of my eye I saw something really strange looking. “What the hell is that?!” Oh. Bubbles from when my arm hit the water. Chill out, Joan. I was feeling so great that being among other athletes didn’t make me panic. I was actually bummed when I saw the last buoy. Time to go get Red Rocket!
I haven’t had any falls since September and I’m still leery every time I get on that bloody bike. The thing I love about races is that I won’t allow myself to look like the punk that I feel like. Normally, I’ll wait a second before I start to pedal. Not today, dammit! Off onto the speedway I went for the lap around the track before I went out onto the rest of the course. Knowing that I was on a speedway pushed me to go faster. “Don’t be an idiot, Joan. You kinda have 24 miles to go.” But I felt so good! I was trying to decide whether or not I would take a break to hydrate and eat as I had my previous race. Meh, I’ll deal with that at the turn around, I thought. Let’s just GO!
This course was so beautiful. In stark contrast to St. Anthony’s, it was mostly rural. I saw very few cars on the whole ride. “Hay trabajo aqui, (there is work here)” a sign read. “Estoy trabajando en mi bici ahora mismo! (I am working on my bike right now!)” I shouted. Tee hee. I noted that as I got passed, people were NOT saying “on your left.” Sigh. Manners. I reminded myself I was in Miami. I shouldn’t expect manners. :-p I still dutifully gave warning as I passed fellow athletes. I’m classy.
Let me tell you, I have never had so much fun on my bike as I did during this race. I don’t know what elements were in place but I need to make sure it happens again. I didn’t stop the whole time and just listened to my body. I thanked God for all the beauty around me. Apparently, nature found me beautiful as well, as a few bugs went straight for the girls. A butterfly decided to sit between them for a few moments. “GET THE F OUT OF HERE!” I yelled. Off it went. I got this.
As the speedway came into view, I knew it was almost time to run. I had forgotten that I had to do another lap before I got into transition. Someone “kindly” shouted out that I’ll never make it if I keep spinning like that. I narrowed my eyes but knew he was right. Then I passed him. Heh. And then – it happened.
I got that same feeling I get when I run. That high. That tingle all over my body. I didn’t know that was possible on my bike! Especially after 28 miles! Winning! All right, Red Rocket, great job – time to get my running shoes!
After quickly getting water, I was off running. Aaaaand it was about 11 AM in South Florida. A *tad* hot. I was soon regretting not having stopped on the bike – maybe I was just hungry. Maaaaan I had thought that running was my thaaaang. I felt like I wanted to do anything BUT run. What a switch, eh? After all that swimming and biking business, running just seems like a tease. The finish line was like, right there. “Nanny, nanny, boo, boo!” said the run course. “You can’t catch me!” said the finish line. “Imma get it!” I thought. “Eventually.”
I… I think I need to do longer bricks. Or fix my brain. That 6.6 miles was just…it took for bloody ever. I walked a lot more than I had intended. I begged God to help change my brain. “We were having such a good time! What happened? Heeeellllp!” I grabbed ice water from the aid station. Someone next to me said, “It really helps when you put ice in your chest. It keeps you cool.” I grinned and filed it away. I saw the Jamaican triathlete on the course, walking. I waved. She said “Go Jamaican! I’ve got 40 years on you – you better kick my ass!” I laughed and went a bit faster. I turned and saw cars on the speedway. “You p***ies* and your MOTORS and EQUIPMENT! You should try a REAL sport!” I shouted. Mile 2 passes. Dear Lord, it’s only been 2 miles? I tried to look for distractions. Nature. Cute boys. Anything. This run would just NOT end.
I tried my swim strategy. Get to the next aid station. Don’t think of everything ahead of you. It just – it wasn’t the same, man. I would get water and start to walk and ran when I got tired of everything going by so slowly. Two girls were shouting “U-turn, you betta U-turn!” Halfway through. Only about 7,000 steps to go. Someone next to me said, “This is a f***ing death march.” Thanks a lot, man. Way to put the Funeral March in my head. I love Chopin as much as the next triathlete but Sonata Op. 35 No. 2 (III) isn’t the best way to get TURNTUP. I pressed on.
I got ice water again and remembered what that dude had said. The good athlete said, “nothing new on race day!” The tired athlete said, “what the hell, how much worse could it get?” I dumped the ice into my Tri top. It felt pretty good, but that wasn’t the best part. The girls were making music! Caveat – they only made music when I ran. Dammit, I guess I better run. I named my new instrument the tetamaracas. Don’t tell me that’s not brilliant. Saw the Jamaican again and she yelled, “You’ve got a great rhythm! Don’t stop!” Heh. It really was a great rhythm. It amused me enough to make me smile.
I refilled my instrument at the next stop. The speedway was in sight again. I took note of the words “Champions Club.” “That’s my club!” I shouted. “THAT’S WHERE I’M GOING!” Come on, God. Every step brought me closer. I was finally back inside for the last lap on the speedway before the finish. I looked desperately for the chute and finally it was before my eyes. I heard my amazing parents cheering for me. I looked to the sky, smiled, and pointed to where credit is due.