Sadj, Chip, Loretta, and everyone else in MMTC who cheered and volunteered, this for you:
Okay, it was my first international distance, and my third tri ever. Man, was I fired up, and woke up at 4:00 a.m. sharp to sound of pouring rain. Nice. Out to Centennial Park, and I must say, there is a special place in the afterlife reserved those race volunteers standing out in the rain, directing traffic, body marking, and everything else – and for you tent volunteers too. I set up my transition area (more to come on this) the best I could in the rain and went over to the tent, where it was nice to hang out with some friendly faces.
Into the water I eventually went with my green-capped buds, and here’s where it started getting interesting. As I’m treading water waiting to start I hear the announcer – “Mike Petersen is out there, he’s doing his first Columbia tri this year” – and I think to myself, “That Sadj, she did that. She’s good people. I’ll have to thank her when… We’re starting? Oh sh*t!” About ten strokes in, four kicking feet loom up out of the murk. Now I’ve been accused of being polite (“On your left, please!”), and I guess it might be a fault, because I figured I’d just slow up a bit and work my way around these guys rather than swim over ‘em. Mistake! Right after I slowed, I felt what had to be Moby Dick swim right up over the top of me and christen me with my first aqua-beating. Down I went. Sidebar: I find that Centennial Lake water has nice woody overtones with a hint of muck to finish, which is pleasant, but does nothing to cleanse the palate. I bet it goes well with some nice, game-y Canada Goose. Anyway, when I resurfaced, my head felt surprisingly calm, but my heart was racing and I just couldn’t steady my breathing.
That’s when I thought, “Sadj said to repeatedly exhale as hard as you can when this happens and it’ll help correct your breathing…that Sadj, she’s good people. I’ll have to thank her when I … swim you dope!!” It took a bit to recover a good steady heartrate and breathing cadence, so that slowed me quite a bit, but I managed, eventually making it to the grassy part of the swim and was reminded of that old American Indian triathlon saying, “When lake grass bends, tri swim ends.” They said that, right?
Into the transition area to my little layout, which could by that point be described as my own little piece of the Eastern Front, circa May 1942. It was fairly bare patch to begin with, so with the rain, oh yeah. Mud pies all around. For some reason, I had decided to lay my stuff in an unnoticed depression in the ground, which subsequently filled with a nice puddle of mud, so that was nice. A long and muddy wetsuit two-step (you know it: and lift! And pull!) and I finally got myself in gear, but it took a while, and T1 was a disaster.
T1: 6:06 – lesson learned. Train as hard for your transition as you do for the moving parts. I gotta remember this.
Getting out onto the bike mount area was a snap. Took Chip’s advice and duct taped my cleats, so no mud there. Had a pretty decent bike for my young tri career and had a blast while I was out there. At one point could manage a steady 20-25 mph for a stretch and thought of Loretta’s advice: “Let this remind you that you’re alive, and that’s a great thing.” Man, I rode that half that course with a giant, uncontrollable you-know-what eating grin; would have paired nicely with Centennial Lake water. Anyway, one event of note: On the last climb, a guy rode up next to me and asked “Is my rear tire flat?” “Yes, it is,” I say. “Okay. Thanks,” and he continues to climb right on past. Chris Farley in the movie Tommy Boy came to mind: “SON OF A….” [Insert deflating experience joke here.]
Into T2 and back to the Eastern Front, where I succumbed to the desire to run in moderately dry comfort and changed my socks. Hey, comfort’s where it’s at in a triathlon isn’t it? Isn’t that an Indian triathlon saying too? Anyway, another terrible transition.
T2: 3:18 See lesson learned number 1. I gotta remember this.
Out on to the run course, and felt pretty good. I read something somewhere that said when you feel short of breath, it’s often because CO2 builds up in your lungs, so on the hills, I was exhaling hard and sounded like a steam train just pulling out of the station. Was probably going about as fast too. Anyway, chugged up and down those hills and felt pretty good. At the top of Gatorade Hill, I happened to start running along with fellow MMTCer Curtis Henry, who I had never met nor even seen before, but he was cheering for every other MMTCer he came across. Goodonya Curtis. As we made the final turn toward the chute, he gave me the best and most hilarious line of the day: “I am gonna *wreck* that box of doughnuts when I get to the tent!”
Crossed the finish just after him, grinning like an idiot.
All in all, a great race and an absolute blast. I finished about 4 minutes faster than my expectations. But the reason I made you suffer through this long report is to give mad, mad props to MMTC. Sadj, Chip, Loretta, Curtis, and all you folks cheering out the rain – you’re the best. Your advice and good cheer made it a day I won’t soon forget.