Triathlon Isn’t For the Timid

Happy Wednesday,

Summer school has started, officially killing my three week long summer buzz. Oh well… It’s only 15 meetings.

There’s nothing quite like cramming a road trip and triathlon into a three day period, but when else am I supposed to do it?! 950 driving miles later, the Boise trip is over and done. The road to Lake Stevens, however, has only just begun. This story can best be told as a narrative, so here goes. A long time ago…

It was Friday. The dull 5am sun cracked through my window as I tumbled out of bed and scraped the sleep out of my eyes. I tripped over my aero helmet and a plastic tub filled with miscellaneous triathlon gear on my way to the kitchen to gather my pre-road trip nutrition. It was finally race day minus one, and the road to Boise was a long one. After loading everything in the car and rendezvousing with my friends, it was time!

Road trips are always fun because you either bond with the people you’re driving with or you die from boredom. Fortunately, there was no death involved in this trip and the seven and a half passed without incident, other than a bathroom break on the side of the road and getting stuck behind several tractor trailers for 20 miles too many. Upon arriving in Boise, the scene was already chaotic, with road closures, orange cones everywhere, and signs announcing the arrival of the 1600 Ironman athletes who would be competing that weekend.

Traditionally, triathlons begin early in the morning on Sunday. For Boise, it began at noon on a Saturday. Leave it to Idaho to be different… race registration was uneventful and the room was full of people who take themselves too seriously. They were wearing all manner of exercise clothing and shorts that were far too short. I don’t know whether or not they realized the race wasn’t until the next day…

Upon exiting race registration, we were promptly met with a downpour of rain that immediately soaked us to the bone. Nothing like a welcoming party from the weather to make you feel at home. We checked out the swim area, which was set at a reservoir 15 minutes out of town. I am much more a fan of having a single transition area where you go from swim to bike and bike to run. This particular race had totally different transitions for swim to bike and bike to run, with the finish line in a completely different place altogether. The weekend was already shaping up to be quite frustrating and the weather was doing nothing to help that either. The frustrations were quickly adding up!

Despite not having to get up at 4 AM to eat and prepare for a race, we called it an early night and began preparations for the following day. Boy, if only we had known what was in store…

Saturday morning greeted us with a grim, dark sky and 45 degree weather. Not the most conducive for a five hour outdoor event! Because the race was away from downtown, we had to take a shuttle up to the reservoir. Unfortunately, the shuttles took all the athletes there three hours before the race began. Not a good move!

Our breakfast was long gone, and the hot beverages were helpless against the chilly, freezing rain dousing the city and every athlete under the sky.

Myself and Deaon the Brave suffered through the rain storm (I think he was crazier than I was), cursing the the triathlon gods and begging for mercy. There was none to be had. By the time noon rolled around, it was a toasty 41 degrees with a “feels like” temperature of 38. Needless to say, not good weather involving a sport where you need to feel your limbs… bad, bad start to the day.

In addition to lousy weather, they had scrapped 40 miles from the 56 mile bike. Yes, I was disappointed but I at least understood that hypothermia is not beneficial to a successful race, and so I took it with a grain of salt. Some of my competitors were far more vocal about how they felt. Granted, a 12 mile ride is shorter than what is even offered in a sprint triathlon, so I acknowledge that most of the challenge was negated with that move. Better angry than dying I suppose.

The pros promptly took off at noon, and by the time my heat rolled around (50 minutes later), four athletes had already been pulled out of the water. Fortunately, swimming is second nature to me, and I was excited to finally get in the drink. It even felt warmer than the outside air! The timer was ticking and our turn was up. Time to embrace the race for all it was worth. I plunged in headlong into the murky, green water and began the day’s exercise in patience and flexibility…

1.2 miles (2112 yards) later I emerged feeling energized, excited about life, and rather proud of myself. I passed at least 300 swimmers on my way to the finish, and hurried up the hill for my bike. There’s not much to discuss about the bike ride, other than passing more people, but it was rather miserable (due to the weather and frozen fingers). I was thankful that it was only 12 miles not 56. Suddenly, it was time to dismount and head for the run… My last chance to prove my mettle in Boise.

Boise 13.1 mile run
Running has never been a strength of mine (it must be my incredibly long legs) but I embraced this challenge with anticipation and gusto. It was only 13.1 miles, piece of cake. The weather warmed up to mid 60s and the sun peeked out, it was show time! I was flying by the halfway point and gave it my all for the last 6.5. Only 96 minutes into the run and I was done! I tumbled over the finish line only to find pizza and burgers awaiting. However, I was more excited about the space blankets they gave us to fight off the cold.

This whole experience didn’t really count as a half Iron but I was still pretty stoked. Lots of lessons learned (just let it happen) and good racing experience under my belt. Come on Washington!

What are some expected challenges that have crossed your path recently?

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