Today I had a new, fun adventure. I did an Olympic-distance triathlon by myself, before work.
My training plan calls for an Olympic distance race-- 1500-yard swim, 25-mile bike, 10K run -- this weekend. And I had originally planned to do one at Fort DeSoto. I thought I had registered already, but it turned out I accidentally didn't. Once I realized that I hadn't registered, I didn't want to spend the $150 to do a race when I could do it for free on my own. (Especially when I had just spent almost $300 at the triathlon store on a tri suit, a sleek new sports bra to wear under the tri suit, and a new swimsuit.)
I am not a planner, but I planned this out pretty thoroughly. While I still consider this a relatively short-distance triathlon, it would still take me at least three hours, so I had to start as soon as the pool opened, at 5:30 a.m. It had to be on a Tuesday or Thursday because on Monday, Wednesday and Friday a master's swimming group swims there at 5:30 and takes all the lanes. I couldn't do it on the weekend because the pool opens so late on the weekends that I would be doing my run in the midday heat. And Tuesday had bad thunderstorms in the morning. So Thursday it was. I measured bike mileage and planned my run route around water fountains in Lakewood Ranch. I was ready! I was out of my house at 4:50 a.m. At 5:15 a.m., I was in the parking lot of the Lakewood Ranch Y, finishing my coffee and relaxing. I went in at 5:25... and the woman at the counter told me the pool was closed. "They're rebalancing the water," she explained when she saw the look on my face. "Because of all the storms."
I was kind of a jerk. I turned around and walked out without saying anything further. All my planning... this was the only day I could do it... should I go back to bed? No. I was wide awake from coffee and dread and anticipation. There was only one thing to do -- drive all the way to the Bradenton Y, almost half an hour west. I don't like the Bradenton pool; there's no bike lane on the road the Y is on; there are water fountains but they aren't ice cold like the ones in Lakewood Ranch. Oh well. Part of Ironman training is being adaptable, right? So across town I went.
As I shoved my bag in a locker and rushed to the pool, half an hour past my scheduled start time, I thought vaguely, "Maybe I should pee?" followed immediately by, "Nah, only 1500, I can wait." Every time I've made that decision in any race, it's been the wrong one. Every time! From the time I started my swim till the time I got to 300 yards, all I could think was "Oh my God I love this trisuit so much and I'm the fastest one in the pool right now and I look like a triathlete and it was totally worth all that money." Then from 300 yards on all I could think of was, "I have to pee." I should have just done it in the pool like apparently everyone else in the Pathetic Triathletes Facebook group does with no shame, but deep down I still believe what I was told as a kid -- that if you pee in the pool a red ring will form around you and the lifeguard will know. I have never peed in the pool and probably never will. Instead I had a miserable -- but relatively fast -- swim.
This time around I had googled how to use my fancy triathlon watch for triathlon (unlike last time when I didn't bother). So I knew which button to hit to start and stop transitions. Walking into the locker room, I thought how great it was that I didn't have to change out of a swimsuit like I usually do, but quickly realized that getting a wet one-piece trisuit unzipped in the bathroom to pee was about as much fun as putting on a sports bra immediately after a shower when your skin is wet. 10-minute T1 -- shameful. And all because I couldn't pee in the pool.
I ate most of a Clif bar while putting on my bike shoes at the car. I had decided to ride out to Anna Maria Island and back for my ride. I was flying on the way out with a sweet tailwind. Something was rattling big time on my bike and I could not figure out what it was. I stopped riding and tapped on various parts of the bike and everything seemed tight. Oh well; I kept going and stopped worrying about the rattling. I had also been worried because the padding on the trisuit was so light and I have such a history of bike seat problems, but I had NO problem today. Everything felt exactly right. My ride was perfect until I got to my turnaround point on Anna Maria. Suddenly the tailwind was a headwind and I was staring into very dark clouds to the south. Uh-oh. The radar had been basically clear this morning except for a few very tiny dots of green. Those tiny dots of green are totally fine UNLESS YOU ARE RIDING THROUGH ONE OF THEM!
I made it over two of the three bridges leading back to Bradenton before it started sprinkling. Everything to the south and east was an angry dark grey, and the headwind was bending the trees and grasses in half. I kept riding; what other choice did I have? It sprinkled, then it dumped, a torrential downpour that soaked me in seconds. I rode through it and came out on the other side with 5 miles left to ride back to my car at the Y. At least there was no thunder and lightning!
Back at the Y, I put my bike in my car and was changing shoes when the downpour started again. I sat on my tailgate chugging Tailwind and looking at the rain. To run in it, or to go inside and do 6.2 on the treadmill? What the hell. I was already soaked. Besides, at least it wasn't hot, with all these clouds. I headed out with a T2 time of four minutes (would've been two-something if I hadn't sat there hoping for the rain to end for an extra two minutes)
I ended up having a pretty amazing run, 8:30 pace for the first couple miles and just a little slower after that but still well under 9:00 miles. The rain stopped and the sun came out and the humidity cranked up several notches for the last mile, but by then I was so close to being done I could taste victory and didn't care. My legs felt surprisingly springy. The trisuit was great -- the most comfortable piece of athletic apparel I've ever owned, like a second skin. I was happy with just about every aspect of my solo Olympic:
*I was able to change plans at the last minute and pull it together.
*I rode and ran in the rain without too much bitching.
*My trisuit fits!
*My bike seat doesn't hurt anymore!
*Despite burping coffee for my whole swim and almost peeing in the pool, I still had an OK (for me) swim time.
*My legs off the bike felt way better than I could have expected.
*I could use my fancy watch.
The ONLY thing I wasn't happy with was my T1 time -- but I will have no problem peeing in the river at my Ironman, so that should get better.
Up next -- my solo 70.3 in August.