A Second Triathlon: Westport Kiwanis Triathon Recap
So after my last tri, which I did not finish with a smile and pretty much hated once I sat on my very wrong bike, I was determined to find redemption. It came in the form of another sprint triathlon that another girlfriend was doing just two weeks later (yesterday).
The distances were much shorter, and a girlfriend offered me the loan of her much better bike, and I just knew I had to do it. The only downside was the swim: it was the same distance in the much more worrisome Long Island Sound. Which has waves. And salt.
I asked my girlfriends if anyone wanted to join me, and wouldn’t you know, the woman who inspired us all to do the first triathlon, offered to do it. My friend Rebecca, whose fierce will to overcome the death of her son at Sandy Hook by creating healthy living programs for kids, was in. Mostly. Actually she mostly agreed that she was just trying to help me out, but I know somewhere in there she wanted to do a second tri as well. I reasoned that since we were already trained from our tri two weeks ago we really didn’t need to do much to prepare for this one.
Except maybe try to swim in the Sound. We went out last Saturday and were shocked at how much harder it was than the lakes we were used to. The waves and current made it much more challenging. I asked her if she wanted to back out. She doesn’t do that. She said we had to do it.
So we showed up at Compo Beach in Westport, CT yesterday morning at 6am. We pulled up and were greeted by crazy wind that had kicked up from overnight showers and storms. The weather forecast was for the rain to stop, and it wasn’t currently raining, but the skies were ominous. We started worrying about the waves that were higher than anything we’d even imagined. My girlfriend who clued me into the race started nervously texting me: this was her first race and she was ready to get back in her car and go back home. Together Rebecca and I convinced her to at least set up her stuff in transition (it closed at 7) so that she could make that decision herself rather than have it made for her.
We purposely put our stuff close to the bike out of transition. These racks weren’t numbered like our last tri, so I tied one of the purple ribbons I brought to the end of our rack. I brought a garbage bag in case it rained, but it didn’t look like it was going to, so I put it under my towel to keep it clean and dry. Tracy finally agreed to do the race, a few more people we knew surprised us and showed up, and finally it was time to go down to the beach.
The waves were incredible. We walked slowly down to the one end of the beach to the race start. We were in the second wave (only three waves at this tri) so we watched the first wave wander into the water, out to where it was deep enough to swim (but also not too deep so they could stand if they got in trouble) and the race began.
We were into the water next and followed the same procedure. We heard them call us to swim and off we went.
The waves were insane. Buffeting and pushing and crashing around us. I veered out a little more so they wouldn’t crash on me but soon found the energy to keep up and move forward draining. I backstroked like it was my job and looked behind me: men were actually walking through the water. Big men! I wasn’t going to whiff my tri like that, but I did go to where it felt like I could touch in case I needed to. A big wave crashed over me while I was backstroking and after that I did walk the water a bit. Breast stroke, my rest stroke, was totally impossible in the waves. I just did what I could to keep moving forward, and finally we reached the final buoy. I went around it and headed for the shore.
1/2 mile swim: 18:29
To be honest, I can’t quite believe that’s a full half mile. I did the last half mile swim a full ten minutes longer. Everyone’s times are significantly less than I would expect. But no matter.
Into transition. I spotted Rebecca and Tracy both in there, so I wasn’t too far behind, which made me happy. I rinsed my feet, mopped off as much as I could, pulled on my socks and shoes, then my shirt and race belt. I paused to take a big swig of water and get some gum for the salty taste in my mouth. Finally put on the helmet and got the bike down (so much lighter than my bike) and it was go time.
The bike was a dream. The bike was so much easier to move than my other one. I took the opportunity to catch my breath and just enjoyed the ride. There were hills but they weren’t the challenge at all that they had been in my last tri. I happily passed people on lesser bikes. It was the best feeling. We entered the golf course where I knew was the end of the course and before I knew it we were back at the beach.
5.5 mile bike: 20:47
Back into transition, I again had trouble figuring out how to get the bike back on the rack between the ones already there, but I figured it out. I was out of breath from pushing it on the bike. I took off the helmet and grabbed my water bottle. I didn’t feel like I did much else, so most of my transition time was walking my bike in, I guess.
Onto the run. I slowly headed out for the run, and I knew it wasn’t going to be a fast one. I was passed by my friend Tracy and marveled at how fast she was. She finishes a 5K ten minutes before me so I knew that was where she’d smoke me.
No matter. I wasn’t wrecked, and this was a flatter, shorter course. I alternated running and walking and did what Rebecca calls “smile pace”. It totally worked. I was loving the run. OK maybe not loving, but not hating either. We rounded back towards the beach faster than I expected and I was grateful. But then the guy shouted out to me: 3/4 of a mile left! What? We were already back there!
Yeah, it was a major tease. We ran next to the finish, down the parking lot, and then rather than turn there toward the finish, you made a right and did another whole leg down the parking lot before turning around. Cruel! Still I saw most of my crew here, high fived them and found the juice to make the final dash in the sand toward the finish.
2.2 mile run: 25:20
We did it. And I was so much happier than the first time!
Finish time: 1:10:01
We were all kind of delirious with the endorphins at the end. I got a little teary eyed, actually. I never in my life would have thought I could do something like a triathlon. And because I am doing this, I have crossed paths with some amazing people that are bringing so much energy and light into my life. These woman are kind, inspiring and beautiful inside and out. They push you but also pump you up. I’ve always had girlfriends but this somehow feels different. The level of affirmation and enthusiasm everyone has and shares with everyone is really astounding.
So my second triathlon is done. A few of the girls are ALREADY looking at a third, although it is a much bigger one than this. I’m not sure I’m up for it (it is next weekend and I’m already signed up for a 5K the day before) but I love the spirit. Who knows. That’s the beauty of it. I really don’t know what I’m capable of. And I’m loving that.