I decided to do the TrySp0rts series this year since it looked like I could do 3 of the 4 required races without any overnight stays. Actually, I could have done all four, but I really wanted to do Lake Logan and really didn’t want to do a pool swim. Unfortunately, my September event got cancelled because too few people signed up for it. Cane Creek Tri down in Waxhaw was my replacement.
Now, I enjoy any triathlon I do. The people are nice and it’s all in good fun. Although fun can always be had, motivation isn’t necessarily summoned quite so easily. I would be an extreme case of what Jesse Kropelnicki calls “motivated by the achievement of success” that has approached the feeling of having been there done that in triathlon. Hence the motivation difficulties.
Unless I feel really challenged for some reason, then I’m all in.
Which does not describe this race. I show up, look around at the start and feel completely unconcerned that I failed to get in a swim warmup. I think I’ve been more excited on the deck of a master’s swim practice. I guess it was that extra time squeezing into the wetsuit since the cool weather dropped the water temps to 77. Since I’m a lazy swimmer, I’ll always take the floatie-suit option. I saw one guy without a wetsuit and an upper body build that suggested a history in swimming.
I made a good call on the guy to follow except for the nasty little problem of the low-lying water fog caused by the air being 20 degrees colder than the water. There was some zigging. Then some zagging. Plenty of stopping to tread water and squint for signs of an orange buoy. As it turned out, I took a really good line for the first half of the swim and arrived at the yellow turn buoy in first. Then I kept turning, floating, looking until I saw a hint of orange and barreled in that direction. Only to be (eventually) redirected by the kayakers. (Is that why there were people swimming the opposite direction?)
“You’re going the wrong way,” says Kayaker 1.
Oops, I think, a little encouraged by the extra challenge I’ve levied on myself through poor navigation.
“OK,” I reply. “Where’s the right way?”
Kayaker 1 points into the soupy fog with her paddle.
I squint, shrug and head in that direction hoping for visual evidence of the finish to appear soon. Which it did, thankfully. Fortunately, the orange markers were only for sighting and we didn’t have to swim around them, so I just headed towards the shore where I eventually caught sight of the buoy marking the finish. It was point to point. Don’t worry, I really did swim extra. Plenty extra. Although I finished right in front of the guy I marked at the start. We discussed our problems seeing as we ran up the hill to T1.
I did my usual squirm out of the wetsuit while putting on a helmet and rolled out of transition into the unseasonably cool air. It’s a good thing it was cold, because that at least motivated me to go harder than I might have otherwise. Early on, I saw blue markings on the road that suggested a turn. I paused, but thought, no, Setup Events always has orange arrows and signs. So I kept going hoping I was right. Again, thankfully, I made the right call.
It was a lonely bike ride. The only other people I saw were the volunteers at some of the intersections. I saw corn fields. I saw cotton fields. I saw two chickens crossing the road but didn’t stop to ask them why. I expressed gratitude that I won’t have to ride that hard at long course worlds, which is the nice way of relating my internal monologue of “Thank GOD I don’t have to ride this hard at Worlds!” I stayed warm except for the toes, which became numb, but what do you expect when you put two wet, bare feet into cycling shoes and whisk them through cold air at 20-whatever miles an hour? You expect cold feet, that’s what.
After a while, I returned to transition to the cheers of “girl power!” and took off on the run. I felt pretty good. The foot numbness abated as it usually does as I seared a path down the nearly mile-long hill to the turn around. The run course was a double loop out and back. On the first trip back up the hill, I got a good look at my position. It was hard to see how I was faring against the age group wave that started 3 minutes back, but that wasn’t a grave concern. I still felt good (thanks to all the hill running I’ve been doing) and my first across the finish line position seemed secure.
The second time up the hill I might have slowed a bit. There’s that motivation problem again. And just to prove the point, my run split was 20:05. Often, we ask ourselves in these cases whether we could have found 6 more seconds out on the course. This time, I didn’t give much thought to it because I know the answer was yes, I could have found 6 more seconds out on the course. I could have found lots of seconds at many points on the course, but you know what? I still finished 5 seconds faster than the speedy runner 19 year old from wave two that had the fastest men’s time.
That, and I’m left with plenty of fight in reserve for the race that matters more to me for the only somewhat arbitrary reasons of championship status, level of competition and expense to attend.
I don’t mean to minimize the event. Cane Creek Triathlon is a great event and it’s always an honor to be able to cross the line first. I also appreciate the various women who told me they found my finish inspirational. Any time I can play a small part of encouraging others to maybe try something they wouldn’t have otherwise, that’s an even bigger win.
P.S. Since the prizes were bottles of wine, I feel kind of bad for the 19 year old. Wins the race and can’t even get his prize. They may have given it to his parents. Not sure. When they were handing out the men’s awards, Remy darted off to do a few crosses of the finish line himself and I wanted to accompany him.