Saturday, August 22, 2009
Tri-Utah Jordanelle 2009 - Chapter I - I almost died.
This one has been on my calendar for months now. Looming. Like a dark cloud. On one hand I anxiously awaited and was excited. On the other, I was dreading it and worried about the unknown. I didn't sleep at all last night because I dreamt that I was late to the race and they wouldn't let me participate. In my dream I was terribly disappointed. Like a disappointment that felt painful. So I was stressed the minute I woke up.
Now, I've done a triathlon before. And admittedly, I am hooked. Just never an open water one. I trained a little bit more in the pool, secured a wet suit and prepared myself mentally for cold water.
This tri was held at Jordanelle in a small cove next to Rock Creek campground. Splenda and I got up early and headed east up the canyon. On the way up, I reviewed my goals.
1. Don't die.
2. Don't be last.
3. Finish in 2 hours or better - NOT counting transition time.
He dropped me off on the side of the highway, right next to the sign that said "No parking or drop off's". We are rebels. I rode my bike into the campground, hit the set up area, got body marked and waited to meet back up with Splenda.
I found my transition area marked with this card. I had forgotten I had even filled it out.
I racked my bike, laid out my stuff, made some small talk with the lady next to me, got my wet suit on, and then walked to the fence to talk with Splenda.
My wave to hit the water was the last one, so it gave me an opportunity to watch what was happening and get a little oriented. As my time neared, I headed down to the water, ventured in and got warmed up. It really wasn't that bad! Yes, it was cold, but once I started moving around, it felt great.
Did some swimming, treading water, etc. Felt good. Even got back out of the water, stretched my body and tried to quiet the butterflies that had steadily grown.
Finally, they announce our wave start. There aren't many of us. Females over the age of 40, all Athena's and all Relay participants. I doggy paddle to the start line (between two buoys) and calmly tread water with the other gals while they counted down. At last they sounded the horn and off we went.
Funny thing, the man you hear telling some lady to hurry up so they could go boating? Told her again during her run. She dumped her water on him as she passed. I think I love her.
I started a nice freestyle stoke, easy, not fast, calm and controlled. 5 minutes in, I am wiped. WIPED. What the crap??? I'm not even close! I also notice some others around me have stopped the crawl and are breaststroking or have flipped over on their backs and backstroking it. At least I am not alone.
I take a note from these women and for the rest of the entire time in the lake (750 meters total), I do some form of forward motion while trying to keep my head above water, being able to breathe, and keeping water out of my mouth and nose. It consisted mostly of a very modified back stroke. There were support guys in canoes all around, and I quickly noticed one by my side the entire time. He could see I was not doing well, and I was grateful that I could see him in my peripheral vision at all times.
I round buoy one and realize that I am in trouble. This is HARD. I don't know if it's the depth, the current, the cold, the waves, or a combination of all of them, but I was scared. I saw one lady hold onto a canoe and rest. I wanted to so badly, but I thought I would be given a penalty so I just kept going.
Every so often I would flip over, doggy paddle for a second to see where I was, and then roll over to my back again. Mr Canoe was right there, and had now begun to guide me. "More to your right." "More right...there you go". That saved me the precious energy it took to roll over and see where I was.
Just before I rounded buoy number three, I was pretty sure, I was done for. I really didn't think I could finish. But then once I rounded it and took a sneak peek, the distance seemed manageable, and I SO.DIDN'T.WANT.TO.QUIT! I wanted to finish this more than anything ever. I had no choice but to keep going.
By now, I have realized that I am alone. I don't see anyone else out there. I'm just surrounded by guys in canoe's guiding me. They offered so much encouragement, but at one point, I was having trouble keeping my head up and face clear and one of their oars sent a flood of water right in my mouth! I was pretty sure I was going to drown right there and then. I sputtered, coughed, and could tell now that I was completely in lung burn and would have the wheezers cough.
I FINALLY heard them say, "You're there!". I put my feet down and felt the mushy grass lake bottom with it's gnarled weeds. I flipped over, slowly stood up, looked back and begged someone to tell me that I wasn't the last one out of the water. I was assured no, but to be honest, I didn't see anyone else.
I attempted moving myself forward and I was wobbly, dizzy, and completely weak. I hobbled up the ramp and right next to me was a stretcher with EMT's. No one was on it and the thought crossed my mind, 'Did they think I was going to need it? Was that there for me, just in case?'. I looked over to Splenda to tell him how hard it was and then tried to run to my transition area. Tried - is the key word. Couldn't get my body to move!
I slogged over there, picked up my towel and started to BAWL! BAWL I tell you! Looked over at Splenda, buried my face in my towel and let it go. I'm not sure if it was the adrenaline, the exhaustion, the physical toll, I don't know, but I couldn't stop.
I let myself boob for what felt like a few minutes but in reality was only a few seconds. Then, realizing I am all alone in the transition area, the thought occurs, that I have some serious time to make up. I had set a goal for 30 minutes for the swim. It felt like an hour, so I was desperate to make up time.
I quickly stripped off the wetsuit (which I did NOT pee in BFF's TNT - thanks for loaning it), threw on my shorts and tank top, socks, shoes and gloves, helmet and unracked my bike. I grabbed a quick drink of water and gobbled a couple of shot bloks, keeping the package in my hand to finish once I got on the road and made my way out of the transition area and onto the bike route.........