I don't think that I ever posted this. I posted a lot of lead up journals from my time in Australia, but never made it to the punchline. What better time than the present! My first ever triathlon, March 2004:
Oh man, what a day! So yesterday the forecast for the week was looking really good. They were calling for today (Wednesday) to be in the mid 90’s and sunny. Now I had decided that my first triathlon would be on March 24th because I didn’t think that I was ready. But I couldn’t really resist a nice warm, sunny day for my first Tri…
I woke up feeling pretty good. I had bought some eggs at the market yesterday so I could finally have a nice breakfast instead of the carb pig-out session that I had become accustomed to. So after my scrambled eggs, peanut butter toast and peach (washed down with fish oil, Centrum performance, and my calcium) I was off to work. Now I had been thinking that I need to optimize the performance of the Black Fox for this triathlon. I’m already at a disadvantage in triathlons because I haven’t been on a bike in 3 years, I don’t need a sluggish bicycle to top that off. So I planned on pumping up the tires nice and high to reduce road resistance. So I stopped at the gas station on the way to work and started pumping up the back tire. In the middle of the inflation the pump read “error”. I thought maybe the pump just wouldn’t pump past 45 psi. So I hooked up the front tire. Well, that was my first mistake because the pump very efficiently completely flattened my tire. So here I was the day of my first triathlon with a flat front tire. Pancake flat. It really sucks to walk it around flat.
Off to the bike shop, round one.
Now I don’t know if I’ve talked about the guy from the bike shop before, but he doesn’t like me too much and he’s kind of a jerk. But I’ve been to that damn store about 10 times now, so we are slowly beginning to build up a rapport. I told him my situation and he pointed me to a hand pump and told me to pump it up myself. Now I haven’t pumped anything up with a hand pump since I was about 12. I looked like a complete idiot and it took me about 10 minutes to figure the damn thing out. I probably made the bastards day. But at least I had inflated tires and was ready for my race! But I still had a full day of work ahead of me.
Registration for the event started at 5:15, so I was to meet Suse at the gas station at about 5:10. So when 4:30 rolled around I thought I would bike home to get changed, put on some sunblock and organize my things for the race. As I approached the Black Fox I realized something was wrong. She was riding a little low. The front tire was completely flat. Shit.
Race to the bike shop, round two.
I was now 30 minutes from registration with a flat tire and began to run. Now running is hard enough. But try to do it with a rusted out bike with a flat tire lugging a backpack and balancing a helmet on the handlebars. Sometimes I wonder what people think of me. I’m just glad I can offer comedy relief.
It was my 11th trip to the bike shop in a week and the second of the day. At least Mr. Friendly knew the situation with my race and had a worker check out my tire for me ASAP. You wouldn’t believe it- I must have run over a thorn in the 3 blocks between the bike shop and WEHI on the way back this morning. Unbelievable. I had to have the tube replaced. Mr Friendly’s helper got a kick out of the Black Fox. I told him I was on the way to a triathlon and he laughed and said “and this is your race bike?” Why is that so friggin hard for people to believe?
Whew, 20 minutes before I have to meet Suse and I’m at the bike shop. I jumped on the bike and raced to the apartment where I strip off my clothes and get into my race apparel and fly out the door. I’ll be amazed if I have anything left for the race after this fiasco.
I made it to the gas station on time and the ride to the race site only took about 10 minutes. The race was on the bay- the New Quay Docklands to be exact. It was a very nice site and registration went well. I was number 407. When I tried to get the bike into the transition area the guy doing the quality control took one look at my bike and said whoa… we have problems here. I really don’t need to hear about any more bike problems! Apparently the handle bars need to have soft covering on the ends so that the bar doesn’t impale you if you fall. Point taken. I was directed back to the registration to get some tape.
I think I made the guy’s day at registration. I have gotten quite accustomed to the looks I get on the Black Fox. And this guy was no exception. It’s the look people get on their face when they are about blow and aneurysm if they have to hold in their laughter for one more second.
I get it. I have a shit bike.
Handle bars plugged I get my stuff into the staging area and am finally ready to race. I’m in the second heat so I head down to the swim start. The first thing that you realize going to the swim start is that it is really friggin far from where my bike is. We’re talking half a kilometer. That was a run that I hadn’t figured into the night. And I would have to do it barefoot in my swimsuit. Lovely. But I was really excited to start and happily jumped in when my heat was called. The water wasn’t exactly tropical so I did my citizenly duty to warm up the bay a bit and then the race began.
The swim was just 300 meters and it went very well. I got out of the water probably in the top 10 percent of my heat and did my 500 meter dash to the bike. This was the leg of the race I was dreading. Now you would think a triathlon on the ocean would have a pretty flat course. That is if the organizers don’t have a sense of humor. And we all know by now Australians are funny people. So they had us going up a bridge over the Yarra River. It’s one of these bridges that large boats have to clear. We had to go up this monster 4 times. The Black Fox saw gears it didn’t know it had. And my poor quadriceps were building up a lactic acid level they may never recover from. And of course, the entire time I’m getting passed by people of all shapes and sizes and ages. I was waiting for a little old lady in a wheelchair to whir by me. It was okay- I just kept telling myself that if I had the kind of bikes that these people had I would be the one doing the passing. Whatever makes you feel better, right? Needless to say the Black Fox and I lost a bit of ground in the road race. But I was actually still feeling pretty good by the time the 10K was over and I was actually looking forward to the run. Maybe I could pass someone for a change.
People had warned me about the bike-run transition. It can really be people’s undoing because your legs don’t like going from round and round to striding forward. I actually didn’t have any problems with it. It’s probably because of how short the bike leg was. So in all I was feeling remarkably well here at the last leg of the race. I started passing people for a change! Granted I was still being passed by others. When Mr. Wrinkles passed me I’d had enough. I couldn’t let someone 3 times my age beat me. I just couldn’t. So I paced him through the last loop of the run and decided I had a goal. But man, could that old man run! Every time I picked it up a notch he just had that much more. In the last 100 meters it was on. Unfortunately Mr. Wrinkles could feel me breathing down his neck and he pushed on. The finish line was a great site. Unfortunately I had to cross it in the shadows of someone who could easily be my grandfather, but nevertheless it was an awesome experience. I crossed with a time of 52 minutes- which I believe translates to 49 minutes if you factor in the staggering of the heats. Not half bad. I even beat Suse by about 5 minutes. And can you believe I wasn’t that tired? Kickass.
As we rode back over that damn bridge for the 5th time on our way home for the night the sun was setting behind us over the bay and it was absolutely gorgeous! All the stress of the day melted away and I was just so proud to have finally done a triathlon. What an accomplishment. Watch out old man, I’ll be back in 3 weeks and I’m not showing any mercy next time!
Pic from the Docklands:
Transition! That's my friend Suse sitting on the ground
Below, you can see the black fox behind me. It is the beater pink mountain bike with the red helmet hanging off of it. And yes, that was my race outfit- a swimming suit with sports bra underneath, and mesh shorts rolled up. Oh, yeah!