After a long summer of preparation, it was finally my first triathlon. I was a mix of giddy, panicky, and teary. As I was unloading my gear, I realized that everyone - absolutely everyone - had better equipment than I did. The other competitors had better bikes and fancy, expensive gear. I decided that I wasn't going to worry about it.
I set up all my transition area exactly as I practiced. Then I walked the transition zone several times locating "Swim in", "Bike Out", "Bike In" and "Run Out". I also met the women assigned to the transition spots near mine. One competitor, Donna, took me under her wing and she was an awesome companion while we waited nearly an hour for our age group to start.
As we were standing waiting to get into the ocean, I looked around at the other competitors. I was the only person not wearing a wetsuit. They are all in sleek black wetsuits with their official swim caps. I'm in my hot pink triathlon suit. When I'm a novice at something I just want to blend in with the crowd. There's no blending in when you're the solitary hot pink in a sea of black. I told them that they were my back up dancers. If I can't blend in, then I'd rather have people laugh with me than at me.
The San Diego Tri Club offered "swim buddies" to first time triathletes. Swim buddies are experienced open water swimmers who'd swim along side of you. I ran over and asked for buddy as we were heading to the dock to jump in the water. When I jumped in, I started to hyperventilate. It was silly, because I'm a really strong swimmer and the water wasn't that cold. My swim buddy, Monica, helped me calm myself in time for the start. After all that, the swim was easy. As I rounded the first buoy I called out to Monica that I was having so much fun. I surprised myself by zipping out of the water in the ahead of many of the women in my age group. As I headed to the transition zone, I called out my thanks to Monica.
Transition to the bike went exactly as planned. The bike ride wasn't so great. My bigger, heavier, mountain-geared bike was a slow ox on the bike course. Plus I had some problems with the gears not shifting correctly. I'd pedal behind someone matching their cadence exactly and I'd watch them pull away from me steadily. I watched lots women that I'd smoked on the swim, zip by me on their fancy bikes. It was very, very frustrating. I passed one person on the bike ride - and that's because he had a flat tire.
Other than the slowness, I wrapped up the bike course without incident. The bike-to-run transition went according to plan and I was out on the run. At that point, my legs were tired from trying to keep up with everyone on the bike. I ran when I felt like running and walked when I felt like walking. Mostly I relaxed on the "run" leg and savored the fact that I got myself to the finish line of a triathlon.
Here's the deal. It was challenging, but I loved it. I can't wait to do it again.