After all this the triathlon should be a piece of cake.....
by Wendy Garrison
I'll leave the experts to impress you with their amazing triathlon feats. My tale is how to get to (and survive) a triathlon. Last summer several of us decided it was time to expand our worlds and try a tri. Four sprint triathlons later I was a seasoned athlete - right? Ok maybe not. Becky Medina suggested we step it up a notch and try an Olympic distance. Marijane Martinez and I were in.
Step 1 in my training was to increase distance in both the swim and bike. I discovered I love swimming but the bike can be quite scary. Despite training, I only managed to get to 30 mile rides twice. Becky and MJ on the other hand, proved to be quite the cyclists. I watched the video of the bike portion of the course 200 times and decided I better stick with the sprint distance. After hearing about the course from Becky and MJ, I knew I was right.
Race day was approaching and my ride and support chief (my husband LeWayne) could not go. That's it I thought, I'm out. Turned out MJ was also going solo so game on!
The ride to Ft. Collins on Friday was nonstop traffic, ugh. Then once we got there, rain - double ugh. Before I get too far ahead in my tale I must mention one of MJ's and my biggest challenges, the bike rack (insert gloom & doom music here). MJ's significant other, Don, lent us his Subaru that has a bike rack on the roof. This is a nifty device if you know how to use it. Neither MJ or I are taller than 5'1" and upper body strength is um - we'll let's not go there. Armed with 2 step ladders and no idea how the carrier worked we somehow managed.
The night before, hotel - check, registration - check. Time to check out the bike course Becky & MJ would tackle. We had the site up on one cell phone and a GPS up on the other. About 18 miles into the course we lost internet service thus no map. We also lost GPS service thus no idea where we were at. No worries I thought I will call Becky and she can read us a map. Guess what? No phone service either! So much for scouting the course. We backtracked and took a few wrong turns but finally found our way back.
4:15 am - triple ugh! Race morning. Time to get up, dressed, and get the bikes loaded again to head out to the race. Big problem - we can't get the bikes secure on the rack! The Olympic course triathletes had to have their transition zones set up by 6:10 and it was a 20 minute drive from the hotel plus time for parking. MJ and I started trying to load the bikes at 4::30. By 5:00 we had gotten nowhere. Imagine two middle aged women in tri suits in the dark on step ladders trying to hoist bikes onto the roof of a car guided by the single light of a cell phone. Yeah, not a pretty picture. Frustration was settling in and we decided to heck with the bike rack, the bikes were riding with us so scoot over! Becky's husband, Eric, was now calling to get over there NOW. MJ hit the gas and we were off until - you guessed it - we were pulled over by one of Ft. Colllins finest for doing 68 in a 55 zone. I am now up to quadruple ugh. The police officer was nice and let us off with a warning but the encounter cost even more time.
Ok we're finally there! Quick grab the gear! Grab the bikes! Uh, does anyone know how to put a front wheel back on a bike? Red faced, I realized I have never, ever removed my front wheel before. I scanned the crowd, made eye contact with some unsuspecting Good Samaritan who looked like he's done this before and voila a complete bike. Gwen Steves, if you're reading this we should discuss training classes for slow learners.
Long story short, all went well. I completed my sprint and Becky and MJ completed their Olympic triathlons. I can personally recommend the sprint course - very fun! I hope Becky or MJ writes about the details of the race itself because I couldn't pass up sharing the tale of the marathon to get to the triathlon. The road to becoming a seasoned triathlete is a long and tricky one and sometimes has nothing to do with actually competing.
NOT SO MUCH………..
by Marijane Martinez
Wendy’s article described the marathon to get to the triathlon. I would like to go one step further and address the actual event. When Becky initially mentioned that she had registered for this event I thought it was a good idea. I have always been an advocate of cross training. I did many of the Ordinary Mortals Triathlons when they were held at the Pueblo West Regional Center and have continued to do sprints throughout the years. I had also participated in the Dragin’ On In Olympic Triathlon that was held at the Pueblo Reservoir many moons ago, as a member of a team and in its final year as an individual.
Once the registration was completed I then had to bump up my training to be certain I could complete the event. Somewhere during the training process I realized that I am no longer willing to train beyond what I normally do. I value my free time which allows me the ability to do the other things I enjoy such as hanging out with Don, my daughter Traci and my four wonderful grandchildren, Grace (11), Emeri (8) and Trevon & Darius (2). I love to run, bike and swim but knowing I HAVE TO RUN, BIKE AND SWIM took the fun out of it for me. Regular training with all the girls is enough for me. It is enough to keep me “sharp” which means my times are still respectable and I am fortunate enough to place sometimes too.
I do however have an enormous amount of respect for those of you out there who train and participate in the longer events. The idea of training for and participating in an ironman has never been something I have thought about doing. After training for and completing this Olympic Triathlon I can’t even fathom it! More power to all of you out there who do!
And now I will address the actual event from my perspective as a participant. I have never been a strong swimmer. I know one basic stroke, the crawl and although I could swim for a long period of time, I am extremely slow. I was in the last wave, the 50 and over divisions, both men and women. The relay teams would follow us which I knew was not going to be a pretty sight for me. As I predicted I was passed by all but one of the relay individuals. Fortunately only one hit me on the head! Imagine my surprise when I got out of the water and heard the announcement over the loud speaker, “and now we have our last two triathletes coming out of the water”!!! OUCH! One advantage is I didn’t have trouble finding my bike in the transition area as it was likely the only there!
On to the bike course which was 30 miles. I never thought I would see the transition area again! Once you are as far behind as I was in the swim it becomes a very lonely event. I did catch and pass some cyclists but not many. The course was hilly just as many people had said so I just kept pedaling and pedaling and pedaling which again made me think of those individuals who do the longer events. Finally the transition area and my event, the run! Low and behold it too was quite lonely with the exception of the runners who were on their way back to the finish telling me “good job”. By the time I got back to the transition at the end of my event most of the bikes were loaded onto vehicles and the participants were either eating, waiting for the awards or home making dinner.
Surprisingly I was only 2 minutes over the time I had figured it would take me to complete the event. Going in to it I figured it would take me as long as it takes to complete a marathon and I was close! I reminded myself I had given up doing marathons because of the amount of time it takes to train and here I was doing it again!
In conclusion I have decided sprint triathlons are my event and I’ll leave the longer events to all the studs out there! Sometimes we just have to put ourselves out there and confirm the fact that the decisions we make are the correct ones for us. Until next time, I will keep triing just not as long!!!!
Not so bad…
by Becky Medina
It’s one of those things. You sign up for an event months in advance, when the fee is cheap, and then suddenly it’s go time. So after 4 sprints, I thought “Hey an Olympic distance; that sounds like a good idea!” After some deliberation Loveland Lake to Lake it was. I should tell you I am not that great at looking up all of the “fine” details like whether or not the course is hilly, etc. I was happy that after I signed up Wendy and MJ signed up too.
I will say that fitting the training in with work, kids and life is pretty tricky and as the days approached I didn’t feel I had prepared enough, but do we ever?
I was lucky enough to travel with my husband Eric and 15 year old EJ. Other than horrible traffic, I got there by 6:30 p.m., got my packet and met Wendy and MJ for dinner. MJ wanted to be there at 5:00 a.m. to get a good spot for the bikes and set up.
Well for those that know me, I am not a fan of earlier then 6:30 a.m. (I should have picked another sport like darts or bowling). So 3:45 I am up and by 4:15 ready to go and wake the teenager….430 we are out the door.
We got the best parking because there were only 10 other crazy people there that early. By 4:55 a.m. I was marked and ready to go in. Where are MJ and Wendy? Eric scouted the area and told me the spot we should pick.
5:00 a.m. I am set up and awkwardly hogging space waiting for MJ. 5:15…5:30…WTH? While waiting I look around and see I am pretty much out of my league. My bike looks sadly inadequate compared to the bikes around me that look like they were made by NASA engineers. I questioned what I was doing there, but told myself, this isn’t about them, this is about you. Can YOU do this? At last MJ and Wendy arrived, with not much time to spare.
The swim was slow for me as I knew it would be. I wondered where all the Olympic swimmers had come from? I felt like a raft amongst jet skis. I was quickly passed by nearly everyone, but like Dori, I just kept swimming. The water was warm and that made it bearable, but turning to the east and the sun blinding me totally freaked me out and I just prayed I wouldn’t swim off course too much, because that’s all I needed.
I got out of the water (at last) and there were Eric and EJ, cheering me on. And then the ¼ mile run to my bike. Now biking is not my strength either and I just recently learned to ride with clipless pedals. The course was super hilly, and like MJ, I didn’t pass a whole lot of bikers, but a few is more than none. When I got to the lake I reminded myself that I should take some time to enjoy the view and on the downhill, I kept myself from breaking because I needed every bit of speed I could get. I was grateful I had done all those brick workouts at CSU-P, even though I hated all the hill repeats. (thanks MJ). I finally realized I was actually going to finish this thing when I got back into town and it was time to run. Now running I know how to do, but my legs were tired, weak and felt like jell-o. I just kept praying I wouldn’t fall down the grassy knoll before I even got on the course. For four miles my feet were numb and I felt like I was running on burning hot concrete, but I kept passing people and that kept my spirits up. At last, the 1 mile to go sign. Thank you Lord! Now at this point about 10 people said “You’re almost there,” I realized only appreciate those statements when the finish is actually VISIBLE, as it seemed like an extra long time to get to the end. At last, I crossed the finish line and 5 minutes faster than I thought it would take me. I certainly have respect for those that do it regularly and so fast. I don’t know that I would call myself a triathlete, but I know I can finish. Would I do it again? Well, I felt better immediately, and could walk the next day, so we shall see…
I have to say support and volunteers on the entire course were great and the after race treats were pretty fantastic as well!
As a nice little after treat, we all met up at the Highland Tavern in Denver after seeing it on Diner, Drive Ins and Dives. Great atmosphere, homemade tots and pork rinds, well worth the short jaunt off I-25 if you are racing or not!