Running Fiesta

Writing and running in Austin, TX.

2013 Rookie Tri – The Pre-Race Report

I know, I know, there’s nothing in the world more annoying than a runner — especially a blogging runner — who decides to take up triathlon. First, they start talking about this “cool spin class” they took. (Duuuude, such a great interval workout!) Next, they’re all about “brick workouts”. (Because, you know, a marathon is no big thing, but biking 10 miles and then running 3 is like being hit in the face with a brick.)

Before you know it, they’ve lost their ability to make plural words…”Oh yes, I do triathlon”…and they’ve quit their job to devote 24 hours a day to Ironman training: 4 hours for training, 4 hours for eating, 2 for minutely detailing every 10 minutes of training in their training log, 12 hours for nighttime sleeping, and 2 hours for napping. Oh, and every bit of clothing they own has that little Ironman (TM) man-letter-thingy on it.

Man-letter-thingy on a stylish retro boob shirt.
(Click to purchase from the official Ironman store.)
As you can see. going into this latest adventure, my opinion of triathletes was fairly low. 
For no good reason, we endurance-sport aficionados love to form tribes around OUR sport, and then collectively look down on all those other weirdos. (I secretly suspect this is because the average person drawn to an endurance sport is, on some level, an insecure dingbat.)
To sum it up, runners look down on “I’m not good at any sport so let’s do three!” triathletes, triathletes look down on “I’m too uncoordinated to do anything more than run in a straight line” runners, and cyclists are snobs. (In the words of George R. R. Martin, “It is known.”) 
Okay, maybe that’s just me.
Anyhoo…I never had any intention of taking up triathlon…(s). 
But then, as you may have heard, I got injured. I couldn’t run, I was getting fat…what to do? 
Yep, I joined a gym and started taking spin classes. 
After years of collecting cobwebs in the back of the closet, my never-used bike shoes finally got clips installed because, well, who can fall off a stationary bike? (Answer: I can.)
And then spin got old so I started to mix in swimming. Surely ingesting a little bit of chlorine is no big thing compared to the vast quantities of caffeine and aspartame I consume on a daily basis?
And then Jeanine mentioned this Rookie Tri idea. Swimming and biking, and a run that was only 2 miles. Even injured, surely I could hobble through 2 miles? Oh, and a 300m swim and a 12 mile bike? Pshaw, I’d barely even have to train!
And that’s exactly what I did. I barely trained at all. Leading up to the Rookie, I worked four 60-hour weeks in a row. I road my actual bicycle roughly twice. Due to an unseasonably cold Austin spring (highs in the 70s) I refused to try an open water swim until a week before the race. Oh, and on a whim I rejoined Rogue, injury and sleep be damned!
For how seriously I was taking this, you would think I had mistaken my USA Triathlon membership card for a fancy bookmark. Even though I had announced my registration right here on this blog, I was essentially in complete denial that this event was even happening.
And then it was upon me. 
I had essentially told Jeanine I needed her to tell me exactly what to do, what to bring, and where to be. And probably to serve as my personal alarm clock. Thank God she did.
The following is a snippet from her pre-triathlon packing list, with my favorite parts highlighted:
  • Your packet. Any numbers you didn’t affix the night before, we will get it done then!
  • Timing Chip
  • Timing Chip ankle bracelet (will be in packet)
  • Small Towel for Transition
  • Spray Sunscreen for after body marking
  • Extra Sharpie in case body marking line is too long (JEANINE WILL HAVE)
  • A headlamp you can use to set up in the dark
  • Water bottle with water for transition so you can take small sips after the swim and after the bike and/or rinse your feet
I spent an hour triple-checking this list against the list in the race packet against my collection of stuff. I ended up with 3 water bottles and zero headlamps. I took the splashguard off my mountain bike. The list went on to include “a pair of flip flops I didn’t mind abandoning at the swim start”, so I went to Walgreens, found the cheapest pair they had, and cut off the rubber flower with a plastic “jewel” in the center. I was ready! 
Welllll, almost. It was freezing cold, so over my swimsuit I layered “clothes I would be okay with losing”. My outfit consisted of:
  • Skin-tight cotton sleep pants with an amazing ability to create cellulite where none exists 
  • A too-small tech tee I bought at that super cheap running outlet that’s always at marathon expos 
  • A zip-up black fleece covered in white dog hair
  • My newly flower-free flip-flops

I was pretty sure that I more closely resembled Richard Simmons than a seasoned triathlete. And the Port-A-Potty was going to be hell.

Jeanine was at my door at 5am. (It’s an irony of our friendship that she is perpetually 10 minutes early and I am perpetually 10 minutes late. This has lead to countless instances of her scaring old men away from “reserved” spin bikes or pool lanes and me scaring the crap out of her “napping” in her car.)
Despite Jeanine’s warning that we would have to park “a mile” from the start, our ridiculously early arrival got us a spot about 10 feet away from it. Transition opened at 6am. We were in and out by 6:10, with both our bikes in the very first spots on our racks. (I was a “rookie”, she a “veteran”.) The only thing that slowed us down was Jeanine being personal friends with every third person we passed. Dang extroverts.
With everyone else chatting and laughing as though they didn’t have a care in the world and my mountain bike perched at the front of a sea of Tour de France-quality performance machines, I was a hot mess of insecurity. 
Although I must say, if you’re looking for a good way to overcome insecurity, triathlon might be the sport for you. First off, there’s the fact that a tri suit can make an Olympian look like a poorly-packaged bratwurst. Secondly, there’s the fact that if it’s your first tri and you don’t want to drop $150 on said tri suit, your “just as good” combo of one-piece swimsuit and bike shorts leads to you dropping trou in front of a strange man at 6:00 am on a Sunday so he can write your age on your calf and your number on your thighs. Both of them. 
Oh, and never mind that I had 10 days left in my 20s. Triathlon is like horse racing. Everyone’s birthday is January 1st, so I now had the number “30” tattooed on my skin in permanent marker. Fantastic.
With our wave not starting until 8:40 and the temps topping out at 54 degrees — it was actually warmer that day in Montreal than in Austin, I checked — Jeanine and I decided to head back to the car an its relative warmth. Well, and snap this selfie…
“Jeanine, hold me!”
I had nothing left to do but ponder my fate and whether or not I really needed to go to the bathroom.

To be continued…

One comment on “2013 Rookie Tri – The Pre-Race Report

  1. writemypapers
    June 12, 2013

    Thanks a lot! Your article is pretty good. I like it

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This entry was posted on May 22, 2013 by in races, triathlon.
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