You know that strained lat muscle I mentioned below?
It turned out to be a strained intercostal muscle. Which turned out to be a pretty big deal.
When I hit the one week mark without seeing any signs of improvement, I started to accept I would not race my last triathlon of the year. In some ways, I did not care. Because of my foot injury and Hood2Coast recovery, my mileage was low and my speed work was sparse. I felt slow and sluggish.
This carried over to the bike. In fact, my legs felt so powerless on my bicycle, I took it to see Mr. Bikeman. "Something must be wrong with my bike", I complained. "Maybe I need a new one." It seemed obvious to me the best way to get out of my slump was to find myself on sleek, sexy, out-of-my-price range, TT-bike.
Mr. Bikeman was fast to say, "You absolutely do not need a new bike. This is a great bike."
Whatever. It is a road bike. And it old. And ugly. I want a pretty bike!
"This bike would look pretty if you cleaned it more often," was his predictable response. And then Mr. Bikeman cleaned some grime out of the cockpit and lectured me on my peddle stroke.
But, running and cycling issues aside, most of my summer was focused in the water.
When I thought about the hours, the boredom and the frustration that I invested, I cared about this last race quite a bit. Otherwise, all those Master practices would have been for nothing.
It was not until the day before the race that I decided my injury had improved enough to endure a half-mile swim. And even then, it was with a lack of certainty. And after a two-week swimming hiatus, I now lacked confidence as well.
I felt so nervous getting into the lake water on race day.
I felt more nervous as I floated among the large wave of red swim caps (ladies under 40). It was so crowded our bodies brushed together.
As always, the start was brutal. Limbs frantically flew everywhere, including my own. After a few minutes of chaos, I settled into a rhythm, relieved that I remembered how to swim. But it was crowded the entire time. It was windy and the water was choppy. Sometimes I gasped for air and wound up with a mouthful of toxic lake water. It became about survival. Who cared about technique?
My swim time was 14:03, which a PR for the distance. It was a top swim time, too, so maybe the course was long. (I like to believe the swim course is always long).
My T1 transition was unpracticed and clunky. My spot was in the back of the very large transition area. It was going to be slow no matter what - so yeah, I took my time. And a shot of apple cider vinegar to kill the lake demons.
Eventually, I ran my bike out of transition and realized I had to run further than usual in order to mount. The mounting spot was across the parking lot! This added nearly a whole minute to my bike time. But, I felt great on the bike. The course had many very tight turns and multiple u-turns. It was crowded, making it challenging to pass. My overall bike time was a little slow (just shy of 35 minutes), but my cycling time (from mount to dismount) was pretty good (just under 34 minutes). Not a PR, but also not too shabby for a road bike.
My T2 transition was less-slow than T1. I grabbed a small electrolyte-induced water bottle for the run. The goal was to use this water instead of the water stations. But as soon as I started running, the water started splashing out. It was a cheap, plastic mini-water bottle with a cheap, plastic sprout. At about a half mile, I realized I barely had any water left. I drank the remaining drops.
It was a beautiful day, but still September and still warm. I was thirsty. Since I am incapable of drinking from a cup while running, I had to stop at both water stations.
I knew by stopping twice I was not going to break 20-minutes on the run. But, I did not know that I was in the first place female position. What a treat to find that out as I crossed the finish line. I won!
In most ways, I felt stoked because I like winning stuff. Although, my kids were rather unimpressed (as usual):
and more impressed with the food, (as usual):
In another little way, I feel embarrassed because my winning time is so slow compared to other typical winning times. It is even 75-seconds slower than my PR. Before this race I said that I didn't feel my fastest, but I felt the most well-rounded. And that is true: I didn't win this race by being really good in the run, I won by being equally decent at all 3 events. And, of course, by luck. No matter what, a win is always partially contributed to pure luck that no one faster was there. Because at my level, there is always someone faster. Just sometimes they are doing bigger, badder things.