In retrospect, I’m actually pretty surprised I feel as good today as I do.
Yesterday I swam 1.2 km in chilly Berkeley waters at 7:30 in the morning. As I emerged and began running barefoot towards my bicycle, I tried to figure out what had happened to my hands and feet. Because I was running on leg stumps. And my hands, though I could see them, weren’t responding.
Yeah, it was cold.
But as I got to my bike, I noticed I was in good company. Everyone else was shivering as they peeled their dripping wetsuits off, grumbling about how difficult the whole thing was with unresponsive fingers and hands. I managed to slither out of my wetsuit and pull a couple layers on before clipping my bike shoes on, and then I slowly rode off, hoping that my feet would get some feeling back in the next 10 minutes.
It took close to two hours.
Riding at 20 miles an hour through chilly morning air, my feet never warmed up through the whole bike ride. It’s amazing what you realize you can get used to though. My feet stopped bothering me at about the same time I discovered I had a slow leak in my back tire. At mile 10, everything just slowed down. My bike seemed enveloped in muck, and as I glanced back and down I noticed my rear tire, almost totally flat.
So I hopped off, pulled out my pump, and began furiously pumping air back into my tire. Luckily, after a minute or so it inflated and I hopped back on, thinking that my tire would hold for the next 12 miles to the second transition and the run. No such luck. At mile 20 my tire is so flat I’m riding on my rim. But with two miles to go, there is no way I am going to spend the time to swap out my tire for a new tube. So I pump away again and manage to limp slowly into the transition area, finally ready to get off my damn bike and stretch my legs out for the 6 mile run.
Now, I’ve done some long runs, and I train in the hills behind my house, so 6 miles of hill running should be no big deal for me. Except my feet are still numb, my legs are cramping, and as soon as I hit the trails what feels like 4 pounds of mud immediately attaches itself to both of my shoes. Oh, and the first half on the run is uphill the entire way.
But you know what? It was great – lush green hills, Briones Reservoir below me, and other people challenging themselves just like me. With my feet pounding the trails they (finally!) got some feeling back after about a mile. And the second half of the run was almost all downhill.
52 minutes later I make my way across the finish line having completed my first Olympic Distance triathlon. It was cold, it beat on me, and I rode most of the way with a busted tire.
Despite all that, I couldn’t really imagine a better experience for my first Tri. Totally awesome. Totally fun. I can’t wait until my next one (which maybe I’ll actually train for.) Now I understand why so many people love doing this.