Note: This race recap is courtesy of Meredith Goodwin who got to experience her first triathlon a few weeks before me! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! ~Cassie
Bluff Creek Triathlon Experience, by Guest Blogger Meredith Goodwin
This was my first triathlon experience, and what an experience it was (to say the very least). I did the sprint distance but I’m almost certain that my perspective could also go for the Olympic distance course. This year the race was held on Sunday May 20, 2012 at Don Williams Park in Boone County, Iowa. It was a COLD 58 degrees outside as we made our way from the parking area to the transition/check-in/marking area. All loaded down with our bikes and gear, I quietly walked my bike down the hill as my friend chatted with everyone who passed by. I wasn’t nervous, but I was very focused. We checked in, taped our numbers onto our bikes, got marked, and set up transitions.
I think I was one of the only people who didn’t have a wet suit for the race but I’m extremely glad I didn’t. I bought one but returned it because I thought I’d be too flustered trying to get it off coming out of the water, and I was totally right. I didn’t really have a whole lot of prep work to do except strip down to my swimming suit and bike shorts, and let’s face it, I tried to put that off for as long as humanly possible. Once we could put that off no more, we stripped down, and boarded the bus to take us to the beach which is where things got interesting.
The swim was an across the lake, from beach to boat ramp, swim. We got to the beach and got in the water which felt heavenly warm compared to the chilly weather on land. And yes, there were people peeing themselves to stay warm. I stayed in the water as long as possible until it was start time, at which point it started to rain and get extremely windy. Awesome. We were released in waves between the men, women, sprint, and Olympic distance divisions.
As soon as I got past chest deep water, my lungs froze up and I forgot how to swim. I tried a couple of times but came up spitting nasty lake water so I butterfly/paddled my way across the lake. Motto of the day: just get there. I was probably the last person coming out of the lake but I felt strong as I got to the boat ramp and then gravity hit as the two wonderful volunteers grabbed my hands and pulled me up past the drop-off. I found my land legs as soon as I could as people cheered me on (holy cow, I almost cried every time someone I didn’t know cheered for me, which was the whole race). Right as I found my land legs, everything below my neck went numb from the cold.
I ran into transition, tried to squish my feet into my shoes and put some clothes on to get me through the bike course. I mustered a tank top on along with my required helmet and headed out. The bike course was an out and back on a county road and HOLY CRAP did it test my patience, endurance, will, and faith. Not only was it and out and back, on that day it was an out and back ALL uphill out with 30 mph complete and total headwind. Super. I was on a hybrid bike that my local bike shop fitted me on in case I hated the sport at least I had a nice bike to take on leisurely rides. I contemplated the poor salesman’s death as I felt like I was riding backwards for eternity as people were riding by me saying “there’s a nice tailwind once you turn around, you’re almost there!!!” I wasn’t ever almost there, it was forever until I was almost there. On my way back, I started contemplating all of those people’s deaths.
Through the bike course, I contemplated quitting, turning around at multiple points and just not admitting I didn’t ride the whole course, falling in the ditch until someone realized I was missing, hitchhiking to the nearest bar and/or complete and utter defeat of all kinds. This wasn’t helped by the fact that I had to ditch my bike as an ambulance came wizzing by me to pick up someone who had crashed their bike. And yes, I wished I were that someone as I got out of the ditch and continued up Mt. Bluff Creek. I finally got back to the park and into transition solely by the grace of God. I racked my bike, took off my helmet and replaced it with a hat and started on the run course.
I tried to run but my legs were numb from the cold and from the horrendous bike course so I run/shuffled for the bulk of the run. I was out of all strength and stamina going into the run. The run was an out and back cross country style, so some gravel, some grass and some pavement on the run. I was beaten, battered, sore, numb, completely void of any energy but the run course solidified my love of this sport. I would say that 95% of the people who passed me or I passed on the run course said words of encouragement, and not just “good job!”, “keep going” or “almost there”, but one person always crossed running traffic each time we passed to get a high five, and I head the full range of “you’re my hero”, “you make it look so easy”, and “you’ve got it in the bag”. THAT is the reason why I didn’t quit, not just the other competitors but the volunteers were all so extremely positive and encouraging (except for on the bike course, could have used some out there).
I think it was eternity before I turned back into the park and up to the finish line. I came out of the woods to see my family waiting at the end for me and as I crossed that finish line, earning the label of “triathlete” and crumbling into one big shivering, hysterically crying mess, I knew this was just the beginning. I will be back and I will be back with a vengeance, Bluff Creek.