(written May 11th, 2008)
Yesterday was the long-awaited and slightly dreaded St. George Triathlon. I wasn't too worried about it. I was a little nervous about the run, but I actually have been really enjoying my 6-mile runs, so I thought it would be fine. I hadn't even considered the weather as a real player in the difficulty of the race. It was really cold and windy when we got there at around 6:30am, and we were really glad we had decided to buy some wetsuits a few days earlier. Pete was in the first wave to go, and I had lost him long before he got into the water so I didn't get to really watch him go, just his group of Intermediate (Olympic) distance guys under 35 or whatever it was. Then the 35 and older Intermediate guys went, and then all the Intermediate women. This was me. It looked like a long ways, and it was quite wavy, but I still wasn't really worried.
The gun went off, and as usual, it was pandemonium. Usually I am able to relax and just swim. This was not the case this time. Having people hitting me and running into me was just icing on the huge waves cake. I hadn't realized how bad the waves were until I started swimming. By the time I got about half-way to the first buoy, I was starting to panic. I was thinking, "This is stupid, I could die out here!.“ And I was just praying that I'd make it out of there alive.
There was a guy in a kayak a little ways away so I changed direction and swam over to him. He was like, "Do you know you're going to wrong way“ I nod. "Do you want to hold on to my kayak?“ I nod. "Oh, Ok.“ I held on to the front of his kayak for a few minutes trying to calm myself down (This is allowed, and will not disqualify you). Then he asked me if I wanted him to signal to them to come get me, but I didn't want to just give up because I was scared.
Pretty soon another girl came over to join me. She said she wasn't feeling well so I thought she would be getting out. We hung out there for a few more minutes, then I said, "I hope you feel better,“ and decided to set out again towards the first buoy.
I made it around the buoy, then I saw a couple boats with a lot of the swimmers climbing onto them. Those boats looked really tempting. Just as I was trying to talk myself into going on, the girl from the kayak caught up to me and said she wanted to keep going so she could do the bike and run, and that she was just going to go from kayak to kayak if she had to. This tipped the scales and I said, "I'm with you.“ So the two of us set out on our long journey to the finish line.
There was one other guy in the water behind us, but he ended up passing us. By the time we got to the next buoy, we had a kayak just going along beside us. That was very comforting and gave us something to focus on other than the waves. They kept asking us if we were ok and just kept an eye on us. There was also a guy on a jet ski, a few boats and a helicopter. It was just like we were out in the ocean, having waves even breaking on our faces sometimes. We swallowed a lot of water.
I was noticing that no one else was in the water, and around this time, we found out that they had canceled the swim for all the sprint waves, so we were the last wave into the water. Once we had decided to just take it slow, and we had all those people watching us, I felt a lot better and even kind of enjoyed it at some points. I finally got around to asking this girl, who had become my new best friend, her name. It was Crystal.
When we got to the end, and Crystal said, "can you touch?" and I could, I said, "Yes!" Then we were both laughing and hugging. We helped each other unzip our wetsuits (we were NOT cold anymore!), and started jogging to the transition area. The race director or someone, came up to us and was all excited. He was like, "You're the last ones out, but here's why: We cancled the sprint swim. (we were like, "we know") You guys are awesome!" We had been in the water an hour and 9 minutes.
I can't even explain the feeling of accomplishment and relief it was when our feet touched the ground. I don't know if I've ever been so happy! It was a great feeling, and I was just so happy after that, all through the bike.
Then I got to the run. It was really hard. I was pretty much running/walking by myself the whole time, and when I finished the first lap, it goes right by the finish line. Pete was there cheering and waving me on, thinking I was finishing. But just started crying, "I'm not done." So, I headed out on my second lap.
But by now, at least I was getting into the rhythm and was feeling better. Crystal had just finished before I got there and she ran a little ways with me, talking to me and giving me even more encouragement. Then she told me she'd be waiting for me, and I plunged on into the sand and up the big hill. I felt sooooo good when I finally came running in the finishing stretch. What a relief, again, and I was so happy that I hadn't given up! My total time was 4 hours and 35 minutes. Here's a picture of me and Crystal just after I finished.
A lot of people DID drop out (looks like 55 on the race results), and I was #83 out of the 84 that finished. I got a little sunburnt, but other than that, and a cough I think I picked up from getting too much water in my lungs, I feel fine today. What an adventure! When I got up this morning, my dad said that Ethan told him, “Mommy didn’t give up.” What a great Mother’s Day present to be able to have my little boy say that! Now, on to Echo Triathlon and the St. George Marathon. But first, I’m going to take a nap.