Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Real Thing Continued

So, we were set to begin the course on schedule. I should say, as with the photos of the three of us girls in yesterday's post, that S did a lot of the heavy lifting on these photos for the weekend. He did a good job, as you will see, capturing the event. I did take some photos with my camera phone and along the way, but it was mostly him.

This was S's "base of command."

And, this was his breakfast.

He also drove me to Austin for the 2nd weekend in a row, made arrangements for our hotel, drove me all over creation while we were down there, sat patiently at check-in, loaded and unloaded my bike more times than I can count, and went to the race to cheer us on and take photos. He even told us we did a good job at the end. Meg nominated him for "Husband of the Year." She kept calling him, "H-O-Y". I second that nomination. Isn't he great! Fab-o. Thanks, S. I appreciate it. I really do.

OK, so the first part of a triathlon, for those of you not well versed in triathlon trivia (um, that would be me) is the swim. As it turned out, since it was so cold, the ladies waiting for the water looked VERY cooollllllddd. Kellie told us once she was in that the water was warmer than the air, so it felt great. When Meg and I went down toward the water to cheer Kellie on and we saw the swim course, we were in awe that she was going to do that part. When you see "1/2 mile swim" on paper, it doesn't seem like that would be very long. But, when you SEE the course, well - it was longer than I could swim. WAY longer. And, I should remind you, Kellie did the WHOLE THING last year, as did hundreds of other people. These ladies are in shape, people.

Because they can't pin a sign on you to go in the water, they write on the triathletes with sharpie - your race number and then on the back of your calf, your age.

Technically, we should have gone and had our ages written on the back of our calves. But Meg and I decided to skip that portion of the "rules." Kellie of course did get written on, which turned out to be in my favor at the end of things - I'll tell you more about that later. As you can see from these photos, there were all sizes and kinds, ages and temperaments out here at this race. There were women who were pros at this, and lots of women doing this for the first time.

This made it really inspirational too, seeing all these different women from all walks of life trying to accomplish something. Can't you tell we were inspired?

Kellie had a navy swim cap - they color code the waves of swimmers by their swim caps. They let the Elites go first, then they go by age group and class - each five year age group, cancer survivors, the "Athena" group (women over 150 lbs.), the relay teams, and the "mixed age group" which is usually full of beginners or family members who want to race together. Mixed age group goes last. Relays go just before last, so Kellie was a navy swim cap, wave 5.

The Elite racers took off. Fast.

And the other groups collected in turn.

Then it was Kellie's turn. We gave her a fist bump of support.

Then she said a prayer. No, not really. Or maybe really.
But, here I think she just looked down for a second.

There they are - the cold navy swimcap wearers.

Into the water...


Kellie was a pro, though, and got right to it.

Now, here's something you won't get at the mens triathlon - each group had a "word." And, Sally Edwards went about getting the groups to say "I am a (Fill in the blank with your word) swimmer." Our word was "strong." They also told us to encourage each other by saying, "You go Girlfriend."

Oh, and they said this special phrase while practice the freestyle stroke.
The men are missing out.

Then they were off!

I should point out there were EMT's out on those boats, as well as "swim angels". They would even give you a foam noodle if you were in distress. Of course, if you take a noodle, your time no longer counts for placement. That didn't mean we didn't see many noodles. Or, easier said - we saw lots of noodles being used.

Here's where the swimmers came out of the water - right to a hill!

We waited on Kellie with baited breath. At the ready.
And, only 36 minutes later...

...there she was! Behold! She came out of the water.

Kellie said the choppy water really made it hard - when she tried to freestyle stroke, when she'd turn her head for air, she'd get a big face of water. So, she used the breaststroke almost the whole swim. I would have doggie paddled. And they'd still be waiting to toss me a noodle.

Meg and I headed to the transition area to meet up with Kellie and "pass the baton" to the bike portion of the race. Biking comes second in a triathlon.

S hollered at me. I turned around, clearly gleeful to get going.
For one thing, people, we never lack CHEESE around here.

The focus got away from him on this one.
But, my gesture was just so silly I had to include it.
Or maybe S knows that tall man in the orange shirt.

I was off...

...and then I was back...

...because I forgot to take off my warm-up shorts.

Then I was off.

While I was away - shortly after I began biking, an Elite class woman from Alabama won the whole thing.

And I found these photos of birds on the digital card.
I guess S was bored.

The race went really well for me. I have to say it was a PIECE OF CAKE compared to the weekend before - 35 degrees cooler can make all the difference. Really, I paced myself to do 4 miles every 15 minutes or so, and I ended up at 1:10, so I did pretty good. This is not a fast speed, but my goal was to finish. And, I don't have a fast bike - I have a hybrid, so it's heavier and slower than the other bikes, all things being equal.

While leisurely completing the loop, I had some encounters. First, I was so glad to know the course. I never got off the bike except once - I missed my bottle holder threw my water bottle onto the side of the highway. That thing was $19.99, so I stopped to pick it up! Other than that - and especially notable - not on any hills did I stop and walk. I rode the whole course.

The encounters - a 21 year old passed me slowly at the top of the race after a little bitty hill and said to me, "Boy that hill was hard!" I didn't tell her what was ahead. I just said, "Uh-huh." She pedaled off. Then, a 30 year old woman three times my size passed me. Then, two sisters in their 60's - remember, their ages are on the backs of their calves. A few others passed me. Mostly, when people passed, they said hi or something about how hard the course was or "you go girl." Woo-hoo. It was a friendly race.

One 43 year old passed me after the first hard hill - where lots of people got off and walked that had previously passed me on the road - anyway, when she passed, she said, "Boy, I hope that is the last hill." I told her, "Sorry, no, there's more to come." What was she thinking - we weren't even to mile 6. I loved knowing what I was in for.

I really enjoyed the ride - there was some headwind but it wasn't bad, and this time I could enjoy the lake view, the pretty wild flowers around the course, and the cows. We had a little conversation while I went past. They were also very motivational and encouraging. It was all good.

And, one of the real pluses...

...was that the runners' course mirrored our course on the longest, hardest hill at the end of the bike course.

This was totally cool, because these women - who most had swam and biked that day - who were ahead of us on this journey - these women cheered us on. They were whoopin it up telling us to keep on, that we were almost there, that it was the last hard hill. It was awesome! (That photo is after the hill - don't get any ideas that I'm exaggerating. It was a hard hill. TRUST ME.)

As I made the last turn, right before the park...

...S has come out to meet me.
It was so nice to see him.

I'm wearing a shirt we found on clearance at the outlet mall the day before. I had brought a t-shirt to wear. But, this one has a little drawing of a bike and it says, around the bike drawing, "I want to ride my bicycle." I thought it would at least tell people what I intended to accomplish if the day turned out worse than the weekend before.

When I saw these pictures though...

...I thought, good Lord! I look like a brick on a bike! That bike is in distress! Help the bike out. My lands, I've got a whole lotta biking to do to get back in shape. This is just a tiny start.

I rode it on in. I smiled the whole way.
It was total fun.

Meg (and Kellie, too, of course) were waiting for me in the transition area.

I racked the bike and took off the helmet.

And gave S this cheesy grin...

...and Meg started the run.

To be continued...

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