Sunday, September 30, 2012

Swim Bike Run Kerrville

So I learned to swim from February to March of this year, 2012. I am 37. Figured it was about time. Then I did three triathlons this summer, and then I did one more, the Kerrville Triathlon Festival.

I picked Kerrville because the sprint distance was on a Saturday. Since my husband works on Sundays, this provided an opportunity for him to come to the race. We drove to Kerrville on Friday, a beautiful 2 hour drive from Austin, and checked into Inn of the Hills, a classic kitsch motor lodge from the 60's. The expo was right there at the hotel, so we picked up my race packet, t-shirt, and chip and looked at some of the vendor booths.

Great volunteers. Freeze frame on nice volunteer guy handing me my timing chip: what I did do was throw it in my bag. What I should have done was look at the chip and make sure it was the right one. Lesson #1: Double check everything.

Then came the tedium of setting up the appropriate things at the appropriate places. Kerrville utilizes a two-transition-zone setup and a "clean" transition. Which means you have a bike, a red bag labeled "bike bag" (onto which you stick your "swim bag" sticker), a "dry clothes bag" and a "run bag." The bike and the bike/swim bag go at T1 (transition zone one) the day before, and the run bag goes to T2, which is 2 miles away from T1. You leave everything in the bags, not out, and all bags will end up at T2. Confusing as all get out. 

Morning of, we are getting ready and I look down and see that the timing chip around my ankle is number 1294. Great, except that every other thing I have (race number, stickers, body markings) say 1194. We go over to the start area, and ask volunteers until we are directed to someone who says with great authority that the number on the chip doesn't matter. Lesson #2: Trust, but verify. Then re-verify, because people will outright lie to you. 

It is raining, and we watch in the dark as athletes prepare their spots. We head down to the water for the pre-race meeting. I see lots of friends from training, and vacillate on whether or not to wear the wetsuit I rented. After probably driving my husband crazy, I decide to wear it. I went to all the trouble, and all. That turned out to be an awesome choice. Lesson #3: Wetsuit? Yes!
View of the swim start and carpeted runway to T1
With friend Bianca from training
Swim waves start. I find the other yellow swim caps and eventually, we go. The hardest part really is standing around waiting to go. We get in the water and "tread water." I am just sitting there, in my wonder-suit, which just floats! Love the wetsuit. Then bang! The gun goes off and we start. This is the first race where it is easy for me to just start swimming, no shock at all. So I swim! I don't mind being in the middle of my group. I try to draft, but there are feet and arms everywhere, it's hard to lock in. Around buoy 1, great. I look over and someone next to me is backstroking. Someone else is doing a breaststroke and I watch her feet underwater as they swish in wide circles near my face. She doesn't kick me. I sight, and figure it's 30 strokes to buoy 2. Around that one, and to the next. Man, the water feels good. There are no weeds, and it is deep. Can't see anything weird down below me. It's clean and perfect. 40 more strokes to the next buoy and make the final turn. 
I'm one of these yellow-headed swimmers.
OK, I tell myself. Soon I'll be getting out of the water and have to get this wetsuit off, and I'll have to run up that long hill. Out of the water! Later my husband says I look like an angry wet cat getting out of the water. I'm not, just disoriented. A team of 5 people strip the wetsuit off me within seconds! That was awesome! Up the hill.

Wipe feet, don socks and shoes, helmet on, get bike & go! The air feels cool and good. I am soaked and it is raining, but it's not a bother. We ride through town and start a loop. My riding glasses are fogged up and covered in rain droplets. I eventually scoot them down my nose and look over them! Man, I was missing a lot there- the road is covered in water, gravel. Lots to look out for. I pass some people. Some people pass me. We see a man who has fallen off his bike and an ambulance is there. Later, I learned that he had a heart attack. I hope he is okay. Back into town to start second loop. I see my husband! "What loop are you on?" he shouts. "'Bout to start 2," I said, but he misunderstands and thinks I said 2. He rushes to the finish line where he has to wait for 20 minutes. Oops. Sorry, dear!
On the bike, just past the mount line. Big smile because I don't have to swim anymore!

Second loop goes smooth, though there are lots of water bottles to dodge. Back around and to the second transition area. We dismount at the line and run our bikes down a muddy hill to the racks. I rack the bike, ditch the helmet and bike shoes, and slip on my running shoes and grab my cap and racebelt. Out of there pretty quickly and on to the run.

On the run, a young woman comes up and asks if she can jog with me. We stick together through the whole run. Her name is Jocelyn, a local resident and pre-med college student. I am grateful for her chattiness and energy. We run down the street, over the bridge, into the park, through the grass, through a beautiful little forest, then turn back and do it all over again in reverse. My buddy is delightful, and restores my hope in humanity and youth. She is involved in every possible activity, and is sweet as can be. She calls me Miss Angela, which makes me feel 80 years old. But I don't even care, because we are rocking this run that turns out to be my best ever time on a tri 5k. Thank you, Jocelyn! Thank you so very much.

We get to the finish area, and my buddy breaks into an awesome sprint. I start to sprint, too, and then see some of my Trizones teammates. They give high-fives and take a picture. Then I really run to the finish. Wahoo!!!

Post-race. I'm a hot mess.
I find my hubby and get some delicious barbeque. I check the results board and I am not on it, but "Unknown Participant - 1294" is. Huh. That would be my chip. A volunteer helps me find the timing guru, and he is easily able to make that me. My total time is 1:49. Under 2 hours! That is really great. I am 18 out of 27 women in my age group, 66%. It's the best I've done in a tri.

Even though it rained all day, it was a really beautiful day. I am so grateful to my hubby for putting up with it all, and to my training buddies and to that awesome young lady who helped me run. And to the many volunteers who helped me eventually figure it out.