Life as a Late Bloomer

For some time now, I have realized that I am a late bloomer so it is no surprise that my first Triathlon came to a close this weekend at age 59. I invite you to live vicariously through my eyes as I share some of my insights.

an intense aerobic endurance competition, typically, in its longest form, consisting of a 2.4-mile ocean swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride, and a 26.2-mile marathon run, the winner being the one to finish all three events in the least time.

Our competition was a shortened version called a Triathlon SPRINT
300 meter swim, 13.1 mile bike ride, 5K run

Advice from every competitor for miles around

Chelsea and I met on pre-race day to get marked and pick up our timing chips. Yep, they plaster your age on your leg!

It did occur to me that this badge of honor might be what the medics use to identify me.

Inspired by my desire to sleep as late as possible

Race site was 12 miles from home. It was dark out and trust me when I say that I have no experience with life at this sobering hour of the day.  Arrived 45 minutes prior to start.

Advice from Chelsea Shepherd to avoid flat tire

Chelsea heading out for Bike 

Bikes are hung in race # order and each person is given a teeny tiny space under their bike to arrange equipment for each tri sport. 
Geesh, give a girl a break!

At 6:20am a volunteer directs us toward pool. This represents walking in bare feet several hundred yards over a thin black tarp while being very careful to protect feet. Oh yeah and I am carrying my swim cap and goggles.

Wait with 200 new friends...and wait...and wait. We were queued in groups of 16 so it took about 70 minutes and then BAM! We're up! 

I digress.

My last training run was 48 hours earlier on 9/11 in recognition of veterans. Usual pace and path only this time I got blisters! Gahhhhhh! The last mile was spent walking on the back of my shoes praying that I had stopped running in time to avoid serious injury.

Advice from Fleet Feet staff

There is nothing more distracting than something flapping around while swimming so I put the bandaids on before my swim. Touted to last 5 days, but I only needed 2 hours*

Circle swim; counter clockwise; 4 to a lane; Chelsea, Diana, Debbie, Lisa.  
Timing captain directs us to enter lane 1. I do believe this jolt might have been the hardest part of the race.  

Race start 74 degrees feels like 68.

Ready, set, push! Oh no! Goggles came flying off! Not sure how I fumbled to find them and get it all together but I recovered and I’m off!  Passed someone? FOCUS. breathe. breathe. breathe. Goggles were in charge so my usual strong wall push was more gentle than planned. Drats 'cause that was my strategy to store some energy.  

In hindsight I should have wet my goggles first. Note to self: Observe tip #1.
Should have trained getting out of deep water. I can ace it in the shallow end but we started and ended in the deepest part of the pool. It all went so fast and before I knew it I was going back over the tarp to the transition area with the first leg of the race done.

Advice from husband of 22 years

Decided to sit to dry my feet so that I could remove grass from between toes. Nutrition in back pocket; check,  bike socks on; check, bike shoes on; check, sunglasses on; check, helmet on; check (buckle helmet before leaving transition area so as not to get disqualified)!

Why did I not know that we had to walk over the black mat for the benefit of the timing chip? Full speed ahead and hankering to hop on my bike, I had to spin back around making sure to cross the mat this time.

Mounting area was monitored although I cannot remember clipping in to my pedals. I took off strong in a low gear determined to stick to my hydration plan of 32 oz during the ride. Pedal, pedal, pedal. Sheriff holds up traffic and I feel confident about safety. Did I mention that this is dangerous?  Dropped the first hydration bottle putting it back in its’ cage. Had already decided if that happened I would just keep going. Enter new hydration plan: 16 oz electrolytes.

East into a SE 17 MPH W.I.N.D. Enter the new normal so saddle up!
The Sunday before race day I rode 23 miles into a similar wind so I was prepared.  Competitors were really spaced out since we went off in heats of 16 every 5-10 minutes. Road conditions were sandy from a healthy monsoon season. Did I mention that this is dangerous?

On my way out I was distressed to see two people flatted but decided to thank God for keeping my equipment in working order. The ride back to the barn was amazing. Wind to my back and downhill, speed of 18-22 to compensate for the miserable speed going out.

Geesh! Why did everything on the way back look so different? Was I on the same course? Did we pass by all these horses? Did it smell this bad going out? Overshot the turn since it was not marked. Advice to race director…invest in a couple of cones!  Ahhhhhh…I see the barn and GUESS WHO ELSE! My sweetie was waiting for me so I gave him a huge wave and hopped off. It was very comforting to know that he was there. Rack bike, remove helmet, remove bike shoes/socks and dry feet. Put on run socks and shoes, sunscreen, visor and go! Go! Go! I said Go! Legs had a different idea lol! NOT EVEN FUNNY!

Finally got my legs and am now grateful that I do not have to depend on any equipment for the final leg of the race. First half mile is usually tough for me and this was no different.

Triathlon EQ A Guide for Emotional Endurance
Dr. Izzy Justice & Heather Gollnick, 5-Time Ironman Champion

Reach around to back pocket for a Cliff Bar. In my spare time I plan to make an energy bar that does not taste like sugar alcohol. Finally got my grove on just in time to pass my son in law who was parked tailgate style on the side of the road. My grand littles were cheering me on! That was a major emotional moment!

This is hard! I can hear the finish line crowd cheering and it propels me with a final burst of energy. I cross, they hand me a medal and I am a triathlete!   

*Bandaids stayed put

GOAL: 2 hours
Actual Time: 1:55:51

Praise God!


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