Muskrat Love: How I survived The Evergreen Sprint Triathlon

It might have been a bit over-zealous of me to register for the Evergreen Sprint Triathlon. Post-race I finally decided to look it up and turns out the last tri I did was in October 2016. Almost three years ago. And in those three years I’ve swam maybe a dozen times. Ridden my bike a handful more. But I wanted to swim in the Evergreen Lake and I didn’t want to wait another whole year to do it so … Yeah, bad reasoning, but admittedly I’m the master of.

The first thing to hit me race morning was the temperature. Where two days before we had reached a crazy Colorado high of 93 degrees in our little mountain town, I woke Sunday morning to a crisp 45 degrees. No joke! Some huge front had pushed through and dropped the temps by almost 50 degrees. Now, it’s no secret I far prefer the cold, but I’m a runner NOT a swimmer and I started to question my choice of a sleeveless wetsuit, not to mention open water swimming period! But rain, shine or frost bite, I’ve never quit a race due to weather and I wasn’t about to start.

For a small town, mountain race, the logistics were pretty good. This is the first tri I’ve done that didn’t have assigned rows for transition but was rather a free-for-all. Granted the field was only about 220 athletes and I’d never want that kind of chaos in a large race but it worked. My kid, Sierra, and her BF, Kenzie, were my support team since Don was out of town and they made sure I got there on time and had everything I needed though I almost forgot to get body marked. There are so many little things that go into triathlons!

I was in the last wave. You know the old-farts wave. And for once I was truly happy to be back of the pack. Each added five minutes between waves let the sun come up a little warmer. There was nothing about the swim I was really nervous about so standing lakeside a little longer didn’t increase my anxiety and when it was time, I dove in ready to rock.

But not even a few minutes in, I couldn’t quite regulate my breathing. Maybe it was the wetsuit. I hadn’t worn one since 2012 and being encased in a skintight, rubber, full body condom was a bit restrictive. Or maybe it was swimming at 8,000 feet. What, you need oxygen to swim?! The more I overthought it, the more I started to struggle, and the more I started to struggle the more I started to panic. I scanned the lake for a rescue boat and saw a kayak heading towards one of only a few swimmers still behind me but with another boat pulling up the rear, I claimed this one for my own. I held on for a minute until the volunteer asked me what I wanted to do; quit or go on. I hesitated. I am not a quitter but drowning didn’t seem like a fun idea either. “Can you stay with me”, I asked. I figured having someone right next to me if I started to sink like a rock would quell the nerves and thankfully being almost last meant I could have a private boat.

I couldn’t freestyle. At all. Every time I tried to put my face in the water I felt my pulse freak out. So between breast stroke, back stroke and doggie paddle, I inched my way across the lake. Donna, my captain kayak, made small talk to keep me going. At the last stretch I saw Sierra and Kenzie on the shore. They knew something was wrong. I’m historically front of my wave in the swim. But as they urged me on towards the finish I heard Donna yell out and swimming right in front of me was a muskrat! I guess the little critter thought he had his lake back, or maybe he just wanted to see what all the fuss was about. It totally made my day though! A little muskrat love to lift my drowning spirits.

Finally out of the water, I made it through transition in just a little more than two minutes. The bike was what I feared most given the first seven miles were all up hill but my only goal was to stay in the saddle. It was a gorgeous ride! Upper Bear Creek is lined with some of the most incredible homes and properties in Evergreen and I simply enjoyed. I wasn’t fast but I held strong and I even made it to the top of Witter Gulch, the hill I was most worried about. The next couple miles were some awesome rollers with downhills where I hit upwards of 36mph! I was surprisingly loving the ride but as I came off of one of the hills and went to downshift for the climb, my damn chain came off. Seriously wtf. I got it back on quickly but there was no way I was able to get going again facing the climb so I had to hobble walk the hill. So. Damn. Annoying. I made it through the rest of the ride with no issues thought I did have to walk one more hill. I feel much better after looking through race pics though because there were A LOT of people caught on camera walking. So glad I wasn’t the only one.

This obviously isn’t me but apparently the cameraman gave up on us stragglers but I really just wanted to show some of the size hills we had to tackle.

I was out of T2 and on the run in less than a minute. Not bad for a novice! Thankfully the run was uneventful. Not fast but consistent and I even got cheered on by a deer hanging out in someone’s front yard.

So. Not a pretty race by any means but I wasn’t last. Close to it (192nd out of 216 finishers and 7 DNFs) but I finished and that’s what counts. Moral of the story … there may actually be some benefit to training.

I’ll Tri Again Tomorrow

Well, ready or not (definitely not) the Evergreen Sprint Triathlon is tomorrow. I swam once. I rode once. And I ran — eh — here and there. BOOM! Trained! Ready to rock it. Seriously though … I may die.

Just so I knew exactly what I am getting myself into, I drove the bike course today. With a starting elevation of 7,133 and a 1,536 foot gain, it’s far different from the Florida riding I rarely participated in. I wonder if I’ll be the only idiot walking my bike up the hills.

At least the swim is short and easy, plus it’s wetsuit mandatory for added buoyancy. The last, and not to mention only, time I swam in a wetsuit was the Augusta half iron back in 2012 so I hope it’s not too weird. Best part of this whole race though is that I get to swim in the Evergreen Lake which doesn’t allow swimming any other day of the year. To be totally honest, that was the primary reason I registered for this race. May have been a tad bit smarter for me to consider doing it NEXT year instead of with a mere few weeks notice but I’ve never been the sharpest tool in the shed when it comes to going into races unprepared.

I think I have everything

So wish me luck. My kid and her bf will be there as my cheering squad so if you follow me on Facebook or Instagram keep an eye out for updates. And of course, assuming I survive, there will be a race report.

Beating a Dead Horse

I wanted to write this post on my birthday but somehow I got distracted … for two weeks. I figured an annual milestone is always the perfect place to make life goals and adjustments. Actually the only thing I find more asinine and cliche is to do so on New Year’s Eve but at this point I’ll try anything to get my butt back in gear.

I need some accountability. Because apparently I’m not a good enough self-motivator these days. That said there are two things that typically get my ass in gear; sheer embarrassment and an over-achieving race. I know I just registered for the tri in a few weeks but I can fake my way through that one. So, that said, today I registered for a 50-mile race in November and this week I’m starting to actually track mileage. Thankfully my friend Miriam gave me super cute training journal for my birthday! Maybe, I’ll actually even make a training plan (WHAT?! Who am I?).

20 weeks until the Dead Horse 50 in Moab!

contemplating Moab