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.
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.