Sunday, September 25, 2011

Rose's Triathlon Prologue: Tris and Fails of Yesteryear

Most race stories start months before, when training begins.

My race story starts over two years ago, when I signed up for a reserve sprint triathlon on a whim.

I convinced my brother to sign up, too. I didn't want to do it alone, and I knew he was crazy enough to do it with me.

Key race details:
1. I had not swam laps ever. EVER. The swim was 3 lengths of a pool.
2. While I owned a bike, it was a beach cruiser. With no gears. And, as it turned out, a half flat back tire. The race had a nine mile bike ride. I had never ridden a bike for nine miles. Ever.
3. Sky ended up letting me ride his mountain bike. It had gears. I did not know how to use them.

Yes, this has always been my pose.

So, they didn't offer splits on their results, but, a 5k run, 9 mile bike ride, and 3 laps in a pool took me an hour and 30 minutes. HA HA HA.

The run was fine.

Sky did the whole ride on my stupid bike with a half flat back tire and a "special" helmet. He kept up with me for almost the whole leg.

The swim was hilarious. I frog swam the whole 3 laps. And, it was a reverse, and it was overcast, and Sky and I both forgot towels. We used the race shirts they gave us to dry off.

And thus ended my first triathlon. Zero training. Zero forethought. Hilarious, shitty results. Shocking, I know.


One tri under our belt, we set our sights higher: An open water tri! Regular order! My mom lives in Napa, so we chose a tri up there.

I actually went out and bought a better bike! At Target. Whatever. And, I trained a little bit. Once or twice a month.

The trip was wonderful. My best friends Marla and Andrew joined us for the tri, and our friend Anne joined us as a spectator. We had a great road trip adventure up, and a fun time wandering around Napa in the days before the tri.

The morning of the tri, it was raining. And cold. And every other person there was in a wetsuit.

Wetsuit? What?

I put on a brave face.

But in reality I was cold and absolutely miserable.

I figured once I got moving in the water, I would warm up. And then, it was time. I put my toes in the water, and started crying. It was so cold. So cold. I almost quit the race right there. But, I didn't. I slowed waded in. Crying. And swam. I had to warm up, right? No.

I never warmed up.

I came out of the water looking like this.

It was still raining. I made it to my bike rack. I got one shoe on. I could not stop shaking. EMTs pulled me from the transition area and the race. They were afraid I had hypothermia.

They kept me in the back of an ambulance, wrapped in blankets, until I stopped shivering.

But my race was over. It's my only DNF.

To be honest, it was a relief. I was so unbearably cold. It was awful. But, DNF didn't feel good, either.


Anxious to make up for that race, I began to seek out a race where wetsuits weren't even optional. No cold tris for me, ever again. I stand by this. Fuck that.

This led me to the Nathan Tempe Triathlon, in Arizona. Marla had family here, so we signed up for another racecation.

This time, we went big. Olympic distance! A mile swim! Whoa!

So we trained.


I think my longest bike ride was 20 miles.

I couldn't swim more than two laps in a row freestyle without switching to an easier stroke. I was running more, at least. Running was my first love, after all.

But, yes, I wasn't doing more than two workouts a week for the tri. And that would be on a good week. And there was no structure. And no pushing myself.

Again, the road trip and non-race activities were super fun.

The race?

(whoa, my back looks so much better now!)

The swim was awful. I was the second to last person out of the water. I had my own guy in a kayak following me for basically the last half of the race, continually asking me if I was okay. But the water was warm. There was no way I was giving up. FUCK THAT.

The bike was worse. I had, again, never biked that far in my life. I had never biked up a hill. The course was almost empty already. The temperature kept rising. Because I was doing the Oly, it meant I had to do two loops on the bike. Which was AWFUL, knowing as hard as it was, that I had to do each part a second time.

And then, the run. 10k. A billion degrees out. And, you guys, I had been out there so long that the water stations had all been abandoned. At this point there was, as far as I knew, one woman behind me. I was second to last.

Sky had finished at this point, so he came to find me. I was mostly walking. I was breaking out in goose bumps. I was miserable. Sky and I came up on a girl who was also walking. She was 17. Her brother had encouraged her to sign up, then ditched her. She looked about how I felt, so we stuck with her for almost the whole six miles. Her family eventually showed up to finish with her, so I took off, giving one last burst to try to "finish strong."

The finish line was abandoned, except for my friends. That felt really awful.

The time is only slightly off. I did terribly at every leg. I was ill prepared.

I basically curled up on the ground after I crossed the finish line.

Wait, no. Not basically. Actually.

And, I messed up my ankle to the point where I couldn't drive home the next day. And it hurt to step off curbs for months. And I wore an ankle brace for almost a year.

Good times.

So, yeah. I swore I would never, ever do another triathlon, ever again.


That was two years ago.

What made me change my mind?

Well, after I finished the ultramarathon in March, I started thinking about what my lifetime fitness goals were. And, while I had completed two triathlons, I didn't feel comfortable checking "triathlon" off my list, because of how poorly I had done.

So, I decided it was time for a rematch. Done right this time. With an actual training plan.

So, yeah, ghosts of triathlons past.

Coming up, eventually, an actual race report from this morning. Exciting!


  1. I can't wait to read your race report. Bring it on, make me happy!

  2. Facing demons, scary but you did it :-)

  3. I had no idea you had done any tris before. I'm so impressed that with such (bad) experiences that you wanted to get out there and give it a go again! You are a strong women!! Great job as usual!

  4. I am on edge waiting for the race report!

  5. 1 - your brother is cute!

    2 - I LOVE this post!!

    3 - I think it is awesome how you sign up for these things, don't go in prepared, still finish (okay, except for that ONE time) and then still wanted to do it again. I'd say that is the backbone of the Team Jam spirit! I vote you to be Team Captain. I'll be the Team Slacker. And Giraffy can be Team Mom who reigns us in when we get out of control!

  6. That was a great story with a happy ending :)