In Macon, Georgia it rained. We’d traveled over Friday night, stayed in a hotel and woke up early to get rained on. That wouldn’t be a problem. There was to be a fair amount of swimming on Saturday. Then there was lightning and big shuddering clumps of thunder. It rained and rained, everything was cold and wet and the lightning stayed around long enough to drive away the darkness.
For a time it seemed there would be no race. I talked to the race director who spelled out his options. The best option was that we’d have the full race. The longer the storm hovered over us, the less of the race we’d have. And it all came down to the formal start time. So I went back to the car and shivered from the cold rain and waited. I shivered and waited long enough that I started to hope the storm canceled the swim. The swim is my weakest segment of the triathlon. The rest of them aren’t particularly strong, mind you.
The storm pushed on through. And the race started just a few minutes late, which seemed an impressive feat while standing on the beach. Nothing else seemed impressive at the moment, though. I didn’t have enough time to finish my setup in transition, I was tripping over myself trying to put my wetsuit on while hustling down to the beach. I hadn’t had enough time to fill up the water bottles for my bike. It was a bad way to start.
But then the race itself started. It was a wave start. You go in with others in your age group. My age group launched second, so I didn’t have to wait around and get more anxious about it at least. I spent my time trying to count the buoys, make sure the wetsuit was fitting right and was in the water before I knew it.
There are two things about the swim everyone must consider. First, the cliche is that the race isn’t won in the swim, but it can be lost there. Well. I am no danger to the guys who were going to win the race. The second thing is that you have to try to not get your heart rate too elevated in the swim. It is a marathon, not a sprint. Well, a half marathon, but that’s a few hours away.
I’m swimming about 3,000 yards per workout in the pool right now. So I know I can cover the distance, which is 2,100 yards, or 1.2 miles. I know from experience that the first 300 yards of my swim are the worst. It takes that long to get my arms warmed up. I just wanted to keep my group in site for that long. I was pleased when my arms came around early in the swim and I was still surrounded by swim caps. And then I managed to hang on to the back of the pack throughout the rest of the swim, despite getting completely turned around in the lake twice. And by completely, I mean, facing the wrong direction.
Out of the water, off the beach, up the hill and into transition. I finished my prep, because I missed out early in the rainy setup period. Ran my bike over to the nearest barely-working water fountain and then started pedaling out of Macon’s Sandy Beach Park.
For 56 miles I pedaled. The course was described in such a way that led you to believe it was moderately flat. It was a little more hilly than that. More problematic was that the hills are a different kind of climb than what we’re accustomed to at home. That probably makes more sense if you spend a lot of time struggling to get up a hill. But it was a nice course; the roads were quiet, the route was pretty. The only real civilization was Roberta, a town of about 1,000 people, that served as the turnaround point.
I had to stop a few times, once for an apparel problem, once to refill water bottles and so on, and I was rather disappointed in my overall ride. I blame the hills. Around mile 53 I was ready to be done. Around mile 40 was when I let out my first harsh exclamation of the day. We drove the course the night before and I predicted when that would happen and I was right.
Before that I saw the cool Georgia Post building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.
I also saw a really great old store sign that I wanted to go back and snap a picture. I didn’t stop on my ride, though, and we didn’t go back. This was about 17 miles into the course:
Which brings us to the run. After swimming 1.2 miles and riding 56 miles up and down the hills of central Georgia, I had to run 13.1 miles through the shadeless subdivisions of a few neighborhoods.
Remember, I said at mile 53 I was done? I found I was done again after the first mile of the run. And then at the fourth mile. This problem recurred pretty much on cue between miles eight through 12. But I got that emotional, finisher’s bit of steam after that.
I finished within four minutes of my worst-case scenario time. (Which was very slow, because I am quite slow.) We got our pictures taken at the finish line and, what do you know, we got the car loaded up just as another round of rain came through.
Saturday, we conquered 70.3.
I do not know what is happening.