Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Race Report: a tri wake-up call

The morning dawned with horizontal rain and a temperature reading less than 10 degrees Celsius. Brrr - when did we last have weather this cold and miserable? In my old-man-over-the-hill-trying-to-get-back-into-it movement, I decided to sign up for a sprint triathlon happening around the lake near my parents. Here is the lake and surrounding area on a nice day - rolling hills, cows and lots of hay. On the morning of the race, the hills opposite us were not visible.


Checking into races are always a bit surprising as I never know who will be there. The local region is known for French olympians in the winter cross-country events so I ventured to think there would be a few fit people around. As the super-sleek, expensive bikes arrived I saw "pro" and "elite" and "Team Lapierre" jerseys and decals. Ok, the fast guys and girls showed up. I rolled in with Big Bertha, my loaner bike (thanks to the nice person who let me use the bike!), which was equipped with fat, knobby tires, a heavy frame and a sweet bell that would ding on every slight bump in the road. Oh yeah, I was ready! Did I mention that the night before was the big bonfire / community celebration night. Double ready...

The cold rain continued to dump as the first heat took off in the water. Brrr! A shiver seemed to roll through the rest of us standing on the beach. My mind wandered to warmer climes and suddenly I heard the get ready horn. The start sound went off and I clunked into the water. This was not to be a graceful start on my part. Moments later I was working to hold on to the flume of swimmers when my right goggle flooded. Aargh! Stopping to fix it, I lost the pack and the tone of the day was set. The first third of the swim found me continually stopping to work on the goggle. No fun. As soon as the problem was finally corrected, the not-so-great-for-racing dinner began talking to my stomach. I was glad that the swim was a short one and eventually pulled myself out of the water and took off towards the transition area. Oops - who knew that in France you had to turn in your swim cap. I guess it's a good idea in the event that the gray waters swallow you but I looked like the idiot running on as people flagged me down for the cap.  Going strong!

Transition should be a smooth and quick movement from wetsuit to bike shoes and off. In my mind, I flashed through the area but the reality that I last raced over four years ago set in and I plodded through the change. Eventually, Big Bertha and I were on the road. The knobbies took their time as the wind howled and the rain fell. A few cows wandered over to the fences to check out the commotion and the weather continued to vary from horizontal rain to clear patches to a light drizzle. It was a cold one but soon the village was again in sight.

The run was a quick one - the redeeming part of my morning - through trails and pastures. All in all, the race provided a nice wake-up call. Hours of previous training simply do not count in the present. Here's to hoping I pull myself together for the longer distance Beijing tri in September!


Instead of a t-shirt, this race packet included caramels, meringues and lemonade in a fancy bottle. Ah, la France!

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