The 1st “Official” Race Day

Wow, it’s funny how fast time goes by especially when you have something difficult on the calendar to do.  I know I did the training, but I know I could have done a lot more. For the first time in years, I am really feeling nervous about something.

Seriously, how am I going to do this thing.  I haven’t done all three disciplines together at the same time at this distance. Did you see those hills when we drove in the other night, even the car didn’t want to go up them. How hot is it going to be today?!  Oh my……

The car is parked and the family is off to do something while I go to the transition area and get setup.  I walk down the hill towards the summit center, and a stupid smile comes to my lips, and I chuckle quietly to myself.  What the heck I am doing here?!  Last year at this time I was unable to run a mile, weighed in at over 300 pounds and the last thing on my mind for a birthday follow up was to cross a triathlon finish line. Or was it?!

I get everything setup and I head to the starting line.  Holy hell, its hot out here, something like 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) with the humidex.  It’s almost 1pm, so it isn’t going to get any cooler anytime soon.  It’s time to don this stupid swim cap on my head.  I really should mention that triathlon is not a typical sport for HEAVY people, especially the heavy Panda. To my amazement I get it on my huge head on the first try.  The night before I tried in the hotel room and almost broke a light when it torpedoed off my head doing mock 4.

The triathlon people show up and tell everybody to get in the water, and the start is about to happen.  I had no clue we were starting from the middle of the lake.  Oh well, in we go!  The water isn’t too bad, which is good because I had no luck finding a wet suit that fits the heavy Panda.  I get a chuckle out of the largest size being for 215+.  Last time I checked a + didn’t mean 20% more.

Off we go, whack in the face with a foot, and punch in the leg from another swimmer with clearly no sense of direction.  I am moving, and damn is it slow. The first pylon is not even thinking of coming closer to me; whoosh goes a swimmer in front of me sideways across the course.  Seriously how hard is it to go in a straight line?  It’s like the only thing I can do, but clearly it isn’t a skill mastered by many. Finally half way there, damn that was tough, and I fought through that moment of doubt of not finishing. I couldn’t figure out a way to explain to my daughter why Daddy was being dragged in from the water on the front a kayak. They have seen Dolphin Tale too many times, trying to explain to her that I am not sick, I was just too lazy to finish – didn’t sound like a good life lesson.

Out of the water (swim time: 28:12), and through the transition (t1: 2:32). 28+ minutes to swim that, wth?!  I guess I missed the material that said we were swimming against a current for the first part!  That does explain why the pylon wasn’t getting closer. On the bike we go, and off down the road.  Did I mention how hot it is?  I think I got sun burnt swimming down the channel. Maybe buying a black bike helmet and wearing a dark blue shirt might be unwise in retrospect. 1km out and holy crap people are flying past me (coming home, meaning they are at 19km), and then there are the people passing me.  It really is a little demoralizing. But hey it’s my first race and no matter what it is going to be a “PB” (personal best if are new to this). 10km – thank goodness we are at the turn around, 11km, is that people in front of me, 12km I think I might be able to catch somebody, 13km, I pass a young lady that looks like she is going to die, 14km, I see more people, 15km, I catch another, 16, 17, 18, 19 I have caught up to a few more, and I pass three more coming in, and cross the transition line just behind a few others!  That makes it worth something! (Bike time: 1:01:13 – 19.6 km/h)

To my right, is my wife and kids cheering me on, and I grab a drink from my bag, only to learn another triathlon tip.  Keep drinks in a cool place and make sure they are very cold to begin with, because in 40+ heat, it is like drinking boiling pasta water.  Actually another part to that is if you are stupid slow like me the water stations run out of cold fluid as well, especially if you are the second race of the day, because they made the drinks at 6am.

Here we go, I run out of the transition (t2: 1:45)- I get two serious high fives from the kids and I am off, up the hill and the engines die.  It is hot, and I think I am getting tired.  Run, run run run run, why won’t they engage, oh there we go!  Oh why me, its like somebody is killing my inner Scotty, which is good because if that is all he can giver – he clearly needed to be replaced. Running again, here comes the 1km mark, hallelujah, wth! That nice old lady just passed me and laughed. Now that’s sad. I walk again….

One thing that can be said about me is that if people are watching I will actually try much harder.  Unfortunately now that I am basically the last person out here, NOBODY is watching, heck, almost everybody has gone home.  This is tough. Legs are jello. I am now tired and hungry. Oh great a picture opportunity, guess I should run, even the camera guy is chuckling to himself.  Maybe not, but I wouldn’t have blamed him.  3.5km seriously I just want to finish, let’s do this thing!  Why would you put a hill at 4.2km, my legs are not working correctly going up, so I walk this last hill, 4.3km here we go!  Down the hell, wow there is a lot people out here (they look confused but most cheer me on – they thought it was over an hour ago, so they are surprised to see theHeavyPanda thumping down towards the finishing line), 4.7km, heehaw!  I put a little speed on going downhill towards the summit center.

NO!!!!!!!! THAT WAY!!!!! WTH?!  You have to run down this road until you see the pylon and then turn around and come back before you can run to the summit center.  WHY!!!!!!!  I think I run, but I know it is a walk to the pylon.  I am going to finish this thing running damn it.  Let’s go!!!!!!!  The announcers have left, the camera man is asleep at the finish line, the medal guy is shocked to see another person, and the timing chip people are the first to greet me at the finish line because they want to go home and need my timing chip.  But I see my kids and wife, who have all but given up on me; reseating themselves at the finish line by themselves. They don’t even see me coming, so I yell, and I get the big cheer, and somehow, my wife got the camera out and snapped a picture of the finish, which turned out much better than the official picture because he was asleep.

Run Time: 47:50 – Final Finishing time: 2:21:29.9 (207 out of 216)

I AM ALIVE! I HAVE SURVIVED! CRAMP!!!!! HIGH FIVES FROM THE KIDS! COLD WATER!!!!!!! Seriously, I need some food!