Well, it was my first tri. It was supposed to be a 400-yard swim, 13 mile bike ride, and a 3 mile run. It pretty much sucked ass for me, but I'm guessing it wasn't totally *me.* NOBODY seemed happy with this race, from the fact that there was virtually no information on the website to the lack of water on the run. When we picked up our packets, he asked us if we had USAT cards. We said yes. He said, "Okay." He's supposed to check them and our IDs. Then he had the wave starts up on a board, but they were scratched out and scribbled over to the point where it was illegible. So we figured we'd just get our information from the race packet. Not so much. There were some flyers for other races, but NO INFORMATION for this race at all.
While I avoided stingrays, snapping turtles, and sharks, I *did* manage to find a damn sinkhole while walking into the Gulf for our pre-race, get-used-to- the-water swim. Now I have a slightly puffy ankle that doesn't really hurt much unless I rotate it, but I'm icing it anyway.
While we were racking up the bikes and Linae was showing me her transition layout, we met a Pinellas County cop and his wife. They had done a bunch of the tris in the St. Pete area, and we chatted them up a bit. When they found out it was my first, they told me not to base my opinions of triathlons on this race. I told them that I was already planning on doing Top Gun in St. Pete, and they said that would be much better. About half an hour later, the husband got the duathletes organized. Even though he was not a race official. It's just that nobody else was doing it. He made friends with the Sarasota County cops out on the race site, and found out the course logistics, and just...took action. God bless him :)
The swim was okay, even though I freaked out a little. I kept getting kicked by this chick in front of me, and no matter how I tried to get away from her, she was like a magnet. Wherever I moved, there she was. I finally got far enough away from the buoy and out of her path. But then I got kinda swum over by one of the 40-and-over guys that started after us, and someone kept grabbing my ankle. I wound up breaststroking A LOT, which wasn't in my plan, but whatev. And once we rounded the last buoy and I saw there were some guys standing up in the water, I did the same when I thought I could touch bottom. Lesson: I need more open-water swim practice. I came out of the water at 13:05.
I didn't time my transistions; I'm lucky I knew where the hell I was :)
The first part of the bike went smoothly for me. Made it to the first turnaround, saw two people behind me. One was a lady, the other a guy being followed by a motorcycle cop. The lady passed me; I never saw the guy or the cop again. The bike course was not marked well AT ALL. There were some sporadic 8.5 x 11" signs that read, "Slow! Bike race in progress." At one point I asked a spectator if I was going the right way. I almost took a wrong turn, going off to the right instead of straight. Kept on going down the road, and came to a place that said "Bike Turnaround," but it was unclear WHERE you actually turned around. There was a lady in a day-glo yellow vest directing traffic, so I slowed down and asked her, "Where do I go?" She said, "What?" I repeated myself. She said, "What do you mean?" "I need to know where I'm supposed to turn around!" "Oh, are you part of that Police Olympic thing?" Now, at this point, I was stopped in the middle of the freakin' road, and I must have bumped my chain or something, because it came off. I'm not a mechanically- inclined person AT ALL, so I wheeled it over to the sidewalk and started monkeying around with it. Day-glo girl asked me THREE times if I wanted to put the bike in her truck and she'd take me to the finish. I told her THREE times I'd like to at least TRY to finish the race. After about five minutes, I finally got the damn thing back on, and went back down the street to Siesta Village. (I knew that's where I was going because she FINALLY was able to give me directions.) I was on the bike 1:07 and change, including chain-fixing. Lesson learned: I need more time in the saddle. And a basic bike maintenance course.
I was pretty annoyed, and a little disheartened by the time I got into T2. Some dude had racked his bike right over my stuff, so I just moved down the rack. Idiot. I lost the helmet, put on my visor and race belt, and started off on the run. Before I left the TA, I had a real bad feeling, so I went back to my bike and grabbed what was left of the water from my bike. I figured they'd run out because this jackass had done such a stellar job of directing thus far, so I thought, "Screw him. I'll bring my own." Good thing I did. As I was running onto the beach, Linae was running off, and we chatted for a few seconds. She told me there was no water at the aid station OR the turnaround. Big shocker. I got kinda tired of dodging the beachgoers and little kids, so I walked a lot of the beach. As I've mentioned, I'm not the most graceful creature ever created, so sand (and then a trail run through the woods) is not ideal for me. But I did what I could, ran whenever my give-a-damn came back, tripped on two tree roots and narrowly missed a hole in the woods, and hauled myself over the finish line. Their clock said 2:07; my watch said 1:52:35, not counting transitions; my actual time is somewhere between the two.
Afterward, I heard some scuttlebutt that both the swim and the run courses were a little long. I also heard that the RD got kicked off the beach by the cops for screaming at a spectator (the previously-mentione d Pinellas County cop.) And that when there actually WAS water, there were no volunteers; a tourist and her grandkids who felt bad no one was helping the runners decided to fill cups and hand them out. Un-freakin'- believable.
This pretty much blew, but I'm not ready to give up the sport just yet. I told Linae and the Tri-Gator guy by us that if I didn't know this isn't how most tris are, I'd never do one again. I'm going to give it one more shot in August, so I'll reserve judgment on the whole tri thing until then :) I figure, if seasoned triathletes think this is the worst race they've ever done, I owe the sport one more chance.
Margaritas and pizza at 9:30 in the morning--I LOVE endurance sports!! Drank too much tequila afterward, had a fabulous Cuban sandwich, chatted with the bartender, and then we headed back to our own neck of the woods.
The next one WILL be better.