When you're standing on the beach waiting for your swim wave to start and you can feel the sweat dripping down your body, you know it's hot.
And that's what I was feeling minutes before the Oshkosh Sprint Triathlon started Sunday. Dripping sweat. I know, I know. I should have been prepared. The weather man was telling me all week that it was going to be hot and humid on Sunday. And the fact that my sunglasses fogged up the moment I stepped out of my apartment should have given me a hint.
Call it denial. Maybe I was crossing my fingers during the 20-minute drive that the weather would suddenly change. No luck.
But I had a race to finish. So when they called Wave 11 to the water, I waded into the lake along with the 49 other people in my wave. It was time to start the Oshkosh Sprint Triathlon.
The Swim - 1/4 mile
I stayed towards the back and the outside for the start of the swim. It's what I normally do. And it usually works. This time? I should have found a middle of the pack spot and risked getting kicked.
It was an out and back swim. And midway through the out portion I found myself swimming behind a pack of swimmers who just decided to stop swimming and stand up in the lake. Right in my path. Which meant I had to stop swimming and find a way around them. And they didn't really care. After having to do this a handful of times, I opted to swim as close to the buoy as possible. And it was much clearer.
Once I had that figured out, the swim went much smoother. Got in a groove. But the swim still felt kind of long. Got out of the water, glanced down at my watch. Just over 10 minutes. Hmmm. I didn't think I lost that much time with the randomly stopping swimmers. Maybe it was long. Oh well. On to the bike.
Transition 1: Swim to Bike
You know how race organizers are always telling people that no one except athletes are allowed in the transition area? Well apparently some folks didn't get that message. I get up to the rack where my stuff was and I find a man and a woman standing right there. And these weren't athletes. They were decked out in casual shorts and T-shirts. Both of them had camp chairs slung over their shoulders and the man had a camera slung over his neck. Not competitors. If they had stayed out of my way I would have been less annoyed but the woman (camp chair and all), decided she just needed to get into a cooler that was sitting right next to my transition spot while I was changing into my shoes and bike gear. And she did this not once. But twice! I almost yelled at her. But grabbed my bike and ran off in disgust.
The Bike - 16 miles
After dealing with the non-athlete transition people, I was glad to get out on my bike. The course was mostly along rural roads surrounding Winneconne. Some rolling hills, but there were two semi nasty climbs in the second half of the ride.
I did have one "nutrition malfunction." I had stuck some Jelly Belly Sport Beans in the pocket of my tank. It's what I did for the Trek Women's Triathlon last month and it worked really well. For some reason, this time I decided to zip up the zipper on the pocket. And do you know how hard it is to unzip a zipper with one hand while riding a bike? Kind of difficult. And I really didn't want to run the risk of crashing by riding without hands to unzip it. So I pulled off to the side of the road about half way through, unzipped the zipper and was off.
Shortly after I was riding along and I heard a ton of sirens. Hmm, I thought. You don't usually get that many sirens in sleepy little Winneconne unless the town has blown up (not likely since I didn't hear any explosions), something is burning down or there's a major medical problem at the race site.
I kept pedaling. Little did I know what was happening.
Wind was pretty gusty on the way back in. At one point I felt like I was going to get blown over a highway overpass. And that wouldn't have been good.
Finished the ride feeling pretty good.
Transition 2: Bike to Run
Got back into transition. Thankfully the transition visitors were not around this time. Racked my bike. Threw off my helmet (which I noticed had a broken strap, looks like I'll be replacing it) and grabbed the visor. Took a swig of water, grabbed the iPod and was off to run.
The Run - 3.1 miles
I've never gotten to run with my iPod during a triathlon, but the race organizers were letting us use them for the run. I was glad. Because at some point between the last mile of the bike and the beginning of the run, I felt the weather starting to take its toll on me.
Feeling the affects of the weather, I didn't want to over do it and risk getting sick, so I stuck with an easy pace. Just kind of put one foot in front of the other. I had two girls within my sight that I felt like I was playing a game of leap frog with. They'd pass me before stopping to walk and then I'd pass them. Repeat continuously. I decided just to keep them within my sights or behind me. Worked OK. I think one girl finished before me, but I lost the other girl. I passed her at one point and she never came back.
Like I said, it was hot. The sun was beating down. I took full advantage of the water stops. I decided to walk through the water stops, grabbing a drinking and taking advantage of the sprinklers they had set up.
I knew I was running slow, but I still felt OK on the run. By the time I hit the turn around, I was glad the end was just 1.5 miles away. I was ready to be done. I kept running. Walked through that sprinkler again. Turned on to the bridge and the park was in sight. Kicked it up into a "sprint" and made it through the finish line.
Had my chip removed, grabbed some water and soaked up the water from a sprinkler the race organizers had set up in the finish area. I met up with my mom and found a shady spot.
She then filled me in on those sirens that I heard. Turns out a woman was pulled from the water unresponsive during the swim. Ambulances came. CPR was performed. She was taken away. I later found out that she died. They're still not sure what happened.
Time wise, I went into this triathlon with a goal just to finish given my lack of training the last two weeks and the weather Mother Nature decided to give up. While out on the course, when I started the run, I glanced at my watch and thought I might be able to finish in under 2 hours.
I was close. But I must have enjoyed that sprinkler at the water station on the run for a bit too long or walked a bit too slow through the water stations. I ended up finishing in 2 hours, 1 minute and 25 seconds. I'll take it though.
So the numbers? Let's have a look.
2009 Oshkosh Sprint Triathlon
Swim: 11 minutes, 37 seconds
Transition 1: 3 minutes, 11 seconds
Bike: 1 hour, 4 minutes, 15 seconds
Transition 2: 1 minute, 27 seconds
Run: 40 minutes, 54 seconds
Age Group: 33 out of 40
Women: 223 out of 291