The event: Berlin Triathlon
700m (0.434mi) swim
24km (14.9mi) bike
5 km (3.1mi) run
The weather: Sunny at start time of 0900
18.0C (64.4F) air
23.0C (73.4F) water
The plan: drag ass through the swim, make up for it during the bike and run. Try not to die. Attempt to finish in 2 hours.
The outcome: Still alive. Finished in 2 hours.
The morning of, the weather gods smile after two weeks of treacherous cold rain. You don your highly attractive unitard tri-suit, which you bought for $25 at REI four years ago after having completed a duathlon. You've swam five times before the swim, passed by all in the pool including 85 year-old-beer-bellied German men. The shotgun starts. Immediately, start panicking and chugging algae-infested water. (This is no Minnesota lake.) Heart racing, think you are going to die. Wonder what you were thinking entering a triathlon, when you are the geriatric age of 34, and you are an eye doctor, not an athlete. Where are the flippies? Think you should have hidden a floatie in your swimsuit, but continue on, switching strokes about 57 times before the first buoy, which seems to be about 50 miles away. Finally decide just to plug away with the slow and bobbing breaststroke. Wonder who you should be swimming for. Think of your dad. Paddle on. Notice that the boats are circling nearby like sharks, waiting for you to shout., "Helfen mir!" so they can slurp you up into safety. You are not getting into one of those boats. Decide that you are going to come in last in the triathlon. How embarrassing. You shouldn't have told anyone you were doing this!
Finally the swim is over, and to the transition zone you head. Someone with a sick sense of humor decided it would be a good idea to climb several flights of steps to get there. You're not running. You're just glad to be alive. The goal has been revised to just finish. Seriously doubt your abilities. Kick yourself for being overconfident.
It's not hard to find your bike, since almost everyone else has moved on to the next event. Feel depressed. Decide you are totally unathletic. See Patrick (Amber's husband waiting to take a picture) and declare you nearly died. But continue on. The bike ride through the trees is pleasant and you manage to choke down two slimy clif shots. Sweet chocolate sludge, clogging up your throat and stomach. Fearful of the run, you don't over exert yourself on the bike, but manage to pass some people. Decide that you are not a total loser.
Riding into the transition zone again, you hop off the bike and into your running shoes, off for a happy little run in the woods. "Pump your arms," you remember from the training tips in your Runner's World magazine. You just keep putting one foot in front of the other. You start talking to yourself. Pick it up. You're a runner. You can go faster. Decide to coast a little for the first 2 km but still pass people. Decide that you should be pretty proud since it was only a few months ago that you stress fractured your foot and now you're doing a triathlon. From afar, see Amber and decide to yell, "Is that my lady friend?" through the library-quiet German infested trees. No one else is yelling. In fact, no one's said a word. Germans are as serious in these events as in the rest of life. During the whole run, you had to suppress all these stupid jokes you wanted to call out to other runners. You didn't want to seem too American, but now you don't care.
Coming into the finish, you think it wasn't that bad, but next time you'd get a swim coach to give you some tips. Realise that you might be a runner after all. At the finish line, you pick up your finisher t-shirt, a beer, an apple and a slice of lemon pound cake. These Germans know how end a race.
You decide that you'd do another, but you're happy the first one is over.