It was A.J.’s own voice that taunted her while watching Kato swim effortless laps in the pool. How could she plan to live on a sailboat, so terrified of the water? Sure it would be fine to swim fearless the way Kato does with his head dipped low in the water, barely coming up for air, or so it seemed. His arms moved in perfect cadence, with each stroke timed like a metronome. Even the way he kicked those small splashes propelling him great distances across the surface didn’t seem to tire him one bit, and the water barely rippled from behind. The other swimmers in their individual lanes, kicking and splashing, some with too much effort creating miniature tsunamis, at least they looked that way to her, and not one swimmer seeming to care that the pool water raged like rapids.
It’s day #8 of challenging my thought ruts – and I wasn’t quite sure what would appear. With a day of slow steady rains – the notion of visiting the indoor public pool suddenly sounded appealing. Somewhere in the midst of 5 months of marathon training – I lost all sense of exercise balance. The kind of balance that changes up your routine. The kind of balance that has you wearing out one part of your body – while the rest goes on vacation. The kind of balance where you wonder if you have forgotten how to return – to homeostasis. The kind of balance where the preferred exercise of choice is running above all else.
Today I opted to rediscover balance. Just a little. To see how it felt. To try it on, wear it around and see if I liked the fit. To see if balance is all that necessary. And, to see if I even remembered how to swim. Continue reading Day 8 of the Holiday Challenge: Balance
There is a pattern to this fitness madness. It goes something like this:
- Sign up for an event that you are not ready for
- Start training for that event way too late
- Taper for the event way too early
- Carb load when it is not really necessary
- Hope that you won’t be the last person crossing the finish line
- Throw your biorhythms completely off by getting up at 4am on event day
- Setup your transition area with extra food – as if you may be out for the ‘day plan’
- Scope the other athletes, and realize no one has an ounce of body fat
- Hide your extra food under a towel – as apparently you are the only person obsessed with nourishment
- Miss the mandatory race instructions – identifying route changes – cuz you were in the bathroom
- And make one more trip to the bathroom with 3 minutes to spare before the event starts
There you have it, the Wadsworth Sista-hood each poised on “race” day for our respective Olympic distance events at Fort Richie – located in Cascade, MD. Sista Jill – would be taking on the Triathlon – which consisted of a 1.5K swim + 40K bike + 10K run, and I would attempt the Duathlon, consisting of a 5K run + 40K bike + 10K run. We proceeded to get body marked – where your bib number appears on one leg – and your age on the other. The rationale for broadcasting your private information (age) to a bunch of athletes you’ve never met — is to identify those in your age category – and turn them into your competitors. Or something like that.
In an unusually cool mid-summer morning with the air temperatures ranging from the 60s to low 70s – the water temperature registered at 73 degrees. Anything below 78 degrees, makes the swim leg of the triathlon ‘wet suit legal’. This immediately put Jill in her ‘happy place’. Wet suit = extra buoyancy = float higher in the water. It also means that when you look out on the swim course and wonder why they allowed a motor boat to be on the same course with the swimmers, well, that’s no motorboat! Meet Jill. More on that in a moment.
The duathlon event started 25 minutes before the TRI. This gives Jill more time to spend with her pre-race jitters, and gives me a head start on the ‘day plan’. I lined up with my peeps. The start whistle blows and the runners sprinted! I thought this leg was a 5K – and not a 100 yard dash?! I fought the temptation to sprint (as if I could!) with them, and opted to stay at my pace – slow n steady. Within the first mile, I had passed a few older men and even a handful of women, but the bulk of the runners were long gone. And then there was #51…a women. Someone in my age category. Someone I did not know. I scoped her from behind. I needed to pass her. I did. Now I needed to stay ahead of her. And, suddenly my event that started as the ‘day plan’ turned into an all out competition with some women I’ve never met.
By the time I finished the first run leg – Jill was beginning her swim. Without a wet suit, Jill swims like a fish with a motor….but WITH a wet suit – she is practically airborne! The swim course is actually a funky swim-run on land for a tad-swim course. Basically, the swim course is designed for the shorter Sprint version – so as the sprint swimmers were exiting the lake, the Olympic distance swimmers had to exit too…and then run across the Fort Richie lakefront to the nearest dock…and dive back in again for their second lap. From the transition area, I thought I heard waves crashing on the shoreline – only to discover later that swim-motor-Jill was burning up the swim course. She swam the entire distance in an amazing 34 minutes. I don’t think she even came up for air.
With the 1st leg of the run now over, I managed to have a fast transition onto the bike – and made sure to pack some food and electrolyte jelly beans in my waist pack. You never know when you’ll get hungry! I haven’t seen my nemesis #51 – so I wasted no time climbing the first hill away from Fort Richie.
The bike course goes something like this:
- Climb this insane hill the moment you exit the Fort
- La de da thru a lovely flat wooded section
- Notice a big hill ahead of you…and wish you weren’t already in your granny gear
- Get to the main road with wide shoulders and descend for miles
- Realize that you have to go BACK the way you came…so better enjoy the descent!
- Weave off to a 10 mile country farm ride with rolling hills and bumpy roads
- Talk to the cows….
And WHAM….#51 BLOWS by me during the rolling hill descent. I’m no match for her on the downhill – so opt to just keep the girl in my sight. I’ve started strategizing on catching her on the uphill. So much for the day plan.
As I return from the 10 mile farm loop toward the main road – I see Jill just beginning this loop and keeping pace with all of the zero-body fat male athletes with the $10,000 bike wheels. “You go girl” we yell to each other, and I watch momentarily with awe as she keeps up with the boyz at her 100 rpm Tour-de-France cadence.
With Jill outta sight, it’s time to refocus onto #51, who is now within passing distance. I wait until we reach another climb, in the hopes that she won’t be able to stay with me…and make my pass. Now I have to stay ahead of her (not sure why? but I do!) for the 8 mile ascent and return back to the Fort.
Here is what occurs during that final 8 mile ascent into the Catoctin Mountains on the bike course:
- You try to stay 1-2 gears above granny – just in case you need her
- Pace slows to 8mph
- Male athletes with fancy bike wheels pass you as if you were standing still
- You get to see all roadkill up front and personal
- The ‘day plan’ returns
- You try to eat something…but it won’t go down and stays in your cheeks as mush
Back to the transition area, I rack my bike and begin the final leg of the event — the 10K run. The legs are a bit mushy at first, but within 100 yards – light feet return. The first mile + of the run is uphill, so I’m breathing heavier than I would like. No sign of #51 yet, so I have to sustain this pace. For the final 10K run, we have to do 2 laps on the same course. This means, as you NEAR the finish line after your first lap…don’t think about it – and turn the other way. You have another lap to do. It’s all mental at this point. Jill had shared with me 4 jelly bean electrolytes – and I had eaten 3 of them during my first lap. Was holding on to #4 for lap 2. Turns out that wasn’t the best strategy – as the jelly bean morphed with sweat in my palm – and turned into a sticky mess. Live n learn!
Still no sign of #51 (i.e. she hasn’t passed me) – so I amped up the pace of the last mile for added assurance – and was happy beyond belief that I had finished before the day was over! Moments later – I watched Jill finish her first run lap – and begin lap #2. I’ve never seen Jill with such giddy-up in her run! She was even smiling and talking – and if you have ever run with Jill before – that is rare! The run has been her least favorite event — but it seems like for today — she has made friends and peace! 30 minutes later — Jill sprints across the finish line – beating her prior PB in an Olympic Tri!
All the pre-race anxiety was long gone – and there were smiles everywhere. I met my nemesis #51 – a lovely lady – and we vowed to look for each other in the next event. As for an added bonus – Jill and I each earned a spot on the podium for our efforts!! And earned the right to eat whatever we wanted (within limits!) for the rest of the day.
Short on time?…here is all you need to know:
We started…we finished….we’re savages! Woo ha!!
But, if you want to “re-live the moment”, then keep reading!
With the Iron Girl Columbia Triathlon over in August, we craved some athletic challenge for September. It’s not enough to simply exercise. We needed something new to conquer. Like never before. Something unique…and challenging.
Meet the Savage Man Triathlon. The name alone is intriguing. Then, there is the fine print. A description of the “Savage Man 30” course (1.5K swim, 40K bike, 10K run), with bike routes touting 22% grade climbs and uber steep descents, running routes touting rocky off road terrain, and the nearly 1 mile swim in brisk freshwater lake waters. All of this at 2500-3000 feet elevation just west of the Eastern Continental Divide in the belly of the Appalachian Mountains. The TriSistas had to do this. Someway, somehow….we had to be Savage Bitches.
We regularly train at sea level to 300 feet. Yup, right at the water line. We call the little bumps in terrain – hills, and feel pretty mighty mighty biking up and down these road bumps. I don’t even know what a 22% climb looks like.
Jill and Jane signed up to be Savages – as a relay team – Team Jan. Team Jan is in honor of Jill’s step-mom Jan, who recently passed away from a struggle with cancer. We couldn’t decide who would do which leg of the relay – but there was time for those details. One thing for certain, we would arrive at the race site in Deep Creek Lake, Maryland early – to view the swim course, drive the bike and the run course – and then decide who would do which leg. Or maybe we just each do multiple (or all?) legs of the event? We never really know until the last second.
On Friday, September 14, Jane drove the TriSista relay team from sea level Maryland (Silver Spring) to high elevation Maryland (Deep Creek Lake) in a Honda Fit – named Betsy-Sue. Betsy is equipped with a miniature engine – i.e. 4 little horses to power us to our destination. Along I-70 and I-68, as we near Cumberland Maryland, the highways advertise 6% grades, the use of runoffs for trucks, and add an extra slow lanes for vehicles who can’t get all of their horses to run at top speed. Betsy-Sue is in desperate need of a Hemi, and can barely make it to the top of the highway mountain climbs without encouragement. I was trying to imaging biking up a 6% grade. Anxiety is creeping in.
We reached Deep Creek Lake in plenty of time Friday afternoon to take in the beauty of early fall in western Maryland. With sprawling farmlands, log cabin homes, leaves just beginning to turn crimson red – it was easy to become mesmerized by the surroundings. After we picked up our Savage race packet, we returned to Betsy-Sue for a country drive along the designated bike route. Jill and Jane have opposite biking strengths. Downhill Jill loves the fast paced descents, and Uphill Jane seeks out a climb. As you can imagine, Jill’s eyes bugged out seeing the steep climbs, and Jane stared in disbelief at the rapid descents. During the first 8 miles, there is a steady climb to near 3000′ elevation. This is followed by the next 8 miles – where the terrain resembles a roller coaster mix of steep climbs and rapid descents. I was so awestruck with the first 16 miles, that I have no memory of the remaining miles of the bike route. Surely this could not be the bike route, and let’s just say I wasn’t comfortable driving the car on these roads.
So, like any gracious TriSista – I offered up the bike leg to Jill. “Jill, really, you can do the bike leg…” But no. Jill was having the same thoughts – and kept repeating “Sissy, seriously, why don’t you be our biker tomorrow…”. Obviously riding the bike route from the car was not getting us closer to putting the “who” on each leg of the Savage relay.
It’s time to drive the run course. At this point, I’m beginning to understand the reality of “savage”. The person who designed the bike and run routes is evil. Plain and simple. As if you won’t be in enough pain from the torture on the bike route, the run was filled with what appeared to be all uphills, and included off road terrain that was not even passable for Betsy-Sue.
“Listen, Jill – I really don’t mind if you want to do all 3 legs of this triathlon….” and Jill would respond with “Sissy, I’ll just get a coffee and watch you do the event”. There you have it. The day before our Savage relay — panic has set in and we were no closer to deciding anything about anything.
A good night sleep in our cool digs at the Inn at Deep Creek, with views over Deep Creek Lake and the swim course – should solve everything. That would have been nice. To have a good night sleep. Neither of us slept a wink…a tad concerned about the craziness that we had signed up for — the Savage Man.
Waking to 40 degree temperatures, we made progress on the relay leg decision. From making decisions on what to eat, what clothing to wear, what food to bring….how many trips will be needed to the porta-potties….to the call for the first wave of swimmers…these scary details go on for hours. At this point, I will say for the record, what goes before and during the TRI start…stays in the SistaHood. Let’s move this blog along.
With the swim leg behind us (no – there is no discussion about the swim), we hopped on our bikes and took off at a comfortable pace, hoping to pace ourselves for the “unknown”. Notice the use of “we”. It’s a new form of relay. Pronounced “we-lay”. Yes, Jill and I are both doing the Savage Man we-lay. Team Jan. #1564. Rock on.
That comfortable bike pace lasted about 30 seconds. Jill takes off at a blistering cadence during the early rolling downhills, and I had all I could do to keep pace. The course wrapped around Deep Creek Lake, and then headed out to the countryside. From there, we were climbing. During the first 8 miles we found ourselves warming up, as we inched closer to the sun. La la la…the climbs are not steep grades at this point, so we soaked up the rays, took in the scenery, and watched many many many uber fit athletes fly past us on $20,000 bikes. “Nice pace Fluffy” I would yell to Jill. And she would respond “You rock Sissy”….and life is good in the hood.
Then, we passed mile 8. The road dropped out of nowhere. Imagine a road that really should have been designed with switchbacks, but apparently the transportation folks ran out of money for pavement. So instead of gradually working your way down a cliff….you just bike straight over it. This marked the first….of one too many cliff descents.
Within seconds, Downhill Jill was gone. Low over the handlebars, she takes the descents like a pro and easily hits 40mph speeds. Not me. 30mph is my max bike speed, and I had all I could do to keep the speed down to 30mph. Oh please please please please please brakes do NOT fail me now! There was no more soaking in the scenery at this point. The base of the cliff was still not in sight….and I think this is the longest high speed bike descent east of the Mississippi. Maybe not, but that’s my story.
At last…we reached the bottom. I use the term “we” liberally. Jill reached the bottom of the cliff long before I, and allowed me to catch up on the next climb. The roller coaster continued like this for the next 8 miles. We would gradually climb back up to the sun…then free-fall back down to planet earth. Over and over. And somewhere along Accident Road (appropriately named) I caught a glimpse of a large black animal racing up the farmland. We were on a collision course….and the conversation went something like “What the ___?????” A huge steer is sprinting up the pasture toward the road. There were no fences – so farm animals run freely in western Maryland. Based on the “Cattle Crossing” signs, it seems these beasts are encouraged to roam willy nilly. With unbelievable good fortune, it was “lunch time” at the OK Corral, and this monster black animal turned just before the road, and made a beeline for the food troth. I spent the next mile shaking off visions of being trampled by cattle.
By now, we thought we had seen the worst of the bike course. But wait. We are staring at climb so steep, I could not see the top, from the base. You know you are in trouble, when you reach your granny gear at the base of the climb. I don’t know the grade of this climb, but uber fit athletes were humbled. Some walked. Some grumbled. And the rest of us simply burned up our quads and forced our lungs into overdrive. By the time we reached the top of the hill – we were back to riding high, having one more mountain notched into our belt.
But, this is no time to bask in glory. After a few more miles…and limited juice left in the quads, we are greeted with one final grinding climb. Foy Hill. Marked at a 22% grade. Spectators line the steepest part of the hill clanging their cowbells, and wearing “devil” costumes. As you reach the most difficult grade of the climb, the spectators run out and surround your bike…cheering you on and daring you to stay clipped in. There is no way we could let these folks down. With speeds dropping to 4mph….and every last bit of grit and oxygen we could muster…we made it to the summit on Foy Hill, and pedaled the final 1/3 of the bike journey back to the transition area.
We racked our bikes in the transition area, and quickly changed into running shoes. Let me clarify. I quickly changed into running shoes. Jill has some issue with the insole of her sneaker, and fiddles with it for 5 minutes trying to fit the insole (which has popped out) back into her sneaker. I’m taking mental notes. Fluffy had the same shoe issue in the last triathlon. Get the girl some glue.
We depart the transition area along a rocky pathway that keeps your footing from feeling too secure. Then, we take to a shaded mulch covered path, and gingerly land trying to avoid stepping on tree roots and spraining an ankle. If you are still upright, your next test is to see if you can descend down a wet grass covered terrain, make 180 degree turn while you have gained speed, and then climb up a muddy hill. All of this occurs in the first mile.
Back on paved roads, we make our way through a hilly campground. The vibe is terrific! Campers are out cheering us on – and it seems as if everyone owns a cowbell in western Maryland. In addition to amazing spectator support, the athlete vibe is first rate. With the elite athletes having finished long ago, we are with those athletes who are simply in it to finish. There is a unique camaraderie among the finisher crowd, as we share in the moment – both the pain and glory.
Somewhere into mile 4, it was time to leave the paved roads and lakeside views behind, and climb a rocky off road trail to the fire tower at the top of the hill. Oh my. This is the kind of trail you would encounter HIKING…not RUNNING. It humbled us to a crawl, and we tried our best to speed walk on a trail laced with rocks and crevices. After a long grueling climb….we finally reached the fire tower…and turned back around for the descent. Downhill Jill led the way on the descent, and I focused on fast light footwork to avoid falling into the crevices. We reached pavement again at the base, with 1 more mile to go.
You could sense we were closing in on the finish line. Our running pace picked up. More spectators lined the roadways. These are people we had never met before, but somehow couldn’t let our cheering fans down. We had to keep going, despite more uphills and the little voices in our heads that wanted to be done…now. As we crossed the finish line – there were high fives and body slams all around. We were Team Jan, and had done Jan proud. We had accomplished something harder than we imagined we could do – on a course that can only be defined as savage. All told, we burned nearly 5000 calories, and earned the right to be called Savage Bitches.
South of the border (North Carolina)….TriSistas Holly and Shelby had ramped up their training program to new heights. By Golly Ms. Holly could be seen puttin’ on the ritz (code for “makeup”) both before and after training bricks. Apparently Holly has designed a special “speed cream”, that you work up into a lather, plaster it onto any slow moving body parts – and instantly – you move “slick”. She did not share her speed cream with the rest of us, but we will be watching her closely from now on.
All of the triSistas finished their Iron Girl journey – and it was big smiles at the finish line. This year’s “record buster” award goes to ByGolly MsHolly — who set a personal best record – beating her prior PR by 25 minutes. That is no easy feat – tho maybe you could share with us some of your speed cream next time?….jus sayn 😉
It is no secret, that May 15, 2011 – the date of the Iron Girl sprint triathlon event in Atlanta Georgia – came earlier than expected. For many of the sprint TRI sista veterans, we weren’t “ready”. Our training season had only just begun, we could count the # of training bricks on one hand (um…maybe 1 finger?) and we were hopeful just to finish the event the same day it started. Of course this does not apply to the 2 “ringers” (you know who you are)…who became part of our TRI sista family of 8.
Julie: Designated TRI sista team shrink. Julie will treat any issue or manifestation for the discount rate of $99.95. Needless to say, Julie made a fortune during TRI IG Atlanta weekend. Now, Julie is not a psychologist by trade – but that is just a minor detail. Some of Julie’s notable TRI sista shrink successes include:
Maria: If there is anything to be known about pop-culture, professional football, and trivia…just ask Maria. I’m pretty sure that I remember watching Maria win many rounds of Jeopardy a few years back. She stumbled only once on Jeopardy…and that was during the question of “who won the first Dancing with the Stars” contest….a show that she was not familiar (back then).
Kim: Ex Navy SEAL. SEAL stands for She who Eats A meal Long b4 anyone is awake. Like clockwork, every morning at 0400 you could find Kim rummaging around the kitchen, working up a brew of tea, followed by a bowl of cereal, banana, leftover raspberry scones and trail mix. The rest of us were walking around like zombies, colliding into walls and each other and wondering why we had to be up at this awful hour…but not Kim. She was focused, bio-rhythms perfectly timed, and eating on schedule.
Deb: That would be Deb “Julia Child” Rossi. It was obvious when Deb unpacked, that not only was FOOD a primary focus for the weekend, but only the BEST food will suffice. Deb is a self proclaimed “food snob”, and we saw no reason to argue with this highly desirable quality. Deb had Tri-Sista nutrition bars (chocolate) specially made for our healthy eating needs and a supply of M&M’s. It was only appropriate that we all changed into spandex.
Anyway, I got to know these expressions first hand from Ms Holly. Can you guess which meaning applies?
Me: OMG Holly – didn’t you get the memo on a 2 bag quota? (as we loaded her 15 bags of beauty products into the car)
Holly: oh Janie…bless your heart
Holly: oh Janie…you’re a hot mess
If there was ever a contest for multi-tasking, Jill would win hands down. Or, hands “occupied”. Driving at top speeds in congested traffic, Jill can not only skillfully navigate the roadways, but can also participate in a conference call, send text messages to her hubby, eat a sandwich, rummage thru her purse, check the weather, make eye contact with passengers, respond to questions such as “is there a rest area soon”?, executes sales contracts, and finds the disco music on the radio. It is truly impressive…and scary.
not an option…or seemingly necessary. Some things never change…more on this…
actually have any “issues” that can be roasted on this blog site? Yes, we are all thinking hard…tapping our fingers…with the collective “hmmmm”….I wonder what we can say about that Jane…hmmmmm
In general, Georgia suffers from “measurement” issues. One day, the swim course is 300 meters…then 1/3 mile…then 800 meters and so on. Signs along the bicycle route are meant to inspire you. For example – “You are at Mile 5 You Go Girl”….but you look at your bicycle odometer which shows you have completed 10 miles. This causes your mind to go “south”…and you say things like ‘#$&* this is a cluster…” Does anyone really know the length of the bike route? 18? 19? 20? Jus sayn.
It is 6:30AM, and Paddy and I are busy prepping for the Piseco Lake Triathlon. Paddy remarks this would be a good sailing day. Translation — it’s windy. The wind gods were ignoring my pleas for calm waters. As we sat on the campsite picnic table – looking out over the waterfront – there was no mistaking that sound. The sound of waves lapping the shoreline – one right after another. I saw whitecaps build on the lake. I’m not sure I can do an open water swim in whitecap conditions. I’m not even sure I can do an open water swim in calm conditions… I start thinking of better ways to spend my day rather than attempt this open water swim. But, this TRI is not simply a “jane pursuit” today — I had convinced Paddy to join me as a relay team. We would be the “Team TRI — Jane and Paddy”. I would do the swim and bike — and Paddy would complete the 3rd leg in the event — the walk or jog to the finish. We are a team. I had to at least…TRY. Paddy was counting on me.
Paddy is happy to be done with the hilly bike ride from the campsite. He takes a rest at the top of the hill, while I head to the water to study the swim course. I’m hesitant to register for the TRI, until I have a chance to see the swim course close up. I’ve only done 3 open water swims prior to this event — and in each case I had a personal swim buddy (or buddies) near my side. Today, I would be by myself. I stare at the course. A line of buoys runs parallel to the shoreline. I make a few mental notes. I could swim to shore if I get in a panic. The winds and waves have increased. There is no denying it – the water is choppy.
One lone race official is busy prepping the swim exit chutes. I ask him a zillion questions. The little people in my head want to know many things. “Is the water over my head” I asked. “Yes – at least 10 feet” he assured me — as if I was hoping that he would say “yeah – it’s nice and deep for you”. The direction of the a quarter mile swim is out-and another quarter mile back. You follow a line of buoys into the waves and wind then turn around and swim with the wind and waves on the way back to shore.. The official assured me there would be big pontoon boats 300 yards apart for the swimmers to grab. In case you need a rest. He assured me there would be plenty of kayaks and canoes for swimmer support. It all sounded well organized. I’m still not sure I can do this — but Paddy and I decide to go and register anyway.
Paddy and I hopped back on our bikes – for a 1/2 mile ride to the Piseco Lake Airport. Registration for the TRI occurs here – at the Piseco Airport grounds. We filled out a form, handed over some moolah – and signed up as a team. There it is. In print. I would do the swim and bike, and Paddy would do the walk / jog.
The Piseco Lake Triathlon is a unique Triathlon. Not that I am worldly when it comes to triathlons – but I have done a few. Here in the Adirondacks, they do not use official “race chips” to automatically time the participants. There are no bike numbers or running bib numbers. As a matter of fact – there are no paper numbers at all. No numbers except the numbers you are body-marked with. The theory is — once you enter or exit each leg of the event – you loudly call out your number to the race official. This is how they keep track of you. I love it. Very low-tech. Very Adirondack.
As we handed the registration form to the race official, the nice lady gave me a green post-it sticky with the number C-42. This is our team number. C-42. We are instructed to take the green postit sticky marked C-42 to the body marking lady – and she will write our number on our arms and legs. Body marking is the only way for the race officials to know who you are. Paddy and I now have C-42 written all over our arms and legs. I think this means we are officially registered.
I meet up with a fellow triathlete swimmer – who is clinging on to the final pontoon boat. “Are you ok?” he asks. “Yeah” I reply. “Just need to catch my breath”. He responds – “Come on darlin – you and I will do this together”. At that point, we exchanged names. Meet Hank. My new swim buddy. Hank leads the way to the final orange buoy, and I follow obediently. Hank yells out to one of the support boats — “keep a close eye on us ok?”. Hank encourages me to keep swimming. Suddenly – I was no longer alone. Along with another pokey swimmer in our proximity (Joe) and a lady who was too tired to tell us her name….we had become a uniquely bonded swim team of 4. The final 4 swimmers in the Piseco Lake Triathlon who are in the water longer than anyone else, and pretty damned determined to complete the swim. From this point – until we reached the shoreline, we would be looking out for each other.
I rounded the final orange buoy in the outbound direction. Hallelulah. We can now turn around and head back. Finally we are swimming WITH the waves and the wind – and it is SOOO much nicer. Our team of 4 – swam from pontoon boat to pontoon boat – together. Here is how it went down. We would all decide we were “ready” to depart from one pontoon boat – and swim to the next. Usually I was the first to arrive at a pontoon boat (go figure that?!)….and I wasted no time locating the swim ladder to hang onto – and catch my breath. Technically, I was feeling pretty good at this point, but I wasn’t going to leave my new friends behind. “Hank – over here – I’ve got a swim ladder with your name on it”, and Hank would always replay “Jane – you’re the best, I’ll be rite there”. Then I would yell – “How are you doing Joe” – and he would check in as well. After a few seconds of rest at the pontoon boat – Hank would ask if we are ready to keep going…and despite how tired any of us felt – we always replied “ yeah – lets do it”.
Hmmm…this can’t be correct – as I know that my next turn to get back to the Irondequoit Inn (where Paddy is patiently waiting) is to go to my left. Maybe I have to go around some little road for more mileage? Nope. We are herded into a parking lot at at the Piseco Lake Elementary school. I notice well over 100 bikes just laying about across a field. What’s going on here? Then I see a sign – pointing to the exit for the runners. What? I’m nowhere near the Irondequoit Inn – and Paddy is waiting for me to hand off the invisible “wand” so that he can be the 3rd leg of the triathlon. Nobody told us that the bikers would NOT be returning to the Irondequoit Inn where we started the swim. Instead – we have to start the run leg from a completely different location.Back at the Irondequoit, Paddy is becoming the information hot line for triathlon spectators. “When will the athletes be returning here” – peeps would ask Paddy. “Soon….the bikers will come back here – and then the runners will take off” – Paddy confidently advised. Tho it sure is strange, Paddy thought — “surely ONE biker should have returned by now”. But, Paddy patiently waits – and tells others to do the same. “They’re coming” he insists.I drop my bike like all others (at any ol spot in the field) at the Piseco Elementary school, whip off my helmet…and start running. This is crazy. What if I had ridden Ms. Madone with my special clip on bike shoes. I would not have been able to run (or walk) in these. What about Paddy? He is waiting for me back at the Irondequoit Inn! I assumed that the transition area was back where we started???
My swim buddy Hank (who I passed on the bike) – had caught up to me on the run. We shared more high-5s and cheered each other on. We will probably never see each other again – but I can assure you we are tri-buddies for life. I wasn’t planning on running today – and my focus was finding my teammate Paddy – so that he could have his glory moment. And there he is….in his unmistakable orange t shirt. Hustling his butt to complete the 3rd leg in our team relay. I must say, I have never seen Paddy walk this fast. There was a genuine giddyup in his stride, and he was sweating bullets.
As we made our way along Old Piseco Road toward the Piseco Airport – finally a large group of race organizers were in sight – marking the finish line. “What do you think Paddy – should we run in the last 20 feet together” I asked. “How much is 20 feet” Paddy inquired, clearly tired, yet determined to make a good finish. As we got closer – the triathletes who had already finished – were actively cheering in those of us yet to reach the finale. “Come on Paddy – lets run it in”….and with my prodding, the peer pressure of the cheering crowd – and the excitement of the moment — there was no stopping Paddy. He jogged across that finish line – as we held hands high for a spectacular moment for Team C42.
Fortunately for me, a fellow triathlete driving her pickup truck along Old Piseco Road — offers to give me a ride. How delightful. I found Mr. Huffy lying in the field at the Piseco Elementary School– right where I left him – and rode him back to meet up with Paddy. Here we traded bikes. I was reunited with Ms. Madone – and Paddy is back with Mr. Huffy. Paddy and I road our bikes along the remaining 4 hilly miles back to the campsite.
The day was classic Adirondack magic. We are in the heart of the beautiful, tranquil Adirondack Park, where the temperatures are in the upper 70’s and the vibe is fantastic. Paddy completes his first EVER relay triathlon. He did it. He hustled. And finished strong. And if the TRI athletics weren’t enuf, he rides his bike on hilly Adirondack miles – just to show up at the event.