Today was my season triathlon opener, and was a great success. The Capitol View triathlon takes place at Governor Nelson State park on the north shore of Lake Mendota, with a lovely (and aptly-named) view of the city’s skyline across the lake. When I last raced here two years ago, the morning was shrouded in fog and there was no view at all. Today, the sun blazed overhead more like a mid-July day, with a gentle breeze and warm water, making it feel entirely like summer. Racing season.
Everything felt natural to me. Even without a whole lot of race-specific training, I felt like I was heading out not so much to race, but to take part in an activity I greatly enjoy. To help keep my casual approach at bay, I did wake up early, and go rigorously through my pre-race checklist.
More of the focus of today’s race was Dione, in her first triathlon. Well, she’ll clarify that she did do one in 2008, but this is her first “real” one. With a proper road bike, triathlon clothes, and swim-bike-run training. I call it her first of “the modern era.” Call it what you will, she was excited and prepared, and not too nervous as we got to the park and got everything set up. I’d have shared more photos, but today instead of one of us racing and the other spectating, we were both racing!
The water was not deep. As a matter of fact, many people walked through the whole sprint tri course. I did a hybrid swim/dolphin dive procedure which seemed to propel me past the walkers and some of the swimmers (which I could see during the dolpining) all the way to the first of three buoys. Then, for the long stretch, I swam – and at some point, heard a conversation in my head between the singing, bubbling, slow-easy-swimming long-course athlete, and the short-course excitement saying “get moving!” I found myself right on top of the buoy for the final turn, but decided that in my fifth season, I’m pretty resilient and just went right up next to it, but had to stop after the guy right in front of me got tangled in its ropes. It’s always something… I was glad to have had a short swim with the opportunity to combine some smarts with some skill and end up with a pretty solid outcome.
The bike ride was without much too notable, besides the actual wind turned out to be different than the forecast: a tailwind on the way home from this out-and-back course! I cruised on the flats, and stayed strong on the climbs. I saw a couple of friends cheering on the sidelines and heading the opposite way – I do enjoy out-and-back routes! At one point, as I rode over some chalk-markings on the road, I saw “DANO”, and regretted not reading any of the other words before it. At that point, I was sort of in the zone.
A flying dismount started my run, first through the long transition and then onto the 5k run course. Having done this course before, I knew that the run was challenging, on trails through woods and fields. The course underfoot is nice, but different than the usual stuff of road-runners, with grasses and rocks and whatnot. Some of the hills in the woods were short and steep, and it was a challenge to keep pushing. For most of the run, I was all alone – and I told myself that if I wanted to keep it that way, I’d have to keep pushing. On my trip through transition, I didn’t see many other bikes on the rack, so I got the sense I was near the front. I had recently walked through this park and observed some of its ancient effigy mounds, which were probably totally overlooked by many of the racers, but I passed some of the time thinking about the sacred mounds and their origins.
The last mile of the run was flat, but out in an open field under the blazing sun. I told myself “this is your meditation.” I watched the other runners going the other direction, and offered some encouragement. And then I arrived under the banner and started eating cookies; before long I also realized that I had won my age group. The award, rather than a trophy, was a coffee mug, which I plan to use regularly, as I sit and write about triathlon! I was very pleased with the way the day turned out.
Dione, meanwhile, was still going strong, and had a great day at the race. She stayed calm (enough) in the water, rode her new bike like a champ, and continued strong on the run. We didn’t get much gardening done back at home, or other projects we had planned. We ate and tried to stay cool – and tried to stay awake. We picked enough strawberries that even after lunches and last night’s strawberry shortcake with neighbors, there were enough to still make freezer jam tonight.
Which brings me to 8:45 pm – just enough time for hitting ‘publish’, and going to bed.