When the alarm went off at 5:30 a.m., I almost turned it off and went back to bed. Why the HELL am I doing this? I wondered. When and why did this seem like such a good idea?
I went about the pre-race activities on autopilot. I knew I wanted to race--but I was having trouble remembering why I wanted to race. My legs felt okay.. I would be fine, right?
I arrived at the race site and registered--set up transition and then found two of my athletes, one of whom was racing, and one of whom was supposed to race but was injured. We hung out and chattered in the cold. I had opted to wear my speed suit instead of a wetsuit because I didn't want to feel hot in the lake. Bad idea. The lake temperature was not a problem. The air temperature was. I was frozen after my warm-up in the water while I waited to start. Honestly, I was so cold I could think of little else.
I was in the fourth wave with the my fellow age groupers. I had contemplated signing up for the elite wave, but thought better of it. I will never forget the feeling of racing by myself at Kennebunk Fireman Tri last year when I raced elite. No one was on the course with me--the true elites being far ahead and the age groupers far behind because they had started so far behind me. I didn't want that to happen again.
When the gun went off I dove in and begin to hammer. That lasted about 30 seconds before I was gasping and had to slow down. I pulled myself together, though, and soon pulled out ahead of my age group and begin sighting the first buoy. Just swim. Just swim hard. Just beat the girls in your wave.
The swim was a short one. I got out in 6:29. Of course I gasped when I saw that time just as I had the day before. It was 41 seconds slower than my time from last year when I swam in a relay. Boy is my swim in the shitter!
But onward! I was first out of the water for my AG, and isn't that what racing is about? I raced up the gravelly hill to transition (ouch!) and then struggled to snap my helmet strap and pull on my shoes, and then I was on my way.
I pushed it. Why not? This was a sprint! What did I have to lose? Within a minute I ran up against the people who had gotten out of the water in previous waves. I passed and passed and called On Your Left! There was this one guy, though... When I screamed on your left he did not budge. In fact, he moved closer to the yellow line so I could not pass. I said, On your left! even louder. He moved slightly, and when I started my pass he moved out in front of me again and start to hammer. WTF! I said again, louder still, ON YOUR LEFT! He moved again slightly, and I tried to pass and he picked up his pace AGAIN and moved in front of me and wouldn't let me pass. I was pissed. And I lost it. I screamed at the top of lungs, practically spitting, DUDE! YOU'RE BLOCKING! MOVE THE FUCK OVER AND LET ME PASS!
I'm so classy.
He literally growled. I mean it. He growled! This time he didn't move over at all. He just stood up on his pedals all out, growling, blocking and in his mind, racing me.
Whatever. I crossed over the double yellow line to make the pass, even though it was illegal and even though there was oncoming traffic. I had had enough. I blasted out of there and didn't see him again. Douche Bag.
You know-- I know I am a girl, and a small one. Is that why he was such an incredible prick? Because he couldn't imagine I was faster than him? Please illuminate, men. Do guys do that to other guys? Or just to girls? I know my language was foul and crass, but what he did was so frustrating and childish. I totally lost my temper.
The rest of the bike was tame in comparison. My goal was to average the same watts I had the day before. This was tough. My quads were on fire. On every uphill I struggled. Yep! I was tired from yesterday's effort at Lobsterman! I kept reminding myself that it didn't matter that I was fatigued. I could still race this! I could still win!
Right at the end of the bike a girl passed me. She was decked in a Fuel Belt sponsored kit. She had the bike and the wheels. She was the real deal. And she was entering T2 with me. MOVE IT, MARY!
I got out of T2 as fast as I could, and beat her onto the course. I was running scared. My quads and calves felt so achy--and burning. Could I keep this up? But I had to! Fuel Belt Girl had to be right there!
And then, at mile 1.5, it happened. She caught me, and passed. I said, "Oh damn! There you are!" she laughed and said, Do I know you? I said, Nope! I just want to beat you! She laughed again and surged forward.
Fuck.... FUCK! I chased her. And passed her.
How old are you? I asked. Again, so classless! You never ask! But they hadn't put age numbers on our legs, and she looked to be about my age. To be frank, I didn't care about winning AG. I wanted to win overall. If this girl was 40 we had started together, and I needed to stay ahead of her. If she was 39 or under, she had started two waves ahead of me, and I had 8 minutes on her at this point in the race, whether she was outrunning me or not.
39, she said. And she passed me back.
I thought of my friend, Bob. Just becasue she was eight minutes behind me, would I let her pass me like that? Bob wouldn't. Neither would Ange. They would race her! I WOULD RACE HER! I held onto her heel and killed myself to stay up. And then it occurred to me.
What if she is 39--but turns 40 in a week and is racing 40-44 and therefore started with ME???? Oh GOD! I must get her! I pushed-- I PUSHED!
We ran into the finish area and I saw Andy and the puppies and the kids. They had made it! I wasn't sure they would make it to the race to see me. Anyway, I knew they could see me chasing Fuel Belt Girl--and that I was losing that chase. I pushed more, she pulled away.. I pushed more. And she crossed the line.
Ahead of me.
After the race, we talked. She was awesome. We thanked each other for pushing the other. And she said--No, I am really 39. I am not soon 40. Okay, then....
But I still did not know if I had won. The elites, remember, had started in the first wave. I didn't know what their times had been. One of them--maybe more than one--could've been faster than me.
I stood with Susan, my athlete who couldn't race due to injury, and we cheered in Laurie. Laurie had an AWESOME race. She PR'd that run course even though it was hilly.
Finally the results came up.
And there I was. At the top. Me! I had won!
The next woman was a full minute behind me, and the next, last year's winner, two minutes behind me. A legitimate, bonafide win. And on tired legs! I was ecstatic!
The awards ceremony was very informal. It was a small race.
But I don't care. It was my very first triathlon win.