Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Syracuse 70.3 Ironman

I enjoyed the most amazing experience over the weekend. On Sunday, Sept. 19, the inaugural Syracuse 70.3 Ironman competition invaded the city. After catching the triathlon bug last year, I decided I would train for a half ironman and participate the year I turned 50--2011. In the interim, this race was announced for 2010, in my home town. Well, I decided, it's a sign, so I registered and got to work.
It's a huge leap from a sprint distance to a half distance triathlon, so there was a lot of work to be done. I had no idea how much time it would take, so I was very conservative on all my estimated times for the 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike and 13.1-mile run. Glad to say, I bested all my goals and finished that monster in 6 hours, 41 minutes and 42 seconds, a good 1:20 before I expected to. With so much time to think on the race course, I decided that a different way to blog about my experience would be to present my Top 10 List of Favorites about the Syracuse 70.3 Ironman (with apologies to David Letterman).
So, here goes:
10. Overcoming my usual self-doubt dance at the start of the swim. It usually takes me about 10 minutes to settle down and talk myself out of quitting altogether. This happens every race.
9. On the ascent that is the first 12 miles of the bike ride, the visibility became less and less as the drizzle increased. Almost near the top, a fellow cyclist said to me as he passed, "We're riding into the clouds." How poetic!
8. After emerging, a little loopy from the swim, I was greeted with wetsuit strippers. What a treat! They saved me a good 4 minutes in transition (wetsuits are notoriously difficult to peel).
7. Eating the first cheeseburger I've enjoyed in at least three years. This one had cheddar cheese and mushrooms, and was medium-rare. I even ate the bun and had some onion rings on the side.
6. I had strategized that I would run-walk as I needed to, until the final mile, when I would run. Well, I never stopped running, just kept putting one foot ahead of the other.
5. Seeing my name chalked on North Salina Street, just past the mile 11 water stop (thanks, Mary!).
4. The aid stations that went to some trouble to decorate themselves--the parrotheads on mile 15 of the bike, and the cows on mile 3 of the run. A corollary would be seeing friends who volunteered to staff those aid stations (Jean, Brendan, Jade and Jeff, Chris, Mindy Lu, Mary and Patti), and hearing them cheer me on.
3. The swarthy dude who passed me on the bike, and said as he went by, in an incredibly thick Eastern European accent: "Lady, you rrrrrrrock!"
2. Not only finishing, but finishing way before I ever expected to.
1. Having my husband and at least one child watch me finish. Triathlon is a family sport, because it requires the support and patience of those who are home while you are out swimming, biking, running, sometimes for four hours at a time. Thanks to every one of you!