Well, this was a good end to a craptastic week.
The Derby Rec Center indoor tri is an annual, local event, very small and low-key. 500 yd indoor pool swim, 6 mile (I know, right) bike on a stationary trainer, 2 mile (20 lap) run on an indoor track. Certainly the smallest (and shortest!) race I've ever done. But I don't care. It was awesome.
My heat began at 8:30 (the heats were leaving on a half-hour interval, seeded by time, beginning at 8:00), so I left my house at 7:30, hoping to get to the DRC at around 8:00. Well . . . that didn't happen. Because I slid off the road and got stuck in a ditch. I ran the mile back home, swearing all the way and wondering what I ever did to God (actually, let's not get into that). My dad came back with his truck and we spent the next hour and a half trying to get my car (his car, actually, because the key to my car snapped off in the ignition last night while I was at Wal-Mart getting a tire repaired . . . see? crummy week) unstuck. We finally got the car out of the ditch when a couple guys in a four-wheel-drive truck came by. It took them about five minutes to take care of it. Very nice of them. And of course, by this time it was 8:45, I'd missed my heat, and I was wondering whether I should go and try to squeeze into a later heat, or take it as a sign from the universe and crawl back into bed.
I drove around the block once (which is 4 miles, by the way), and the car was rattling because of the mud and snow that had built up around the wheels. I took that as my final sign and headed back home. "Wake me up when it's spring," I told my dad, as I came back into the house. I sat down at my computer to check my e-mail, and there was the pre-race e-mail . . . heat times, race day instructions, and all. It was about 9:00, at this point, but I thought . . . I've never, ever had a DNS. I have to at least go and try to get into the race.
And I'm very glad that I did.
Swim: 500 yd - 9:48
The time is approximate. My official split was 11:11, but that included my transition time. I know for sure that when I came out of the pool area, my timer (we each had our own timer) told me that I was at 9 something. Oddly enough, because I got squeezed into the last (fifth) heat, I ended up in the same lane as Rich, one of the guys in my spinning class, who's just getting into triathlon from cycling. It was really cool to have someone to kid around with pre-race, especially since this was the first race I've done where I had neither team nor family to accompany me. I felt confident and strong going through the swim, like I was giving it my all the whole time, but not wearing myself out too much for the bike and run. However, I wasn't entirely happy with my form. There were times when I felt like my legs were heavy and my head was up. I think it's because I was being lazy about my core stability; when I tightened my core, my body position evened out. Also, I was unimpressed with my breathing--every other stroke (I normally try to do every 3, to practice bilateral breathing). But I have to admit . . . I really like the pool swims; don't have to worry about dodging other people or fighting through packs of slow-pokes. You can just put your head down and swim. And that's what I did.
Bike: 6 miles - 19:00 minutes
The bike was mentally difficult. First of all, we were on LeMond trainers with a display panel that counts down the miles. However, the amount of resistance you use doesn't affect how quickly you complete the distance, so the best strategy is to spin along with no resistance and a high cadence. Which is hard to do for 20 minutes straight. I started to space out, and my cadence would dip down to 128 or so. It's a crazy thing to do to triathletes, no? We spend so much stinking time pedaling at the ideal cadence (whatever that is for you; for me, it's around 95) in the biggest gear we can manage. That's just how we train. So to put a triathlete on a bike and tell them to pedal their legs off for 20 minutes with absolutely no resistance . . . just silly. Anyway, it was fun, because all 10 of us in the fifth heat were in a long line together, so there was a little bit of banter to be had. And once again, I was right next to Rich, which was fun (even though I thought that he was going to kill himself; he was pounding away at 140-145 RPM the whole time). So the bike was less than ideal, but I felt like I did well.
Run: 2 miles - 18:18
Once again, this time includes the transition, so it's not entirely accurate. I know that my mile splits were both under 9:00 (the first was 8:51). Running on a 1/10 mile track for two miles is torture. But I felt that I pushed my body, and managed to maintain a high level of pain throughout (although I never pushed through that to a new level, which is always what I'm looking to do in short races). And sub-9 is the best pace I've ever set for a triathlon where the run comes at the end (I did 8:34 at the CSULB reverse sprint)! Also--a fun bonus--the track was upstairs (you know, wrapping around the gym), separated from a weight and cardio room by a low wall; the floor behind that wall, in between the track and the cardio room, was blue, so it had the azure, finish-chute feel.
But the best part of the day was that I got first place in my age group, with a time of 48:36! Well, allow me to add some caveats: the woman who was actually fastest in my age group got third place overall, which means that she was taken out of the running for age-group awards. She was a minute faster than me (if only I hadn't worn socks . . .), but I'm pretty sure, because of her placement, that I got fourth overall. And okay, there were only fifty people racing, and there were only four or five people in my age group, but I really don't care. I got first in my age group!
And I'm sure you could guess, but this really turned my day around. I mean, I still had to go pull a six-hour shift at the rock wall, but I was in a much better mood about it today. So I hope that this small triumph will be enough to pull me out of what has been a really terrible week. After my car went into the ditch this morning, I was afraid that the bad week was going to expand into a terrible month or something. But I feel much more motivated, now, to work harder at not letting any bad aspects of life spiral out of my reach and take over my whole outlook.