Sunday, May 22, 2005

Galena Triathlon

It was what I wanted it to be. I dropped my work deadlines and left the office early to avoid the late night/last minute panic that can ruin even the best planned days...

I got to Apple Canyon Lake--the start and headquarters--in time to soak it in. There was still a relaxing warm sun. The lake felt warm despite the hysteria that suggested small icebergs, and the swim course really looked short. Some confidence. The start of the bike portion is a steep hill up--a hard start that seemed threatening. Then I drove the bike portion in my car. Hills but fun--particularly the long and steep down-hills that would mean real speed and adrenalin. How fast would I go? The last half flowed down a long ridge towards Galena and into the park that would be the start of the run. It was easy to anticipate the exhileration I would feel. More confidence. And then to the motel with time to silently work through all the details, make the morning list, and sleep.

In the bike transition, I met my competition as we set up our bikes, our shoes, and hung out. They were all more experienced than me--each with at least a handful of half-ironmans and ironmans--triple my longest race. All good spirited and there for the right reasons--enjoying the journey, the challenge, understating their competitive spirit; and all with fast, light racing bikes. Well, maybe I would be lucky to place--and be satisfied that the competition was better than I had expected with some men who simply worked harder at it than me.

I did a practice ride up the intimidating hill--not that bad.

As usual, it always seems like it will be a long time until its time for your wave...then suddenly you are bunched by the water's edge, the horn howls, and you are swimming as fast as you can in a small thrashing crowd. The water is colder than I expected but not a breath taker. Off the shore, the anticipated murky water turns clear and I can see bass, suprisingly calm, just below the churning pack. I'm have a solid position in the pack and my time is better than I expected. At the transition area, all the bikes of my group are still racked--a pleasant and motivating surprise.

The bike portion was all I expected. I felt strong going up and exhilerated as I tucked as tight as possible probably hitting 35 mph going down the longest hills. The sun was hidden by clouds and there was no wind--the best kind of day for a race. I constantly gained in the pack...

The run started with a steep half-mile hill and i kept at the best running pace I could as i passed more of the walkers, looking forward to the last downhill half-mile of the race. My pace was strong and steady--better than I have felt in most races.. I looked for my group and didn't see them until I was headed back on the out and back course, and they were safely behind. I was pleasantly confident but not certain.

I won my age group with a substantial margin and a good time in general. My small community enjoyed it all. The race was fun, the accomplishment made the work worthwhile, and the journey continues. We waited in the cooling afternoon rain to get the small ribbon and medals, and I biked back to my van with all my gear from the day packed in the plastic back balanced on my handlebars.

The day reminded me of my strength as I sifted over the other aspects of my life in the drive back home.