Sunday, May 18, 2008

Newport Sprint Triathlon

Well I'm still getting caught up on the blog ... so this too is over 2 weeks after the fact ... but here goes.

Earlier this year I decided to make my gigantic, over the top goal to race the Test of Endurance. I think Gregg was high on my fumes when he replied that he wanted to challenge himself too, and he might try a Triathlon. I latched onto that instantly, and tried to be his cheerleader for the next few months. We got him fitted for a good pair of shoes. We called on the help of a friend for some swim lessons. We got a gym membership. And I've been so proud of my guy for doing stuff completely new to him, and challenging himself to accomplish this goal!

When Gregg decided to do the Newport Off-road Sprint Triathlon, I wanted to join the fun. I might have been able to learn to swim. Badly, but I wouldn't have drowned. But I'm having enough trouble keeping up with my injuries without starting to run right now. So I couldn't do the Tri myself. I'm a terrible spectator, and generally hate just standing around watching other people do stuff. So I took the only option remaining for me: I reached out and grabbed some talented friends, and we created a relay team. Awesome!

Heidi and Sal were going to come down from Portland so that Heidi could do the run, and Sarah and Colby were following us from Corvallis so that Sarah could do the swim leg. The six of us planned to stay over in a house outside of Newport the night before. Things never go quite as planned; unfortunately in this case the unexpected came in the form of Sal got super sick, had an awful fever, and couldn't travel. And without her navigator, Heidi had some trouble finding the place. But by the end of the night we had the whole team (and Gregg, our solo competitor) tucked in and ready to get up early for the Tri.

Gregg's heat started before ours, so he left the house a little earlier to get registered. The Newport Tri course is a lot of fun, but I think it's a fairly new Triathlon, and their administrative processes don't seem to be exactly nailed down yet. Registration is a bit slow, and a little confusing. And although they've got an impressive number of course volunteers, most of them are high school students who are bored and distracted either talking to each other or texting their friends.

After registration and getting geared up and organized, I didn't have a lot of time for warm-up. Gregg had pre-ridden the course already, and told me that the first hill is steep but short ... just stand up and grind. I rode enough of the course to confirm that Gregg's kind of a liar, but not enough to actually get warmed up. Sarah made quick work of the swim and ran out to tag me. After a little confusion on my part about whether or not I was allowed to ride on the green stripe (there was a little inconsistency about that) I was off.

The first hill about kicked my butt. I could hear somebody coming up behind me, but just couldn't muster any more speed on the climb. I was a little less embarrassed when he finally passed me and I saw that he was a super fit Tri geek, complete with one piece tri suit. There was another guy who had started just in front of me, and I chased him down for the entire bike leg. I was never able to catch him, but the effort to catch him kept me focused. That, and knowing that my team was depending on me.

The description of "off road" is a little deceptive. Most of the course was either paved or gravel road. But there were areas of pretty deep gravel on the road, and one section of dirt double-track. The 'cross bike would have been perfect on the packed road and the dirt, but I was pretty happy to have my Niner for the gravel. And I was ecstatic to have the chance to get a little muddy in the double-track section. Dirt makes me happy.

Gregg was done much earlier, so he came down and stalked me with the camera for a while, and met up with a couple of other local friends who were out racing in the Tri. Toward the end Gregg told me that I was near the finish, so if I'd been saving anything this was the time to sprint ... yeah right. Saving anything. At that moment I couldn't have given any more. The finish is up a hill, and I was giving it everything, so by the time I got the the transition area my eyes were a little wobbly, and I had some trouble spotting Heidi. And then I forgot we were racing, and started chatting with her. But despite my best efforts to drag down the team results, Heidi took off like a bolt of lightening. You can read about her experience on her blog, but it's safe to say she suffered for the team.

And between Sarah and Heidi's rock star finishing times, and my admirable effort, we took first place for the women's relays! Yay!

Keeping up with the discipline of a training schedule turns out not to be Gregg's forte, but luckily he's a gifted athlete. So despite starting out as neither a runner or a swimmer, spending at most one night a week at the pool for a few months, and running once or twice a week for the same period, Gregg came in second in his age category!! Amazing! And he had a good time. Now he's talking about training for an off-road triathlon with an open water swim! For next year of course.


MTB Man said...

Sounds like it was fun. Enjoyed the pics too! I didn't know they did that ... relay triathlons. I kind of had ruled tris out cause I don't swim or run.

Stephanie said...

I don't know if the relay is an option in the big "serious" tri's, but the local sprint tri's definitely offer it. Thank goodness. I couldn't do a Tri by myself, and I love that I can participate anyway.