I’ve done some foolish things in my life. When I was 7 or 8, an abandoned barn in the field behind our house collapsed at one end. As soon as the first snow fell, my sister and I decided to use the rickety structure as a makeshift sledding hill, climbing up the roof to the standing end, then zipping down to the bottom. I’m only bringing this up so my actions of today seem less foolish in comparison.
I tried training for the Gold Nugget Triathlon. It was on one of those training runs two weeks ago that I broke my foot. Stress fracture, left foot. And I didn’t really discuss this much because I didn’t want any lectures, but I decided that I was going to do the triathlon anyway.
It seemed like a logical plan when I was up in Fairbanks. It even still made some sense when I got to Anchorage. But as the bus pulled up to the race site this morning, I started to doubt the wisdom of this plan. It didn’t help that some of the top athletes were still on the course, zipping in on bikes, heading out for the run. Suddenly the course seemed awfully … long.
After getting my chip and a warm-up swim, I began the long process of waiting in line. With the regular race site closed for construction this year, 1,400 racers had to go through one 6-lane pool for the swim. It was complicated to say the least. Someone took my crutch at the start and was holding it for me when I got out of the pool. The swim is usually my best part, though it was abysmal this year trying to get around the doggy paddlers and do a snake swim. I still managed to pass a lot of people in the pool.
I don’t want to think about my T1 time, since I had to use the crutch to get out to my bike, then sit down to wrap my ankle and hop my bike across the mat. Someone told me the bike course was flat this year, but someone lied. I did some passing, did a lot of getting passed. At one point the pain in my foot was too much, so I hopped off the bike on the big hill. I snagged a road bike at a bike sale after I broke my foot, so I hadn’t really trained with it at all. I just kept reminding myself that at least I didn’t have to run.
Just when I was thinking about taking another break, I turned the corner and saw the race site again. I parked my bike, grabbed my crutch and headed out for the “run.” Do you know what pain is? Pain is using a crutch to hobble through the run section of a triathlon. I did no passing here. I’d like to think I took the slow, monastic approach. At my slow rate, I had a chance to see everyone else on the course and to cheer them on. And they had the chance to tell me how much I rock. No, seriously. Among the many things I heard were:
- You’re amazing.
- You’re my hero.
- You get major badass points for that.
I kept switching the crutch from arm to arm. It sort of helped, in the sense that the chafing and bruising was spread evenly along both sides of my body. And while I can’t deny that it was nice to hear everyone cheering me on and to see groups stand up to clap for me as I came back from the run course, I don’t think I’d do it again. I don’t think I need ego boosting if it comes coupled with exhaustion like I feel right now. Between finishing the race and the drive home, I’m beat. I showered. I ate cake. And now I’m watching a Nazi zombie movie and getting ready for hours of blissful sleep.