The race started out different than most in that there were about five hundred fewer people than a normal race. I'm used to being some random number like 462, but that day I was 9. While I was a lot safer, I felt a heck of a lot more exposed.
Because the race was downriver, they had to haul us to the starting line. Despite there being so few of us, it still took every hotel van and river rafting shuttle in Green River to get all of us there. They dropped us off where the pavement ended. There waiting was a farmer in his truck pulling a flatbed trailer. Wearing our wetsuits, we climbed onto the trailer to be hauled through the farmer's cornfields to the starting line.
To warm up, I started swimming upriver, which convinced me that I need a river to train in. I could just tether myself to a tree and and swim up and if the rope tightens, I know I need to speed up. It was physically harder to stand still in the water than it was to swim down. It usually takes me around fifty minutes to swim a mile, that day I did it in fourteen.
I jumped on my bike and headed into the desert toward the book cliffs. Luckily the path was well marked because for a good part of it, I was biking by myself. Even though there were a few hills (I have an aversion to hills), I was able to pass several bikers. I came into the transition area feeling pretty good since my odometer read a few miles less than twenty-five. Who knew all this time I was training harder and faster than I realized?
All my gains were for not though. I fell apart a mile or so into the run. It was a two-loop course and just when I thought I was finished with the first loop, it turned a corner and kept going. I could see the finish line and I could hear the other contestants crossing it, knowing they were miles ahead of me.
My throat was dry with thirst, but every sip I tried just cramped up my stomach. My legs stiffened beneath me and I couldn't bend my knees. That's the closest I've come to curling up in the fetal position and waiting for the officials on the golf carts to pick me up.
One thing I love about tri's is that a lot of the finishers stick around to cheer everyone across. Though my mom was the only who knew I was still out there, fifty people cheered when I cross the finish line. Next year I'll be faster.