Last weekend was Give Peace a Tri, my fourth triathlon. Two friends and my boyfriend, John, did it with me. We were very successfully not near last. Our motto is “We are not doing this again,” but hopefully we really will do it again next year. It is less than a Sprint distance, and because of that it is a great newbie tri and everyone is friendly and non-competetive (except when they are swimming or passing you). My friend, Colleen, even insisted that I go before her through the finish line, and my instinct was to say “No, you go!” but I didn’t think it was the time or place for a debate so I just went through.
Flashback a few years ago. John and I had been dating since Christmas, and he had been running in 5K’s. He thought it was great that I had been in my first triathlon and wanted to do one too. He picked a Sprint distance race that was known to have a hilly bike course. To be supportive, I agreed to do it. I would be riding my used mountain bike, since unfortunately my old 10 speed needed too many repairs, and a real road bike was out of the question financially with the non-profit job I had at the time. When we arrived, John gallantly pumped up my tires. All the air went out of one of them and we couldn’t get it filled. I was devastated, but secretly a little bit hoping that I would have to sit this one out. I asked a passing athlete if he could help, and we got it remedied. As the real triathlete looked at my old dry-rotted mountain bike tire, he looked at me with some pity and skepticism, but then he said brightly, “Hey, you gotta start somewhere.”
After the swim, as I headed out on the bike, I remembered that we had meant to raise the seat a little bit, but of course forgot. It was fine on the flat rail trails where we toodled along enjoying the peace of the New Hampshire woods and small towns, but it was too low. As I went up the first hill, seventy year old ladies in great gear went by me. At least this year I had an outfit that I could wear through all three events. The first year I did it I put shorts on over my swimsuit after the swim, and later wanted to stop at Dunkins for a giant iced tea, and had to go through the drive through because it looked like I had wet my pants. Ok, back to the hill story. My heart began to feel like it would explode as I tried to get up the steep hills. I had to get off and walk to the top of 3 or 4 hills. Just about everyone passed me quickly. There was one older man that was sometimes in front of me and sometimes behind. I think he was about 80. At one point a police car was behind me. “That’s annoying,” I thought, then “Oh, that’s because I’m last.” Crushing. I passed the older man when he stopped to talk on the phone. “Game on.”
When I got to the transition area, I couldn’t get my bike to stay on the rack. I tried twice, then put down the kickstand. A man was walking by. Let’s just call him D Bag. He whined “Your stuff is right in my way.” I started to go back to move my bike, then just said “Move it” and headed out to run. I’m sure D Bag didn’t realize that I was second to last and hadn’t yet run. People still cheered me on (as they were leaving). When I finished, most of the food and water was gone. There was still orange juice and it tasted amazing. John had eaten a pancake breakfast, but I don’t like pancakes so I didn’t mind that there weren’t any left. With only one person behind me, I still felt pride in my accomplishment, along with my embarrassment.
And that’s why I like Give Peace a Tri. Oh, and this year I wasn’t even sore.