This is the final of a series of columns chronicling my journey in training for my first sprint triathlon, held on Saturday morning.
The moment had finally arrived.
The Independence Sprint Triathlon was about to begin.
I had my final moments of preparation on Friday by watching the film “300.” Granted, it did nothing for my actual preparation, but it did reignite the feeling that it would be cool to throw a spear while screaming a manly shout.
Once Saturday morning came around, I was the first participant to arrive at the Independence pool.
The nerves were high.
To combat this, I started to recite some of my favorite movie lines, from, “Spartans, prepare for glory!” to, “I drink your milkshake.”
Yeah, not sure what that line was supposed to do for me either.
I quickly went over my race strategy. Luckily, it was simple — Pace yourself.
As soon as the triathlon started the only thing I failed to do was … pace myself.
There’s something about the start of a race that gets my competitive juices flowing.
This was a chance to channel my inner Spartan.
That feeling lasted for maybe 30 minutes.
Once we started the bike ride, I realized the triathletes I was attempting to keep up with were on a pace far faster than I had ever done.
My adrenaline gave way to my legs getting much more tired than they should have been feeling. I realized I had my own battle — find a way to finish.
The bike ride did offer one solace. Sprinklers were going off near the road in one of the fields. There was no way I was missing this chance to cool off.
The first splash hit me and I felt a refreshing coolness.
What I failed to notice was there were six or seven more sprinkler heads, resulting in my eyes opening just in time to get multiple blasts of water in them and the hope that I wasn’t about to steer off the road. When I finished the bike ride, my legs were tired but I was hopeful.
Only 3.1 miles separated me from the finish.
For the briefest of moments, I felt a surge of energy and determination enter my body.
Unfortunately that surge left as soon as I started to run.
My legs felt like weights. I called on the spirit of my cross-country days to help. What can I say, desperate times call for desperate measures. Unsurprisingly, that didn’t work.
If the spirit of my cross-country days still exists, it was laughing at me.
I didn’t so much finish the run as I did survive it.
But, despite being exhausted, turning the final corner toward the finish brought another new feeling — exhilaration.
There is nothing quite like hearing a crowd cheer for you. Upon crossing the finish, there was an immense sense of pride coupled with the thought that I need water now or I might fall over.
Unofficially, my time is 1 hour, 56 minutes and 40 seconds, a mark I’m more than happy with.
More importantly, the feeling when you finish is unlike any other, almost addicting. And it left me wanting more.
Organizer Brian Joynt did a great job putting on the event and ensuring there was enough water and food for participants after the race.
He raised more than $1,000 to help restore the Independence pool house.
Training for this sprint triathlon has been hard. Saturday’s race was more physically draining than pretty much anything I’ve ever done. Yet, it was also extremely gratifying to finish and the sense that you’ve just entered a spot in a club that not many people get to experience.
And while the experience led me to question whether I was still a sane human being, leaving the triathlon left me with one last thought — let’s do that again.