It was 5:30 a.m., too early to be awake, let alone dressed head to toe in spandex. But there I was, walking in the dark toward a field of bicycles, wearing more skin-tight elastic than a cheap hooker.
I participated in the 2008 all-women SheROX triathlon a couple weekends ago at the Latta Plantation Park, a 19th Century cotton plantation near Charlotte, North Carolina that's now a living history farm and 1,343-acre nature preserve. The sprint-distance event included a 700-meter swim, a 17-mile bike ride and a 3.1-mile run.
I'd competed in three triathlons before this one: one in North Georgia and two along the waterfront in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I love swimming and cycling and can tolerate running well enough, and the three sports back-to-back make for an exciting challenge.
The sun began to rise during the second half of my there-and-back swim through Mountain Island Lake. With every right-side breath, I could see the pinkish glow of the sky reflecting off the calm, dark water, and I would think to myself, “Am I there yet?"
Just over 14 minutes later, when the answer to that question was finally ‘yes,’ I ripped off my swim cap and ran barefoot up to the grassy transition area, where my bicycle awaited among 400 look-alikes. Fortunately, I had memorized its position and managed to locate it without too much trouble.
After clipping the strap on my helmet, fastening the velcro on my cycling shoes and wheeling my bike out the wrong exit, back into the transition area and out the right exit, I was off, pedaling the country roads at speeds not too hard to fathom.
At the end of the bike ride, my legs and my lungs (which tend toward asthmatic when heavily taxed) were ready to take a break in a chaise lounge by the lake. But I forced them to push through the run.
It took me just over an hour and 37 minutes to finish, placing me third in my age group and 15th overall. I came home with the first trophy I've received since my high school swim banquet nine years ago — and celebrated it all with a tremendous waffle cone of Moose Tracks ice cream.
Glad to be sitting
Butt sweat art