I got up at 5am. Like a shot. I’m not exactly excited, more nervous. I tell AB, “I really would like you to come but if you don’t want to, tell me now so I don’t get my hopes up.” He answered, “I’m getting up now.”
I rushed into the bathroom. What the heck - how much do I weigh today? 276. Ok, fine. I run through the shower and put on my swim suit and shorts and we headed out the door. On the way, we grabbed a couple of power bars.
When we arrive, the number of people there was astounding. We had to park down a residential street since all the parking around Mission Bay Park was taken. I went to the transition area to set up my stuff. The tri allowed you to set up your bike the night before (which I did) so all I had to do was lay out my bike shorts, helmet, shoes, water bottles, etc. Then on to the “body marking” area where a girl with dark purple hair scribbled my number down my arm, over my knee and my age on my calf. Thank god they didn’t write my weight across my butt. By 6:30, I was ready to go.
The first wave was about to begin so AB and I went to the beach to watch them take off. The dreaded swim (500 meters) didn’t look so bad from the beach. I think in my head it was miles and miles longer. We watched and talked and although the beach was a little chilly this earlier, I hardly noticed. I knew the water would be much colder. I was freaking out a little bit but not enough to go home. I was in wave 15 - the Clydesdales. This is what they call the over 150 pound group. Yeah, super flattering. My wave was due to begin at 8:05 am.
About a half an hour before my wave, I kissed AB goodbye and went to find some Clydesdales. I figured it would be good to meet some of them before the race. Turns out that the Clydesdales only accounted for about half of our very small wave and the rest were the “Women over 50” and “Military.” I was (by far) the fattest person at the triathlon.
The start was an “in water start” which means that you actually begin the race by getting in the water and swimming to a line which you wait at until the buzzer sounds. I can not communicate the coldness of the water. It was (supposedly) around 65 degrees. But it took my breath away. I could not catch my breath or get a deep breath. Listen to your body? My body was telling me to get out of the water. I couldn’t stick my face in the water – when I did, my body’s reaction was to jerk it out, coughing and sputtering. Plus, the water is dark and murky. Goggles me no good since there was no visability. I couldn’t see my own limbs.
I wasn’t sure I was able to do this. This was scary. The water was cold and dark. I was having a hard time getting my body to recognize that this was going to be a swim and, damn it body, you know how to swim! We lined up on the marker and waited for the gun. How was I going to do this?
The buzzer went off and started. My stroke was slow and off. I had no pattern because half the time my face wasn’t in the water. I was fighting with myself to calm down and concentrate on what I knew how to do. When I finally got into a pattern, it didn’t last long because some kicked me and I’d half to move or stop.
And then, I decided that maybe I couldn’t do this. So, I looked at the shoreline to get my bearings. Holy crap, I was half way there. Half way! That’s like half more than I thought I was.
Okay, I can do this. It might be slow. It might be uncoordinated but my body is warmed up now and I can finish this. I’ll make a deal with you, Jess. Finish this and when you get out, you can quit. No hard feelings.
I was finally getting out of the water and running through the sand to the finish line. Wow. I did the swim. It’s done. It’s over. I’m running to my bike. People are clapping and cheering. Okay, well, I can maybe do the bike ride. I mean, I like to bike. It’s just 15K. You’ve done longer rides before. Might as well do the ride if I’m here.
AB is cheering me on in the transition area. I’m putting on clothes and trying to get the bay water out of my mouth (nasty, nasty, dirty water). Shoes are on. Helmet. And my shirt! Which I have proudly made a sign that is pinned to my back, “Goddess Jessica. First Tri.” Okay, get on the bike.
Pedal. Hey, this is kinda fun. Well, there are a ton of people passing me by but that’s okay. They’re usually calling out my name and cheering me on (thank you!) I remembered that Fiesta Island is the half way point. Pedaled along the bay, turn into SeaWorld. Pedal through there. Out of SeaWorld. Where the **** is Fiesta Island? More of the bay. Okay, there’s the island! Yay! During the ride a guy who is not supposed to be on the island comes up on my left and starts chatting with me. Then I hear behind me a terrible noise. Oh, it’s the cone truck. Picking up the cones behind me. Wow. I am the last person.
I get out of Fiesta Island and head back and pass another rider in SeaWorld. Woo! Not last!
Enter into the transition area again and try to put my bike on the rack but my brain is not working at all. AB has to talk me through what I am doing wrong. I look around and EVERYONE is done. No one is paying attention to the fact that I’m still trying to race. They’re standing in my way and I’m getting annoyed. Maybe I’ll just run out and then run around the block and come back. No one will know and I just will skip the run. I’m going to walk it anyway.
The more I get annoyed, the more I realize that no, I’m going to finish the damn race. Sorry if I’m not fast enough for you Mr. Triathstud. I leave the transition area. My legs make me think that there is something wrong with me. I have to concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other. I feel like I’m walking through water.
I walk and walk and realize that there is no one left. I am walking while people are loading up their bikes and putting them away. Too bad, I think. I’m walking. I can’t run. When I finally hit the Mile 1 marker, I feel defeated. I felt like I was at least at Mile 2! But I keep doing it. When I hit the Mile 2 marker, I hear someone say, “Hi Jessica, how are you doing?” Ummm… good thanks. Turns out. I am the very last person. The girl I passed in the bike is a runner and is ahead of me. This is Ben. One of the volunteers at the race and he’s radio back to HQ my position so they can decide which parts of the course to pull up. Seriously? OMG, this is embarrassing. But I keep my cool – it helps that I’m stubborn and I start thinking about the cost of the tri ($65) and I’m okay making them wait for me.
These are the longest three miles… ever. Ben is a really nice guy who is super encouraging and makes small talk. I try to concentrate on moving my feet. Finally I make it to the top of the hill before the descent to the finish line. There are a few volunteers left who are cheering for me. Racers that are heading home are telling me I’m almost there.
The announcer calls my name and tells everyone that this is my first tri and see AB snapping pictures. I wave to the cameras and cross the finish line.
I take an assessment. Is anything hurt? Nope. I’m not in pain. I’ve not pulled anything. I’m tired and sore but not hurt. I give AB a hug and find my bike and pack up my things. I try to eat half a power bar (they tell you it’s very important you rehydrate and eat immediately after the race) but I’m nauseous.
My friend Jess shows up and hugs me – she just missed my finish. AB goes to get the car and we head home (where I shower, dress and then have a HUGE breakfast because it’s only 10:30AM!).
It took a while for it to hit me. Wow. That was really, really hard. And I finished it. I was last. Someone has to be last. I’m okay with being last. Furthermore, I am totally proud of myself. I’m so glad that AB took pictures because I might not believe that it was real. I really finished it. I swam. I biked. I ran (okay, walked). It was hard but I finished. Without injury. Without giving up. I could have slept in. I could have given up halfway through but I didn’t. I finished something that was not only physically hard (the race), psychologically hard (the swim) but also very emotionally hard, (slow, fat 276 pound girl who is in last place). Wow. I am impressed with me.
My official results? I finished the 500M Swim, 15K Bike and 5K Walk in 1:59:12.