Sunday, September 16, 2012


I did it. And I'm going to do it again.

Saturday morning, at about 5 am, I was suiting up for my newest adventure: a triathlon. A couple weeks earlier, as I found myself in the middle of the reservoir trying out this open water business, I asked myself, "What are you DOING out here?! And, more importantly, WHY?!" Saturday morning, as I climbed into my car and began the drive, I giggled to myself and answered that second question: because I a) can, and b) never would have imagined I'd be doing this even just 5 years ago.
(thanks, Danielle, for the photo!)
I arrived at the reservoir in plenty of time to rack my bike in an ideal spot. I was grateful for the mom on Dono's soccer team who just happens to be a triathlon coach and gave me a bunch of advice that I took to heart. I racked my bike next to two other bikes that made my bike look like a Radio Flyer tricycle. Greg is an Ironman, and this wasn't Danielle's first rodeo by a long shot. My biggest concern was that I was cold. Before I had peeled off my pants and fleece, I was cold. Before I put on my wetsuit and got in the water, I was cold. I could only imagine how cold I would be, dripping wet, riding a bike. They assured me I did not need the 37 layers I had brought and encouraged me to just wear the light jacket, if anything. Ironman Greg said it would be "pleasant." I joked that they were hardened sportsmen. They may have taken that as a compliment. I promised that when I was in the middle of the reservoir, I'd chant to myself, "This.Is.Pleasant.This.Is.Pleasant."

we'll call this one my press conference

did he say the reservoir is closed? this is my new friend Heather!

if I smile enough, maybe I'll believe this is pleasant!

We were all called down to the water for a briefing before the first wave started. This is when I began to get really anxious. The turnaround buoy looked pretty far out there. I put on my cap and waited. As the first couple waves took off, I marveled at how fast they were moving, and wondered if people would think I was just treading water out there. And then we were lining up and the megaphone was telling us we had two minutes. I asked the woman next to me if it was normal to be terrified. She nodded, silently. I can't let anxiety get the best of me, so I began clapping, "Keep it classy, people! Keep it classy!" And the horn blew and some people ran and as most stepped gingerly, I found myself saying, "It's all the same oat bag!" (that's a Seinfeld reference, for the less-classy)

I'm in there somewhere.

Note to self: when a triathlon coach tells you to get in the water before you have to, and get your face wet so it isn't such a shock after the horn, BELIEVE HER. Geez that water was cold. And the first few times I went to put my face in the water, my head rejected it. Brrrr. But soon I found a rhythm of freestyle and backstroke until I got to the turnaround buoy (which I'm pretty sure they were slowly dragging farther and farther away, but whatever). Right after that is when I chatted a little with a kayaker, telling him I didn't think his encouragements of "looking good!" and "you're amazing!" were very sincere. That's also about the time I got a taste of the water which, in case you're wondering, is not delicious, especially when you're drinking it through your nose.

As I neared the beach, I could tell that my mom (who had awesomely come out to cheer me on) was standing there. I briefly thought, "She's not watching me," when I realized, "Duh, we all have on white caps and wetsuits." So as my feet finally touched the sandy bottom, I stood up and began yelling, "I DID IT! I SURVIVED!" My mom later told me I was the only one who came out of the water cheering. So be it. The fact is, the volume of the crowd went up as I ran up the beach and they congratulated and encouraged me. This was, hands down, my favorite part of the whole thing. Maybe because I really was relieved I had survived. Maybe because I told myself that if I could finish that part, the rest would be easy. Maybe because that's when the adrenaline kicked in.

At triathlons, they have "wetsuit strippers" who are awesome people who rip your wetsuit off you. They require you to lay down first, though, and I was having a bit of an equilibrium problem. But I finally got down and they whipped it off and there I was, running up the rest of the ramp, probably another 400 meters to the bike racks. As I began pulling on my jacket, helmet, and shoes, Ironman Greg ran up (no surprise, since his age group started about 10 minutes behind me).

"Greg! Is it normal to feel super dizzy?" I asked. Ironman Greg ran up, grabbed his bike and, while running to the bike exit, yelled over his shoulder, "Yeah! Just get on your bike and pedal!"

Ok, Greg! Thanks!

So I did.

shut up, legs!

About halfway through the bike course, some older dude, who was super ripped, came flying past me wearing just a helmet, bike shoes, and a speedo. I will forever treasure that mental picture. My mom later confirmed that he ran that way, as well. What a hero.

The only downside to the bike (and run) is that since you can't have an ipod, it feels pretty quiet. Also, you can't ride within 3 bike lengths of anyone else. So any time I passed someone or someone passed me, I called, "Good morning!" When Danielle passed me, her double-take leads me to believe I surprised her by shouting, "Kill it, Danielle!" Maybe that wasn't cool, but it was TOO quiet out there. I averaged a little over 15.8 mph on my bike, and loved riding back in and waving to my kids by the roadside.

I had a faster transition the second time, owing to the fact that I didn't feel dizzy any more. I switched shoes, remembered to take off my helmet (ha!), and strapped on my watch before taking off. My legs didn't feel too heavy as I took off. My first mile was even under 8:45. The second mile was a little slower, and at about 2.1, I began to expend as much energy concentrating on not wetting myself as I was on running. Seriously. That was about the time I passed Danielle. At about 2.5 miles, I thought I needed to stop, or we'd have a code yellow if you know what I mean. From behind, I hear Danielle yell, "Finish strong, Sarah!" Ok, Danielle! Thanks!

The run was supposed to be a 5K, and they marked where the 5k ended (for people who wanted to mark it on their own watch), but the finish line wasn't until about 3.4. So my 5k time was 28:02 and the run finish was a little longer than that. There was no code yellow after all.

In under 1:50, I crossed the finish line and felt amazing. Tired, but not exhausted. A girl came up to me later and said, "My name is Sarah, too, so when your friend cheered you on, it gave me the boost I needed. I was about to walk, but her words helped. So thank her for me, will you?" I laughed and said I'd try, but I didn't really know her - we'd met before the race! Everyone's a friend!

It was such a great day to do something I never even considered doing. It was very satisfying to have my husband, my kids, and my mom there to cheer for me and take pictures. I feel extremely grateful to have the health and resources to accomplish this kind of goal.

I did it. And I'm going to do it again.


PaloAltoCougar said...

Great report, congratulations! I'd like to give it a tri myself, but as it would involve getting cold and wet, I'll stick to land only.

Sarah Burgoyne said...

So cool! I am seriously impressed :)

Nataluscious said...

Yay for you Sar! Proud of you, and super proud that you didn't pee your pants. Citizens will never be allowed to live in their own feces (or urine, as it were).

laura said...

Weeeeeee! Good job, poopsie! You are cute and I wish to squeeze you.

Christina said...

YOU ARE AWESOME!!!! Congrats. I love the pictures and love the commentary. Maybe I will join you next year. It has been on my list but hasn't gotten past that. :)

Melin said...

great work!

Margo said...

Sarah...these picture are amazing but you are even more amazing. Way too go. I think it is awesome that you accomplished something that seems so incredibly hard and painful. love ya.