It's impossible to compare results from two different races--apples and oranges occur in course distances, terrain, transition area size, wave size...I could go on.
Not this time.
Self 2008 v. Self 2009
At Camp Whitcomb-Mason, I return for the first time to attack a course again, with a very clear goal: Beat the first time by five minutes or more.
The score will tally in my head as I push to emerge victorious. Over myself.
I begin the race in my birthday present--a full-sleeved sexy wetsuit, a master of buoyancy, the sultan of sleek, sure to chop time off my swim. And it does--about two minutes.
All summer I've repetitively hammered out the fine art of the "flying mount". Instead of bending over (or sitting down) and forcing dry bike shoes on wet feet, then hobbling like a duck out of Transition and mounting the bike, I now have my shoes clipped on the pedals ahead of time. I whip out of the wetsuit (thank you Body Glide), pop on the helmet, and run barefoot to the road, swing a leg over to mount the bike, pedal a bit to pick up some speed, then reach down as my foot slides into the shoe and fasten them shut. Minutes spared.
The forecast for the race was hot and humid. I came prepared. I had electrolytes tucked in my pocket, a little anti-dehydration trick I picked up in '09.
Turned out they didn't do much good. The heat had kicked in and I was dry from the swim by the second mile of a 22-mile bike ride. I had plenty of water and was taking electrolytes religiously every 15 minutes, but they weren't making a dent. Around Mile 10 I started to feel nauseous.
While the nausea subsided, it was clear by the 15th mile that I wouldn't hit my goal bike split.
T2 was a welcome sight. So welcome in fact that I overshot the timing pad and had to double back to pass my timing chip over it. Sigh.
I entered T2 just trying to stay upright. I was beat, mentally and physically. The rest of the race was just a 5K I had to get through.
I learned later that our friend Candice, spectating with my lobster at this race, commented upon my entry to T2 that "she doesn't look good". That was putting it mildly.
The run course did a very good job of providing cold water and sprinklers to run through for the athletes now competing in near-90 temps. I was just too far gone. I ran the best I could and it was all I had left, but in the end I finished about six minutes slower than last year. Chalk it up to weather, I guess. We'll be back next year.
P.S. Or maybe not.
Every summer I worked at CWM, we eagerly looked forward to cheering Margaret across the finish line. She entered the race each year and finished last each year, but inspired us to tears nonetheless because of her spunk and vibrant optimism for a spry little woman in her 80s. This year I spied her before the race began and introduced myself, sharing with her what it's meant to us camp staff to watch her finish this race year after year. She finished last again this year, of course, but this time with the media attention and a full standing ovation of every athlete who had finished before her. Well done, Margaret. You win.