Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Historic McKinney Kiwanis Sprint Triathlon: Before

Historic refers to the part of McKinney near which the race was held. The Kiwanis Club is an organization that provides youth programs and community service. Sprint triathlons vary in distance but usually include a 5k run and 20k (12-mile) ride. I’ve seen these events’ swim distances vary from 275 to 500 meters, but Wikipedia lists 750 meters as standard sprint. Triathlons begin with the swim followed by bike and end with running.

My first outdoor and my first sprint triathlon was Sunday, March 29 at McKinney High School. I was really excited about this event because it was right by my house and it would be challenging but doable.

After the “evangelizing” incident, I had a bad morning at the pool with circle swimming when one of the women in my lane wouldn’t ever let me pass, so I had to stop every lap and wait for her to swim ahead, and then another woman crossed over and narrowly avoided bashing me head-on. I’m incredibly pissed off that a city as populous and rich as McKinney would have such shitty recreation facilities: 2 indoor lap lanes in the whole fucking city! The Senior Pool is also filthy and grosses me out.

So I hadn’t been swimming much this year.

We had weeks of freezing rain and ice and snow in February and twice-a-week rehearsals for The Vagina Monologues, so I hadn’t been running much either.

I’d been searching for a bicycle since last fall, but the cheapest entry-level road bike in any store was $620, the cheapest online was $500, and I couldn’t find anything secondhand in my size. Finally an acquaintance contacted me after having seen my statuses on Facebook and said he happened to have pretty much everything in his garage to build me a bike. He’s been working for a cycling shop for 15+ years and collecting parts, and he just happened to have a Moniqa-sized frame. So he offered to build me a bike from scratch.

It took some time, and I only got it a week and a half before the race. I took my first long ride around my neighborhood three days later and established a baseline of 5 miles in 30 minutes. I took my second long ride later that week and managed 9.23 miles around White Rock Lake in 50 minutes. It was just enough to get me comfortable with riding up and down small hills, changing gears, making tight turns, and navigating light traffic. And it was just enough to boost my confidence that I could, at the very least, finish the race, albeit slowly. I thought it reasonable to hope that the race day adrenaline could push me to complete the 12.5-mile bike course in an hour, based on my middling-but-comfortable cycling exertion so far.

My only brick workouts had been running the 1.75 miles out and back to and from the pool.
I was under-trained, but I could do each part.

I took advantage of the pre-race clinic offered to answer questions for first-timers. There I learned how to rack and re-rack my bike and that there are time penalties for doing it wrongly, where the transition area’s ins and outs were, where the mount/dismount line was, to stay left on the road to avoid blocking, how to navigate the pool, the drafting rules (in a word: don’t), how many other participants would be there (200-300), not to wear earphones at all, and that no one would be allowed to retrieve their things from the transition area after finishing the race until the last bicycle was in, among a dozen other pieces of necessary information.

I’ve been reading every article I can find for novice triathletes and devoured the book The Slow Fat Triathlete. But there was still so much info!

I always make a list for travel, camping, and races, and I always over-pack, preferring to have everything I could possibly want for every comfort or whim; and this event would be no exception. I put together an exhaustive list of the things I would need for race day, plus lip balm and deodorant to keep me comfortable. Seeing my pile of gear—including extra water, shoes, sunglasses, sweatband, towels, and a second shirt just in case I wanted something dry for the run—compared to the athletes near me with only a change of shoes and helmet made me smile in good-humored self-deprecation.

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