They call it possum town.
The lake smells like a dead possum.
I’m in there swimming like a dying possum….
But let me back up for a minute.
I’m at the possum town triathlon. And it’s not as bad as it sounds.
Three sports: swim, bike, run. A chance to be a loser in all 3 sports at once.
If there’s one thing I’m good at, It’s being average. So being average at multiple sports, makes a lot of sense to me.
I asked my brother. He was in. We would conquer the course together. (Conquer is a strong word. And not really appropriate for my feeble completion. But it sounds cool.)
SWIM (600 yards)
The swim was at Columbus Lake. There was a news report several years ago about an alligator that was found here. I. Kid. You. Not.
There’s a sign as you pull down the road for the lake. It’s a picture of a hand reaching out of the water. It’s a reminder to wear your life jacket. (Not very assuring to a guy about to go for a swim)
I trained by swimming once a week in an indoor pool for 6 wks. You might think I’d be a better swimmer, but you’d be wrong.
A friend told me to start out much slower than you think you need to. He said the worst thing you could do is burn out quickly on the swim. He was right.
About half way in, I felt short of breath. The next thing you know, my heart is beating like crazy and I can’t breathe. This is not an optimal situation. Especially when you are surrounded by water. I had to roll over on my back and rest.
And this was the start of the race.
My brother was somewhere in that murky water as well. Someone swims over him, pushing him under and he gets a big dose of water down his gullet. But that’s just par for the course in a triathlon.
Eventually, we make it to the beach. I’d never been so happy before.
We accept our fate: We aren’t the fastest swimmers.
BIKE (17 miles)
This was the part I’d looked forward to.
Because riding a bike is fun. And if needed, I could go slow.
My brother and I had discussed our plan. We would just stick together the entire race and not worry about times. If one of us was dragging, we’d wait for the other. (This is code for…..he wouldn’t leave me in the dust.)
So on the bike we were cruising along and there was a long flat stretch of land and we were side by side. Mainly talking about how the swim nearly killed us. And then a guy walking down the side of the road shouts at us that he’s penalizing us for riding our bikes side by side.
Turns out… this is against the rules.
I get in front. We pass some people and then they pass us. And this continues. Several miles later, we turn onto a larger road (not closed to traffic). We are in this small group, not quite able to pull away from each other and trying to stay safe on that road, when a motorcycle passes us. It pulls right up next to us. There’s a driver and a guy on the back. The guy on the back has a notebook and he’s writing our numbers down. Turns out we were getting penalized for riding in file. (drafting).
So, if you are keeping up, here are the rules: don’t ride side by side and don’t ride behind someone.
I could claim ignorance on this and say it wasn’t my fault. But the rules are the rules and I chose not to learn the rules so I accept full responsibility. (In all fairness, the rules are designed to keep people safe.)
The penalty added 2 minutes to our total time. No big deal. There were no delusions of victory in my head.
I was glad to be done with the bike at 17 miles. My legs were getting tired.
Of course…..now I had to go run 3 miles.
This is where you separate the men from the boys. And I am just a boy.
Wobbly bike legs are difficult to run on.
When training, if you ride your bike and then immediately run, it’s called a BRICK work out. Probably because your legs feel like bricks.
If you have never tried this, you need to. (Just to understand how weird it feels.) The blood is pumped in all the wrong muscles. You’d think you would be warmed up and ready to go, but you’d be wrong.
We start out slow. We continue slow. We end real slow.
You could see the finish line a good half mile before the finish. This isn’t always a good thing. I swear it got further away every time I looked. Like a twisted plot in a Steven King novel, the runner keeps running…..forever.
Goals are good to have. But the steps you take to achieve your goals are more important. The daily grind is what’s important.
If you keep staring at the finish line, it may seem to never get there. Don’t worry so much about the finish. Focus on the daily actions. Do the best you can. Enjoy the process. That’s where true success happens.
What did I learn? I learned how to prepare for something difficult in a short amount of time. I learned how to handle mental punishment. I learned how to better quiet the demons inside that whisper to quit, give up, you’ll never make it.
Don’t get me wrong. This wasn’t the hardest thing I’d ever done. But it was something new. Something fun. And something accomplished.
We crossed that line together.
It felt good.
Good to be done.
But I’m a glutton for punishment.
And in the back of my head I’m thinking……what’s next?