Ramblings from a 2015 Lake Como Triathlon finisher who competed against himself because none else was around.
The Lake Como Triathlon kicked off on Saturday July 25, 2015 with a bunch of well trained athletes and me with a one mile swim. The last time I swam a stroke my son was two weeks old. He just turned four. Four years ago also happens to be the last time I rode a mountain bike. And the Lake Como triathlon asks participants to ride a mountain bike 12.6 miles over a big hill along a forest service road then follows a single track trail that includes a creek crossing.
In 2011, the year my son was born, I did this race. It is the last triathlon I competed in. At that time, I did things a little differently and actually trained for the event. I swam the mile in 26:10 cranked out the bike in 1:08:32 then speed around Lake Como’s 7.7 mile trail in a respectable 1:14:51 and even with my poorly executed transition times I crossed the finish line in 2:55 minutes.
Fast forward four years and zero triathlon training later I wanted to see if I still had what it takes to complete the event. Well I did and it’s a good thing I was only competing against myself this time. Sure there were other participants in the race but I ignored them. Just like when I put my wetsuit on after finding it stashed away in the closet and put it on and my wife mentioned that I don’t look the same in it as I did before. I ignored that too.
Knowing that I haven’t swam in a while I took the swim slow and was surprised when I finished it. There was no one around me when I got back to the shore and four swimmers out of 40 were behind me. My legs felt like rubber and a couple girls ran past me on their way to their bikes. I walked. No sense in pushing it just yet. It took me 34 minutes to finish the swim this time. That’s only about 1/4 longer than last time which stands to reason since its been four years since I last swam.
The transition was easy and I cranked on my bike pedals and onto the road. It was about 20 pedal strokes in when I noticed that I couldn’t shift the gears on my back tire. I wouldn’t care except that the first four miles is a climb and I needed to get my gears into low range in order to pedal. I figured that if I pulled the cable under my seat it would move the derailleur and I was right, the problem was holding it in place with one hand and steering with the other. It sucked. So I shoved a stick under the cable and it held for about 300 yards before falling out.
I’m in a race here and my bike won’t work. So I asked a guy who was just out for a stroll if he could untie the parachute cord on the back of my racing singlet (which my wife said I don’t look the same in either) and he did. I then used the P-cord to tie the cable up to my seat stem. It was good enough and held for the remaining 12 miles making it just easy enough to pedal over the hills in true redneck fashion.
I switched my shoes from biking to running at 2 hours and one minute. Two racers had already completed the whole course. Huh, I must be close to the human racers at this point I thought. Right then my wife pulled in expecting that I would be finishing soon. I only had 7.7 miles left to run, how slow could I be? At the half way point I was feeling hungry and wanted a nap which is what I usually do around lunch time; eat and nap.
The problem was it was already lunch time and I was still running, well walking and jogging, sort of. With about a mile left on the run I asked a race volunteer if I was winning. He said he thought I was in second place. Which is really impossible when you’re only competing against yourself but I didn’t correct him.
When I approached the finish line my son ran out and hugged me then ran toward the finish line which was cute except for the fact that I couldn’t catch up to him and he finished before me. He’s four.
Today I’ m sore as H-E- double hickey sticks but I finished the race a lot faster than everyone who stayed home on the couch. The good thing is that there was lunch served at the finish line. I was worried that I was too late for lunch but I wasn’t. I think that if I do this race next year I’m going to train ahead of time but I’ll still only be competing against myself so I’m certain I can win. In the meantime, I’m going to stick to hiking back country lakes where I don’t need a mountain bike or wetsuit and there won’t be anyone around to beat me to the finish line.