A Finisher.

Heather and I, post-race and pre-pancakes

Saturday night, before the Danskin Triathlon out in Sandy Hook, was a veritable carb-fest at my friend Heather’s house. I shoved penne down, in between bites of chicken francaise. All week, I’d been scheming ways to avoid this tri while saving face. I was tired and not feeling it, plus I wasn’t training as hard as I could. I thought I’d “accidentally” leave my tri suit behind or some other important item for the race. Or maybe it would get rained out. Maybe I’d get sick! Maybe Heather would get sick! Still, I remembered to pack everything I needed. I took the train down to Yonkers, with the bike. Heather picked me up. We settled in for a rainy evening at her house.
After dinner, we both headed up to bed. I tried to watch TV. I couldn’t get sleepy. Finally, I took a book out. That would do the trick. I finally got drowsy enough to turn out the light and close my eyes, super conscious of the fact that Heather promised me to wake me up at 4:30 in the morning.
At 3am, I woke up, unbearably hot. I turned the fan and unable to fall back asleep, I made the mistake of looking at my phone. I did my usual check-up of the social networks, predictably dead at that hour. I finally put my phone down and dozed back to sleep. I found myself in a very vivid dream in which Heather came to wake me up, so I got up and attempted to make the bed, only to fall back asleep. I awoke with a start, realizing that it might not have been a dream! I looked at my phone and saw that it was 4:30. I wondered if Heather really had woken me or not. I stumbled around, getting my tri suit ready, brushing my teeth, getting dressed. I put my sneakers on the floor, willing myself to leave them behind. I even shoved them up under the bed, out of sight but unfortunately, not out of mind.
I made the bed, packed my bag and with a sigh, reached under the bed to pull out my sneakers. How lame would it be to tell people that I didn’t do the tri because I forgot my sneakers? Very lame.
I met Heather in the kitchen, where we ate a light snack, filled our water bottles and headed out into the chilly pre-dawn to load our bikes onto the car. I had some choice words, regarding the early hour as we got into the car but I won’t repeat them here (thought my Facebook friends know just what I said!).
The closer we got to Sandy Hook, the more glad I was that I didn’t bail, on the tri or on Heather. I’m not the fastest at anything but I’m a dogged finisher. (Just ask my dad…) It was a beautiful almost-Fall day. The water was perfect, temperature-wise but a little rough. Those waves helped propel me along, though! The bike course follows the shoreline, a great view while zipping along the course. I challenged myself to pick up speed and pass a few people, to my (inner) satisfaction. Getting off the bike, my strategy for the run was to go for a negative split–run the first part of the course at a slow, easy pace, saving my energy for a faster pace during the last part of the 5K. I picked up speed as I approached the finish, sprinting the last few yards and high-fiving the peppy clown that awaited me across the line, where Heather, having finished earlier,  greeted me with a hug.
It was a great race, I was happy that I followed through and noticed that while I didn’t necessarily feel faster, I did feel like it took less effort. It turns out that I did do much better than last year! As usual, my main goal was to not come in last. I like to set the bar appropriately, you know. Not too high, not too low.

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