I come from a family of tri-studs. My brother Ben, at right, did his first triathlon, the obscure but fun Windman olympic distance, last November. He had hopes to do a half-ironman Spring 2006 and jokingly told me there was no way I could do something that tough. Who was he kidding? I’m tough! Perhaps he remembers me at an early, girly, stage. Just look at me out in the snow with tights on! Clearly, I was made of nails…even as a child. Apparently, Ben had also completely missed tough Soccer Anne!
The time had come to set the record straight. The following January, after being egged on by my Ironman dad (yes, that picture is recent), I signed up for a half-iron man race. Barb’s race, the only all-women half-iron distance triathlon in the world, would be held August 12th in Sonoma county, California (read, vineyards).
I’ll keep the account of my training for Barb’s race short and sweet. This is entirely appropriate, unfortunately. Yes, I was undertrained going into the event. However, I had a fabulous bike, Ben’s borrowed wetsuit, my dad’s borrowed goggles and my “fast” zoot suit. I had spent a lot of time in the garage at my parents’ house, riding on the trainer late at night, feeling hard-core. I had gone swimming and running on my vacation in Hawaii. I had run in the ice and snow in Provo. I had completed the Auburn Sprint distance triathlon, and the bike portion of the Caliman Halfironman. I was a ready as I was going to be. And, I was motivated. My dad promised me an Ironman jogging stroller if I completed the race, and Ben (none too optimistic after having observed my training over the summer) eagerly promised me a Baby Bjorn if I beat a single person in my age group.
After moving to Columbus the previous week, I flew to California for the event. Ben, Kim, and my parents came to cheer me on and offer CPR if necessary. My dad entered the Full aqua bike event (no run, but twice the swim and bike I’d be doing) at the same competition. Ben manned the camera, my mom was nervous enough for all of us, and Kim was fabulously (and foolishly) optimistic. We were quite a team! I spent a sleepless night in the hotel, brainstorming ways to get out of starting the event.
- I had forgotten The Best Sportsbra on the Planet at my parents’ house, so surely no substitute would suffice. No wait, we had found a wal-mart and found a couple alternatives.
- I had forgotten a watch! We all know that when experiments are done on humans who are locked up with no concept of the passage of time… they go crazy! No wait, Wal-mart had sold watches and my dad had picked out a nice, girly purple one for the occasion.
- I had forgotten how to swim! Surely death awaited me in that river. No wait, it was knee-deep in some places.
- It was just too hard! No wait, that would mean Ben was RIGHT and I was WRONG!
Fortunately, that last thought prevailed and I was all fired up in the morning. Nauseous, sleepy, nervous… but fired up.
For the blow-by-blow on the race itself, check out the the captions and photos on SmugMug.
Here’s a little before and after to pique your interest:
Can you guess which is which?
The Spoiler: I earned an Ironman jog stroller but NOT a Baby Bjorn.
Reflections: I was tougher than I think my family thought I was. “Bobe” is a family nickname from “Annie Annie Bobe-Annie.. Fee fie Fo Fannie…” and my brothers tend to think of me as a little girl still 🙂 . However, I was not as tough as I thought I was. Looking around me at the older people, overweight people, physically challenged people, etc. who were beating me and pushing harder than me was a humbling experience.
This was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, and I will highly recommend it to anyone who asks me. I feel great physically (and did feel great even just a few days after the event), and emotionally it’s a HUGE boost to think about the support I received from people who love me and the grit it took on my part to dig deep and finish that race.
The future: I will do another half-ironman triathlon and I will finish in less than 7 hours.