I got the idea that I should complete one last triathlon of the 2012 season. It was getting late in the season, and the pickings were slim. But, I happened upon the ‘Last Chance Tri’ that was going to be in the beginning of October in Mattoon, Illinois. I decided to give it a whirl. To make it even more interesting, we added a little trip to Chicago to visit some friends that recently had a baby. The whole Parsons crew loaded up in our car, with my bike and tri gear, and headed toward Chicago. We spent a day and a half in the Windy City and then headed south to the big city of Mattoon. I had been told that Mattoon was really flat (which is awesome if you are biking and running in the streets), but windy. I had also been told to prep for it to be cold. The forecast for race day was cloudy skies and a temperature that hovered at 50 degrees. We spent an uneventful night in the hotel. The next morning, we drove the race routes and ended up driving all over town to explore. 10 minutes later, we had seen everything. So, we stopped at a park to let the kids burn off some energy. The race was in the afternoon, so the plan was for Alex to watch the kids in the hotel room while I did the triathlon. Once I called him to tell him I was done, he would load everything up and come get me. While Alex, Anna, and Luke napped – I wrestled with Mother Nature on the great streets of Mattoon.
The serpentine swim was in a heated, indoor pool. It’s called a serpentine swim because you wind your way back and forth while sliding over, so you enter at one point and exit on the diagonal side. When I registered, it asked me what my swim time estimate was. When you do a swim like this, you are grouped according to your pace. I told them that I thought I would be around 6:30 for the swim. As we were lining up for the race to start, they had signs on the walls to section out the swimmers. It started at 5 minutes and went all the way to 17 minutes plus. I started second guessing myself because my swim time meant that I was about the 10th fastest swimmer there. I opted to let a few people in front of me so I didn’t slow them down. That ended up being a mistake (and shows that I shouldn’t doubt myself). I passed the girl in front of me during the swim and completed it in under 6 minutes.
Immediately after the swim, you run outside to transition for the bike. Now, it was cold for anyone standing outside, but to be soaking wet was another story. My whole body went numb. I dried off as quickly as I could and put my socks and shoes on. I had swam in my swimsuit and tri capris, so I slipped on a short sleeve shirt and a long sleeve biking jacket. I figured that wearing layers was the best option. I threw on my helmet, glasses, and race number – and I was off. The biking was easy and fast, but it was horrendously cold. My skin and hair was still wet, and I was going about 15 mph in 50 degree weather with no sun. And then the wind started picking up – gusts of 15 – 20 mph winds. On the way out, it was to my back, which helped. At one point, I turned and the wind was blowing from my left. I reached for my water bottle to grab a drink. While I was attempting to put my water bottle back, the wind caught it and shot it off into a field. I kept going. I was going at a great clip and passing quite a few people, I was doing really well. I hit the turnaround and made my way back. The wind was mainly head-on and brutal. It felt like I wasn’t moving at all. Snot was pouring everywhere and all I could think about was how thirsty I was. I went to change the display on my bike computer. Apparently it wasn’t seated properly, the wind grabbed it and it went flying into another field. I think I yelled out in frustration. The cornfields of Mattoon got a lot of good equipment that day.
I made it back to the transition area and quickly racked my bike and tossed my helmet. I began running. My feet were like blocks of ice. I couldn’t feel my toes. The combination of being wet and subjection to the cold wind caused havoc on my toes. I kept trying to run, but it was next to impossible. I don’t know if you have ever attempted to run (or walk) when you can’t feel your feet. It just doesn’t work. I kept stopping and kicking my feet on the curb – anything to try to ‘wake them up’. It wasn’t working. I kept moving, slowly. About a mile and a half in, my toes started to thaw out. I was exhausted and doing everything I could to just get to the finish line. I walked quite a bit. As I neared the end, I picked up my pace. I was ready to be inside where the heater was working. I crossed the finish line. It was anticlimactic. No one was there to cheer me on, so I gave a little cheer for myself. I handed off my timing chip and went inside to warm up and change clothes. Alex came by to grab me and we made the drive back home. My first triathlon season was over.
Official Times (275 yd swim, 12 mile bike, 3 mile run):
- Swim: 5:59 (rate of 39:53 per mile)
- Division ranking: 2/9
- T1: 2:10
- Bike: 47:26 (rate of 15.2 mph)
- Division ranking: 4/9
- T2: 0:31
- Run: 44:18 (rate of 14:31 per mile)
- Division ranking: 7/9
- Overall Time: 1:40:27
- Division Place: 6/9