Triskaidekaphobia and Fear of Cats (With a K)

Sad but true: no Marlborough Tri in 2014. Fingers crossed for a 2015 comeback

Sad but true: no Marlborough Tri in 2014. Optimist that I am, my fingers and toes are crossed for a 2014 comeback.

Since Streamline Events axed the Marlborough Triathlon from its 2013 lineup, I’ve been as befuddled as the Big Bang Theory’s Sheldon when the Syfy network unceremoniously dumped his fave show. I mean, seriously, Streamline—Marlborough wasn’t just any race. It was my race…where F-ELITE Vicki showed nervous newbie-me how to rack my brand-new bike (2010)…where I earned my first ever “1st AG” (2011)…where I honestly thought I could beat Boston Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference on the bike leg (2012who knew that dude could crank the pedals?).

Streamline cancels it without my consent? Cruel and unusual.

Resilient chick that I am (read: resilient chick that I am working reallysuperhard to become), it didn’t devastate me. (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it). I healthily went in search of something to fill the void, another hometown race. The search was short, since there’s only one other tri in town: Firm Racing’s Lions Spring Pool Sprint at Wayside Swim and Racquetball Club.

In a way, it’s weird that I didn’t choose this as my first race oh-so-many years ago. After all, I’ve been a Wayside member for a gazillion years. I met my coach here and did my very first triathlon pool workout here too (in a string bikini; nuff said). The maintenance guy knows that if I am looking for him it means the Vasa needs new batteries. Heck it is even the club at which a teensy-tinsy Daughter #1 cowered in the corner during racquetball lessons (sadly she inherited her mother’s fear of flying orbs) and an even teensier-tinsier Daughter #2 learned to love the water:

Lida with her favorite instructor, circa 2003. I am pretty sure her name is Melinda though I can't be sure since she hasn't worked at Wayside in, like, a decade.

I kindly did not photograph Daughter #1 cowering in the racquetball court but I snapped lots of photos of Lida with her favorite instructor, circa 2003. I am pretty sure that instructor’s name was Melinda though I can’t be sure since she hasn’t worked at Wayside in, like, a decade.

Another gratuitous cute kid shot. How could I resist?

Another gratuitous cute kid in the pool shot. How could I resist?

Like Cheers, everybody at Wayside knows my name…unlike Cheers, they aren’t always glad I came. I’ve been known to become “difficult” when, say, the earbud-wearing power walker on the next treadmill randomly blurts out lines from Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive”. Or when an eighty-year-old acquacizer meanders into my lane when I’ve 200 yards left of a 500 TT. Still, they do a stand-up job of loving me through my hissy fits.

Pre-Race Perks
Membership does have its perks: the manager of Wayside’s fitness room also happens to be my massage therapist and friend. Steve offered to let me stow my stallion in his massage room overnight, so the boy would be all sorts of freshly rested and ready to roll. I got a huge kick out of this offer and giddily took him up on it. Yes, Viper got the VIP treatment. I guess that makes him “VIPer” for the day. Here’s the oh-so-special boy, the night before the race, reclining against Steve’s torture I mean massage table:

My high maintenance guy.

I spend a *lot* of time in this room…so it was fitting for my high maintenance guy to rest here the night before the race.

Lucky 13
I arrived at my preferred insanely early time, unapologetically parked the Prius in a staff slot, said hi to lifeguard Ryan and waited for Steve to arrive to release my race-ready stallion from his stall. (Yes, I was that early—I beat the manager to the club). I checked the numbers list—ya’ll know I have a thing about race numbers—and did a double-take to make sure I was seeing straight:

Find your name, find your number, pick up your packet...I do love it when I get a unique number, and it doesn't get much more unique than 13!

Find your name, find your number, pick up your packet…I do love it when I get a unique number, and it doesn’t get much more unique than 13!

No triskaidekaphobia here–I immediately decided #13 was the best thing that could happen to me. I texted it to my coach and his reply sealed the deal, confirmed it was an omen of awesomeness; Tim told me he was #1313 earlier this month when he posted a top ten finish at the Kennedy Space Center’s rather cool Rocketman Tri:

I interrupt this blog to brag about my coach: at the Oly distance Rocketman 2013 Tim placed fourth overall and won his age group by more than ten minutes thirty seconds. That's, like, A LOT. Here he is with his #1313 rocking the bike leg.  So. Insanely. Awesome.

I interrupt this blog to brag about my coach: at Oly-distance Rocketman 2013, the incredible Tim Crowley placed 4th overall and won his age group by 10 minutes 37 seconds. That’s, like, A LOT. Here #1313 rocks the bike leg. Pure awesomeness.

I love symmetry just as much as I love race-day numerology, so this numerical tidbit connecting me and my coach was exponentially awesome, nearly sent me into orbit (I almost inserted an apology here but on second thought you really cannot expect me to resist those puns so I will not apologize). I borrowed Steve’s scissors and obsessively trimmed my twist ties to the perfect length before giddily affixing my Supremely Lucky Number 13 to VIPer’s seatpost. It was kinda fun to be me 🙂

The low numbers get the primo spots in transition, so I beelined directly to the first row of racks and got to choose my real-estate. I naturally chose the best one and had just started setting up when #12, another girl racer, whirled in to transition and selected the slot right next to me even though, like, we don’t have to rack consecutively:

I love it when girls have pink bikes. So much easier to track down and kill I mean pass.

12 and 13. Viper appreciates it when girls have pink bikes… It makes it that much easier for him to hunt them down.

If it weren’t for the pink wheels I might not have known the owner was female and that’s not because she was one of those muscle-bound types my friend Kate calls Quadzilla. It was because I couldn’t see any muscles or skin at all; for some reason #12 was wearing a black skull cap and down parka that went all the way to her knees, as if it were the dead of winter and not a clear spring 60-something morning. Sure, it was slightly chilly, enough to make me glad I had the foresight to wear my track jacket and running tights over my itsy bitsy tri suit, but a feather-stuffed coat felt like overkill. But maybe she knew better than me—maybe this is, like, the latest pre-race prep philosophy. Ack! I wasn’t prepared enough! She didn’t talk to me or anyone else. She moved about transition with an air of efficient precision that had the potential to rattle me. OK-OK it went beyond “potential”…truth be told her intensity was totally freaking me out.

And then her upended helmet caught my eye. Her name was written in Sharpie inside of it. At first I wondered how the ink didn’t run, what with all the sweat it must be subjected to, and then I didn’t care, because I read the writing on the helmet:


O-M-G. Kat lurked under that coat.

Now, if you’ve read this blog once or twice, you know I can get a little fixated on the competition. I’ve raced Kat before and she is great–she beat me handily at last year’s Ludlow, like by more than a minute 30 over the sprint distance, placing first to my second AG. She is not only great but she has been doing this a long time. And she’s also the RD of the incredible 70.3 Pumpkinman Triathlon. And the wife of the incredibly talented triathlete Jeff Donatello (read: built-in kick-ass training partner).

My brain signalled to my body to initiate Full Freak Out Mode.

And then my phone rang. And it was my mother, who was in her own freak-out mode, over where she should park to watch the race. Try as I may, I could not summon the ability to be nice. “This is not my problem today,” I growled and hung up, leaving her to her own devices, which is, like, not a good thing. (Sorry, Ma. But you should really know better by now. Expect no pre-race kindness.)

I needed to drown my fear of Kat, quick. I beelined for the pool, where I claimed my very favorite lane (the center one–it keeps me away from the lane 5 aquacizers plus it’s the only lane in which I can manage to stay straight during backstroke because I can line myself up with the midline of the peaked roof). I was the first one in and the last one out when they told us it was time to get this race started.

The swim: Home Pool Advantage

In a pool sprint, your number is determined by your self-reported projected swim time. It was fun imagining myself as the 13th fastest swimmer and I went with that thought, convinced myself I was speedy on the swim and the brain thang worked; I actually felt as fast as this photo looks and had a fantastic swim start to finish:

I absolutely love this photo...especially all those feet of the athletes lined up awaiting their very fun!

I absolutely love this photo…especially all those feet of the athletes lined up awaiting their send-off…so very fun!

Post race I sent my Garmin file from the swim to Tim with this note: “I am thrilled to report that the Garmin recorded my pace on each length as follows: 1:23, 1:31, 1:36, 1:40, 1:39, 1:39, 1:40, 1:47, 1:38 and the last one I am mortified to say shows up as 2:15 but that’s only because it includes the attempt to get out of the pool–it was much harder than usual, and even though I didn’t feel like I had toasted myself on the swim while I was actually swimming it sure did feel that way once I had to get myself up and out! The slowing down in lane 4 I think may have been just as much about worrying that the guy behind me wanted to pass–remnants of my yucky swim at Ludlow–as it was about getting tired. I cannot wait to do this race again next year and make those all 1:20s instead 🙂  Lots of room for improvement”

My swim split: 4:21
My place on the swim: 25th overall (6th if you weed out the boys)
Best swim splits of the day: The first male was the super-speedy Blake Wheale (M 25-29) in 3:11 (he would go on to finish the race 2nd OA). Best female was the seemingly jet-propelled Carol Pearle (F 45-49) who zoomed through 250 yards in 3:26 and went on to finish the race 34th OA.

The bike: 13 Chases 14
Once we were on the bike it was easy to forget about #12; she quickly receded into my rearview mirror (not that VIPer has a rearview mirror; you get my point). It was all about #14, a boy-powered bike that showed some serious giddy-up. There’s my riding partner, I thought.

Well, I thought wrong. That boy was blazing fast and after the first descent all I could do was look in vain for him around every corner.

Whilst looking for him I caught several riders, including the incredible Jo Poole, #11, who I misjudged when I first passed her. I say I misjudged her because I thought she was as gone in my rearview as #12 but she kept coming back for more. We played this crazy cat and mouse game, passing each other three or four or five times in the last few miles. Naturally, I made sure the last pass was mine and had serious incentive to speed through transition as we were neck and neck.

I should note here that there are no photos of me on the bike, since my mother was race-day photographer and she claims I am too fast to photograph. Clearly she needs a photography lesson but I did think that comment was kind of awesome.

My post-race notes to my coach on the ride: “This is the ride I had in me last week but that didn’t get to come out then due to the rain 🙂 The only thing I would change is that I would have been faster so I could have avoided seeing the poor raccoon limping off the road to a painful death (but I would have had to be much faster, as the #1 rider (bib #14) saw him too–we commiserated about it afterward and I told him I thought he might have been the one to inflict the damage as he was just that speedy. His name is Steve O’Brien (M 25-29) and he lives in Clinton and he rode 24:53 to my 26:03. I am just a little excited that I had the 5th best bike overall and the best overall of the girls…and also a little irked that George called it “talent” although I know what he means and I know he means it as a compliment but…you what what I am saying!…That said, if anyone ever accuses me of having “talent” on the swim or the run, I will fold that compliment right on up and put it in my back pocket, save it for a cloudy day 🙂 This year I descended at 33.3 mph; next year I want to do 40, if the weather gods cooperate :)”

My bike split: 26:03
My place on the bike: 5th overall
Best bike splits of the day: The non-raccoon killing Steve O’Brien was the first guy, in 24:53. First female was yours truly.

My T2 split: :24
My place: 6th overall, 3rd girl
Best T2s of the day: The first male T2 of the day was former senator Scott Brown; I can’t help but wonder if running away from Democratic trackers helped him do this in such a super-speedy 16 seconds. The girls’ race to dismount was insanely fierce: Jo Poole and Carol Pearl tied for best, both ditching their stallions in 23 seconds.

Me and the Speedy Senator Brown

Me and the Speedy Senator Brown

The run: The Incredible Jo Poole
Jo put on her running shoes a second faster than me. As I exited transition I worried that I wouldn’t have anything left for the run; I really did give the bike leg my all, and it’s a hilly one to boot. So I had to use that brain control thang once again, telling myself that it isn’t the bike leg I am best at but the run. (Apparently on race days I am not above yelling at my mother or lying to myself.)  I told myself this was my leg and #11 would soon be trailing #13.

Since she was seeded 11th to my 13th, her race began 30 seconds before mine. Our accumulated times at this point: Me, 30:48. Jo, 31:18. So while I am a step behind, I am actually in the lead. Someone else will need to explain this concept to my mother, who despite teaching math her entire life struggled with this concept.

Since she was seeded 11th to my 13th, her race began 30 seconds before mine. Our accumulated times at this point: Me, 30:48. Jo, 31:18. So while I am a step behind, I am actually in the lead. Someone else will need to explain this concept to my mother, who despite teaching math her entire life struggled with this concept.

That thought didn’t work for long…we haven’t even crossed the street and look how quickly that gap is widening! Jo Poole is an awesome runner.

The lead did not last for long. Here we are seconds later. Seriously, this is seconds later! Jo you rock.

The lead did not last for long. Here we are seconds later. Seriously, this is seconds later! Jo you rock.

Didn’t matter. The run totally rocked, all 3.2 miles of it. I channelled the best of my training partners, becoming George on the hills, Sumner on the flats and me in the last mile when I knew I could get this done in something around seven minutes or something a lot closer to six; my best pace in that final mile was 5:20.

Less than a quarter mile to go...

Less than a quarter mile to go…

Post-race notes to my coach: “I thought I ran well last week but this run was even better 🙂 Hillier course and better splits and I am thrilled that I no longer look at my HR data while I run because I definitely would not have run this good of a race had I looked since the file shows my HR averaged 172 and maxxed out at 180 and the steep Cook Lane descent was the only time it went below 165 (to 164)–those are numbers I probably would have tried to control by slowing down had I seen them. My average run cadence was 87 and max was 101, and for a hilly course that makes me smile. Like a lot. :)”

My run split: 24:06 My place on the run: 26th overall Best run splits of the day: first male was Steve O’Brien, in 17:37 (!!!). First female was The Incredible Jo Poole, who placed 13th overall on this leg, with a time of 22:40

For the .000001 percent of you who actually care to know more than that, full race results are here.

2nd OA

Add all those splits up and I was 2nd OA

pet peeve: stay for the awards ceremony, people!

Pet peeve: stay for the awards ceremony, people! This is the Overall female winner’s podium. Minus Jo Poole on the first step and Kat Donatello on the 3rd. Ggggrrr.

lots of goodies

lots of goodies…they gave me a plaque for being the first female Wayside member to cross the line

That’s all I’ve got. As usual, thanks for stopping by. Don’t let yourself get freaked by the number 13 or cats (whether spelled with a C or a K). Transition like a former senator, sprint up hills like George and if you’re  Bill Burnett bring back the Marlborough Tri in 2014!!!! Just make sure it’s not too close to the Wayside date, as I’ll want to do both next year 🙂


About garmin_girl

I'm a 40-something single mother of three--two great human girls and one four-legged Dalmatian banshee--who is hellbent on swimming, biking and running straight through my midlife crisis. Care to tag along? Crazy loves company! ;)
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1 Response to Triskaidekaphobia and Fear of Cats (With a K)

  1. katdonatello says:

    Just found this. Such great writing! Long season wrapped up! Hope you had a good one and hope to see you at Pumpkinman one day!

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