My sister Michelle and I went back to Lake Nockamixon State Park yesterday to give the Diamondgirl Pennsylvania triathlon course another try in advance of next month’s race. Our last trial run was wholly disheartening, with two flat tires that dragged our bike leg out to nearly two hours. Our goal yesterday was to see whether we could complete the bike course in one hour, which would tie us for dead last place in our division according to the 2009 race results.
I have to tell you, my mojo was fully turned on yesterday. That time was etched into my brain like a baby’s time of birth in a new mother’s mind. Michelle recently saw a TV special about the Green Berets in which trainees can be bleeding, dehydrated, and exhausted, and the trainers look down at them and say, “You’re fine, soldier. You just need to develop better coping skills.” I couldn’t help but think of that line while approaching the course’s biggest hill yesterday, an incline that I have to downshift in my Jeep in order to scale.
There I was, pedaling with burning thighs and aching hamstrings, needing to make that climb as fast as I could to hit the one-hour mark. I don’t know why, but I started to heckle the course. I taunted it the way a soldier mocks its prey.
“Up yours, hill!” I screamed like a madwoman, ramming my feet into the pedals and trying to maintain my 25-mph momentum the way a rocket rages against the force of gravity. “You ain’t got nothing on me, hill! Green Berets! Green Berets!”
You know, while wearing my pink T-shirt and baby-blue helmet.
It’s hard to say whether any passing motorists heard me or thought I should be restrained for the good of society. I know Michelle heard me, though, because she was cracking up as I flew by her in a swirl of sweat.
You can imagine my giddiness when I got to the finish point, looked at my odometer, and saw a total time of 47 minutes. Michelle was right there with me, beaming with pride for us both.
I went through last year’s race results again this morning, and our bike leg time from yesterday falls smack in the middle for our category. My goal going into this summer’s triathlons was to “finish within sight of the back of the pack” after being a nearly dead-last straggler during my first race last year. I wonder how I’ll feel next month if I’m actually in the middle of the pack. It hadn’t even occurred to me that it was a possibility, until yesterday.
Can one hyperventilate from excitement when already gasping for air following a race? I think we just might find out.
But first, I have to change gears for this weekend’s Spring Lake Five, a five-mile seaside run at the New Jersey Shore that Michelle talked me into doing. I wonder if I can have a couple of Green Berets T-shirts delivered by 8:30 a.m. Saturday. I think they would be apropos.