Must. Train. Harder.

Yesterday was season three, race one in my continuing effort to beat my younger sister across the finish line of a sprint-distance triathlon. You may recall that at the end of last season, after an exhausting amount of incessant training, I came within 19 Stinking Seconds of catching her. Alas, victory was not to be mine yesterday, either, mostly because I didn’t train enough before this race. While I’m proud to say that I did finish the entire quarter-mile swim, 10-mile bike ride, and two-mile run, I must also admit that it wasn’t my best showing. I was actually four minutes slower yesterday than I was on the same course a year ago. Heck, I was so slow yesterday that I actually got passed by a guy with one fake leg.

Actually, I got passed by precisely 245 of the 269 competitors. I know this because women 40 and older, as well as Athenas who weigh more than 150 pounds, were the first wave of competitors into the water. That’s my wave, and I started swimming right at the front. So I was literally in the first row of competitors who went onto the course, and yet 245 people completed the race before I did. That includes the dude with only one real leg, a person with asthma who carried an inhaler, and the two oldest competitors of the day, both of them 68 years old. It also includes the handful of people who were using yesterday’s race to train for even bigger ones, like Iron Man events. While I was gasping for air, singing Coldplay songs in my head to help keep myself on pace, and basically just trying to make it to the end, they were actually sprinting through the sprint-distance course, running alongside professional trainers who carried stopwatches and shouted more things about electrolytes every 10 seconds than I’ve heard in my entire life.

So, kudos to everybody who kicked my butt yesterday. And to my sister, who beat me by 2 minutes and 22 seconds—which is winning literally by a mile in triathlon-speak, depending on how fast you can pedal a bicycle.

As I begin preparations for September’s re-match against my sister during our third-annual race on the much-longer Delaware Diamondman course (0.6-mile swim, 16-mile bike, 2-mile run), you can be sure that I’ll be training much harder than I did for yesterday’s debacle. I also will constantly be reminding myself that I did better yesterday than everybody else on the planet who chose to sleep in. Hey, it’s only fair to give myself a little something for the effort.

Yesterday’s race, by the numbers:

  • 1/4-mile swim, 10-mile bike, 2-mile run
  • My overall time: 1:31:53, which is 4:36 slower than on the same course last year
  • Winning Athena’s time: 1:07:38
  • Overall winner’s time: 45:19 (wow!)
  • My overall finish: 246 of 269 competitors
  • My finish among Athenas: 15 of 18
  • Number of minutes I stood in a 70-degree lake while waiting for the official start of the race just after 7 o’clock in the morning: 17
  • Number of superhuman athletes who whizzed by me on their bicycle while shouting, “Just keep at it, you’re doing great!”: 1
  • Fastest speed on my bicycle going downhill: 31 mph
  • Slowest speed on my bicycle going uphill: 4 mph
  • Number of times my sister and I high-fived each other on the run portion of the racecourse: 2
  • Decibel at which my sister cheered me across the finish line: at least equal to the landing of a fighter plane on an aircraft carrier

And a few additional statistics, just because they give me hope for the future:

  • Number of times I had to correct my course during the swim: Zero. I am getting much better at swimming in a straight line with zero visibility in murky lake water, a life skill that could come in handy, say, during a future weather emergency
  • Number of tries it took me to mount my bicycle: One. This is a vast improvement over last year, when getting my bike shoes clipped into the special pedals on the uphill start took me four tries (several people wiped out and landed on the ground yesterday trying to do this—it’s definitely not just “riding a bike”)
  • Number of times I had to walk to catch my breath instead of running: Zero
  • Number of chances I still have to beat my sister this year: One. With almost three months of training to go. Plenty of time to get faster!

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