Thursday, June 25, 2009

Putting the "Tri" in "Philatriphia"

Last weekend was the Philly Tri. Decided to do it with some runner friends who apparently have also lost their senses.

Here are some reflections:
  • MJ died last week. Sad, yes... what is sadder? We had to drive out to Philly with NOTHING BUT MICHAEL JACKSON ON THE RADIO. We rocked out to Smooth Criminal the first time... by the 8th time, there were almost more deaths.
  • This was my first trip to Philly itself.... I found it better than I expected. It has Potbelly's, which is by far the home of my favorite sandwich and cannot be found in PGH, it also has a museum to which I must take Cheezy... When we needed to be picked up there, I may have referred to it as the "touch me" museum, but I believe the locals call it the "please touch" museum. eh, whatev. Also, lots of car horns... and sirens.... and I ate dinner under an honest to God manhunt... helicopter with giant spotlight and all.
  • So, the tri itself.... hard to put it into words... Marathons are so easy. Well, not easy... but they're simple. You lace up your shoes, wait for the gal in front of you to start running, and then don't stop until someone is hanging a medal around your neck. Simple. Enter the triathlon. Holy crap. I need three separate pairs of shoes!! I packed more for this weekend than I have packed for trips three times this long. Bike stuff, swimming stuff, running stuff, regular stuff. Oy.
  • First up, the swim. I don't know if you know this about me, but I enjoy being able to see my feet when I swim. I can't explain why, I've never been so much as kissed by a jellyfish... yet I am terrified of open water. So what do I do.. sign up for an event that requires me to swim in the Schuylkill River. Awesome. It was an in-water start, so I didn't have to run in, I was able to freak out on a dock for a few minutes before taking the great leap. The rest went well... 3/4 of the distance was toward this bridge. That was both a good thing and a bad thing. Good because it made spotting easy, bad because the damn thing didn't seem to be getting any closer. It's waaaaay harder to break up the distance in the water than on land. I had a brief moment of panic in the middle that took me by surprise, when it sort of hit me that I was in the middle of a river and there was no stopping at a water stop or coasting for a minute or anything like that... I just had to keep going. It passed quickly though and I made it out of the water faster than I anticipated.
  • That led me to a special hell they call the "transition area". Chaos, people, chaos!! There are so many rules! first of all, you had to navigate some sort of maze to even get from the water to the transition area (hence my silly long transition times). Once you go there, you had to find your stuff among the 3000 other bikes and pairs of shoes and whatnot. THEN, you had to navigate your way back out with your poor bikey without killing someone.
  • The only thing I have to say about the bike portion is that you have to kind of not care if you die a little to successfully ride in a pack. Also, I'm a horrible climber... I have no idea why, but I'm an embarrasment to Western PA. Bike took way longer than I wanted, wasn't prepared to be riding with 3000 of my closest friends. Will be better prepared for this next time.
  • Oh god, back to transition!!! Nooooo!. Easier this time, no major wardrobe changes (effing wet suit), just a shoe change and lots of praying for my legs (you try biking for an hour and a half then talking your legs into a 10K.... seriously, try it... it's interesting....).
  • Luckily, I'm somewhat experienced at running tired, so by the time I got to the run, I was able to just zone out and put one foot in front of the other... until the medal part ;). I have never before and will never again be so happy with maintaining ten minute miles.
The executive summary is this: weekend was fun, triathlon was harrowing and terrifying and awesome. I feel like a rock star.

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