It was a crazy weekend.
Friday afternoon/evening was spent helping the Mary Meyers Tri group get people ready for the race on Saturday. I got my numbers painted on as well as my bag of goodies and arranged for help getting out of the water and into my leg. However, it was Friday, so then spent an hour and a half sitting in line for the ferry. When I got home it was playtime for the doggies and bedtime for me. Yeah, that really doesn't work too well. Luckily the volunteers were force fed veggie sub sandwiches, so I did have something to eat before my obligatory "hush, it's bedtime"s.
Up bright and early Saturday as I hadn't even packed the night before. The bike needed tire pressure checked, cables lubed, chain cleaned and lubed. I needed some nerve tonic, but that was not to be. Instead I loaded my bucket of stuff and myself in the truck and headed for the ferry. This race was just mine. Not for the kids, or the grandkids. Just me. I went about getting my transition area set up. Got in to the zone, so to speak. I went down to the water's edge and arranged my volunteers and then made the snap decision to do the swim without my wetsuit. The water was in the 60s somewhere, but I honestly didn't feel it as the adreneline kicked in. All went well in the swim portion. I still had a few issues getting back to the leg, but it is a work in progress. Two wonderful volunteers waded in and became my support/crutches. The bike portion was interesting. Because of construction the route had been changed and two plus miles were added. The bike is my achilles heal. (An interesting analogy as my original injury was to my left achilles tendon!) Anyway, no son to coach, but no son to hold back, I headed out on the bike. I wore my watch this time and set a few little goals, time wise. I really wanted to be back before the awards ceremony was in full swing. I soon found myself cat and mousing with another woman. As she passed me the look of joy was a kick. "You are the first person I have ever passed" said she. Gee, I think I was happy to give her that wee bit of pleasure, but it did sting a bit. Soon enough she did ME the favor as I soon overtook her. The hills were tough, but for the most part I stayed on the bike, until the second half of the second lap. That was when I realized that somewhere along the route I had lost the cap to the suction valve that holds my leg secure. Actually I just knew that I had lost the suction, I didn't know until later why that was. If I got off the bike I had to hold my leg on as I walked. At least on the bike the pedal held it on. No more wimping out, I guess! Unfortunately with each turn of the pedal my residual limb was smacking and shearing inside the socket of my prosthesis. That is where the importance of the volunteers came in. That is also where the importance of my fellow competitors comes in. All kept me going. Just keep peddling, peddling, peddling. Transition to the run was smooth. Sunglasses and running leg on, helmet off. Number on. My leg was wasted. The long side. I did very little running. My time was going to suck. I decided that if I couldn't run then I sure as heck was going to "power" walk. Until I came upon my biker friend. She was struggling. How the heck she got in front of me is beyond me...I slowed down and we walked the last quarter mile together. She kept trying to run but it was obvious that she was spent. I suggested she wait until the last few yards and run the finish line. She took off and pitched toward the ground. After gathering her, and my nerves, I told her to just walk it and I would wait until she was over to go. She did, I did, and that was that. Medallion was placed and I went back to get out of the running blade and into my trusty everything leg. That was when I discovered the missing valve. Bummer. It was Saturday, I had to be up at the crack of dawn to go volunteer at the Kitsap Tri-Turtle-Tri. My back was already objecting to the two inch height difference in the running blade. It is just not made to walk in, and I had done more than enough during the race. No fixie until Monday. Note made: get spare parts and keep in the bike repair bag. I gimped down to the beach to watch the kids tri. There is nothing cuter than an eight year old boy, goggles on, board shorts hanging below his knees, number painted on his stick thin arm, running out of the lake and into the transition area. They were so darn cute. I wanted my little friend Gabe there. He could have taken them all. The short bike route, with a couple riding with training wheels, was followed by a sprint around the park and thru the finish line. Now THAT'S what it is all about!!
Home I went to lick my wounds. I had a huge bruise on the distal end of my tibia and a blister forming next to it. I knew that once the leg was off I would not be able to get it back on. So I took the dogs out for a quick game of fetch, cleaned up the results of two days of marrow bones, took some ibuprofen for my aching back, and head to bed for a nap.
When I got out of bed I checked to see if I could rob Mary to pay Paul. Steal the suction valve from the running blade and put it on the walking leg. No can do. sigh. Instead I dug out a leg that I was going to donate. It is several legs ago, but I just hadn't remembered to take it in. Now it will stay. It was roomy enough to stuff my swollen stump. By now my running blade had developed a weird chirp with each step, so that valve had developed a leak as well. Hmmmm. There must be something better, me thinks. At any rate, it was decided that I would be doing little the rest of the day, and after a steak dinner, nothing but 10 ounces of beef steak, really, only steak, I fell sound asleep.
Sunday I got to the park at 6:20 and put on my "Crew" shirt. It was the hardest job I have ever done, bar none. I watched the bikes. Some of the bikes on the "VIP" rack cost more than my truck! They were amazing. The athletes were pretty amazing too. Darn!! Wearing that volunteer shirt allowed me to get up close and personal with them. It also allowed me to get even closer as they left and I insisted on checking bike number against the numbers painted on their legs, which were carefully covered for warmth, by the big time athletes. "Excuse me, sir, but I need to pull your pants leg up and check your number. Oh, two layers? Perhaps it would be easier to pull them down..." It's a tough job, but we sure wouldn't want anyone walking out with someone else's bike, now would we? Sorry, I got ahead of myself. As each person left the bike area, during the race, then returned, I worked the cowbell. I took all of my frustration at not being out there on the clapper of that bell. The elite athletes were coming in at just after an hour. Total time. There was still a person in the water. It was incredible. They were fine tuned machines. We were betting on who would be first out, then first back. Super kid Dane Ballou won the race with a great time (1:11:22) that even made him happy. (Marty Krafcik and his amazing super bike finished at 1:13:09.) An amazing kid, and incredible athlete. He has trained hard and deserved the win. The next racer wasn't even close. For the next three hours racers trickled in. An aid car came and went. We checked bikes out and people went home. Finally word came down that the last person was a mile from the finish. I could not go home. She was a Tri-Babe. The tents were coming down and soon everything but the finish line was bundled up. She was coming! She had an entourage of volunteers with her. She was not going to quit. As she entered the park I began to cry. Our eyes met. She was my swim buddy. She gave me a hug and whispered to me that I inspired her. Darn!! I asked if I could walk her to the finish line. It was just around the corner. We walked arm in arm until twenty feet to the line. I stepped aside and went around. Once she was through(4:06:40) I told her to let it go. The tears. She did. Her family gathered her up. The pride was palpable. I hope she does another. I hope she trains with me next year. As far as I was concerned the most important people that day were the two that crossed the line first and last. They both will continue to carry me.
So my season is now over officially. I will continue to train and will focus on losing the weight that I gained a couple of years ago when I went out of remission. Yeah, I am backwards and gain weight. I am, however, hooked and will also spend the winter trying hard to "become one with the bike." They say hate is so very close to love, right? Perhaps I will learn to love that darn bike.
In an hour I can call for an appointment to get my leg fixed.
What a weekend!