The Latta Plantation Tri went much better than I’d dreamed—or maybe I should confess that I dreamed it would go well but didn’t really think it would. Even during the staging, up to my waist in lake water, I considered pulling out. My head wasn’t in it. But my head didn’t have to do the race. As I’d hoped, I was able to focus once I started moving.
I came in to the finish in a cluster of three Clydesdales (guys over 200 lbs.). Passed two of them, then yelled to the one in front, “Two Clydesdales back, let me see you kick!” The man took off like I was a barking pit bull! His sprint was a thing of beauty.
Highlights included Wes running alongside me on the quarter-mile from the lake to the TA, encouraging me to sing “Wanted Dead or Alive” as I rode my steel (actually, aluminum) horse; keeping the sole woman in my age group to pass me in sight throughout the end of the ride; coming up on my friend Christy, who posted a 12:00 750-yard swim, at the end of the bike (“Shit!” she muttered, hoping not to see me till the run), then hitting the dismount line in tandem; feeling strong on the run, despite nothing more than strides by way of run training for weeks; watching my teammate Candy race to the finish, a picture of intensity but still with beautiful form, and seeing her get the prize for first in her age group, reacting as the other two winning times were called and she knew it was hers.
It was a treat to get third in my age group, since I’d figured this race would mark the end of “the streak” (on which more later). The awards were in brown paper bags, which made them seem exotic, like Oscar gift bags. Inside, though, was a short water bottle and a Clif Bar. Everyone was opening the water bottles expecting to find gift certificates inside. A good reminder not to care about the prizes. I must say, it was an especially tasty chocolate chip Clif Bar, and it made part of a great recovery protocol that included two hours floating in the pool and a really great surf and turf dinner at my in-laws’.
Since my kind-of-disappointing performance in the Richmond Marathon in 2004, I’ve gotten an award in each of the races I’ve done. (Obviously, I’m good at picking the little races!) At first it was fun to have a streak on, then it felt onerous and stressful, and now it just feels old. Saturday I have the Race for the Cure to run with my friend Randy, who had breast cancer last year, and with a bunch of my running-group buddies. I couldn’t think of a better place not to win an award.