Two weeks ago was a BIG week. The triathlon was on Sunday - pictures are on Facebook if you're interested in seeing them. It felt much less chaotic than the last one, especially for the swim. I didn't like the way it was run - six of us in the pool at a time, all with different swim caps on and with five second staggered start times. I was last and yet I was still swam over about five times - the other swimmers showed little consideration for me and seemed really aggressive. I wound up just standing up at the end of the pool and letting several of them go by because it was less stressful than getting shoved aside in the water and getting water in my face. I was the last but one in the six lanes of the pool when I asked how many more laps I had to go. "Oh, you're done!" I was told, but I'm convinced I only did three quarters of my distance. I believe my time bears that out - it's like what I'd been doing for 300 meters, and I really don't think I was so ramped up that I was suddenly swimming 25% faster. I got out of the water anyway and went to the transition area to pull on my padded shorts & helmet & get on my bike.
This put me in a bit of a mood for the bike ride as, by my understanding, technically I was now disqualified (and I kept expecting an official to tell me so), so everything I did was pointless as I wasn't really in the race anymore. The bike section was the one I hadn't really been able to train for in the previous three weeks as my new job is too far from the gym for me to do a bike/swim session over lunch (I'd chosen to focus on the run as I knew running 5 k was going to be pushing myself), so going from having done zero biking for nearly a month to doing 20 K was a bit of a surprise. The Crystal Palace route is hilly, too, so there's a few bits where you have to push yourself, and you had to do the thing six times. I was really glad that barkingwatcher and shadowdaddy were there to cheer me on - it was fun to see them every time I went past the main viewing zone and my mood started to improve as it became clear that I was really going to be able to finish the race. I was glad for the padded shorts but my butt was still sore at the end - I was on my bike for nearly an hour.
Finally I was done and I cruised back into the transition area (all literally downhill from the bike circuit), then whipped off my bike shorts and replaced with light running shorts over my swimsuit. Now, if you know anything about triathlon clothing, this seems like an utterly unnecessary step, so a little background. I'd bought a tri suit with built in bike shorts, suitable for swimming in, but it had a "comedy bra" utterly unsuitable for me to run in, so I'd bought a one piece swimsuit (from Panache) with a fantastic supportive bra and done my beginners' triathlon in that. Unfortunately, not only did my butt ache afterwards (as no padded shorts) but I'd hated the photos of me so much that it had actually knocked my self image down to "gross and fat" and I wanted to not feel that way about myself after this tri. However, I didn't want to do the tri in both my swim suit and the tri suit as the tri "suit" was too tight over the shoulders for me to want to run in it. Solution: change clothes twice. Yeah, it slowed down my transitions but it's not like shaving two minutes off of my time was going to suddenly make me 50% faster, or even 1%. Instead, I had a less sore bum and I didn't hate my photos, so I think it all worked out just fine.
The run was a slog, complete with an uphill section and too much time in direct sunlight. Sure, I should have been grateful it wasn't sheeting down rain in Biblical quantities like the previous Sunday, but the glare in my eyes was difficult to deal with and I was a bit worried about getting sunburnt - and it was hot. Despite doing the whole 5 loops of the circuit at "Ranger shuffle" speed, I did manage to _not walk a single step_ which was what I had set as my personal goal. Other people were walking by this time, but I carried on step step step all the way through.
When we finished our circuit, we came into the Crystal palace stadium via the running track, and MAN was that a nice surface to run on, slightly springy with some grip, no icky slick spots like on the circuit in the park, and there was the finish line and I actually put on a bit of speed because I could and because it was nice to run there. And I was through the finish line and WOO and I got a cupcake in the participants' tents and lots of whooping from my two cheerleaders. My time was quite slow - apparently you could do it in 1:15 but I was at 1:56 - but my 5 K speed was no slower than it had been the previous time I'd run it, without having done a 400 M swim and a 20K bike ride beforehand - so I did just fine. And I finished it. I was pretty happy about that but to be honest my thought right after the race was, "As soon as I get into some clean clothes I am getting me a huge plate of food," and that's what we did, going to the nice Salvadoran restaurant near the triangle at Crystal Palace and digging in.
A few days later just to make it the week of big accomplishments I gave a paper at a professional conference for software testers on the Webcowgirl's guide to test automation, which seemeed to go over really well. With all of this stuff under my belt I felt a bit of celebration was called for and I got my hair done and a pedicure. It's going to be hard to top that week. But autumn is coming and lots of big changes so I guess we'll just have to see what the future holds.