The Desert International… When I first saw the name, I knew I had to be there. Desserts from all over the world coming together for a huge feast sounded too good to be true. When I arrived I knew I made a huge mistake. There was nothing but wetsuits, bikes, and skinny people. The closest thing to a dessert was a Cliff Bar with a Gu packet squeezed on top. I have since invested in a dictionary!
But since I was there, I thought I might as well make the most of it. The Desert International Triathlon is held at Lake Cahuilla in La Quinta, California. It was a perfect day, no wind and a fore casted high of 78. We ditched the kids so my wife Nancy and my Mom and Dad just enjoyed the scenery…me looking dead sexy in a wetsuit and the guy wearing an extra-small Speedo that didn’t quite cover the goods? (I think Nancy secretly liked the Speedo guy).
Though I have done a sprint tri prior to this race, the Desert International provided many firsts for me: my first “Olympic” distance race, first open water swim, and first time in a wetsuit. Quite an experience getting into that thing! Can you say, “suck it in!?”
As the gun went off a surge of dread and excitement hit me…or maybe it was the shock of the 65-degree water that I confused for excitement…either way, after about 300 yards of hard swimming, getting kicked, and bouncing off people the excitement was long gone but the dread remained. Holy crap, it was way harder than I thought it would be! As the herd thinned out the swimming did get easier, and I managed to avoid the harpoons being thrown my way (so glad Greenpeace made it to the race!)
I eventually fell into a decent groove (a.k.a. controlled hyperventilating and pseudo grace under pressure) and was grateful not to be the last person out of the water….I’m pretty sure I beat the lady with one leg …but the guy with one arm was a fast little dude! All joking aside, it was TRULY inspiring and motivating to see the athletes with disabilities more than holding their own and overcoming the odds.
The bike is my favorite discipline, so I was eager to hit the road. Living in Utah proves difficult for much bike training this time of year, so I was grateful for the flat, fast course. Unfortunately my seat shifted somehow, so even though I was more “saddle-sore” than usual, I enjoyed a great ride and actually managed to pass a few bikers…all of whom probably caught up to me during the run portion of the race, but still it was an adrenaline rush at the time.
A comedian once referred to his strategy for running as, “Start slow and taper off.” That quote makes me laugh mostly because I can totally relate! I didn’t realize until the bike ride (since my extremities were still thawing) that I cut my feet on debris in the water. I had to stop mid-run to fish out some rocks and debris from my feet and shoes, and tried to ignore the carnage. So needless to say, that made for a less than enjoyable 10K. Bear in mind, however, that I use the term “enjoyable” very loosely since this is running I’m talking about after all!
With very tired legs and cut up feet I finished to a roaring crowd of about four people, three of which were family, as the entire world had already finished, received their awards, showered, had lunch and were now napping back at their hotels. (kidding, there were 6 people still there).
Nevertheless, I consider my first olympic tri a successful one, and look forward to many more races. Maybe I’m masochistic and enjoy pain, maybe I secretly enjoy wearing a skin-tight wetsuit, or maybe, just maybe, I’ve found a sport that challenges me to rise above my comfort level and completely satisfies my inner-ADD.
Congratulations, Dave, on a great race and an even better attitude! Dave, a new Gorilla athlete, is competing in a sprint tri next month and looking forward to Escape From Alcatraz in June.