In the lingo, an "oly" (rhymes with holy moley) is an olympic-distance triathlon, and Pleasant Prairie was my first one. The near-mile swim, 25 mile bike and 10K (6.2 mile) run was twice my usual distance, and twice the lessons learned.
I obsessed about this race--was my training adequate? Why are my legs always sore? If I'm peeling off my wetsuit and it sticks to my feet, will I tip over? And the ultimate dwell: I want to finish this race in three hours. For the week leading up, I managed to turn conversations about politics or our checking account back to the race, and it was starting to take the fun out of the sport (and our marriage). Lesson Number One is to focus on having the best race I can have that day and let the rest take care of itself.
Lesson Number Two is to cut my toenails. I didn't fully realize until the race was over and the shoes came off how bloodied and wounded my toes had become, thanks to a rogue pinky toenail that had free reign during an hour-long run.
Lesson Number Three applies to the swim portion as well as real life--be careful who you follow.
Drafting is perfectly legal and very advantageous in swimming; simply sidle yourself behind a comparable swimmer (without getting kicked in the head) and ride their current. On the long side of our .9-mile triangle I did just that. As we were swimming directly into the rising sun and it was near impossible to see the buoys, I figured I would draft behind this kind lady and let her guide me to the next turn. A few minutes into it I stopped seeing others around us, and a quick look around found us in the middle of the lake, twenty yards from the rest of the pack. Drat.
After my post-race nap I checked the results online. I already knew from my own watch about how fast I had completed each leg, but the online version gives me my times compared to all other females age 35-39. Lesson Number Four comes here. My overall age group rank was 41st out of 58--not in the top half (as I'm accustomed) for any portion except the swim. But here's the thing--I finished in less than three hours. So I think I'm slowly learning (the hard way) that it doesn't matter how well I do compared to others, so long as I'm improving myself.
Yesterday was the last triathlon of my '08 season. I already have plans for the off-season; I know how I can improve. Lessons learned.