Somehow, I forgot all my lessons from last year’s Triathlon. All I remembered is this amazing energy that I had for an entire week after the triathlon. I was looking forward to that again this year. But I fear that is not to be.

Last year, I remembered how crazy competitive I was the previous time I did the Luna, in 2007, and my 2009 goal was to just complete the triathlon and feel good. Not injure myself, not even be worn out afterwards. And I met that goal admirably.

This year, I began noticing in July that at least half the time when I exercised, I was faster than usual. I had a lot of tension and anxiety to burn and it made me very fast (only, of course, when compared to myself.) I wanted to take advantage of this and, at the very least, not come in last, but possibly even place in my division. Mary and I talked beforehand and agreed that we would not stick together this year.

Things didn’t look good the day before the triathlon when I woke up feeling tired and achey all over. Just walking up the stairs my legs felt like mush. But I took it easy on Friday and spent three hours of the afternoon sleeping. I told Mary I might be with her after all.

On Saturday we were up at 5:45 and got to Blue Lake Park earlier than we ever have before. Last year we barely made it to the water on time, since we got there and remembered we had forgotten our goggles and had to go buy them. This time, because we were there earlier, it took much longer to park and get ourselves marked up and into the area where we were to leave our bikes and our bags. As we were walking through the long line I kept asking Mary, “What’s that noise?” and she said, “I don’t hear anything.” It was not until I lifted my bike up to store it that I saw the back tire, which I had pumped full of air the night before, was flat. I had noticed that it had lost a lot more air than the front tire when I was pumping, and I thought that might be something to worry about but since I worry about everything, I decided to let that one go.

Now I had to take a long circuitous route out of the bike cage area to find some help with my bike. And as I was wheeling the bike out I recognized the noise I had been hearing which was the rim of the bike wheel against the flat tire. There was a booth run by Athletes Lounge , a bike store in NW Portland, and they gave me a new tube and valve and got my tire back to working order very quickly. They didn’t charge me a thing!!!

Of course, that took up every second of time that we had left and we had to immediately go down to the water. This year we had registered in the Athena division, for women 150 pounds and over. In order to be in the Athena Division we had to do the Sprint instead of the Tri, which means a 1/2 mile swim vs. 1/4 mile. It’s only in the last month or so that we’ve been able to build up to a 1/2 mile swim, and it’s not exactly easy. The main reason I registered in the Athena is because the Athenas start their swim before some of the age group divisions, and I wanted to start as early as possible. Since I walk, rather than run, the last part, I want to have as much of a head start as possible, so they’re not taking down the course when I finish. Last year, they had run out of medals by the time we finished and had to mail them to us!

So I was a little disappointed to discover that if I had registered for my age group, I would have gone before the athenas, but still we had a much earlier start than if we had entered the tri division again. It was cold outside, but the water was surprisingly warm. When it was time to go I did what I always do, just swim, with no thoughts to pacing or anything – just swim as fast as I can. It was definitely harder to swim 1/2 mile, but I found myself passing a few Athenas and even a few of the people from my age group who had started a minute and a half before us. Near the end I started getting passed by women in blue and red swim caps, whom Mary informed me later were women in their 50s and 60s who had started AFTER us.

I took my time getting out of the water and getting ready for the bike ride. I thought if Mary showed up while I was putting my shoes on I would wait for her, but she didn’t, so I took off riding fairly conservatively for the first 4 miles or so. I made the mistake of putting a cotton t-shirt on over my wet bathing suit and by the time I finished the bike ride my underarms were very chafed and burning. I picked up my pace later in the bike ride and managed to pass a total of 7 people. I would imagine that about 100 passed me. There was wind the entire time and that made the ride more difficult than it has ever been in the past.

I had planned to wear my water backpack for the walk, but because of my chafed underarms, I decided to just take a big drink beforehand and walk without any water. I ended up walking the entire time with a nice woman named Karen who set a good pace and, because we talked the whole time, the walk went very quickly.

My final time was 2:35:11. I was most impressed with my swim result. My time was 21:59. I had never swum 1/2 mile faster than 29:00 in the pool. Also, my time for the 1/4 mile last year was 11:00 something, so my split of the 1/2 mile was faster than my total 1/4 mile last year. Alas, it always goes downhill from there. I was the 283rd swimmer, the 360th bicyclist, and the 371st walker. My overall place was 353 out of 359. Still last in my division, both Athena and Age Group.

But was it worth it, to come in 7th to last? (My best ever!!!) I would say no. I slept most of the day yesterday while Mary, who had not pushed herself like a crazy woman, vacuumed and did laundry and had energy! My muscles are sore in some interesting places. But still I’m very happy that we completed the triathlon. It was very fun, as always, and I just hope that next year I remember the lessons I have learned (and forgotten) in 2007 and 2010.