When you take a break from a sport like triathlon you find when you return your “used-to-be superior” equipment is suddenly “old school”. Now couple that with the not wanting to replace the equipment that you tossed because you don’t want to invest the money when you’re unsure if your first triathlon back is going to a one hit wonder or a fruitless comeback and you suddenly feel like a rookie again!

Heading into Challenge Rancho Cordova here is where I stood:

Bike: Specialized Transition from 2009

Helmet: Road helmet. Am I really going to go fast enough to warrant an aero helmet? Not likely!

Sunglasses: Tifosi’s. Why? Smyth ate my stylish hot pink Rudy Project shades in protest for leaving him home alone for more than 5 minutes!

Bike Shoes: Road bike shoes with ratcheting buckle that won’t slide all the way in because Elise ate them. You might be asking yourself at this point if we ever feed our dogs. YES, YES we do. They just have a thing for MY stuff and only MY stuff!

Run Shoes: Trainers with holes in the sides and regular laces.  I call the holes my extra ventilation and I decided not put in elastic laces because the laces were going to be the least of my problems during the race.

Race belt: Um….Where did I put that thing? I must have about 5 but they hide in the same sneaky places that my socks do!

Goggles: Pink shaded goggles with scratches on the inside of the lenses because I frequently use my nails to scratch of the mascara that I forget to remove before swimming.

Wetsuit: Sean’s old wetsuit from 2010. The night before the race I decided I couldn’t wear my wetsuit. The last time I put it on it felt too tight and my shoulders hurt. I had two choices – too small or too big. I chose big. The night before a race is usually the best time to decide to switch gear, right?

Gear-wise I think that about covers what I brought to the party!

The Race:

I heard rumors that there are people who wake up race morning excited and ready to go. I am not one of those. I wake up and instantly ask myself why, why did I sign up for this. After whining to myself for bit we were off! About half way to the race start I had the sudden realization that I forgot my goggles. I briefly contemplated swimming without them but we turned around and still got to the start in with enough time to get ready.  I had a good swim. I found some feet about ten minutes into the race and enjoyed a nice draft the rest of the way along with my baggy armed wetsuit! The draft was important because I struggled to see the buoys through the scratched lenses. I exited with a decent time and was ready to ride.

StephBikeRC14As I tried to buckle my dog-chewed shoes in T1 I was quickly reminded why tri shoes are definitely the way to go. Once off and riding I knew that the biggest predictor of how this ride would go would be how much nutrition would be left in my bottles at the end of the ride. Eating and drinking on the bike is definitely not my forte. Although I know better I keep think that I am the one athlete in the world that can do a 5 hr race with minimal fluid and calories. Pretty quick into the race I lost a full bottle at the railroad tracks. I think I was slightly relieved because it was one less bottle I had to attempt to try to consume. One day I will get the nutrition right and probably be amazed at how much better I feel. The rest of the ride went smoothly. I stayed on pace and safely entered T2.

In T2 I realized that the buckling my bike shoes was nothing compared to trying to tie laces in a hurry. It took me three attempts and even at that they ended up in a knot – not a bow. I think 2-3 people tried to tell me on the run that my shoes were untied. I just plodded along letting them drag for 13.1 miles. If bent down to fix it I may not have been able to stand back up.

StephFountainRC14The run was hot. After stopping in Austin several years back my main goal was to finish and not to walk. I usually pride myself on my run – not today. Today I prided myself on not timing my splits, enjoying racing again and finishing! Partly because I wanted to finish with a solid time and partly because Sean said he wouldn’t give me a ride home if I didn’t. While we all know he would have anyway it was a good motivator! I ended up finishing with a 5:01(8th amateur, 4th AG).

When the race was over, like everyone, I thought about what I could have done to go faster, wondered if I could have pushed harder on the bike and run, etc.. but it didn’t matter. Unfortunately in racing “should-ofs, could-ofs, and would-ofs” don’t count! I finished happy with a respectable time with limited training and was instantly looking at races I could do next.

It was a successful day. Looking forward to many more.