Cycle U Coach Colin Gibson, a category 1 road cyclist, did the Black Diamond sprint triathlon on a whim and won the whole race. (Full disclosure: he’s a former collegiate swimmer. But it still shouldn’t be that easy!)
I am a weak-upper-bodied cyclist, so I decided to try out the Black Diamond sprint race to see if my arms still worked after several years of using them only to spread Nutella on toast. When Cycle U employees Mary and Dameon caught wind of this, they started giving me all the essential triathlon tips and accoutrements. My game plan was simple: 1) get a wet suit and some KY jelly for speedy transitions, 2) intimidate other racers by peeing in the water before the race, and 3) don’t completely suck at running.
Race day, I met up with Mary and a couple other Cycle U racers, who were in the transition zone (TZ, as the pros call it) for the ceremonial sizing up of the competition. Mary provided me with several spray bottles of a substance to apply to various parts of my body/pieces of equipment to make them slippery. I also covered my bike with this substance because I read on slowtwitch it gives you +5w.
It was clear and cold for the start of the 800m, clockwise, diamond-shaped swim, and I lined up on the far left of the beach, which was like 20 yards closer to the first buoy than where everyone else was lined up. We started, and I kicked and clawed my way toward the front, following the leaders. My arms felt like the arms of an inflatable flailing-arm tube man. At one point, some milfoil touched my toe and I screamed. I wound up fourth out of the water, 20 seconds behind the leader, by which time my arms were dead to me. I must not have used enough lube on my wet suit because my transition lost me another 20 seconds to the leader. I took off on the bike wet and angry with the pace car in sight.
I figured that the bike is where I would make or break my race, so I set to put my head down and giv’er. I took over the lead at about mile 4. By the start of the run, I had about 2 minutes on 2nd and 3rd. At this point, I almost decided to skip the run and just observe the procession of Olympic-distance racers making incredible pratfalls on the topographically complex and water-saturated grass of the transition area. Remembering the undoubtedly huge cash purse available to me, I thought better of it and took off running for the first of two laps on the dirt trail around the lake.
The run was only 2.8 miles, but I had no time checks to my pursuers, so I was running like Jerry Seinfeld after he stole a loaf of bread . Still, after a mile, I heard the pitter-patter of steps behind me, and saw a runner approaching. Figuring my goose was cooked, I slowed up to let him catch me, only to realize that he was on a relay team! We worked together to set pace for the second lap, and then I attacked him with a few hundred yards to go to cross the line clear.
For my efforts, and beneath a banner advertising a gluten-free nutrition product, I was given a loaf of wheat bread and a trophy.
Thanks to Mary and Dameon for the support and advice, and finishshots.com for the picture!