The sea is my Neti-pot: my first triathlon

I emerge from the surf, tuxedo under my wetsuit

Yesterday I finished my first triathlon. The Hyannis Sprint Triathlon II, to be precise–“sprint” meaning something you just dash off before starting the real business of your day. Actually it was a big mental and physical challenge to get ready for the race, particularly jumping into the surf to do the swim part (1/4 mile) before the 10 mile bike and 3.5 mile run legs.

I took swim lessons for the first time in about 30 years, from a great instructor at MIT who happens to be a triathlete herself. She managed to convey the basics of freestyle (and breast stroke) technique that have evolved since the mid-1970s, and between her help and the James “Dorky” Bond wetsuit the swim phase went so much better than I had thought/feared it would.

Biking very sloooowly past the beautiful Cape beach grass

Then the bike phase. I spent the first mile or so marveling at just how much seawater had managed to get inside my head and was now flowing all over me (thus the title of this post: don’t knock the Neti Pot until you’ve tried the full immersion version!). Then I cruised along, head held high–actually, way too high, in what could in no way be described as an “aero” position–riding my banana-seat bike with a kickstand on the very same roads as $5000 dudemonger machines.

In case you run into me again on the course–and yes, that’s right, I’ll be back–here are my little rules for who is allowed to pass me during the bike leg:

  • Anyone older than me (age is written on their back right calf): they must be a total badass to pass me
  • Anyone younger than me: obviously they must be more fit
  • Anyone whose bike requires a special truck-mounted pump to inflate its tires
  • Anyone huffing loudly and rhythmically, as though faking orgasm or yogic satori
  • Anyone wearing a unitard: surely letting them pass me is the least I can do to help them cope?
  • The guy driving a flatbed truck loaded with Spot-a-Pots

Anyone else, you best think twice before you step to the Joshinator.

As a first-timer they waived the penalty for wearing nonmatching tri shorts and tri tops

Happily during the run leg I was able to pass some of these very same people who had so boldly crushed me on the bike course. I took particular satisfaction in passing the person who had written on her leg not her age but ਸਤਿ ਨਾਮੁ , which in the Sikh tradition means roughly “There is one god” or “Eat my dust, worm boy.” (Apologies to Sarah M. for any blasphemy there.) But beyond these earthly competitive instincts, I was psyched that I was able to keep a running pace as fast or faster than my training pace.

It was a great culmination to a summer structured by the training tips I got from a book called the 12-Week Triathlete. I was proud to join the ranks of the many other triathlon people from my age group. And having my family there, on September 8th, was a wonderfully positive way to celebrate life together during a difficult season for us all.

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