Hawaii Tinman Triathlon

If you’re my Facebook friend, I created a photo album there with about 40 photos from the event, including finishers and winners. John was the photographer, and everyone knows he does a great job.

I got to bed about 10 the night before and set the alarm to stun at 2:45 to get to Kapiolani Park by 4 a.m. for check in. John didn’t get enough sleep. I might be the participant, but he’s my Burden Stylist. Every gal should have such a gracious guy. The day before, while cleaning up the garage with Kid1, John took a few minutes to refresh me on my tube-changing skills. Seems I rarely have a puncture and I forget how to do it. So I sat in the kitchen and let the air out of the back tire on one of his bikes to practice. I know now. I did it four times. I didn’t need to know for the Tinman, but I know.

Up way before the butt-crack of dawn.

John took the wide-edged Sharpie and wrote 254 on my arm and leg, with the leg getting an extra layer of ink. That’s as close as I’ll ever get to a tattoo. Some of my friends’ numbers were streaky and fading because of sunscreen. I’m not a fan of sunscreen, especially if we’re going to be through by 9-9:30 a.m. It gets in my eyes and burns, and it’s tough in my goggles or when I’m riding. Yes, I did have that awful actinic keratoses last year, but I do wear sunscreen other times. Just not in early morning competitions. You don’t have to follow the link. It’s ugly. You don’t even realize you have it, you just think your arms are scaly or feel like sand paper. Now I do the daily maintenance on my skin.

OK, I think I did a complete fail here. It’s kinda funny. I got to the park relatively early, so there was plenty of space to set up. So I found a great spot on an end, close to the bike and run exit, and rolled out my yoga mat under my bike. I like having a folded yoga mat for my transition. I put out my bike shoes, my helmet, my riding sunglasses, my running shoes, my socks. I stuck my singlet inside my backpack so it wouldn’t blow away. I had pinned my running number on the front and my biking number on the back. I like a little more coverage, at least until my keg is replaced with six pack abs. So as I’m relaxing a little I am joined on the rack by guys. Young guys. Guys who are all elites, who have yellow swim caps, who are in the first wave. They were so sweet, polite, kinda fun. We all introduced ourselves. I realize I’m like a den mother. No one seemed to mind. An official who walked by several times didn’t object. My friends were setting up in the blue-cap zone, where I should have been, but it was only one rack over. I’ll remember for next time.

I think it really helps to have been part of the Tinman training put on by Try Fitness Hawaii, which owner Kristin Carlberg created to focus on women. It’s like having built-in friends at an event, people who see you when you’re transitioning, out on the bike, doing the run, generous with the attagirls as you tackle the I can’ts that cloud your mind and overcome them with Oh Yes I Cans! I spotted Katherine Nichols with her #9 on her arms and leg and we had a nice chat. I like her a lot because she’s a mom, a writer, has been through a heck of a lot, and has a big heart. People who are athletic stars sometimes come off as chilly, and maybe that’s the game-face thing, but beneath it all are people who are wondering if they remembered to write the check to pay for the kids’ meal trackers at school. Like me. LOL.

The Swim: 17:20:20.
Katherine and the rest of the elites were in the first wave of the swim launching at Queen’s Surf Beach, a pod of yellow swim caps in the dusky morning. It was dark! The horn blew at 5:45 and off they went. I was in the second wave with men 60 and over, women 40 and over, teams, and teen boys and girls. Water patrol guided us as it was low tide. My face has never been that close to reef in my life. It was treacherous. I had an OK swim at 17:20. Slow for me, but I did what I could. Toward the end somebody was really whacking my legs and butt, so I gave a big kick to clear them off me. Getting out of the water is getting easier for me. I think my participating in the North Shore Swim Series is helping me with that.

T1: 03:54:30
I found my junk slippers by a trash can and ran to do my T1: at 3:54:30 is kinda long. Gotta shave the transition time. I rinsed my feet before putting them into the bike shoes, never really getting rid of all the sand, and I skipped the socks. We had to walk (run) our bikes to the timing mat and then mount on the makai side of the street. As I looked at John’s photos after the fact, we noted how the elites have their shoes hooked on their bikes, and they all start pedaling with their feet on top, smooshing down on the shoe. They then reach down and slip their feet in, while riding. Could I do that? I’m not sure. My heart was racing. When they returned, the same thing. They all had their feet on top again. I’m going to see about learning how to do this.

The Bike: 01:27:22.
Good thing I didn’t bother with socks because that bike ride was pretty much a 22-mile slippery adventure through several downpours. By the time I got to Hawaii Kai Church Preschool where my darling daughters were ringing cowbells, I was feeling good. I blew them kisses and wrapped my head around getting up Heartbreak Hill. It is always hard, but my training prepped me. I popped down into my small ring, kept it calm, took it easy, and I persisted until I crested. Then I popped my chain back onto my big ring and got down the hill, and to the hairpin turn at the bottom without any trouble. Hawaii Kai drivers who are out on the road at 7 a.m. are cranky and impatient. They beep horns and make U-turns close to cyclists. The police officers and ride officials kept bicycle safety as their primary goal. I do not know if anyone got hurt or fell, or if an impatient driver hurt anyone.Why not sleep in, make a pot of coffee, and read the paper? Who cares if you praise at home for once?

So, as I was worshiping during the Tinman, enjoying the fellowship of about a thousand other athletes, on edge because the roads were so slick and the atmosphere soupy, I was grateful for the positive vibes, the graciousness of my competitors, and the generous spirit displayed by all involved. Kudos to the aid stations. I always opt for water, and I don’t take anything until I’m doing my run. And sometimes, if there is someone there I know or like or admire, I try to squeeze in a hug. This time it was for Raul Boca during my run at Kapiolani Community College. He asked how I was doing. That was nice.

T2: 02:53:30.
That’s kinda slow for a transition, too. Off the bike, rack it. Take off the helmet. Change from bike shoes to running shoes. I was putting things away in my back pack, even took off my sunglasses because it was raining so much. I tried to put on my shoes several times but the inserts kept slipping. After the third time, I took them out. I didn’t really need them as I’m a mid-foot striker. Still, had I not bothered with them, I probably would have been out of there a minute earlier. Note to self, again.

The Run: 01:18:47.
As expected, this is my slow leg of the triathlon. For the first mile my legs felt like lead and my shins hurt. By the time I got to Monsarrat and started to climb, that pain went away. When  you crest a hill, it all gets better. From that point I found my groove. It’s a cruiser groove by others’ standards, but I do what I can. I have a knee ailment, patellofemoral syndrome, irregular tracking of the knee, on my right leg. It probably has something to do with the fact that my right achilles had burst two years ago and isn’t quite right yet. I went to see the sports med doctor and he gave me some exercises to work with. I will say that my knee did not bother me during the run. I eased into it and I finished with a sprint down the chute, cheered on by my friends. When we got home I iced it down.

Buoyed by the spectators and my teammates and by John as I sprinted toward the finish, I felt really happy that I had made one of my goals. I wanted to finish in less than three hours, but I did it in 03:10:18. But my other goal was to finish before 9 a.m., and that I did, by about 2-3 minutes. So this is my personal record and I bet I can beat it next year, when I’m older, wiser, maybe a little leaner, and hopefully not injured.

I think I can safely say I’m a triathlete. 


Hmmmmm. The doctor isn’t so sure I should do these. He likes that I’m a triathlete, but he doesn’t think I should run this much. I’m just trying to get through 2012. Next year, I will focus more on triathlons.

By lavagal

Hawaii Kai wife and mom. Melanoma Stage 3a Cancer survivor. English Language Arts teacher, English Learners Coordinator, and Paraprofessional Tutor. Super sub teacher. Dormant triathlete. Road cyclist and Masters swimmer. Gardener. Mrs. Fixit. Random dancer. Music Curator. A teenager trapped in an aging body. Did you know 60 is the new 40? It is.

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