Monday, July 26, 2010

Old Yeller and the Mad Cyclist

In accordance with the Reneau Weekly Racing Streak, Jason and I participated in the Music City Triathlon this past Sunday.  I did the sprint distance (400m swim, 13 mile bike, 5k run) and Jason did the intermediate distance (1500m swim, 26 mile bike, 10k run).  This was a first for Jason, but since I did the JRAG Buster Britton Tri the previous month, I figured I knew what to expect from myself.  I had done very little swimming, more cycling, and plenty of running since then.  

The swim, however, had some surprises.  We were swimming in a river and there was a current.  It was also more crowded which meant swimmers were closer to me, bumped into me on occasion, and I was not fan of that.  We swam from the dock out in a big horseshoe shape and back to the dock where there were two available ladders for us to climb to get out of the water.

My swim was all over the place.  I couldn't get my rhythm, I couldn't catch my breath and then right at the end, I sucked in a mouthful of water which made breathing even harder.  The sun was in my eyes so every time I popped up to make sure the current was not carrying me off course, I could hardly see where I was supposed to be going.

In spite of everything, I made it out of the water just fine and jogged to the transition area.  I was relieved to be out of that water and able to catch  my breath!  It felt so good to be on my bike.  It seems so strange to feel that way when I am still relatively new.  It felt familiar, and things started to feel more enjoyable once I got going.

As usual, at the beginning of the riding portion, there was a lot of passing.  I usually get passed quite a bit, so I try to find my place and stay to the right so the other cyclists can go around me easily.  I do pass some riders, however, and I try to do that as quickly as possible - per the 15 second rule the race directors explained to us.

I rode along, enjoying the coolness of the wind against my wet skin, getting used to the rhythm and picking up speed.  The course had some hills, but they were much more gentle than most of the rides I'd been on, and I didn't slow down as much when climbing as I usually do.  Around mile 4 I passed a small group of cyclists. Once I had passed them I glanced back and then moved back over to the right.  A girl about 2 bike lengths behind me yelled something at me.  I have no idea what she said, but I certainly received a nasty "On your left!" when she passed me again.

I had no idea what that was about.  Passing is certainly an acceptable occurrence.  While the rules state that as soon as my front wheel is in front of your front wheel I have the right of way, I always make sure the rider behind me has plenty of room before I move back over to the right.  If I'm going to pass, I alert my fellow cyclist and make it snappy. 

So I didn't understand what I'd done to upset her, but I didn't think yelling was the appropriate response.  So, as any good competitor would do, I decided it was ON.  I began to refer to her in my head as "Old Yeller" (although I had a less kind name at first) and I decided Old Yeller needed to go down.  Not literally as in fall off her bike, but as in get left in my dust.

Only, I had no idea how much dust I could actually leave behind.  I meant to give it a shot, though.  I passed her once more with a vengeance, pedaling like a mad woman up a hill and then I switched my gears and pedaled like a mad woman all the way down. Now that I was in front, I intended to stay there.  Which meant lots and lots of crazy pedaling.  No rests when riding down hill, harder gears, whatever it took.

I rode like a mad cyclist on a mission.  My legs were burning, but I figured it was probably good for them.  I was able, at my mad cycling speed, to pass several others and every time someone passed me, I gave them a quick glance to make sure it wasn't Old Yeller.

I never saw Old Yeller again.  Once off my bike, I got a quick sip of Powerade, took off my helmet and my cycling shoes, threw on my visor and my racing flats, and off I went.  Still like a mad cyclist only without the wheels.

As I've stated before, being a runner in a triathlon has its advantages.  It may take my legs a moment to get used to the new activity, but once they do, they are on familiar territory and ready to go.  The run had some MAJOR hills.  No gentleness here, they were steep and long.  I wasn't running very quickly, but I was still running and I passed several walkers.  It was a confidence boost to say the least.  In road races, I usually get in a pack and we all run together.  I rarely catch and pass anyone, especially in a 5k.  Triathlons, however, are a different story and there are athletes of all kinds, many who do not like the running portion of the race.

I finished my run in exactly 26 minutes.  When the results were posted, I realized I had taken 2 minutes off my last triathlon time and I was thrilled.  I don't know exactly how long my swim took, but I'm sure it was slower while my ride was 5 minutes faster and my run was about the same. I finished in 1:30, 5th place in my age group out of 23.  I was pleased with the day's efforts.  I visited all the snack tents, drank an entire bottle of water, and then went to cheer for Jason as he finished his event.

As for Old Yeller, I never did see her again.  I explained the situation to Jason and he wasn't sure what could have caused her to get angry either, but I should probably be grateful.  If it hadn't been for her, I never would have ridden like a mad cyclist and pushed as hard as I did.  So thank you, Old Yeller, whoever you are, for the extra push.  It was just what I needed.


  1. it was me. i knew you needed the extra push. that's what friends are for, right!? :)

  2. HA! Old Yeller. You should have gotten right next to her and given her a really sweet smile and wave and then shot off like a cannon, all the while yelling "On YOUR left, Rabies!"

    And yes, you should definitely check out the Mark Haddon book - it's different from my usual reading fare, but I really liked it.

  3. Ha ha - y'all crack me up! Emily, if it would have been you, you would not have been able to help yourself. You would have started talking to me and I would have started talking to you and that ride would have taken forever. :)

    Oh Amanda, I wish I would have thought of that. I was kind of waiting until the run when I thought I'd run by her and shout, "On your left!" (which you never really have to do in running) but I did not anticipate being able to pass her on the bike. :) Rabies! ha!