Surrounded by racers in wet suits, I entered the Snake River in my running shirt and shorts, my official Spudman race number pinned to my back. Of the approximately 250 people who started in my wave, five of us were not wearing wetsuits.
A mile downstream I exited the water and began the 25 miles bike portion of the triathlon, atop my trusty knobby-tired, hybrid bike. Of the approximately 400 people who sped past me on their bikes, there was not one whose bike had knobby tires. The four people I biked passed also had thin, smooth-tired racing bikes.
In the 6.2 mile run, my equipment matched that of my fellow participants. Every that passed me (many) and everyone I passed (few) had legs that more or less looked like mine (two of them, descending from hips to reach the ground, graced by knee joints located approximately half way between hip and ground) and was wearing shoes, like me. It was my least redneck portion of the triathlon, but my most red faced.
I raced slow.
Chris and Sallie Hislop, Scott Rasmussen and two of his boys, and Rick participated with me. I was the first one in the water—I started with the fourth wave, Scott in the fifth wave, and the rest in the seventh wave—and the last one of us across the finish line—1265/1799 overall and 26/43 in my age and gender category.
And I raced happy.
It was a glorious experience. Really. The water in the Snake River was warm and largely liquid—I did snag a few random strands of river weed—and the current is gently encouraging. The bike ride was simply beautiful. The route followed country roads and seeing row after row of Idaho potatoes brought back hosts of great teenage memories. I even enjoyed the pungent “dairy air” smell of the occasional milk barn I passed. And the run wasn’t excruciating, a fact I completely appreciated. The sun, predicted to pound down on us, bringing with it temperatures in the high 90’s, spent the day shrouded by clouds instead. The overcast skies were a tremendous tender mercy.
Always, a week or two before a race and again in the moments before I start a race, I question my sanity. Why do I sign up for these things? Why? WHY? I have many other things to do with my time and many other places to spend my money……
Often (almost always, in fact) I question my sanity during the race. Why did I sign up for this? This is hard. And it hurts.
But, always, ALWAYS, at the end of a race, there is a story. And life is the stories you can tell.
Spudman 2016 is now a story. And the story is a good one.