The original plan was to bike to each of Columbia Association's 23 outdoor pools and swim a lap at each. Because of the reschedule, 8 of the pools are now closed for the season, so 15 were listed on the cue sheet. The cue sheet also showed about 42 miles of biking between the start and stop to swim.
Since the event would take about 5 hours, hydration and nourishment would be key, especially in light of Saturday's issues. Deb was planning to be at stop #10, so I had her set up with a stash of backup stuff -- a granola type bar, two cold bottles to replace mine, and a change of clothes in case I'd need it.
Then there would be the schlep. I'd need a towel and something to carry my other crap -- cell phone, keys, Power Bar stuff (somewhere just before half way, I broke out a pack of lemon Power Bar Gel Blasts. This was the best tasting carb product I've tried so far), gels, etc. I picked out one of my kids sling bags, thinking that this would be comfortable and easy to get off and on.
In preparation for the day, I had secured some triathlon shorts to be able to ride and swim without changing. I have one bike jersey that has a full zipper, rather than a half. Thinking that would be easiest to get in and out of, that was the attire for the day.
The start was scheduled for 10 and I got there just before. It quickly looked like the turnout would be small. By 10 after, there were just 5 of us and we were off.At the first pool, we were met by just a life guard. The town was kind enough to open a couple of the pools early for us. Just 10 minutes or so into the event, a few things became apparent:
- As slow as I am running, lap swimming redefines the word ssssslllllllooooowwwww!
- Form is an afterthought. My swim goal is to go from one end to another without touching the bottom of the pool.
- A lap is not a length. Go figure. I thought we'd be doing one way "laps." Ed said that's a lenght -- make it a round trip.
- Transitions suck. With 15 stops, each having 2 transitions, the learning curve is quick. Come into the pool with everything on -- dump on a chair -- swim -- back to the chair -- dress. 15 times.
- What I thought was a cool sling bag seemed to not want to stay in place. I must be doing something wrong.
One down, 14 to go.
Most of the pools were close together, but two were lying fairly distant from the to the others. En route to pool number 4, River Hill, a few more things came to light:
- That friggin sling back sucks! No wonder my kids stopped using it. Every other minute, it was working its way around front, then I'd have to sling it back. What a pain.
- Riding 38 miles of hills the day before this event. . . maybe not my brightest idea. The hills on this route are not really bad compared to others outside of the town but I was truly suffering.
After River Hill, we had a fairly long stretch to get to the next pool with one of the steepest hills. On my way up, I dropped my chain. F*#k! (Has anyone dropped a chain going down hill? Ever?) Then, I dropped it again. S&%t! Then again. F*#K-S&%T! I must have knocked something out of alignment on Saturday.
So here I am, only 4 of 15 pools in, maybe a dozen miles done and I've lost 9 gears (well really only the two or three easiest gears that I use with the small front chain ring), I'm beat, I'm waaaay last (but thanks to Bryan, I'm not alone) and I'm just thinking. Only 6 stops until Deb will be awaiting my arrival. Do I throw in the towel (literally) at our home pool? I could. I'd only have to suffer through the knowledge that I'd be wussing out 2/3 of the way through. I've done that plenty of times. The old fat me was king of the wusses. Well, now I've got nothing but time and 1/3 less gears to think. I can't stop before that or I've got a lot of walking to do.
Thankfully, the next set of pools were very close together. I'm pretty much dealing just with the pain in the butt sling bag, wet socks and trying to remember NOT to drop to the small chain ring.
Along the way, the one woman that started off with us dropped out and we pickup up a guy for a one pool ride.
We got to my home pool, Dorsey Search, at around 2. Deb was awaiting our arrival with camera in hand. My boys were very excited to see us all there.
Form? What form?
Deb had everything I had asked for -- two fresh iced bottles, change of clothes, new towel. I dumped the sling pack and put what I needed into my carry sack on the bike. I was the only one using a towel and had stopped at around the 5th pool so the sling pack was extraneous at that point. Amazing how well air drying works! She even had a bagel with peanut butter. Took one bite and we were off again.
Here we are in all our glory. From the left, me my son Zach (how'd he get in there?), Ed and Lou, the shirtless founders, and Bryan, another first timer.
From Dorsey, we had one last long ride to the next pool, then we nailed the balance in fairly short order, finishing sometime around 3:45.
After 43.1 miles on the bike and 750 yards in the pool, Ed pulled out a batch of home made chocolate chip cookies, which this formerly fat guy gladly ate.
Other than a few now seemingly minor issues, it was a really fun day. I felt really good about the whole hydration and nourishment thing, eating pretty regularly along the way. Thankfully, this wasn't a race or I'd have been hours behind the rest. That's one of the big differences, though, between bike events and running events. From what I've seen, most bike events (non-triathlon) are go at your own pace. It was very social and I'm ready to sign up for next year! Thanks, guys!