The Rest of my Wildflower Story

I don’t have a whole lot more to say about the race. Anyone who has been reading these Wildflower stories over the last couple days probably gets that the courses be they long course or short course are tough. The environment is tough. You take about 8500 athletes, cram them and their friends and families into a hot, dry dip between a bunch of big hills, provide them with next to nothing in terms of amenities and then send them off to swim in cold choppy water, bike over high hill and rolling dale and run up dusty, dirty trails under the blazing hot sun. It’s awesome! If nothing else you know you are alive when you’re done because what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger and if you get to the end and you’re not dead you have a great sense of vitality.

When I finally found my way out of Lake San Antonio I ran to my transition area which was not too too far from the swim out. I had still not conquered the art of getting my wet suit off and it took me quite a long time. I almost called over to some guys for assistance but I’m glad I didn’t because I do believe they were DQing people for that. I finally got the damned thing off, dried my feet, put on my bike shoes and ran about a mile to the bike out area. Seriously – we were way far away from that. T1: 7:12 (!!!!!)

My ride was good. I had plenty of water and I drank some Gatorade endurance here and there. I had Nuun but never drank it (big mistake). I also had Cliff Bloks in my Bento Box and managed to eat 2 or 3 (which doesn’t even come close to how many calories I needed).

I loved the ride, though. I thought Lynch Hill would kill me but it didn’t. None of the other hills killed me, either. I just spun up and pounded down and had a great old time. When I got back to T2 in 2:06 (by my Garmin) I was happy. Not everyone would be happy with 25 miles in 2:06 but I thought it would take me longer because I’m not a really strong rider. So happy, happy, joy, joy – its time to run.

Of course I discovered that my running shoes were still tied. I guess I was nervous when I set up – doh! I didn’t realize how bad off I was until I took off without my Gu that I had carefully decanted into a gel flask. I had grabbed a protein bar and downed a couple of Sports Legs caps, though. I ran toward the mats and noticed my HR was at 146 and I thought that was high to start a run so I stopped, still in the transition area, and drank water. I just wanted it to come down to 125. I waited. I was panting. I was hot. I kind of knew I was in trouble. Finally I crossed the mats – T2: 7:22 (!!!!) So about 15 minutes of my total time was just in transition. Total rookie maneuver – live and learn!

I started running but that didn’t last long. It was hot and my heart rate kept jumping back up. I walked. I got to the mile1 aid station and drank water and got hosed down. I tried to eat some protein bar but I couldn’t swallow it. My stomach started going south. I tried to run. I walked. I tried to run… and on it went until I pretty much gave it up and just walked. I was so sick by mile 3 I couldn’t drink water any more. I just kept moving. Mile 4 – yeah! Mile 5 Hooray! Downhill soon! I got to the top of the hill and started running down. I ran, I walked, I just wanted to make sure I could run the chute. And then there it was – the chute! I ran and they called my name and I ran and I knew no one would be left in the stands for me because I took so long getting in. I was a little sad but what could anyone do? There were a lot of long drives to be taken.

Total stats (and I won’t be 53 until 12/29 but USAT uses your age as of 12/31)

2269 4:39:54 53 F


ouch – I’m proud of doing it but still.. ouch

I was so happy to be done. I got my medal and my washcloth and went down by the water. I was going to get in but I didn’t want to walk barefoot back to my stuff so I skipped it. Then I had to take my stuff and bike and face a steep set of stairs. This was my undoing. I got up the stairs and my heart rate was through the roof (at some point it went to 217) and I was so sick – so incredibly sick. I stopped, leaned over and put my head on my saddle and scared a lot of people. A really nice man stopped and asked if I was okay and I said “yes – I just need a minute”. He offered to get me over to the medical tent but I demurred because it was too far to walk. A couple minutes and a few feet later I put my bike on a rack, put my bag on the ground, l and laid down with my head on my pack which scared some more people but I just needed to lie down.

I finally managed to get back to my tent and the campsite that had been packed the night before was empty. Someone had taken the stakes out of my tent, presumably as a nice gesture and it was. I decided I would just lie in the tent for a little bit until I felt strong enough to pack up the car. Not too long after that a stiff wind came up and blew the tent over, door side down – with me in it. WHOA! I had to jump up and save myself from being blown away! I scrambled out and quickly took the tent down and realized that I felt fine – I was ready to pack up and go.

Driving home I felt shamed and humiliated and hateful and loathsome of my participation in endurance sports. I was sure I would never try anything like Wildflower again. I’m all better now. It does take courage to attempt a triathlon of any distance and Wildflower is an especially demanding event. I signed up, showed up and I finished and of that I am really proud. I’m already looking for my next Oly and thinking about how I want to do Wildflower next year. I got the fevah baby and I need more cowbell. More triathlon cowbell.

Stay tuned for “Wildflower – the Movie” coming to a blog near you early next week.

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26 Responses to The Rest of my Wildflower Story

  1. bold says:

    like i said on my blog. i’m incredibly proud of you tackling triathlon, and the Oly at Wildflower both in the same year.

    i’m sorry i wasn’t there to cheer you in the stands, you should have told me i could take Hwy 5 instead of 101, and still be there for your finish — no diff!


  2. jeff says:

    21st, you said it so well. you showed up, you competed and you COMPLETED. i’m very proud and impressed…especially with your work on the hills. think back to a couple months ago when you were dreading even TRYING a hill and here to take lynch with little effort. you’ve come a long way, baby!

  3. Juls says:

    I am very impressed. I was sad to read that the stands were empty for you though. It sounds like you ran a wise race. Great job.

  4. jeanne says:

    nice work! that was a terrific report, and i’m sad too that no one was there to cheer you in. how well i know that feeling. but i don’t know the feeling after an Oly! But YOU DO!!

  5. Julia says:

    Did you check out the results list? Did you see that you were NOT the last in your age group? Every triathlon is a good learning experience. You’ll know how to improve on that next year. Be proud!

  6. Shelley says:

    You my dear have courage..just like you said..”it does take courage to take on a triathlon”…good for you, you did one of the toughest out there!!

  7. ShirleyPerly says:

    My husband always told me how difficult the Wildflower courses are (he did them 20 yrs ago) and now as I’m reading everyone’s stories, I see that he wasn’t exaggerating. I’m very impressed with your courage and perseverance. Congratulations on your finish!!!

  8. Nancy Toby says:

    Be proud! LOSE that negativity! You rocked that course, period!! Every race is just training for the next one, right???

  9. Dori says:

    I’m proud of you, too! There aren’t many 52 year old women who would take on such a challenge. You finished, and that’s what matters in my book. Next year bring someone with you who can help you break down your campground. After a race like that, who needs more work?

    You’ve got courage, 21CM!

  10. Laurie says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever gotten teary-eyed reading a race report, but this time I did. I am so damn proud of you woman! You fought tooth and nail to get across the finish line. So many people make triathlon look so easy, it is hard to remember that it is not easy. It is hard! I have absolutely no doubt that you will continue to get stronger and will have many more successful tris in the the future. Thanks for being brutally honest about your race. The people who struggle and live to tell about it are the most inspiring to me. Thanks for being an inspiration. 🙂

  11. stronger says:

    You did awesome! I am so proud of you!!

  12. Chris says:

    Hey! First off, congratulations on your finish! You should feel proud for such an accomplishment on a very difficult course under very difficult conditions.

    Don’t beat yourself up for feeling bad after the race. You know, after my first two big races I swore all along the run course that I’d never do another one again. But pain is temporary and memories are forever! I’m glad that you’re feeling better about the whole thing. If this endurance sport stuff were easy, everyone would be doing it. Consider yourself the few and the proud!

  13. fe-lady says:

    The easiest part is filling out the entry form. The fun part is training for the event. The hardest part is toeing the line that morning. The toughest part is battling your way through the race and crossing that line. You did all of the above and I am proud of you and glad that I will meet up with you again soon!

  14. commodore says:

    Each race gives you a mixed bag of emotions which predictably interferes with a sense of accomplishment. Next year I have a feeling will be another type of race for you.

  15. Michael says:

    I have Dean Karnazes’ book ( I always liked what his youth coach told him after a race:

    “If it felt good, you didn’t push hard enough. It’s supposed to hurt like hell.”

    Sounds like you did it right — good for you.

  16. don says:

    Congratulations 21stCM! It was a very tough day but you stuck it out and made the day your own.

    Erase that doubt by just asking yourself what were your peers doing on that Sunday morning? Were they out challenging themselves on one of the toughest triathlon courses out there? Or were they sitting on the sofa eating bon bons while watching Antiques Road Show?

    You should be very proud of yourself, I know that your fans in the blogosphere are!

  17. Tammy says:

    You did an amazing performance, in harsh conditions. And you learned a lot about what to do (and not do) next time: Know the course, defogger in goggles, correct pack placement, nutrition!, transition setup, and of course….

    …MORE COWBELL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  18. Cliff says:

    Good job trimama.

    Nothing like spinning up hill and grinding down hill. I always tied my shoes…or i mean to say I never untie them. I don’t tie them too tight so I just slide them on.

    You did it..u conquered wildflower 🙂

  19. Duude! You are FIERCE! but it does sound like you ran on fumes at the end – ouch!

    I have read universally that this is a tough course – so it’s nearly guaranteed that the next thing you do will be more fun.

    I know your pain on the feeling like crap after a race – emotionally. Give it a few more races before you say goodbye to triathlon. I find that I dig the training way more than I dig the racing, but it changes. Go You!

  20. Mother Chaos says:

    Still so proud of you – I’ve felt like crap after just about every race / endurance event I’ve ever done, too. But usually within a few hours, I’m thinking, “OK, what’s next?!”

    To which end: TAG! Silly meme!!

  21. Be proud of yourself. I actually find you very inspiring.

  22. Be proud of yourself. I actually find you very inspiring.

  23. momo says:

    mom, you summed it up – it takes a LOT of courage to attempt a triathlon, but wildflower? that is one crazy event and personally, after looking at the hill profile – this girl said NOPE, you should be still patting yourself on the back for doing that one. i, for one, am way proud of you.

  24. waddler26.2 says:

    You should be so proud of your accomplishment. I know the feeling of why do I do this. In your heart you know the answer and it will not let anything stop you from doing it again. You learned alot and you finished. Hope many 53yo ladies were still home in bed and did nothing!!! You are my hero.

  25. david says:

    Some folks will do JUST ABOUT anything to get some attention 😉
    217 HR? jumpin’ jahosafads!

  26. Beth says:

    WOW, Congratulations! You did it and while you may not be entirely impressed with your stats some of us are blown away. I am a novice, beginner, whatever and I can’t imagine being able to conquer this. Good for you and you even want more cowbell, now that’s impressive (and funny). Rock on….

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