I got my ass handed to me by a sixty six year old.
In two weeks, I will be competing in my first triathlon, along with my mother-in-law, Sandy. It is not only her first triathlon, but her first race of any kind. Based on the fact that I have competed a half dozen races in the last six months, and I am almost thirty years her junior, you would think I would have the upper hand in terms of this competition. Not so, not so.
Sandy is an avid cyclist. By avid, I mean she will bike 30-40 miles a day on vacation, using her bike as transportation between hotel locations. It is nothing for her and her husband, Eric, to spend most of the day cycling. A few weeks ago, they returned from an afternoon trip on their bikes. I asked Eric how it went and he described Sandy pushing herself to pass a couple of cyclists that were not moving fast enough. His words were “She’s an animal!”
Today is Sandy’s birthday. We’ll be having dinner to celebrate later on, but this morning, she and I completed a Brick (bike followed by run) in preparation for our triathlon. We were to bike eight miles and run three.
I have not biked in quite some time. Knowing the race was coming up, I’ve hit the mountain biking trails a couple of times in the last few weeks, but have not spent much time pedaling on the road. My own bike has finally given up the ghost, so I borrowed my sister-in-law’s mountain bike- a perfectly nice piece of machinery, but not exactly light as a feather. I knew I would be the slowest cyclist today, but I didn’t know my mother-in-law would actually have to slow down to ensure I wasn’t completely out of vision. I felt like a child whose Dad lets her win the game of chess, even though he could have taken her queen ten moves prior.
We started out at the same time, Sandy leading the way. After a half mile or so, the road began to incline ever so gently, and Sandy went to work. I am unfamiliar with the concept of gears. My car has an automatic transmission; my bike gears are usually locked in position. But as I got further and further behind, I tried to adjust my gears, hoping to happen into the magic speed that somehow allowed me to make up some time.
Sandy pulled further and further ahead. I noticed she looked over her shoulder and spotted me off in the distance. She didn’t stop her bike, but I miraculously began to catch up with her. She was throwing me a bone!
We completed one 4-mile lap, and she cheerfully called out to me “just one more to go!” I’m almost half her age! Aren’t I supposed to be the one offering words of encouragement to keep going?
The second lap, I watched her legs as she was pedaling, and tried to match her pace by adjusting my gears accordingly. I did better than the first lap, but she still had to slow down to allow my pokey ass to finish with her.
We parked our bikes in the transition area, and switched into our running gear. She advised that she needed to use the ladies’ room, and I should start without her. Ok, so I had a minute or two head start, AND I am generally considered the stronger runner. I headed out feeling confident that I would at least rock this portion of the session.
After about a mile and a half, I hear “wow, you’re really pushing yourself!”
I look over my shoulder, and there is Sandy. I assume she is still running her first mile, and tell her I’m almost done with my second.
“Me too,” she replies.
SHE HAD CAUGHT UP TO ME! Granted, she said she didn’t think she could keep up the pace, and we slowed down a bit to run the last mile together, but still. I had a two minute head start, and she STILL managed to catch me. Nothing like a lesson in humility to start the day.
We didn’t get to swim today, but I don’t hold out much hope for that being the equalizer. Sandy was a lifeguard at one point. I did a practice swim last week, and managed to choke on water during the last 50 meters. My coach wishes he had a video tape of the first time I attempted to swim underneath a lane barrier because it was that comedic.
Maybe all of this should make me feel pathetic, but it doesn’t. I am actually pretty in awe of this lady. Not only is she a stellar athlete, she is one of the most kind and gentle human beings I have ever known. I am ecstatic that we will get to finish our first triathlon together, and I know even if I finish dead last, she’ll be proud of me for making it across the finish line. She really is an inspiration. If I’m lucky, maybe I’ll get to follow in her footsteps and school a few youngsters myself along the way. But first, I have to figure out how to at least keep up.
Happy Birthday Sandy! Much love your way!