I'd like to think my last post, "Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone," inspired my wife, Lauren, to take the plunge into the bath-warm waters of Decker Lake this past weekend, but in reality I think she was just tired of spectating. Lauren has been a great supporter and onlooker at races over the last few years, and on Sunday it was my turn to encourage her and embrace the cheerleader role.
With the help of Thunderbird Energetica, we were able to get a last-minute entry into the Couples Triathlon. Once we actually signed up for the race, reality set in that we would need to get Lauren training and set up with the proper equipment to complete the race. I thought the best way to get her motivated to start training would be to get some new toys for race day. A trip to Austin Tri-Cyclist for a quick bike tune-up and a new Zoot tri kit did the trick, and Lauren was feeling confident and ready to race. Of course, there was still that small matter of training, but we didn't let that ruin the excitement of new clothes and a clean bike.
A few swims, rides, and runs with the laziest vizsla in town (our dog Tucker) and Lauren was starting to feel ready to take on the challenge.
Race morning came quickly, and my usual nerves were replaced with feelings of a somewhat relaxed excitement knowing I had a different role for the day. The plan was to swim my own race, then meet up with Lauren at the swim exit to complete the bike and run together. We arrived at Decker Lake, and I watched Lauren meticulously set up her transition area, offering tips when I could. We made sure she had everything she needed before heading out for a short warm-up jog and dip in the lake. I was impressed with her calmness. I'm usually a nervous wreck up until the gun goes off, but Lauren's demeanor was cool and calm.
It wasn't the easiest of swims due to the blindingly bright sun coming up over the water and several waves of swimmers sprinkled along the course. I felt a little sluggish at first but came around and accomplished my goal of leading our wave out of the water. A few short minutes later and Lauren came running out of the water looking like she'd done this a thousand times. We made our way into transition and slowly made our way out on the bike. It wasn’t my fastest transition – I think my T1 time of eight minutes rivaled the slowest of the day – but it was Lauren’s first ever.
Passing on the left
The bike was the big unknown for Lauren. She had only done a handful of rides, and she was on her pretty heavy hybrid bike. I told her not to worry about her bike and to keep her legs turning over at a comfortable tempo. I must admit, this wasn't the easiest of courses for a first timer. The course had a few good hills that were even more difficult on the heavy bike. Lauren did a great job of keeping an even pace and taking in fluids to prepare for the run. I tried to encourage her when I thought she needed it – like when she commented, “Everyone keeps passing me!” –and kept my mouth shut when she probably didn't want to hear from me. It was fun to cheer on other athletes along the course and take in the race from a different view.
They don't call the run off the bike a brick for nothing. Lauren's legs were feeling heavy, but I let her know that we were almost done. We immediately started passing people on the run. I'm not sure if it was the "I need to pee" feeling or if she was just ready to be done, but Lauren was cruising. We did make a quick port-a-potty stop at mile two and had a few moments where walking sounded pretty dang good, but we kept running all the way to the finish line. We crossed the line together and I could see the sweet feeling of relief and satisfaction on Lauren's face. I was proud of her effort and happy to hear that she had fun along the way.
All worth it
We may not have placed as high as Lauren would have liked, but that's what keeps you coming back for more. We enjoyed the finish area amenities and caught up with friends before packing up for the day. On the walk back to our car we heard a shout. "Where did you get your outfit?" asked a woman from a passing car. With a smile, Lauren said, "It's Zoot, from Austin Tri-Cyclist." I have a sneaking suspicion that that little compliment made her day even more than finishing the race.