We drove up the hill (the roughest, toughest part of the bike route), rolled down our windows and started cheering on the riders as they wizzed by hunched down in their aero tucks. And yes, some were using those aero bars on the climb. I don’t know why either.
We drove to the transition station for the run, and it was there that I saw what appeared to be a familiar face crossing the parking lot to the transition area. Sure enough, it was Barb Lindquist, the woman who still holds the record for spending the most successive days ranked number one on the International Triathlon Union’s rankings. She went undefeated for an extremely long time in ’03 and ’04, and there she was walking right in front of us. This is the woman who was representing the USA in Athens when she saw a competitor who was having some problems and waited for the competitor to run with her, sacrificing a higher placing on the final stats. Yep, cool woman.
Of course I had to go introduce myself.
And let me be the first one to break the story about what she’s doing in her retirement. Yes, she coaches (for a fee) private individuals, and, yes, she’s coaching the U.S. U-23 triathlete team, and, yes, she’s headed to Switzerland with them in a few weeks. But more importantly, Barb’s pregnant with twins. And having a family, she said, was her reason for getting out of the international racing circuit last year. May I just say that I think that’s really noble. Just my opinion.
The really really cool part was when she congratulated me after I told her my wife was due this week.
Enough of that. I actually saw a bunch of people there who I knew, and that was kind of fun. My riding buddy Dave, who built his own triathlon bike, was racing the sprint division, and actually did okay despite having not trained on anything but the bike for the past few months. I saw Thatchmo there cheering on his 10-year-old, who was racing the sprint division and winning his age group. Incidentally, I guess the same kid won the 10-11 age group at the state time trial earlier this summer. By Thatchmo’s description, the kid may have me beat on speed. I saw Tony, our cycling group’s own fat cyclist, at the transition, and I (assuming Tony to have just done the bike portion for a relay team) congratulated him on a good ride, to which he answered, "I’ve got a long way to go yet!" Instead of running the rest of the route, though, I saw him later walking his way up the run route while holding his wife’s hand. The ol’ smoothie.
But when I tried to picture myself doing this sport later, I must admit that the picture was fuzzy. Somehow, images of me on a mountain bike make more sense to my psyche. Perhaps it’s because triathletes dress funny–something my wife kept pointing out to me: because they have to swim, a small portion of the racers appeared in speedos and tri suits; because they all have to ride, a larger portion were wearing bike shorts and jerseys; because they’re all runners, a bunch were also wearing loose, flappy running shorts, even during their bike rides. Weird.