My head surfaces out of the salty water. I peer into the distance through my goggles to find the buoy marker. It's not too far. Man, I should not have worn this wetsuit. It's sapping the life out of me as I swim. I didn't train with it on, and now I am suffering. It's not helping like it was supposed to. I should have just swam in my speedo. Oh well. Keep on kicking. Nothing I can do about it now.
The rest of the wave of racers were creating a fair distance between themselves and me. Swimming just isn't my strength. That's okay. I'll make up the time.
I round the first and the second buoys. How much longer is it? Am I going to be able to make it? My arms are so tired. My shoulders are destroyed. Damn this wetsuit. I would really hate to drown right here. How much longer can I go on?
C'mon, Kevin. Keep your head in this. It's going to be fine. You can make it to the end.
Finally! Out of the water and onto the sand. Now I have to run up to my bike. What the? How far is it to the bikes? And I have to run in the sand while in this wetsuit?
That proves to be just as difficult as I had imagined. All of my running that I had done to train for this event was in shorts and running shoes. The movement-restricting wetsuit is taking it's toll on me. I'm so tired and out of breath. How much further is it to the bikes?
There they are. Now where did I park mine? I'm feeling a little disoriented from the strain of running in that wetsuit. Ah. There he is. Good old Como. He's seen a lot of miles with me. A lot.
I finally strip off my wetsuit. It feels so good to get that burden off of me. I feel like a new man. I pull my padded bike shorts up over the speedo I'm wearing, put on my shoes, pull on my biking jersey, stuff my energy goulash in the pockets and hop on Como.
Finally, the open road. The biking is my strongest event. I'm not sure why. In a comparative sense, I'm very weak with respect to most all of the other competitors out here today. I'm no athlete. Why am I even doing this? Who was the idiot that talked me into a triathlon anyway? Oh yeah, my roommate that didn't show up for the race.
The blacktop rolls beneath my wheels. I feel a breeze coming from the ocean. Nice. A little wind at my back will help me to recover from my overexertion in that wetsuit.
I pedal. And pedal some more. I've done plenty of rides that are much longer than this one. It should be a piece of cake. It's even more wonderful that the cops are out here stopping traffic for the race. I don't have to skip a beat in my pedaling. They make sure that I can get through.
Ah, here I come up on the guy that was in front of me during the swim. He's toast. Wow, nice bike dude! How do you like it that you are on a $2,000 triathlon bike and are getting passed by a guy on an old mountain bike? Yeah, I thought so. Too much money, and not enough training. Better luck next year.
Hey, there's another guy. Sweet. Passed him!
And another. Wow, I'm really beginning to like the bike portion of this competition.
Oh dear. Here's where the hill starts. In theory, this is where I'm really supposed to shine on the bike. Most of these other guys are roadies whose bikes have never seen anything but flat ground.
I'm true to form and pass three more people while climbing the hill. It's a very, very long hill. Approximately 3,128 miles I think. Holy crap. How much longer is this hill? Pretty soon I'm going to pop out of LA and into Denver. I think this is the longest, continual uphill ride I've ever attempted. How much longer is this? I'm getting tired. Time to downshift and slow a bit so I don't kill myself for the run.
Hey! I can see the crest of the hill! Nope. That wasn't it. How much longer is this ride? I forgot to reset my bike computer, so I don't know how far I've gone.
Wait a minute. There it is. Yes. The top of the hill, and now for the descent into downtown LA. Wow! This is steep! And there are potholes! It's a good thing I have these wide tires on this mountain bike. I can coast down with no fear. Wait, did I say coast? I meant pedal hard and go as fast as I can. Good thing I have that bike computer so I can see my top speed.
15 miles per hour. 20 miles per hour. 25 miles per hour. 30 miles per hour. Now I'm starting to pass a lot of the roadies that are too scared to ride fast. They are actually hitting their breaks! I can't believe how many people I'm passing!
35 miles per hour. Wow, that's the fastest I've ever been on a bike. 40 miles per hour. Cool, this hill is still going. I wonder how fast I can get before I hit the flat part at the bottom?
43 miles per hour. Okay now this is starting to get a little scary. I've never ridden a bicycle this fast before. 45 miles per hour. I hope Como holds up. 47 miles per hour. The top speed that I hit. I'm really glad I didn't hit any potholes. Man, I sure passed a lot of people riding down that hill!
Finally. On to the run. I sure am getting tired. Triathlons are hard. How long is this run? Oh yeah. 10k. I can do it. I think I can. I think I can.
Allright. There's 2k of this race done. Hmm. My knees are starting to hurt. Oh crap. I forgot to put on my knee braces at the transition from the bike to running. This is going to suck. How much longer is it?
3k. 4k. 5k. Wow, I am in severe pain right now. My knees feel like they are going to explode. Who is stabbing me with knives? Why do they hurt so bad? Why am I such a non-athletic queer? How much longer is this race? I can't quit now. I've got too much invested in it. It's time to do the walk/run tradeoffs.
6k. 7k. 8k. Oh yes. We're finally getting there. How much longer? 2k. I can see the end. Wait, no I can't. Why are all these old people on crutches passing me? I feel like such an idiot walking as much as I am. It's taken me longer to get this far on the 10k run than it did for me to finish the 50k bike ride. That's pathetic. Stupid bad knees!
Okay. Time to pull it together and finish this race. 9k. Still going. It hurts so bad. I don't think I can make it. I want to cry. The pain is unbearable.
Hmm? What's that? All these people are cheering me on? No. They must be cheering for someone else. Wow. I think that they are cheering for all of us. Yes! I AM the guy in the yellow shirt wearing #864. People ARE cheering for me. Well, that makes me feel good. I can give it one last boost to finish strong.
And I do. 10k. It's over. I made it. That was one of the worst, but most rewarding experiences I've ever had in my life.
How much longer do I have to struggle with the heartahce of SSA? I don't even know if I'm out of my wetsuit and onto my bike yet. How much longer is it? I wish I at least had a map of the course.