I recently finished reading Lynne Cox's Swimming to Antarctica, of which I can't speak highly enough. She's not only an amazingly strong and gifted long-distance, open-water swimmer, but she's also is an amazingly smart and entertaining writer (as in, she writes for The New Yorker). I'd hate her if I didn't like her so much.** Anyway, in the first chapter or so, she recounts how she learned she wanted to swim The English Channel. She was maybe all of eight years old. She crossed the sucker at age 15, and the rest is history: she has, with varying degrees of support, been able to devote her life to what makes her body and mind sing.
To say sprint triathlons are my version of Coxe's swimming is a stretch, but I can easily say I found my sweet spot this weekend. The race was, in two words, nearly perfect. The worst part: predictably, the water temperature. In the mid-50's. I rented a full-length wet-suit and wore two caps to minimize the heat escape, but putting your face in water that chilly--chilly for mortals, not Arctic-woman Cox--isn't pleasant no matter how you slice it. (And the wetsuit wasn't that efficient, since I poked a hole in the leg putting it on. Ugh. Over $100 for 500 lousy meters.) The cold water forced me to crank up my kick, and I was in T1 in less than 10 minutes, prying my way out of the damaged wetsuit and layering on clothes for the bike. The rest of the race was sublime: the bike was free of wind and significant hills, and I stayed aero for a good portion, picking off people like I never have before. The run was as flat as I wish my abs were. I put myself on cruise control and grooved on in, finishing in a little over 1 hour, 30 minutes.
I didn't wish away the race. I didn't have thoughts of not finishing. I didn't even want to slow down. I was actually smiling heading out on the run--the photographic proof is above. Which are all new sensations for me, and all very, very welcomed. My bring-it-and-bite-it-off mentality placed me in 3rd (!) for my age group, and 10th (!) woman overall. I'm not sure I can go up from here, since my next race is Olympic distance, twice as long, and I'm sure the ghost of races past is feeling restless and ready to rear her ugly head. Still, I'm going to do my best to savor my sweet, sweet spot.
**I like her just from her writing and attitude. I get to confirm that tonight, when I'm going to see her speak in person. So, so excited.