Triathlon Zack! Or: You don’t understand how much Zack hates doing laundry

6 Aug

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Over the weekend, Zack competed in his second-ever triathlon and his first Sprint Distance. He chronicled the race over on his new tri-training blog, Triathlon Zack, and it’s a great read. This is where I tell you about the triathlon from the #triathlongirlfriend* perspective. Before the race even started, Zack was feeling far less motivated. So to sweeten the pot for him, we made a bet:  If Zack finished his run in under 28 minutes, I’d do two loads of laundry for him (which I’d recently surprised him with just for funsies and it made his whole weekend**). If his run was over 28 minutes, he had to take me on a date day/night where I got to pick all of our activities. Read on to see who won.

*I really appreciated that Caitlin hashtagged her live blogging from the race with #triahlongirlfriend. Not surprisingly, no one else has ever used this hashtag.

**It really was the best surprise. Doing laundry when the machines aren’t in your home is the worst.

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When my alarm went off at 5:30AM on a Sunday morning, a very, very selfish part of me hoped against hope that Zack would just decide that he would rather sleep in*. He did not decide this, as he is far too motivated, so I dragged my sorry tuches from the bed. Luckily Zack and I were brilliant enough to set out everything we’d need for the morning the night before**, so I just threw on clothes, grabbed my backpack, and zombie-walked to Zack’s car so we could drive out to Pflugerville.

*I felt the same way when my alarm went off at 5:15, but was in the shower, trying to psyche myself up, when Caitlin’s alarm went off.

**We were smart to pack for the race, but we still couldn’t manage to fall asleep before 11:30 even though I had visions of being in bed at 9:30.

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We arrived at Lake Pflugerville and saw the tents for Jack’s Generic Tri, where “You’re not just a number … you’re a barcode.” Adorable semantics aside, I was impressed that Zack did not get lost on the way to this tri, despite it being so damn early. He did a great job navigating and getting us to our parking spot. Even though we arrived at 6:30AM and Zack didn’t start the race until 8:30 AM*, those two hours flew by far, far more quickly** than I feared. We wandered around the premises as I got a feel for good places that I could hang out, catch Zack at his transitions, and get great photos.

*8:24.

**The hardest part for me was timing out my food and 5-hour energy and other pre-race supplements for maximum performance. Oh, and the nerves. Controlling the nerves. It was great to have Caitlin there with me to keep me centered.

pre race swim cap

We started off on the “beach” of Lake Pflugerville, which is really just gravel*. Zack made some friends, as he is wont to do in all social situations**, and then they were all lining up to run into the water. We gave each other the thumbs up and kissy faces after he was in the stall, and I got that rush when you first see someone you love in a crowded space. He dove into the water and I capture a few photos before he disappeared in the many swim capped bodies.

*There was quite a bit of sand right by the water at least.

**I like to talk to a couple guys before the event so I feel like I know someone and have people to look out for on the course.

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I rushed over to the exit for the swimming area next, thinking I’d just wait until he got out so I could snap some fresh-outta-water photos. I was waiting to see some purple swim caps get out, thinking that he’d be somewhere in the middle of that pack. After two purple caps, I saw him climbing out of the water, like he was on Baywatch*. It was so awesome, and I was so excited.

*I pictured “Baywatch” too. I was thinking like Hasselhoff. 

swim finish

I tried to capture a few photos, although the spectators around me were being very rude and pushy, but I cheered him on loudly anyway until he was out of sight. I saw you and you got me to smile. 🙂

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Me, approximately.

Since Zack was worried* about leaving his backpack in the transition area by his bike, or about checking it in at a booth, I was holding onto it, along with my own backpack, our camera draped around my neck, and a folding chair. I was kinda a pack horse**. I hauled everything with me and managed to sneak across the race line during a lull, and then I camped out just up the hill from the transition area, where Zack would eventually appear to start his run. I thought about posting up somewhere for the bike ride, but I wasn’t entirely sure where all the course went, so I felt this would be the safest bet*** at getting some more good photos and being the most supportive as I could. I called my dad and chatted him up for 30 minutes or so, then tried a few more numbers before checking the stopwatch I was keeping for Zack’s race. We were at about 50 minutes, so I figured I’d see him in the next 20 minutes or so. 

*It wasn’t worry, I just had a couple water bottles and snacks and flip flops to hold onto in the 90 minutes between when the transition closed and when the race started.

**Caitlin Wittlif’s a horse! Caitlin Wittlif’s a horse! I mean, thank you!

***That was smart. The bike course was off into a field. I saw so much dead corn and a cow. I really wanted to tell you, “Cow, I win.”

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No sooner had I thought that, then here comes Zack, rocking and rolling and hauling ass*. I was so excited and proud about the time he was making. I hadn’t checked the stopwatch recently enough to give an accurate reading to him, so when he asked, “How am I doing?” I just told him the honest truth: “You’re killing it!” My heart soared with pride, and then I thought to actually check the stopwatch. 1 hour, 3 minutes. OK, I thought to myself. If he comes in at one hour, 31 minutes, I may still win our 28 minute bet. If he’s under, it’ll be laundry day for me.

*What Caitlin didn’t know was that I’d just lost 30 seconds by forgetting my race bib and then having to go back to get it. I walked through the transition, waiting to start running until I crossed the line into the run portion.

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I packed up my gear and headed back for the finish line, opting to hang out in an open area by the side so I could high-five Zack on his way in. I kept checking the stopwatch to get a feel for when I’d see him, listening to the goofball DJ announce people* as they crossed the line. At an hour 26, I saw Zack headed straight for the finish line**. I started freaking out, so excited for him to annihilate his goals. I cheered and took photos, and unlike for his last tri, this time he saw me. As we high fived, I screamed, “YOU GOT IT! YOU’RE BEASTING***!” He pushed through to the end, and I just froze in a smile, until I finally snapped to and realized I needed to stop the stopwatch. I hit it about 30 seconds later than when he crossed the line, and he came around to me for kisses and to hear the news. I told him he’d definitely won the bet, and that he’d done better than anyone had guessed.

*I was hoping they’d announce me as I finished, but figured that was just reserved for the top athletes.

**It was awesome to be able to see the finish line for the final mile as I ran around the lake. Then a couple guys near me started running faster and faster and encouraging each other and we all kicked it up a notch.

***Loved seeing Caitlin at that last stretch. It was so close. One final high five felt just the best.

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Patience is a virtue I do not possess, try though I might to teach it to myself. Thus, when it came time to pack things in and the Tri folks wouldn’t let Zack check his bike out, I became Señor Grumpypants very, very quickly. The heat plus the waiting plus the lack of sleep turned me into a bit of a monster*, but Zack went as quickly as he could and, because of his speed in the race itself, we were still home with a delicious breakfast treat for me before 11:30. I then participated in my own tri-nappalon**, and then mostly just bummed around the apartment the rest of the day***. Sympathy pains, I guess. But that’s what you get when you’re a triathlon girlfriend, and I wouldn’t have it any other way****.

*Understandable. I was finished before 10 a.m., but that still meant we’d been up 4.5 hours. 

**I tried to nap with Caitlin, but napping after two 5-hour energy’s proved far too difficult.

***I worked from home, so we got to have dinner together and play 5 games of Sequence and finish watching “Clueless.”

****Same here. I’m sad Caitlin has to work during my next triathlon on Labor Day. It definitely won’t be the same without her.

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