It wasn’t that training hadn’t crossed my mind, but the decision to do the damn thing was rather spontaneous. I was supposed to be doing a 2 mile swim in Lake Tahoe, like I mentioned before, and my ride from San Francisco to the lake unexpectedly canceled on me with 3 weeks to go before the race. So I had been swimming, and had been lifting weights, all with the intention of not necessarily racing fast, but surviving. So when plans changed, I was a little disillusioned. I briefly considered trying to get out to Tahoe from San Fran some other way (there’s an Amtrak route that will take you out to Sacramento and put you on a bus from there. I didn’t want to rent a car) but in the end I decided to save vacation days and skip my combination swim race-Outside Lands expedition.
Enter Maegan, the most athletic and responsible of the three Olivos siblings, with a gchat link one Tuesday morning to the Luray Sprint Triathlon. I clicked through and it seemed reasonable. 1/2 mile swim, 17 mile bike ride, 3 mile run. Totally do-able, and not necessarily requiring too much training. So I seized the moment and signed up. I owned a bike. I could swim. I could run. And in the least I wouldn’t quit, and it might be a cool thing to later say- “yeah, I did one of those.” Olympic distance is 1 mile swim, 50 mile bike, 6 mile run, so this was a cakewalk compared to that. All relative. So I signed up for a triathlon that was happening 12 days later.
As each day passed I briefly thought about doing any number of things to prepare for this. Jog at least once. Ride my bike. Get to the pool and do some laps. In reality, work had ramped up in a big way with the start of August and I had time for none of those things. Also, I got really into Twin Peaks and started obsessively watching DVDs on my computer. At least I walked Helicopter everyday.
So the day before the race arrived, and I was aware of just how unprepared I was. However, I had done many a 5k hungover in my past and figured if I could do that, this wouldn’t be too bad. For a regular smoker and sometimes exerciser, for the last 3 or 4 years I’ve always managed to maintain some semblance of appearing fit- good Inca genes, I guess. Maegan and I had been planning to camp out in the Blue Ridge Mountains, but it was raining and we didn’t want to rough it that much. So instead we snagged the last room in town at a Budget Inn on the main street of Luray (famous for Luray Caverns, for those of you DC side.) Luray was particularly packed that weekend, the desk clerk informed us, due to the convalescence of three distinct events: the triathlon, a veterans event, and a Dukes of Hazzard reunion (complete with a visit from Catherine Bach, the original Daisy Dukes.) We were the only vehicle in the lot without fancy bike racks, let alone a bike rack- we’d shoved our bikes into the back of her Subaru wagon.
Maegan had bought me these power goo things for the race, but I hadn’t brought shorts with pockets. In fact, she had a fancy UnderArmour style moisture wicking shirt, separate running shoes from her regular sneakers, the whole nine yards. I had my only pair of sneakers, some mesh shorts, and a white cotton Jockey t-shirt. She joked that it was going to look like some bearded hippie had lost the AT and discovered a race. It probably wasn’t going to appear far from the truth.
I smoked a cigarette, and we got to bed at 11 pm and set our alarms for 6. Our race started at 8:15.