Rumpass In Bumpass Sprint Triathlon
April 15, 2012
This race is the first of two tune-up races that I selected in preparation for the Paratriathlon National Championships this year. The Rumpass in Bumpass race is a 750 meter swim, a 20K (12.4 mile) bike, and 5K (3.1 mile) run; the exact distances set for the Championships. The main difference this time around was going to be that I would be doing freestyle (the crawl) for the swim portion of the race, instead of my usual backstroke. I’ve been working on freestyle for the last few months and really focusing on being comfortable with my whole face and ears in the water. Typically this has been difficult for me to do because once my ears and face are in the water, I can’t hear anything. My ears are my eyes, as they provide tons of feedback about my surroundings, keep me on track (in a particular direction), etc. As it turns out though, this race would become a “whole new adventure!”
Three days before the race, I learned that my guide was not going to be able to race with me in Bumpass Virginia. Anxious to race, and to insure I had a qualifying race in order to race the Paratriathlon National Championships, my outreach effort began at 10PM Wednesday night before the schedule Sunday race. I sent out E-mails to many of my East coast friends, triathlon groups in the DC, MD, PA, and VA area, and by Thursday morning was making tons of phone calls as well! By noon on Thursday, there were people reaching out to their networks and friends on my behalf as well. It was amazing and extremely moving to see that so many people were willing to help me recruit and find a guide; I am extremely grateful to everyone who helped, who called, who E-mailed, who expressed an interest and who supported me in any way shape or form!
By 6PM on Thursday, I was speaking with Sara Tribe on the phone. Originally from Boston, she’s currently living in Washington DC, and is part of the Bike Rack Multisport team. She was full of excitement, and eager to know what guiding entailed. I explained that we would be tethered during the swim, ride a tandem for the bike, and use a tether on the run. “OK, no problem. I’ve never guided, but” she said, “let’s do it!”
Now I had to find a ride down from Philadelphia, through DC to pick Sara up, and into Bumpass VA. I was fortunate enough to have my friend Jabou, who it turns out is also a native New Yorker, agree to drive!
By Saturday morning, I was packing up my favorite food and snacks for the trip, and my breakfast for race day – 10 grain cereal with oats, flax, fenugreek seeds, chia seeds, barley, brown rice, plus almonds, blueberries, cinamon and honey! Then it was time to load the car up, and put Louie, the tandem, up on the bike rack. While John had explained the process to me, this was my first time actually doing it. With Jabou’s help, some nerves b/c we didn’t want to make any marks on the car, we secured Louie on the bike rack, and we were off!
We made it down to DC, and met Sara. Taking advantage of the daylight, we decided to have Sara try riding the tandem around her neighborhood. After two small laps, she said “OK, I’m ready”, and I hopped on the back. A couple of seconds later, we were off riding down the street, making a U-turn, up the street again, up a small hill, making a left turn, and around a couple of blocks! It couldn’t have gone any smoother!
Now it was time for some much needed sustenance, and off we went for delicious Thai food! Finishing up dinner, we promptly got Louie back on top of the car, it went smoother this time, and we were on our way to Bumpass!
After a good hard sleep, we were all up and ready to head to the race site. After conflicting sets of directions, and driving through country roads for about 45 minutes, we reached our destination. Sara and I picked up my race packet, and then headed over to transition to set up our gear. With the warmth of the sun on my face, and the music to Chariots Of Fire beginning to play, I could feel that this was going to be a great race. That song is special for me because it reminds me of Nicolas and rainbows; Nicolas is my friend Max’s little boy who passed away at a very young age. He used to love to draw rainbows, and for me they often signify that I am surrounded by love and light, and that I am safe.
After strategically setting out all of our gear, and doing a walkthrough of the Bike-out/ Bike-in and the Run-out and finish, we made our way down a rocky and gravelly path down to the start of the swim. I was in my wetsuit as the water temperature was a 66 degrees warm that morning. After a few moments of snapping pictures, Sara and I found ourselves running into the water, and starting to swim out to the starting point of the race. That’s one way of not having enough time to panic about the cold water- we had gotten a bit distracted with photos, and hadn’t heard our wave called! No problem though, we reached the swim starting point as the horn went off, so we just kept swimming! The water felt cold on my face, and I felt a bit short of breath. But I remembered Barney’s words, “count your strokes, and settle down your breathing”. That worked; the counting helped me establish my rhythm, and we were swimming. It wasn’t until 150-200 meters into the swim that I thought, “We’re doing freestyle!” And from that point on, Sara’s seamless guiding and the excitement I felt was so powerful that the swim seemed to go by much faster than I had expected! I don’t recall noticing any of the other swimmers or bouies around me, which is a testament to Sara’s phenomenal guiding.
Phenomenal guiding was the trend throughout the rest of the entire race. We got out of transition with Louie effortlessly, and had a great ride. The course had rolling hills, a couple of turns, and curves, all of which we navigated smoothly and gracefully. Not bad for only our second ride together. Now it was onto the run, to which I always look forward and say is the easiest part to guide. But that was an understatement!
The run course had been advertised as a nice fast and flat out-and-back course. A week before the race however, it changed! As it turns out, we would now be running on a narrow trail with big rocks, loose gravel, tree roots and branches, grass, and doing a couple of complete 180 degree turns! Keeping my tether short so I could stay close to Sara’s side, and keeping my knees high, we decided to slow down the pace in order to have a safe run. Weaving around runners, navigating divots, rocks, and branches, we made our way closer and closer to the finish as Sara gave me key verbal queues to complement her tethering skills. The last couple hundred of yards were on grass, and very narrow. Linking arms, Sara and I sprinted into the finish with a time of 1 hour and 29 minutes!
The adventure had been a success in so many ways. From freestyle to trail running, to transportation and logistics, to finding and meeting Sara. I could not feel more fortunate and thankful for everyone who made it
possible for me to race the Rumpass in Bumpass.
Thank you Sara for your willingness and excitement to guide; you are an incredible athlete, and I hope the future holds more racing together in store for us. Thank you Jabou for your willingness to drive me to VA, I couldn’t have gotten there without you. Thanks to everyone for your support along the way, and thanks for reading!