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Jellyfish suck. – Andrew C. Weaver, August 6, 2011

I can now say that I’ve done triathlons in three states. By the end of the year, it should be five. We spent a long weekend in the low country of South Carolina, staying with friends in Port Royal. Our hosts were Jason and Elaine Lake, dear college friends whom we haven’t seen in, well, too long. If you had asked me to make a nomination in 1994 for the sweetest couple in the world, I would have voted for Jason and Elaine. I would still do so today. It was fun to get our kids together, (theirs are older) and make balloons for everyone. Here’s a flock of flamingoes. Thank you facebook for making long overdue reconnections possible.

So while there, I did the Beach Bum Triathlon in Coligny Beach, Hilton Head Island. It’s a twice a year event, sponsored by a local triathlon store. (Yes, such places exist.) It’s done completely on the beach.

Here are the pictures.

Highlights worth mentioning:

Upon arrival, I got immediate assistance with my flat tire. The bike had been strapped to the Jeep roof. It was my mountain bike, old and not well-maintained. When the staff pumped up my tires, it was also discovered that I had my rear brake engaged. (I’m no bike tech.) It was fixed for me in seconds.

The mass start was my first of its kind, and my first ocean swim. I have been in the ocean countless times, but never to swim in a straight line. I just wanted to get out past the waves. Before I did, I got stung on the left ankle by a jellyfish. Not fun. I got out to the first buoy, and realized I would be very slow today, just like Annapolis. I was almost to the middle buoy and I got stung again, this time all around my leg. I paused to complain, and realized there wasn’t much to do but keep moving. I struggled, and wondered how I would ever get used to swimming in waves. It was sheer determination that got my through. Once I got around the last buoy and into shallow water, I had no interest in bodysurfing to the edge. I walked. I was ahead of three people.

The bike was a new experience too. I never rode on sand before. the course went 1.5 miles north, then turn around for 3 to the next turnaround, then back to the middle. This is not a far distance, and it was dead flat. However, the headwind is serious enough that it’s what they call the “Hilton Head Hill.” I thought I was doing great on that first quarter, then I turned into the wind, and I was crushed. The hardest part was that 3 miles. Once I hit the second turnaround it was gravy.

The run was as slow as usual, but also as usual, I knew I’d finish on my feet. I had no idea of my time, or I may have pushed to try to make a sub 2-hour. As it was, I finished in 2:04:52, 181st out of 184. I spent the whole run carrying a sand dollar that I found at the beginning of the run. I never found one before, so I had to pick it up.

I finished smiling, with my family greeting me, my friends taking pictures and cheering. Jellyfish aside, it was a great day. It was nice to be on a course where the kids could play while waiting, and where I could enjoy the scenery of the beach and ocean. I also downsized my race shirt from XXXL to XXL. I’m glad Wal-Mart stocks my uniform in every size in every store. (Speaking of tshirt sizes, the largest race shirt was XL. Surprisingly, the day after the race, it fit me ok. After a wash and dry with some shrinkage, it’s a bit tight, but even so, this seems like progress.) This is helpful especially when I see pictures of myself in my tri shorts with no shirt, and realize that I still look like I’m 360.

Next up, Lewisburg Triathlon Aug 20, Beware of Barracuda 5k swim Aug 27, and Dewey Beach Triathlon September 17.

 

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