The biathlon took place in Mexicali, Baja California; that’s where I’m from. It started at the city’s main park ‘El Bosque de la Ciudad’ and ran along the main freeway to the city’s border crossing and back. Aside from a stray car every once and a while we had the roads to ourselves. It was very cool to run and bike through parts of the city that are normally congested with traffic.
The biathlon was a run/bike/run mix. There were two versions of the biathlon the long version, 5k/30k/5k, and the ‘Sprint’, 3k/15k/3k. I did the Sprint biathlon since it was my first one. An aunt of mine was doing the full biathlon, she’s very into cycling and she is fast , so I didn’t feel too lost in the beginning. I debated doing the long version but was so happy I stuck with the sprint. Thirty seconds into the run my mind started yelling what did I get myself into?? I’m not sure what happened but I went from excited to scared in a matter of seconds. That slight panicky feeling slowed me down right away but I pushed past it and kept running. The downside of it was it might have held me back because I got passed by everyone within 50 or so meters of starting the run. I lagged behind the rest of the race but I was too busy moving to notice most of the time. The race was one big loop that the long version runners did twice so once they were on their second lap I pretty much blended in with the group.
I finished the race in 1 hour, 59 minutes and 12 seconds. To be clear though I finished dead last in the biathlon sprint. That’s me, pointing at my tag at the end of the line. I did not mind though, I was so happy I finished and did so injury fee. That was the curious thing though, during the race I was struggling to keep myself moving. My legs weren’t working like the usually did, I didn’t have that drive to push harder, my hands kept going numb riding my bike and I was just grunting my way to the finish line. But immediately after I crossed the finish line I felt relieved followed by this feeling of satisfaction and happiness. The pain and discomfort were gone and I was just proud. It even crossed my mind how I’d train for another one. I’ve been told that’s a similar feeling mothers have right after giving birth. Maybe the endorphins do that, I’ll take their word for it. In any case I was feeling really good. On a upside; it means I’ve got nowhere to go but up!
One of the things that I love about participating in races are the people. People are so supportive at these things. They cheered for everyone, it made you feel special. Hearing ‘¡Animo!’ and ‘¡Si se puede!’ (closest translations are ‘Keep at it!’ and ‘Yes you can!’) was one of the things that motivated me to keep moving when I really wanted to stop and take a seat. I think I might have gotten that extra bit of attention being the last person at everything. Who doesn’t like cheering for the underdog?
One more thing to take note of is my bike. I think my poor bike got worked pretty hard for the aged state it’s in. I couldn’t get the gears to change properly so I rode the low gear throughout the whole race, uphill and downhill and it made for a bit of a rough ride. Also there were parts that were kinda rusted. I was told by a couple of people that due to the condition of my bike I probably worked twice as hard as I should have. I understand the value of good equipment so I believe them but I wasn’t in the market to buy a new bike for one event so I stuck with what I had in my backyard. Regardless, my bike got me through my first biathlon. If I chose to do another one I’ll look into a more appropriate set up.
Overall I think this was a wonderful start to my fall season. I’m looking forward to my other races, mostly 5ks, but from now on the focus is to train with conviction for my the big event: Tough Mudder. I’m determined to go into that course knowing I trained my hardest and give it everything I’ve got. After that I might decide I’m crazy enough to finish my year with a half marathon or be smart about it and give myself time to train. Not sure yet.
Until then I’ll revel in the fact that I’ve added one more achievement to my life: biathlon finisher.