As part of my journey back to triathlon, I registered for a Splash and Dash this summer. You may be familiar with the Aquabike option that many triathlon races offer – that’s where you swim and bike and skip the run. Fewer races have a swim-run combination, but I found one near by and started training.

The day before, as I was gathering my gear, I realized it had been two years since I raced. I had to take a moment to remember the preparations that once felt so automatic. And then there was the swim-run transition. I had been doing that in practice but always out of the back seat of the car. I hadn’t thought through how to arrange my gear on the ground and the exact order I would follow to minimize my T1 time. Ahhhh!

On race day, I put my wetsuit and tiny duffle bag under my assigned space on the bike rack. It was a sparse and lonely-looking transition area, indeed. Over in body marking, I learned that instead of having my age emblazoned on my calf, I would only have S/D for Splash and Dash. That was nice!

Our problem wasn't plastic disks, but the swim was canceled all the same.

This isn’t the beach I was at, but the swim was canceled all the same.

Then the race director came on the PA and announced that the health department had closed the beach due to poor water quality. We had been warned that this was a possibility. For the triathletes, the race turned into a Duathlon (run-bike-run) with a short run taking the place of the swim. For the Splash and Dashers, well, we were left with just a run. It was hot, but I gave it my best shot and did well. At one point I looked down to mess with my race belt and felt a wee bit unsteady, so from then on I kept my eyes up and focused on the feeling of my feet on the pavement. Success!

It was great to be crossing a finish line again. I loved hanging out with the tri teams afterward and feeling like I belonged — even if all I did was run a 5K. I am inspired to pick my next race!