Dayna Christopher

Tunnel Of Love

The shrill starting horn squawked its goosed goose cry into the pre-dawn sky. In an unplanned but natural wave, the spectators lining the lake jumped, arms punctuating the air like startled waterbirds, before settling back to their perches. The first wave of swimmers -- depending on their level of confidence and expertise -- ran, dove or walked gingerly into the lake water. Moments later the water was roiling and boiling around the school of women.

Dry and standing on the beach, I was relieved to be a biker and not a swimmer on my three-woman triathlon team. I was even more relieved to be participating on a team and not as an individual in the event. As the name implies, a triathlon unfolds in three phases: a 1.5 mile swim, a 12 mile bike ride; and a 5k (3.2 miles) run. I reasoned that, given enough time, I could complete any of the three events. But all three back-to-back? No thanks.

Apparently others shared my sentiments. A couple of months earlier, a local group had managed to gather four teams of three women each to compete in the “Trek Women's Triathlon”: a swimmer, a biker and a runner. We were 12 of the nearly 1200 women who registered for the event. And we were a mixed bag.

One of the women was a champion high school swimmer; several of us ran, biked or swam regularly; others played in tennis leagues. One woman got on a bike for the first time in her life; another was less than a year post major surgery; fully half of us were working mothers. All had signed on the bottom line and had already put out a lot of trash talk where many of the women
worked. Not a day passed without a reference to the race.

The place buzzed with bantering; boasts came from the most unlikely of egos. Before the ink was dry on the application, backing out was out of the question. So with the triathlon over a month away, exuberance reigned. Regardless of age, job, or
ability to talk trash, we were committed.