Silver Sage Tri’s at Rock Hall, MD
By Tracy E. Hill
After a disappointing non-start back in June for a triathlon in Long Beach Island, Manahawkin New Jersey (due to a herniated disk the day before the tri), I was excited for my upcoming triathlon in Rock Hall, Maryland. However, due to the unexpected herniated disk as well as working long hours, I hadn’t trained as effectively and hard as I usually do. The disk injury had me sidelined physically for only a week but the emotional effect had me taking it easy on the bike and runs for many more weeks to come. I was scared to herniate again – and my trainers could not tell me why it happened in the first place, other than to say “as you age, your body wears down.” I’ve been running my whole life. I guess that’s a lot of wearing down.
My partner and I drove down the night before and checked in to an interesting bed and breakfast. The photos looked fantastic. In fact, after my back injury – I wasn’t sure I’d be able to compete today. So months ago I said to him “Let’s go anyway, it looks so beautiful. We’ll have fun!” Well, looks can be deceiving and this particular venue was old and tired and in need of some great care. In addition, Rock Hall may be full of history – but that’s about all it has going on. The town was less than a quarter mile long. Two main restaurants anchored the harbor, in addition to a small and delightful cafe (Pearl on Main Street) in the center of town and another restaurant that wasn’t open. No night life. No culture. No museums. Just a harbor and “Mayberry” sort of town. Not exactly what we were anticipating. Although the town folks were fabulous, it was a bit too quiet for us.
We scoped out the swim the day before as that is my worst event. I haven’t been in the water in two years due to the lack of a place to train. Community swimming pools are just not my thing. One thing was abundantly clear. The swim was in the marina, not the harbor as Kinetic advertised. Perhaps that is the same thing to most folks, but growing up on Cazenovia Lake and sailing/water-skiing my whole life, to me – a harbor is more an open body of water sheltered from the sea whereas a marina is where all the boats dock, gas, egress and enter the marina for a variety of reasons. I was immediately concerned with all the gas, floating debris and filth that I saw foaming in the marina water. To make matters worse, as we walked further around we happened upon several of these signs which had me ready to back out.
It’s one thing to see a sign that states “No swimming or diving allowed.” That makes perfect sense to me. No one should ever swim in a marina. It’s filthy and dangerous. Boats are constantly coming and going not to mention all the gas and waste that collects in a marina. But what we weren’t expecting were the signs warning people of the water rats or more formally known as Nutria. Or the signs explicitly advising people to stay clear of the bay due to the flesh eating bacteria scientifically known as Vibrio Bacteria. Were they kidding me? What was Kinetic Multisports thinking? The rats were known to grow as large as 20 pounds, 20 pounds! And 27 people had been infected with Vibrio Bacteria in the Chesapeake Bay just in 2017 alone (per our search that night)! Were they crazy to have hundreds of people swimming in this cesspool of infection, disease, rats and filth? Apparently.
And so I did.
On a beautiful and clear Sunday morning I joined several hundred other crazy people and when my cap color (purple) was called, I jumped into the grossest water I’ve ever been in my life. I’ll never sneer at another community swimming pool again! The swim was tough. The water was opaque. I couldn’t see a blessed thing. At first, something kept brushing up against my arm. I thought it was the water rat. I was a bit unnerved. But quickly realized it was the zipper on my wet suit. Relief. I was hoping for a 20 minute swim. But 26 minutes later I thankfully and shakily crawled out of that Bay with gratitude. On the bike portion. An easy, 15 mile flat bike road through the little town of Rock Hall felt like a breeze compared to fending off flesh eating bacteria. I was grateful to be on two wheels and terra firma. I rode alone. No one passed me and I rarely caught up to anyone else. One guy wiped out and I tried to assist him but he was too annoyed to be helped. After riding longer than I wanted, I eased into the transition area ready for the last leg – the 5K.
I gently put my bike on the rack and headed out for the run. My legs felt like rubber and I had terrible calf cramps in both legs. Quitting is not in my vocabulary. I pressed on refusing to even walk. A lady next to me told me to walk and stretch out my cramping. I told her “I’ll run it out.” I must’ve looked crazy running with cramped legs. But after a half a mile, my legs felt better and the cramping stopped. Or maybe I was just too stubborn or numb to notice?! I was tired and definitely not running my best. I’ve been running my whole life and this was typically where I could turn it on and finish strong. I hung behind a 66 year old woman who beat me by 3 seconds.
I finished 8th. And – I’m okay with that. Tomorrow I’ll call my PCP and get some antibiotics. I’m not going to wait for the Vibrio to get me. I’ll be proactive and attack it first. Tonight, I’ve got my knees iced and a nice pinot noir to nurse me through. On to 2019 and the triathlon season.