Saturday, March 9, 2013

Gold Nugget Triathlon, Here We Come

It was a stressful week.  The Gold Nugget Triathlon’s main event took place on Tuesday night and women across the state were feeling it.

“Akkk. I'm freaking out,” one woman wrote on Facebook.
More comments followed immediately.
“Nervous first timer.”
“All I can think about today!”
“I was counting the minutes all day.”
 “We can do this!”
Later, someone posted, “I am stressing myself out.  I feel so anxious about 8 p.m. coming.  Never done anything like this – EVER!  And I want it so bad!”
Another woman shared, “I woke up at 2am.  Woke my husband up asking ‘what time is it, what time is it?”
Someone added a comment to that post, “I woke up at 4 a.m. in a panic that I had missed it.  I can’t eat and I’m pacing and can’t get anything done today.”

All this anxiety-ladened, high stress chatter wasn’t about the race itself—it was about registration.

The Gold Nugget Triathlon is a women’s only sprint-length race that takes place in Anchorage annually.  It has grown in popularity to such a degree that organizers have limited participation to 1500.  Demand is so great to get one of the slots that the on-line registration process has become a race in and of itself.

As first time triathletes, two of my sisters and I had prepped for registration.  We’d received advice from past participants, so we knew we needed to pay attention and we knew we needed not to underestimate the competition.  The website contained all the information we needed:  it told us that at 8:00 p.m. sharp, a link would go live on the GNT’s homepage and from there we’d key in our names, click “submit”, and then wait to receive a confirmation email.  Fine.  No problem.  We made sure the date and time were on our calendars and booted up multiple computers (thank you husbands).

My cell phone reminder chimed at 8:00 p.m. on the dot.  My alarm buzzed an instant later.  I hit the refresh button on my laptop and immediately got back this horrible error message “page could not be found.”  My stomach lurched.

First time jitters, I coached myself.
Still, no GNT page.
I went to Facebook and found this panicked post.

“What’s happeningggg???”

I wasn’t alone.  I thought about my sisters.  Were they having the same trouble?  I didn’t want to text message them because what if they were in the middle of successfully registering and I interrupted them and they timed out and didn’t get in because of me?

“I’ll try it on my computer.”  Matt said from across the room.
I kept hitting the refresh key.
“Nothing.” He said.
I stared at my screen understanding that the GNT page had crashed.

I took a deep breath, trying to calm my frazzled nerves.  At 8:02 p.m., I hit the refresh button again and, yes!, this time I got the familiar banner – I was on!  I scrolled down the page, clicked the registration key and, incredibly, the registration page loaded for me.  I carefully, carefully typed my name and birthday, re-read it to ensure I hadn’t fat-fingered anything.  Then, quickly, clicked “submit”. 

Immediately, I texted my sister:  “I got through…registered…you need help?”
A flurry of text messages and phone calls followed – we’d all gotten in.  I opened Facebook to see what was going on over there.

A woman had just posted, “I should've had my heart rate monitor on -- geez! It was agonizing watching that page try to load and then finally success, and all is good.” 
 “I made it in! I'm SO EXCITED!!!”  Someone gushed.
Another entrant raved, “Everyone had a mini-heart attack!”
Expressing what we were all feeling, a woman posted:  “Whew!  The hardest part it over!”

Later, someone penned this haiku as an ode to on-line registration and shared it on Facebook.

Gold Nugget Panic
Registration Open Call
Quick trigger finger

At 9:43 p.m., Lia, the stalwart Facebook page monitor reported, “The first three minutes were rough with overloading the server. Nonetheless, 1000 ladies registered in the first 5 minutes and then we hit the 1500 mark at just over 16 minutes!!

Now, we can all get back to training for the real race:  swim 500 yards, cycle 12 miles, and run 4 miles come May 19.

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