I always find that making the day before the race nice and smooth is a great precursor to a good race. We woke up early to thunderstorms, took care of all the pre-race expo, bike checks, gear checks, packing and getting food prepared. We drew up a quick pre-dawn checklist and set everything up for the morning so all we had to do was wake up, have tea, eat breakfast, and head out on our bikes to the race. The night before Adam had left me a "Happy 1st Tri Birthday" card in my transition bag that I opened and kept with my stuff. Too cute!
Since we live only 7 miles away from the race we opted to ride instead of fussing with putting the bikes on the bike rack, driving, parking, and then you still have to ride a mile or so anyways to transition! Turned out to be pretty fun and a nice warm-up/wake-up. We set up our stuff and got ready to race.
Adam's age group took off almost an hour before mine so I had plenty of time to stretch, get in the water, and get ready to race. After what seemed like forever, the whistle blew and our group headed out into the ocean! I quickly realized I made a mistake by standing still for the previous 15 minutes. As soon as I took off for my running start into the water I felt my legs giving. I managed to catch myself and stumble into the water, but it cost me precious moments in getting ahead of the pack. I was trapped behind a sea of legs and arms and swimmers that can't swim straight. Frustrated I eased back a bit and tried to swing out the far side and bypass the commotion. Sometimes the best way to go faster is to relax and give in to what I'm doing. Note, that's totally different than giving up! By giving in I allow myself to just do what my training has taught me and not get caught up in the race mentally. I thought I was in the back of the pack coming in, but it turns out I was the 9th swimmer in my group! I headed up the hill to T1 and I was grateful for having a girl in my AG behind me. I could hear her struggling up the hill like I was and she kept me from walking. That hill is a serious ass-kicker.
I felt like I lagged in T1 (although T1 times include the run up the hill), but looking at the scores, I was 6th in T1. I still could be faster and it's on my list of "easy ways to cut time" by not dilly-dallying in transition! I saw Adam heading out on the run and was stoked to see that he was looking so strong. He has a way of hunting people down in each sport and I could tell he was determined. I hopped on my bike and was super excited to hammer out the 12 mi hills of Pacific Coast Highway. We've been focusing on hill work on the bike as Orangeman is uphill for half the course and it really shows in my speed and hill climbing ability. Turns out I was 3rd fastest on the bike. I felt solid on the ride and I know I could have pushed harder, but I didn't want to go completely out as I didn't want to blow the run or my training for O-man. I came off the bike a happy camper and headed out on the run.
It was a nice treat to see Adrienne (Team FC) as I left the chute from T2 to run! I passed another new friend Ray on the way out and was all smiles. I had to adjust my pace as I always come off the bike flying into the run. I settled into a comfortable 9min/mile and felt good. I was committed to holding that pace for mile 1 and then if I felt good, letting it all out the rest of the way. I'm a pretty slow runner, as far as runners go, but I am working on it and I'm finally feeling progress. I ended up PR-ing with a 25:52 3mi run! That's an average of 8:37 - super fast for me! I came down the finishing stretch and saw Ray (again, thanks for the pics, you rock!), the Zalewski cheering squad and a friend (and triathlete) from high school, Ryan. It felt great this year to cross that finish line strong, healthy and ready for more. Quite the difference from last year in which I thought I was going to die after I finished!
I was greeted by even better news from Adam - he placed THIRD in his age group (35-39)!!! He's been putting in a lot of hard work and it was simply awesome to see that pay off! Watching him take the podium for his award was the crowning moment of the race! It really goes to show how much life can change if you're willing to go in a positive direction.
- I came in 7th in my AG - not bad for a "dress-rehearsal".
- I need to work on my run!
- Transitions need some practice - I have been a little lackadaisical with them and end up dawdling with my stuff, especially after swimming when I'm spaced out as it is.
- Never stand still before trying to run into the water!