I just registered for the Jordanelle Triathlon on Saturday, August 22nd. My training has seriously fallen apart without a triathlon registration hanging over my head. I planned on competing in a triathlon on June 20th but I never got around to signing up and somehow there is a difference:) I never have been a big one for race registrations but I think this transition period between races is proof that an organized race does motivate me to work out and prepare for it. I've always liked to think that the decision to exercise is motivation enough but why make it harder than it needs to be? I've reset for the end of the summer to give myself plenty of time to ramp back up and do it right. I'm still in better shape than I was before I started training but I want to be top notch by the end of the summer and I'm thinking this competition waiting for me will help me get into the training groove. My diet has also suffered - I have ice-cream in my freezer again and I've been eating hamburgers like they won't slow me down - I never noticed before but eating healthy does make a difference in how I feel. Looks like I'll be having salad for lunch today. The most exciting part about training now is that the weather is good so I don't have to spin or run indoors!
Wildflower had me a bit scared in the weeks leading up to the event. I never considered dropping out and I was pretty sure I had trained enough. But there were occasional negative thoughts lurking around my brain, popping up every time I had a difficult run or struggled on a hill climb.
Either my ego or my far-reaching ability to rationalize helped me tremendously in the last days before the race. By the time I was standing on the ramp ready to run into the water, I had effectively convinced myself of success. And it worked. Either that, or it was the training.
I kicked off my Wildflower adventure several days before in Tucson; sorting and re-sorting my gear, food and camping equipment. My husband and I left Thursday morning, stopping in Joshua Tree National Park for some sightseeing and stayed for the night. The next morning, we left before any of our camping neighbors had woken up in an effort to reach Paso Robles and Lake San Antonio by afternoon.
I had read and reread the material provided by the organizers of Wildflower. Still, all of those newsletters and updates didn't quite describe the chaos of the campground. We arrived, luckily having pre-paid months before, and parked in a designated area on top of Lynch Hill. We quickly reached the bottom of the steep walking path, collected my triathlon race package and walked around a bit before trudging back up the hill to our car.
That's when the camping site free-for-all began. We managed to find a spot and set up as the rain settled in for the night.
Saturday was sunny and not too warm and we spent the day watching the Half Ironman participants make their way through the course. I lingered a bit by the transition area, analyzing the pros as they sped up the ramp to their bikes, only to disappear within moments. I'm not sure I'll ever manage to transition that quickly. I spent the rest of the afternoon organizing my transition bag and bike, and drilling the two girls camped near us about triathlon tips. I even squeezed in a short bike ride.
My nerves were quiet and I slept well, only to be woken up by the announcers set up at the top of Lynch Hill. My endless organizing paid off and rode my bike, along with one of the women I mentioned before, to the transition area. I set up, chatted with a few women and waited. And waited some more. In between the waiting, I drank a few liters of water, smiled for the dozens of photos my husband took and stood in line for the Port-a-Potties.
OK. Race time. The wetsuit is on. Goggles on. Cap on. I'm in the correct wave. My stop watch is ready. My nerves kick in and I am momentarily overwhelmed and a little nauseous. I keep to the back of the pack, the gun fires and we're off. The first 400 yards were brilliant. Then I start losing my rhythm, it just falls apart. I'm slapping the water, not cruising through it. My wetsuit suddenly becomes a choking device. I flip over, backstroke for a few minutes and get my head back into the task at-hand. I control my breathing, flip back over and freestyle the remaining 900 yards. It was here that i managed to make up some time. When I got out of the water my stopwatch read 31 minutes, but I walked up the ramp and ended up logging a slower time.
The transition went OK. I felt waterlogged and bit out of sorts. I had trouble focusing on what I needed to do at first. I slowed everything down, drank water, put my shoes and helmet on and grabbed my bike.
The bike course followed steep rolling hills through a landscape of grasslands, the occasional cow appearing below one of the massive oak tree. My hill training paid off and the hills were manageable. All of that hydration caused me problems and lost about five minutes when I stopped at one of the aid stations to use the Port-a-Potties.
Transition 2 was easy and I was off on the run within two minutes. I struggled here. Yikes, did I struggle. I had an incredibly slow pace the first two miles thanks to a horrible stomach cramp. It may have been too much water or the gels I used although I have used this energy source before. I felt better by mile three and started picking up speed. By the time I hit the last downhill mile I was trotting along at a 9:30-minute mile pace. I sped up considerably on the last downhill section.
I finished in 3:39, not the most magnificent of times, but about average for my age group, gender and overall. I have a number of triathlons in my sights and I'll be back at Wildflower next year with a new goal of 3:15.
Well, let's just call a spade a spade. The Wildflower kicked my a**! But, I did have fun letting it man handle me. Let me just start by telling you about my trip to Lake San Antonio.
I landed in LAX on Friday around midnight after about 15 hours of traveling back to the US from Costa Rica. When I landed I discovered that my bags had not in fact made it back with me. After spending an additional hour filing my lost baggage claim, I made it to my hotel in LA at about 1:30 AM on Saturday. Luckily, I had packed all of my tri gear and gave it to my friend to take seperately along with my bike prior to going to Costa Rica.That proved to be a wise decision.
After 4.5 hours of sleep, I woke up and grabbed a nice continental breakfast which was easily the most nourishing meal I'd had in over a week. It was awesome. I also got a bunch of complimentary toileteries from the hotel as all of those were still with my lost luggage. My buddy picked us up along with all of our gear at 7:30 and we headed to the Wildflower.
We got to the event around 12:00 and waited a few hours while the Long Course Athletes finished up before we were able to head into the campground. While waiting, we scoped out part of the bike course and it was hilly, but did not seem that treacherous. We then headed into the campground where we met a friendly member, Warren, of the Monterey Tri Club who offered us space with them as the campgrounds were packed. We showed up about a day after everyone else.
Once parked, we got the campsite set up and headed down to packet pick up. Little did I know, you had to walk down the dreaded "Lynch Hill" to get to packet pick up. That hill was steep and it took some effort just to get down the thing! Once down the hill, we found where the party was. The finish line, vendor row, band, food court, registration were all bunched together around the transition area and shore front. I finally felt like I had arrived and started to get excited. We picked up our packets, checked the massive transition area and headed back up Lynch Hill. Did I say that thing was steep?
Back at camp we got as much pre-race stuff done as possible. Put on our numbers, checked start times, race rules, dialed in our gear, and started loading up on carbs. All of our neigbors were very friendly and helped us if we had any questions. Kirsten found me and it was great to finally meet my only team mate left. We chatted it up as a bunch of streakers frollicked in the distance. Oh, the memories. We talked for 20 minutes or so about the race and swapped out tips. After that, it got dark quickly and I was able to get to sleep around 8:30.
You'll notice I am wearing my glasses. That's because I did not have my contacts as they were in my luggage that was lost. Ahhh. Luckily I packed 1 extra set for race day.
Sunday came quick and I woke up at 6:00, grabbed a fiber1 bar and some granola then headed to the transition area. Getting down early was a smart idea and I was able to get my transition dialed and my body marking taken care of before it got super busy. With around 3,000 athletes, its a bit of a madhouse in the transition area. Once I got that done, I made sure I knew where all the run and bike outs were located. As I learned, you are pretty disoriented coming in an leaving the transition area during the event and will want to have your route to the outs dialed pre-race. I got my wetsuit on and headed to the swim start.
Our wave was the 4th one out and I made sure to make my way to the back of the pack so i didn't get trampled by the stronger swimmers. The first half of the swim was devastating. It felt like I was swimming while someone was giving me a bear hug. I could not breath and wass forced to switch back and forth between freestyle and breast stroke. I was miserable. Once I got to the half way point things got drastically better. I loosened up and started swimming like I'd been practicing. I swear it took 21 minutes to complete the first half and 15 minutes to complete the second half. I finally finished the swim and ran into the transition extremely light headed and a little disoriented.
It seemed like it took forever to get my wetsuit off, but as I later found out, my transitions were pretty fast. I got all my gear on and hopped on the bike ready to tackle Lynch Hill. This was definitley one of the steepest hills I'd ever climbed and my legs were definitley feeling the swim. Once to the top of the hill, I just relaxed and started to pedal. The course was hilly, but I had trained on hills very similar to this course so I handled them pretty well and was able to conserve some energy for the run. I shot down Lynch Hill hitting 50mph while dicing through the runners finishing and cyclist coming up. That was probably my favorite part of the course besides the finish line.
I flew through transition 2 and shot out the Run out like a bolt of lightning. I got about 500m into the run and realized I was going way too fast. I backed it down to about a 9 minute mile pace and took it easy. At around the 1000m mark it was apparent that this run course was going to be brutal. I had trained on a very flat run course which proved to be a bad idea and the hills really got to me. I started to walk the big hills and run the flats and down hills around the 3k mark. I was hating life up until I got to the top of "the big hill". I started to run around the 7k mark and did not look back. Crossing the finish line in 3 hours and 20 minutes, I was stoked with the results.
At the finishline, I was greeted with a cool towel, a medal, gatorade, water, fresh fruit and yogurt. I sat in the finishline area for about a half an hour enjoying the refreshments and waiting for my friend to cross the line. I finally left the finishline area with a big smile on my face and huge sense of accomplishment. We promptly headed back to the campsite, packed everything up and proceeded to tell 6 hours worth of stories during the car ride back to sweet home Murrieta.
I've been taking things pretty easy this week after training for 5 months. Eating like a pig and being lazy has never felt so good. However, I am hooked on tris. I already got a training program together starting next week along with a healthy diet. Now that I have done an Olympic Distance tri and know what it takes, I am more motivated than ever to train and get better at the swim, bike, and run. I've also mapped out 5 different tri races to compete in through the rest of the summer. Next time I race, I want to be able to compete not just finish. I truly enjoy the competitive nature, friendly competition, and ovreall increase in health and athletic ability you receive by being a triathlete. I look forward to racing tris for a while.
I can not say how stoked I am to almost be competing in an Olympic Distance Triathlon and actually feel ready to compete. Looking back, I notice there was actually a lot of stuff I did in preparation for this tri, besides training, that would be really helpful for someone else to know prior to committing to an event like this. Here is a quick checklist that I came up with.
Gear: Running Shoes, Running Socks, tri-shorts, tri-jersey, swim goggles, tri-wetsuit (I'd suggest renting in advance and testing before the event), bicycle, cycling shoes, helmet, cycling/running sun glasses, comfortable undies, body glide (this is a deodorant like stick that you apply to areas that chafe, it also helps you get in and out of your wetsuit), and four water bottles.
Nutrition: Energy gels to sustain energy, salt capsules to stay hydrated, electrolyte tablets to put in your water to stay hydrated, energy bar(s) to eat on the ride to sustain energy, and lots of water. ** Make sure to start taking this stuff a few months in advance and try different brands to see what works best for you.
Where to stay: Make your camping reservations/hotel accommodations well in advance of the event. You always score better camping spots and hotels the sooner you reserve. This will also give you an idea of what food and meals you will be able to prepare pre and post race.
Travel: If you are driving a distance, make sure to accommodate for delays so that you are not scrambling at the event to get everything sorted out. If you are flying, make sure to figure out how you are going to get your bike to the event.
There's still a lot of details that I left out that are more specific to the person such as food to bring, tools, first aid, etc, but the above should be a huge help to anyone thinking about doing their first tri.