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.