When people find out I do triathlons, they inevitably ask me if I’ve done an Ironman. That would be a no. I actually had not done more than a sprint (approx 800m swim; 16-18 mile bike; 3-4 mile run) until last Sunday. While I raced four triathlons last year (and placed in my age group for all of them), I started to feel like a not so legitimate triathlete because I stuck (clung?) to shorter distances. Two people who recently joined the Mad Cows Tri Team were already racing Olympics less than two months after their first tri?! Why wasn’t I…?
A plan was made to sign up for a race. Anything other than an Olympic distance (1500m swim, 40K bike, 10K run) was ruled out because I was not properly trained. I’m not about to suffer through a 56 or 112 mile bike ride just because… The options in the immediate future were TBF Tri for Real #2 or California International Triahtlon. Tri for Real was ruled out because I’ve raced most of the course before = boring. Also, being that it is Summer in the Central Valley, running a 10K on a fire road with no shade is less than ideal. I didn’t know anything about CIT and signed up without looking at the course or past race results or the race start. M signed up too because he wanted a practice race to prepare for harder tri a month later.
A little back story… Racing makes me anxious. As do crowds. And being late to anything. Spoiler alert. It is hard to be early to a 6:50AM race start at venue that is 1hr20 mins outside of town. Also, CIT? Kind of a big deal in the Bay Area. And the Bay Area, well, it has a lot of people compared to Davis!
Race day started at 355AM. The ride to Pleasanton was rather uneventful and I arrived to something that looked like this. Yikes. That is A LOT of bikes. Not shown = fit looking people with time trial helmets. My aluminum frame borrowed bike did not stand a chance… Anyway, I took one look at the athletes and the transition area and the time (~45 mins to race start!) and I started to have panic attack. I set up my gear the best I could and headed off in search of a bathroom, which is rather necessary for a three hour morning race. While the bathroom was conveniently located near the entrance of transition, I did not have much time. So no potty break.
SWIM – 0.9 miles
By the time I got to the water I was crying. No joke. I was freaking out that much. There were approximately 100 people in my wave, about 5x more than I usually see at TBF events. M told me that I could not start or I could relax and just treat this as a workout. All the people in my wave got in between two buoys, and when my wave took off, I was still in the water outside of the roped off starting zone. I stood there for a few seconds more and decided that I should probably suck it up and swim. I ducked under the rope and took off. Not starting with the others was kind of a blessing in disguise. Sure I lost half a minute or so, but I also missed out on being kicked in the face and having to crawl past the masses. This, plus the warm (74F) water led to a very pleasant and uneventful swim.
Still in relaxation mode, I chatted it up with a relay racer (waiting for their swimmer) as I scarfed down five shot blocks and put on my bike shoes.
BIKE – 40K
Eleven miles of climbing and then a 15 mile decent. The theme for the bike was – oh look, another person on a time trial bike passed me. Actually I like hills and managed to keep up with the women around me for the climb (and some men too!), but everyone blew past me on the decent. M passed me around mile six. About halfway through the climb I started to have the feeling that I’d been there before. In fact, I had, for the Cinderella Classic. It is always nice to be on a familiar course. The road was well marked and I was happy to see an aid station at mile 11 (although I did not need it). The only downside was there was so much broken glass in the bike lane. I am thankful I did not get a flat (though I saw at least three people who did). I also managed to cut my leg opening a GU. Sad.
T2 – Potty break.
Remember how I said that I didn’t have time to go to the bathroom in the morning? Well I figured I should stop for a potty break before starting the 10K run. 😉
RUN – 10K
This was a two lap course on a levee. While there wasn’t much shade, there were three aid stations (yes!) and every single one of them had COLD water. I cannot tell you how amazing this is considering I’ve been to races that ran out of water.
The views were nice and I tried to pace myself given that I had get through two laps. The whole 90ft elevation gain was kind of a joke. I felt like I was running up and down all the time! Ok, so maybe I walked a few of the hills… I guess GPS cannot pick up levee inclines. My overall splits were not too bad considering.
I crossed the finish line and was immediately handed a massive race medal and a bottle of water wrapped in a super absorbent towel. M and I agreed that this was probably the best post-race refreshment ever. I wandered around and looked for my mom who had come down for the race. When I found her I was still feeling rather drained and wasn’t much for talking. A shower at the beach (no baby wipe clean-up!) and post-race burrito fixed that!
I did not really a goal time and M tells me this is not a bad time, especially considering this was my first olympic triathlon.
Overall, the race was really well organized and at a decent venue. There were so many positives:
+Warm lake and swimming around perimeter makes sighting quite easy.
+Lots of aid stations and cold towel at the finish.
Will I do the race again? Probably not. But only because I’m too lazy to get up at 4am. Also, too many people for my comfort. 😉
Thanks to my mom for all the photos (above) and cheering me on, and M for racing with me.