Monday, March 29, 2010

I refused to set my alarm beginning with a 3 something, so I woke up at 4 AM sharp on March 27th, 2010! Usually I am not in a good mood anytime I have to wake up this early, but today was different! I was in Southern California with all my old friends, getting ready to embark on my first triathlon on the west coast! My early morning So-Cal supporters, Jeff, Kendra, and Kat and I left Tony and Sue's house at 4:30 to head about an hour north to Oceanside! They were extreme troopers getting up that early and helping me load my bike and all my goodies into the car! Thanks guys! We traveled up the 5 Hwy to Mission Avenue and drove toward the Oceanside Harbor where two days before Scott had taken me to the Expo. When I first saw the swim course buoys I got a little nervous, but it was unique in the fact that we were swimming inside a harbor with tons of boats around us! Scott suggested that we drive around the harbor to look at the swim course and I am so glad he did because it made me feel much better. For some reason in my head, I was imagining the freezing Pacific ocean with ice crystals and huge crashing surfable waves, but it was pretty sheltered! Scott took a video of me and the future swim course to send Dustin and I checked in and picked up my packet at the Expo. It was sponsored by Rhoto Eye Drops, so luckily they gave me two boxes of those.....yipeeeee (sense the sarcasm?) The back pack was cool and the shirt was a white dry fit with cool design. We also got a finishers hat so I liked all that! They also had a 10 minute repeating video of the race directors talking about specifics of each portion, so that made me feel more prepared as well. Anyway, back to the drive on race morning.......I was all calm, cool, and collected until we pulled in the parking lot and saw everyone with their bikes (yes, we took our bikes there on race morning, no bike check in before, which actually was nice). So, Kat not only let me borrow her bike "Sunshine" that she rode in Florida Ironman, but she also pumped up my (her) tires. (I did go on two bike rides after getting here on Wed on Sunshine before the race and she seemed to fit me perfectly even though we didn't even change one thing about her! Pretty crazy, I know! ) So, I saw some other racers riding their bikes toward transition so I just followed them, but no one seemed to know where they were going and it was dark, so I just kept following some other people who finally knew where they were going. We were cruising at slow speeds along this bike path and all of a sudden it turned sharp and there was a steep incline.....had to get off my bike and push it up....already! Wow, the race hadn't even started and I was pushing my bike up hills! Yikes! I set up my transition with the other 2300 people doing the race and immediately got in the bathroom line. I called Jiea (who had said she wasn't doing the race because she broke her foot about a month ago, but she tore off her cast and decided to do the race...guess that shows how good of race I was about to be a part of). We waited in the long *** bathroom line and caught up on our latest life happenings. Then, I turned around and saw a familiar face. I said, "Hey, I think I played basketball with you about five years ago when I lived here, what's your name?"....."Mistiza, oh yeah, Angie!" It was hilarious that we ran into each other there, then it turns out we were on the same bike rack, the same swim wave start, entered the water together, and I saw her on the bike and after the race. Long story short, we are now friends on Facebook.....small world! I saw Kat, Jeff, and Kendra before the race at the edge of transition and it took Jeff and Kat to get my wetsuit zipped up! I ate a bag of prunes and I was ready (not really, just posed with them to pretend.....that wouldn't have been a good nutrition plan.) However, my nutrition plan from Coach Wolf was 70-100 g of carbs per hour on bike with 1 liter/hour of liquids, plus 60-70 g of carbs per hour on the run, stopping at each aid station for 2 cups of gatorade and 1 cup of water, plus 2-3 salt tablets every hour on bike and run. This was TONS more than I have ever consumed before on races, but I decided to trust him since I am paying him to coach me and he's a pro so he probably knows more than I do (about triathlons anyway). Plus, this would be great practice for Ironman Louisville in August. So, we enter the water, and even though I borrowed the neoprene cap from Jiea, it was freezing *** cold! It was 58 degrees and I think my face went numb in two seconds! Nothing else really bothered me too much as I started to get into the groove. Then, everyone stopped! What the heck was the hold up? I couldn't hear anything with the neoprene cap. A guy on a surfboard was talking to the group but I couldn't hear him. I asked the girl next to me and she said he was warning us about rocks on our right side. I said, "so the race hasn't started yet?"....that got some laughs.....well I had no idea and that wasn't in any of the written material or the video. I have never done a tri that we didn't start the swim as soon as we hit the water. I was a little embarrassed, but I took out my frustration on the swim with a faster start than I have done before. I usually kind of wait back a little, but I decided to go for it when the gun sounded. I was feeling pretty good (trying to do my newly learned breathing on both sides....notice I said, TRYING....the majority I still breathed on my right....sorry coach!) When we turned around to swim back, I couldn't see a thing! The way the sun was hitting the water, I couldn't see buoys, people, nothing, so I just made sure I didn't hit the rocks on one side and the docks on the other. I got hit and kicked a little (actually, first time that I ever had my goggles readjusted by another swimmer). The swim finish snuck up on me, turned the corner and they helped me up the ramp 40:45....a PR for a half ironman swim without a current (Augusta was 29 minutes but I really don't count that). I was happy with that, but I'm not going to be happy with my pictures because I was trying to get the snot off my face (lovely getting a cold two days before the race). T1 was good except I couldn't get my sunscreen to spray, so I was pissed and threw it down. As I sped off on Sunshine, Kat and Jeff and Kendra were right there to snap pictures and cheer! It was great! Then, there were a lot of little windy turns but pretty flat for the first part, until we headed into Camp Pendelton, a few ups and downs (for us Florida people anyway, for Cali people it was still flat). I remembered I put a small packet of sunscreen in my bento box, so I got that out at about mile ten and put it on my face and shoulders at least because there was no shade on the course at all! It was such a beautiful ride, the ocean on one side and the huge green vegetative mountains on the other. It was probably the most scenic bike ride I have ever been on, but I also had to remember to focus on the road and the fact that I was "racing." I was feeling pretty good on the ride, sticking to my nutrition plan, and encouraging other riders as I passed them and as they passed me. Usually, I would pass them on the flats and then they would pass me on the uphills, then I would pass them on the downhills. I kept wondering when I was going to see the monster hill. Because most of the bike course was on a military base, no one could get on to ride it before the race, but I heard it was around mile 35. As I turned a corner and started heading into the wind, it was so beautiful! I was busy taking in the scenery and realized that holy ****, we had to go up that thing! I could see people pushing their bikes and I was still far from the peak of the hill. I told myself I would not push my bike up if at all possible. I was steadily making my way up, but realized that some people who were walking were sticking pretty close to my same speed, 4 mph! Yes, 4! I made it up the biggest hill I have ever biked with my heart rate racing, way steeper and longer than Sugarloaf in Clermont. We had to do two more similar hills, but they weren’t quite as steep. There was a downhill portion that had a no passing rule with a speed limit of 25 mph because it had some swirly turns in it. They also had barricades put up on one of the curves! Crazy! I could feel my stomach doing some weird things and I knew I would have to stop on the run if I didn’t on the bike, so I pulled over at one of the portapotties about 5 miles from the finish. I didn’t want to ruin possibly breaking 2 hours on the run, so I went then! As I approached transition, I could NOT wait to get on the run. I was looking forward to seeing all my friends and hearing them cheer! I had a pretty fast T2 and was able to get the sunscreen working thank goodness (again, no shade on the run). I started off the run at 8:30 pace, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to maintain it. My goal was to do 9’s and stick to my nutrition. I walked every aid station to get a full cup of water and full cup of Gatorade each time, along with a gu, or some chomps, or some sports beans (which I decided I don’t like anymore) to add up to my 60 g of carbs per hour. We ran along the pacific ocean most of the time by the Oceanside Pier, 2 down and backs that were about 3 miles out and 3 miles back, with a couple of inclines, but pretty flat. The cool ocean breeze was blowing most of the time and I couldn’t help but think that I loved feeling this instead of the freakin hot/humid wind in Florida. Some racers were saying how hot it was, and all I could do was laugh! I don’t think it got over 75 degrees! My cheerleaders saw me just a little out of transition and then 3 more times! It was great they were out there to hold me accountable for my pace I was trying to keep! I guess I was going faster than they thought I would, because almost every time, I had to yell to them to get their attention! Susan even did a cartwheel and some kind of cheerleader jump for me! Kat was yelling loud and taking pics and video and sending them to Dustin! Amy was taking pics! Jeffrey was yelling and running up beside me over and over again to try to get a good pic! Jen Merlo was giving me high fives and looking cute as usual. Dave and Molly were out there yelling, but I only saw Dave once for a second. He still has to work on his cheering voice! J Kendra ran with me for just a little bit around mile 11 which I needed so badly! The mile before was a 9:30 and I felt I was slowing down a bit. She helped me to pick it up and then Jeff and Kat also were trying to run beside me to get pics toward the finish, but they couldn’t keep up with me because of the crowds of people. That was pretty funny, I felt like I was racing them! As I turned that last corner, I still wasn’t sure that I was making it under 2 hours on the run because I was pushing the lap button on my watch for every mile and I didn’t know how long I had been on the run course, so I picked it up a little bit. I really left it all out on the course and I even felt like puking after the finish , but I held it in! When I found out I had done 1:58 on the run, it was a great feeling! I got some pizza, soda, Gatorade, got a massage, picked my bike and my favorite blue seventy transition bag up, and we were on our way. Kat was nice enough to push the bike, and Susan carried my packed full bag and we were on our way to eat Mexican food and margaritas! I told them I couldn’t wait to be doing that race next year with all of them as fellow San Diego residents.