No matter how much sleep I get the night before a race, it’s always easy to get up before the sun and get out to the race site. This is a good thing, especially this last weekend for the the PossAbilities Triathlon in Loma Linda, CA. The alarm beeped, I double checked my packing list, threw on the race clothes, grabbed some breakfast and made it (only one minute late) to the meeting spot to carpool with some other Inland Inferno Tri Club (IITC) folks.
So to recap, for breakfast, I tried something new. I wore shorts I had never worn, and a top tested one training day. I had different food for at the race during warmup, and I had a race belt picked up that day. So I could check “things not to do on race day” off on my list. Luckily, none of them really came back to haunt me.
It was going to be a fun start to the season… a reverse sprint tri that consisted of a 3.5 mi run, 11 mi bike, and 150 yard swim, done in that order. I knew it wouldn’t play to my strengths. But at a venue I like, and with a lot of locals and newbies, which makes for a great pre- and post-race environment. However, it did add a technical component to the bike section with all the swerving. Next time I see tri-newbies wearing headphones on the bike and to the left of the lane on a 3 loops course I might throw something at them… or at least come up close and yank out their headphones. Yes, they are new to it. But know the rules before you get out there. And especially if new, you need to be able to hear volunteers and other competators around you! Don’t be rude (ok, ranting done… for now).
The course changed since last year, and became much tougher in my opinion. Before, the run was a loop with 2 overpasses in it. For some reason the first one seemed smaller than the second. This year, the run was an out and back that used the end half of the loop course from before — so it had the tough overpass twice. It might have just been a mental thing, but it seemed like a harder run. And I didn’t place myself as well for the start as I often do. With the number of newbies, it is hard to do so. They want to be at the front and they take off fast, but soon (right about the first hill) they slow and I have to weave around them. It is also a 5k and 10 with the same start, so there is also all the people who are new to just running that don’t understand pacing. So yeah, this race was a lot of avoidance. I don’t remember much else about the run, except that my legs felt sorta stiff. Not sore, just… heavy. I managed about 8:30 min miles though, which is pretty good for me. The shorts were riding up a bit, but nothing too bad. And stomach felt better than it had in a while (too bad now I don’t even remember what the breakfast I had was).
Transitioning to the bike was fairly smooth… helmet on, shoes off, one shoe on, other shoe part on, has an inhaler in it (so that I wouldn’t forget it) and is pulled off and inhaler into pocket, then shoe on. Grab the bike, off I go. Oh, ok. I lied. It was that smooth after I found my bike ;). I ran past it by a row at first… and yes, my bike shop boyz (who were the support for the race) were happy to tell me I needed my bike for the next part once I was leaving the transition.
But I got it, and onto it, and then started flying. Smoooooth and easy, finding my groove. Out of T1, left and then right, and then right onto the road we would be lapping. “Oh, it’s not a hill” Bjorn had said. Later he admited he hadn’t realized how far were were looping… and that it included one of the tough hills he includes in weekend rides. And then he only rides it once! This time we got to experience the joy in triplicate! I was a bit worried that the 60 miles and 6500+ feet of climbing the day before were going to make the bike section take forever, but instead I think it helped. Out to the road we would be looping, I dropped down the hill the first time, made the uturn, and started back up. I definitely got reminded by my legs of the climbing at that moment, but I shushed the legs. “Hey, yesterday you did 60+ miles of hills, and you did fine. This is just around 11 miles, and have the ups and downs split. You’ll live.” And they listened, cause although I felt some burning (I was riding at a fairly high HR) they got down to work, only expressing fatigue from that race. Oh, and asking how far I was going to let those shorts ride up them. And then the shorts started playing, and see how far they could get, and I was a good race-focused girl and let them climb. Oh did they climb those hills right along with me. I hope the people behind me didn’t mind some… behind (ok they weren’t that high, but I might as well have just raced in a swim suit).
Ok, race directors, if you are going to have a course with 3 loops, and you are only going to give one lane each direction… you need to be sure people know the rules, and that some of the people on the course (other than the racers) try to enforce them! Scene 1: Flying down hill, about to pass someone, while one of the lead fastboys is coming up behind. And then I see that there is another person, just cruisin’ down the hill on the left of the lane, oblivious to the world. “STAY RIGHT!!” She doesn’t budge. As I pass her, I say it again, and again it doesn’t register. Oh, it must be THE HEADPHONES that make it so she can’t hear. And race directors, you need to make sure that the people on the course can SAFELY do the course. Scene 2: The big climb, around the uturn and start up the hill. Little Johnny is also on his way up the hill. Probably 8 to 10 years old. The big hill is just too much for his legs and tiny tires. Does he get off his bike and walk up the hill? Oh no, he was told to ride. So he does… even if it means zigzagging all the way up the hill! Usually in the lane closed to cars, but sometimes he uses the car lane as well. We are right around a blind turn! At least he didn’t get splatted… Near him is one of his classmates. She is older, but also having trouble getting up the hill. Unlike Johnny, she knows she can stop and start again. So she stops. But starting is hard! So she sits at the side of the lane. But every now and then tries to get going again by bolting across it. Nope, again doesn’t make the turn into the actual lane to keep going, so she walks her bike back across all the bike traffic to get ready to surprise some other unsuspecting racer. Yes, racer. This was a race, not a family fun ride. Yes, a mini-local-for-fun-great for beginners tri, but yes, a race. I don’t like always yelling stay to the right, I don’t like telling kids to stay by the cone line. I’d rather focus on my race, and giving that air to my muscles on that uphill. I don’t like feeling like a bad, bossy person because I keep telling people where to be, but I like that feeling more than road rash or hitting one of those kids as he darts out in front of me. Yet I paid an entry fee not to be a race mom or a chaperone, but to race. To push myself. Yes, I have to be careful of me. But when others use different rules that takes on a whole new meaning. Oh, and with a $7000 purse, you can bet those fastey-mc-fasterpants out there were not thrilled with the obstacle course either. If you are going with a purse like that, and getting racers like Samantha McGlone to show up (or Michellie Jones last year) make sure it will be a good, safe course.
But back to my race (wow, this is kinda what my brain felt like during the bike… concerned, race, concerned, race, swerve…). Finished the course, back down the roads we took to get to the loop, a fast dismount, jog the bike to the rack. Find the right spot for it the first time this time, and pull off the shoes. Off the socks. Off with the GPS, and the inhaler out of the pocket and onto the ground. RRace belt off, grab the goggles, run for the pool while putting them on (about 300 meters). “Feet first, feet first” cry the lifeguards. I sit on the edge, lower myself into the water, push off the wall, and glide. High heart rate pounding, and perfect temperature water, “focus on technique! Get a good pull!” calls my brain to my hands, and somehow they listen. I can feel my rotation, I can grab the water and pull myself up it. Past one person, past another. One is swerving in the lane a bit. I go to pass on the easy to reach side, get cut off. Go around the long way, and she speeds up to stop me. I push it, pass her right as we get to the wall. I push off at an angle to get into the right spot for the next lane, right beside her. I feel a hand on my ankle. No, grabbing. I kick, moving a bit faster, I feel finger tips on my arm as I stroke through. Not in their stroke, but trying to hold. I throw an elbow (hey all those years of martial arts do come in handy in tris). I move on, and I don’t feel her again. I get out of the pool. 50m to theÂ finish line, there is a girl walking just ahead. I run… I pass her, and am told to get behind her. Even though the finish line is ahead, we have to walk. Grabby girl goes running past us and a few people already across the line, and is sent back. At least it’s the same rules for all. (oh, a race director note here… if you don’t want people running on wet cement, and so only let the first few people through run — as I heard you did — put the finish line at the edge of the pool — the cement will get wet). But across the line, I am done. Around 1:14, I wasn’t looking at the clock.
Other than the bits of ranty-ness, it was a good race, and I’d do it again (this was my 3rd time, and it’s the start of my 3rd season of tris). I felt strong, and fast, and fit. I think it might be one of my best bike splits ever… including races that were flat courses. The crowds were awesome, and I felt like I was doing my Trifuel jersey proud, and that my riding-up tri shorts still looked pretty cute 😉
A big thanks to Steve and his girls (a coworker) who I heard yell my name on every lap. And congrats to Jill, his wife, who lost her tri-ginity at that race and had a wonderful day (yup, she’s hooked, and yup, gave her the trifuel site info)! And Bjorn gets congrats too — he finally made top 3 in his age group! 35-39, so it’s a tough one! Oh, and I guess I’ll thank the bikeboyz — I think my bike speed came from pretending they were just ahead and going to drop me on one of our rides, and knowing they were there made me have to give my all on the bike.
Monday after that crazy weekend of pushing my limits I biked into work. My left quad whined a bit, and my right hamstring… and I let them, and took it easy. I figure they earned it.