Last February I decided to take on the challenge of competing in the Wildflower Triathlon, one of the nations most difficult Triathlons,which took place in May of 2006. The distance I would cover included a 1.5K (1 mile) Open Water Swim, followed by an intense 40K (25 Mile) bike ride and finishing off with a 10K (6 Mile) Run. I finished this race in 5 hours, since then I have continued to document my journey.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Saturday, September 9th; Triathlon at Pacific Grove

This weekend was absolutely amazing!!! I would like to congratulate all of my mentees Aaron Fritz, Anurag Agrawal, Caren Magill, Carla Pantoja, Jens Weitzel, Patricia Bresnan, Reena Philip, and Sheila Brennan for crossing the finish line and becoming Triathletes this weekend. You guys worked hard and I am so proud of your accomplishments. I would also like to congratulate Sabine, Mary, Maida, Nikki and Nami for completing their first long course triathlons. Of course Trista deserves some loving for finishing too.

I took Friday off in order to relax a little before the chaos we like to call event weekend and boy was it eventful. When my mother and I got to the Lovers Point Inn she was amazed at all the chaos that was going on all around. Our hotel was literally a few hundred feet from where the race was going to take place. She'd been to several of my races before but never been to one held by TriCalifornia. She did not expect to see the elaborate set up and tent area that TriCalifornia is known for. As soon as we checked in we walked across the street to pick up my race packet. The line was pretty long so I decided to walk around the booths to see if it would die down. Way too soon my wallet was open and I bought a new soft HR belt from the Polar booth, a race belt, and a cute license plate frame that said Trigirl on it. Fortunately, coach Alfredo caught me before I spent too much more money and asked if I was going to go to the open water swim clinic that he had scheduled at that time. I then went back to the hotel room and grabbed my wetsuit. When I got to the beach there were about 15 team mates there to swim. The swim route was looped which meant that we would swim one loop then get out of the water and run up a sand hill, around a rock and get back into the water. Coach Alfredo told us not to push it but just take one easy loop and run around the rock and swim about a hundred yards just to get used to what it felt like. I'm glad I did that because it really helped me to realize how much easier it is to continue to swim even after I could touch the ground. It was too much of a struggle to try to run through the water. After our swim we all went to the TNT booth to get our race packets. I then went back to the hotel, showered, and got ready for an early dinner.

In order to avoid the crowd from this triathlon and a car show that was going on that weekend we decided to make reservations at the restaurant in front of the hotel. The food was a little rich for pre-race food but I really don't have a sensitive stomach so no biggie. The biggest problem with food like that is that its virtually impossible to eat it without having wine. Two bottles of wine and two hours later my mother and I left the restaurant a little tipsy and a lot full. We then decided to go for a walk. 3 miles later we were back at the hotel where I prepared my gear HAD to try to sleep.

I woke up at 5:30 the next morning to the commotion of early race arrivals outside the hotel. I dragged myself out of bed and headed out the door. I was so excited for my mentees that I barely had enough time to register the fact that I was racing too. I dropped my stuff off and went to check out the transition areas of Anurag, Carla, Reena, and Sheila. I was disappointed that I had not yet seen Carla but I found her transition area and made sure that everything was there before setting up my stuff. I then hugged a couple of the other participants and prepared to go to my room when I saw Reena looking a little nervous. Many people were nervous about having to swim through all the kelp in the water. I can't say that I blame her. I invited her up and we sat and talked until 30 minutes before my wave left (1 hr before hers) We got there just in time to watch the TNT men take off.

At 8:45 I got in the water and began to warm up. I let the cold ocean water into my wetsuit, swam a few strokes, and chit chatted until my wave. The race started before I had a chance to get nervous. I started off way too fast and then convinced myself to slow down and swim MY stroke. For the first time, I quickly found someone my pace and decided to draft off of her. She seemed to have a steady stroke and was swimming in the right direction. We passed the first buoy pretty quickly when we got to the second buoy we began our first turn. When I looked up to site I realized that we were the only two headed in that direction. I pulled on her foot and told her that we were going the wrong way (after all...she was great to draft off of). We quickly adjusted and crawled through the kelp to the next buoy. After that she started to slow and I decided to pass her. After a few more significant patches of kelp I saw that the shore was close. I continued to stroke until my knuckles hit the ground. Then stood up...too soon...dove back in and stood up again. As soon as I got out of the water I saw my mom at the top of the hill and run up grabbed her hand then ran down and back into the water. At that point I was having a really hard time catching my breath. I started counting slowly while trying to control my breathing. It took about a hundred yards before I was successful. The rest of the swim included a lot of kelp but no major direction mistakes. Sooner than I expected I was back on shore and running up this huge hill to the transition area. Overall the swim took 48 minutes. As soon as I got to the top of the hill there were 12 of my friends and team mates cheering me on. I sprinted to my bike and transitioned in 3 1/2 minutes. Pretty fast for me.

The bike went really well. I felt fast and I felt great. The bike was to be 4 loops. I was not looking forward to a race with so many loops but now I see the appeal. Every time I went through a crowd of people I sped up. I loved the ride and went aero for much of it. As I went along I cheered for anyone in purple (even if they were not from TNT) and also cheered for people who looked like they were struggling. I had a blast and had fun cheering as I rode...of course I had a lot of people cheering for me too. Seeing my team mates several times throughout the ride was amazing. I was especially happy when I saw Anurag on his bike. He was concerned about not making the swim cut off but HE MADE IT!!! After seeing him I teared up a little because I was so happy. I then started to get worried that I had not seen Reena. She was also concerned about the cut off. Before I got a chance to see her I finished my fourth loop. I ended up averaging 16mph and finishing the ride in a little over an hour and a half.

My transition time from the bike to the run was a bit slower at 4:55. I think it took me a long time to run from the dismount line to my transition area. It seemed to take forever. I then went off for my run. I started off walking but soon began to run. As soon as I started to hit my stride I realized I had to use the restroom. Fortunately, there were plenty of outhouses. For the first time I used one during a triathlon. I never realized how difficult it is putting wet tri shorts on. It seemed to take forever to get them back on. As soon as I got out I started running again and resumed cheering and getting cheered for. Its an amazing feeling to have friends scattered throughout the course cheering you on. It gives me so much energy.

Sooner than I expected I hit the big hill. When I got to the top I saw a police officer eating French Fries. I made fun of him for eating fries while watching us run. He then ran after me and handed me a fry just as a race official came by. He said...don't worry...I won't tell anyone about the outside assistance. After the downhill was another uphill but the nice thing about this uphill was that a bunch of our coaches were standing there which made me run fast. After the coaches there was a large group of fellow mentors, captains, and several participants. As soon as I passed them I found my mom screaming for me. Lets just say that this mile was the most hilly but easiest part of the course. I felt like a super star with everyone shouting my name. Then came the turn around where I past several more people. After that I had enough energy to carry me through the next loop.

Early in the second loop I found out that Reena had made it out of the swim and was finishing up her bike. I was so happy and choked up again. I soon saw Carla and Sheila on the run. They both looked great and I knew that everyone was going to finish. At the top of the big hill the police officer was finished with his fries and I harassed him for not saving some for me. I went back down that hill and back through the awesome mile with all the support and friends. One more loop and I was done. Loop 3 passed pretty quickly and before I knew it I was running through the finishers shoot and grabbing my medal. I felt amazing!!!

My goal for the race was 4 hours but I finished in 4:06. I definately need to work on my running because it took me 6 minutes longer to do the 6.2 mile run than the 25 mile bike ride. That doesn't seem right. I then waited for each of my mentees to cross the finish and gave them big hugs. I was so proud of every single one of them. They all did it!!!

I then soaked in the ocean for a while to ensure no aches and pains for the next day. By the time I decided to get food there was none left so I went back to my room and had some oatmeal and a bananna. I felt so good after a long bath that I decided to go to church. After church we went to this great Irish Bistro where I had bangers, mash, pees, and beer. When I got back to the room my mom and I played cards and we went to bed. At 4:30 I woke up in time to move my car (they were going to close down the road during the Sprinters race). I was not tired at all and decided to go for a walk. It was safe since the lovely people from TriCalifornia were out in full force setting up for the race. After my walk I went back to the room and waited for the Sprinters to start coming in. Patricia Bresnan was the only sprinter in my mentor group to race on Sunday but I also wanted to see honoree Carol and several other of my friends cross the finish line. The race went great for them and I screamed so much that my throat was raw. As soon as everyone from our TNT chapter crossed the finish line I jammed over to Santa Cruz to watch the long course people finish Big Kahuna. Aaron Fritz,Caren Magill,and Jens Weitzel were my mentees and I wanted to make sure to give them plenty of support. Sabine, Mary, Trista, Maida, Nami, and Nikki were also going to race and I definately wanted to give them plenty of loving too. I decided to drive up and down West Cliff to watch them doing the run portion. Everyone looked amazing. I drove up and down (screaming of course) that 5 mile portion 3 times before settling on a place to stand and cheer. I then screamed for every person who passed by. After seeing all of my mentees pass I went to the finish line to cheer people on. By the time I got there Caren and Aaron were done. The only mentee I got to watch pass was Jens. I was so proud of everyone. After a while Mary, Trista, Maida, Nami, and Nikki all crossed and we all cheered for the fact that EVERY SINGLE participant and mentee made it across the finish line for both races (71 people). That was a huge accomplishment. That night we partied until late and everyone was in great spirits. The next morning I went for a swim and drove home. What an amazing weekend!!!


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