For those who know me and follow the blog, know I got way into triathlons this year. Not like I needed to add another hobby into my life, but I did. And I ended up loving the sport! So much so that after my first one in May, I took a couple weeks off and decided to sign up for another one.
You know that feeling you get when you accomplish something and you’re like, “whoa, that was so amazing!!….I bet I can do it better next time!” No? Maybe? Well, that’s exactly how I felt when I finished my first one. It was such a big goal and so new, I was just getting used to all the training and sports by the time the actual race came around. I felt like it was becoming part of my lifestyle. I was seeing improvements in each sport and loved the feeling of continuing to challenge myself physically and mentally. So, I did some thinking and said, what the hell…let’s do this one more time.
The first go around I totally emerged myself into training. I barely missed a training and put my all into it. This time, I wanted to find a little more life balance. I knew the sports now and the drill for training. I figured I could get some more in on my own, before work, later in the day on the weekends so I could sleep in, go on a vacation here or there, a ball game. All the good summer stuff that was right around the corner. Balance is REALLY hard sometimes. Especially when training for 70.3 miles with multiple sports. But I am pretty proud of myself for how it all went. And I kept a little more of my training to myself this time, not posting as much on social media as in the past, and keeping in process in my mind more than anything. There were some struggles along the way. Mentally I was getting burnt around around August when training really ramped and summer was in full swing. All I wanted to do was hang out, drink wine int the sun, go on a road trip, but I stayed focus and did the damn thing. I managed to pull off another 4 months of training and it all came together to a big, fun, amazing, celebratory conclusion this weekend!!
Yep, on Sunday I toed the start line with some of the most courageous, strong, lovely people I know - my Team in Training family. Half of my teammates shared a victory lap in the Ironman 70.3 in Santa Cruz, CA and the other half crawled in the kelp at the Pacific Grove Triathlon Saturday. I’m so proud of all my teammates who gave it their ALL this weekend!! It has been another amazing journey and I so happy I stuck with my goals. Here is a little window into my adventure this weekend.
First, the planning. We rented an Air Bnb for the weekend about a mile from the start line. I didn’t know if this mile was walkable, but I knew it would be nice and close to all the event stuff for the weekend, so I figured it would be a good basecamp. Turns out it was a GREAT basecamp. Our little apartment was cute, clean, safe, and quiet. It had a lovely little kitchen I could prep all my race food in and lots of space for me to double, triple, maybe quadruple, check my gear (hey, a lot of gear goes into this sport). C and I made our way down to Santa Cruz Friday evening after work. Traffic was a little heavy, but we pulled into town just in time for dinner. We quickly unloaded our stuff and headed to Hula’s in downtown SC. I fueled up on plantains, fish tacos, rice and beans. Then next door there happened to be a little beer bar. It was time to tame my little nervous with a drink then off to bed.
T-minus 1 day and I wake up way too early with some butterflies. I didn't know if it was race nerves or hunger, so C and I picked a place for nosh on for our morning grub to start our day. We ended up picking Zachary’s and it was a great choice! It was a cute little dinner, had big portions and a very decent cup of coffee. I loved the breakfast potatoes with all the fresh herbs. After breakfast we headed back home to plan our day. Of course it was Saturday - College Football Day, so C stayed back at the house to watch FSU beat USF - Go Nole’s! And I made my way to the race expo to pick up my bib, timing chip, and scope out the start line.
I grabbed all my stuff and went back home to start laying out my stuff (a few times). I went through my mental check list and literally went through my body bottom to top for each sport. I felt good and it was time to go drop off my bike. The transition area opened around 11:30am and it was mandatory to place your bike there until race time.
I found my spot. Racked Lulu and scoped out the run and bike ins and outs to try how and remember how I was going to find my bike the next day (2nd garbage can + 2 rows turn left - that's how I remembered :))
Then we went off to explore a little bit!
We walked on the boardwalk and wharf. Found my sea lion swimming buddies for Sunday morning, got lunch at the Picnic Basket and headed back home. I needed a nap!
Napping wasn't all the effective, but I got a good rest in. I went to dinner with my Team at Fire Fish Grill and got all ramped up for the race!!
Here we go...
Race Day. Up at 4am. Breakfast of protein oats, banana, and cashew butter, plus lots of water and some coffee to wake me up. C drove me to transition and it was time to set everything up.
Transition opened at 5am and we were only a 5 minute drive away, so I got there pretty close to 5. C dropped me off and I was in the zone. I made an epic playlist to drown out all the pre race noise and danced my little way get to my bike to set up my gear.
I went to the bathroom about 4 times before I put my wetsuit on. I knew when that went on, there was no taking it off until the swim was over. I saw my coaches and lots of teammates. We hugged. We smiled. We were ready!!
6:20am rolled around quicker than I thought it would, but I headed down to the beach to get ready. I saw my coaches again and I was getting pumped. I was just so happy and excited just to be there!
There was a little extra time, so I decided I wanted to test of the water and do a few strokes before my wave went off. The water temp was good - not too chilly at least. It felt good to move a little. I got out of the water and got to the sideline to watch the start of the race at 6:50am. After a very loud bang, race was off! I found C on the beach and relaxed a bit, then I scurried to get into my wave and get this party started.
My wave was starting and I ran into the water! Lots of ladies were around me so I tired to stay off to the side as best I could. The waves happened to be a little bigger than I anticipated. I took in a gulp of water a few times because I went up for a breath and a wave crashed into me. Not tasty. I finally got into a groove and started stroking into the break of the wave; that way I could breath in between waves and found my happy place. I could barely spot the markers out there because of the swell, so I just kept following the crowd. I wonder how zigzaggy I ended up being?
We finally turned to go around the pier and the waves gave up a bit. Then when I could see the finish and started booking it. Finally, I got out of the water and dashed up the walk way. I heard Chris yell something "that was fast!" and just kept going to get to my bike.
The bike transition was a bit of a hike from the beach. Someone said it was almost 1/4 of a mile. Barefoot. On the sidewalk. Thank god for calloused feet (Ew, I know)... Any way, I got to the bike and stripped my wetsuit off and got my gear together. I kept hearing my coache's voice in my head saying "slow is steady, steady is fast." I took a few calming breaths, went through my mental checklist...helmet, sunglasses, shoes, gloves, food, bike...GO!
And I'm off. The bike was rolling hills out and back with a really good hill around mile 20. It was foggy and misty part of the way, but all around really pretty and smooth. I ended up having trouble with my chain dropping 2x, but I had a little support angel swing by one of the times and put it back. The other time I had to do it myself. No big deal; small hiccup and I was back at it. I was cruising along, keeping my heart rate steady, eating each hour, sipping water every 15 minutes or so and feeling alright. I was so incredibly happy when I finally got to the turn around point. Half way done and on my way back. I also knew the way back would be faster because of the winds...yay!! So I'm almost back to transition and I see my beautiful coaches screaming and cheering for me. It felt so good. Then I see C and I'm done with the bike! Yes! So close, just a run left!!
I'm back in transition, go through my checklist again for the run...sock, shoes, change my shirt, water bottle....GO!
The first 6 miles dragged on a bit. I felt like I was going to slow, but my pace was keeping steady around 9:00 minute miles - faster than I thought I'd be going. I reached the coast and the awesome tiki man/totem poll guy and gave him little high five for luck. Again, that was the turn around point. Again, I was so damn happy to know I was on my way back. I get back to West Clif drive and we are on the coast again. The scenery is beautiful and I'm taking it all in. All of a sudden sometime pops up out of the water!! It was a freaking giant WHALE! What?! Then 2 or 3 dolphins pop up! Holy crap! I say to the runner girl next to me..."how lucky are we?!" I'm pretty sure she wanted to punch me in the face, but whatever. It was cool.
After that, I battled a bit of a side stitch for the last two miles and hit the end of the pavement, literally. The last part of the race is on the BEACH; in the SAND. It was pretty packed by the water - but there was also water. And as soon as I hit the break a wave came up and soaked me feet. I just kept my head in the game reminding myself this was it.
I finally get the the finishing shoot and see my coached again. Giving me high fives along the way and all of a sudden I'm spiriting through the sand and finishing strong!! I did it!! 70.3 freaking miles. Yay!!! I was happy with my efforts and my results. What a great day was all I kept thinking. I am so lucky to be healthy enough to do stuff like this, have the support and time to train, and be with people all striving for each others success. Ahhh....so good!!
Of course, there is the post race food.
And the post race beer.
Then I promptly fell asleep at 8:30pm. One tired cookie.
About a week later, I feel recovered. I feel really great. I'm still on cloud 9 about the how experience. Looking ahead though, I am ready for a little break. I've been fundraising for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society for over a year and raised almost $9000 for blood cancer research, put my body through the NYC Marathon, Wild Flower Long Course and now Ironman 70.3 Santa Cruz. I have a bike event next week, but after that...I promised myself to take it easy through the holidays. Any races will be on the fly. I'll be setting new goals in January, but until then, its just fun for now.
Thanks again to everyone for all the kind words, support, and encouragement!! I couldn't do this stuff without all the love.
Cheers to rest, relaxation, and celebrations!