Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Santa Barbara Triathlon...and much more!

So I have the best group of triathlon friends who are always up for a fun adventure. When I decided to do the Santa Barbara Triathlon this year, I had seven friends jump on board for a weekend in SB. Last year we all went up to Big Kahuna and had a blast in our crazy rental house; so we decided to try to repeat the fun times at this race.

We all headed up to SB on Friday morning. Being triatheles we made it to Camarrillo before we had to stop for food. Mike and I decided sushi would make a great pre-race meal. Too bad the all-you-can-eat sushi deal was not going on, because we could definately gotten our money's worth! When the lady told us to come back on Monday we almost made a reservation.

The condo Tina found was great, and we made quick work of filling it with bikes, tri gear and of course lots of food! It definately reminded me of my college days as we tried to figure out how to best arrange 8 people into two beds and three air mattresses.

The boys were in charge of the pre-race dinner, so we headed out to "Lazy Acres" a Whole Foods/Jimbo's type store. I am really glad I don't live near, as I think I would have trouble keeping myself out (did end up there 3 times over the course of the weekend!) Everything looked so good, and so healthy, just like I like it. The boys ended up making an awesome pasta dinner with garlic bread and salad. Then to bed early-ish.

Pre-Race: Up EARLY to eat and get ready to go down to the race. I love getting ready with other triatheles in the house; the energy is great. "Who's having oatmeal?" "Do you think we'll need arm warmers?" It really helped me get my mind into this race.

Got to transition pretty early as the guys had early waves. Open racking, but luckily not too many girls there yet. I was able to get a spot three bikes from the end. Then I turned into super-bitchy tri girl when I told the chick next to me that she couldn't take up both sides of her bike with transition stuff. I really did not mean to be bitchy, but it was early and I was nervous, so the words just came out of my mouth. I'm sure she didn't like me too much.

Set-up transition and fussed with my bike some. The race directors announced over and over that anyone who tossed, dropped or launched a water bottle would be immediately DQ'ed. I was really nervous as I have been launching bottles all over SD county lately. Did some last minute Macguivering to make sure the bottles would stay-put. Thanks to the boys who lent me all types of tape and a few spare hair rubberbands, I was set to go.

Got in a great little warm-up run and a few strides to get the leg fully warmed-up. Not too polite to the TCSD guy who yelled at me to "Save it for the race!" while I did my strides. As I got back to transition they were shouting they were going to close transition. Of course I fell for this AGAIN and rushed to get on my wetsuit and out.

Down at the water they were giving another pre-race talk. Again they were going on and on about no bottle dropping and then they started in on how people DIE on this course. Oh yeah... that puts me in the mood to race.

I hopped in the water for a warm-up swim and was completely unprepared for how cold it was going to be. I have become such a wuss with the warm water in SD, that I was in shock. My face froze and my breath was taken away. I reminded myself that I have swam in water colder than this before. Just kept swimming up and down the shoreline and finally got nice and warm.

Swim: Like always it was super crowded the start. Luckily it was only about 200 yard to the first buoy where we turned. I knew it would thin out from there. Focused on keeping calm until that first buoy. Didn't get knocked around too much.

Once we started up the coast, I tried to grab onto some feet. I really suck at this. I have no awareness in the water. I can never tell if the feet I jump on are going too slow or if they are even going the right direction. Not too sure how long I lasted trying to draft, but eventally I ventured off on my own. Then I got worried about swimming off course. By sighting I felt like I was headed straight for the buoy, but then I could see a ton of people to my far right. Were they inside the buoy line? Was I off course? Like Don said, it would be nice to have a little GPS that tracked you so you could go back and see your exact course. I am pretty sure I was all over the place.

T1: Ran hard out of the water and focused on getting the wetsuit off ASAP. It came off smooth this time, for which I was grateful; but I had used a TON of BodyGlide!

I really think this is where the race turned around for me, at least in my mind. I ran it hard into T1 passing people all the way. I will never understand why people saunter into T1. It's a race... the whole thing!

Bike: Hopped on my bike and knew I had only a few miles to settle in before the hills hit. Legs were certainly not feeling fresh. I had three pretty tough weeks leading up to this race, including a time trial up Palomar just five days before, and only a two day mini-taper. Quads were begging for mercy but I knew they would come around in time. Just put my head down and let my legs take over. Now I was excited!

Up and over the first of many hills in no time flat. Then came the big descent... the one people "die" on! I know myself and I knew I would be pretty aggressive. Unfortunately I did not have that opporunity as it was an open course and I got stuck behind a yellow Xterra who did not want anyone to pass on this narrow stretch of road. I watched as a bunch of guys tried and some succeded in passing the Xterra, but I decided not to risk it. I'd rather finish a bit slower than be taken off the course in an ambulance.

In the valley I formed a group with four guys. None of us were drafting per-se, but I was definatley feeling the beneficial effects of having big men infront of me. Out of nowhere came a chick on a pink and black bike yelling something. She passed us all and then the guys jumped on her wheel. It was pretty funny watching four big men draft off a small girl in pink.

We hit the next set of hills, and our little group thinned out. It rapidly became clear that my new girlfriend was strong in the hills, so I made it my mission to keep up with her. She was not in my AG so I figured this was a fair race strategy. I did a great job until I had to move my bottles around (read: deal with all that tape and rubberbands I had used in transition) and she dropped me. I thought she was gone for good. Finished off the hills pretty much alone and was really into my groove by then.

As I rode the flats between the hilly sections I looked ahead and who did I see but my new girlfriend. I am pretty sure she was not as happy to see me as I was to see her. We traded back and fourth a bit and then hit the last set of hills. This time I was not going to loose her.

Once out of the hills there were some good flats back to transition. The quads were finally happy and ready to run. I was happy as I had dropped TONS of boys! Trying to keep up my membership in Idropboys.com.

T2: For some reason I was all confused in T2 ( I have coined an new medical term: race induced dementia) Everything was laid out as always, but I couldn't quite figure out what to do with it all. Forgot to take my helmet off, and was confused why my visor would not go on. Got that sorted out, but left without my race belt and number. Whoops.

Run: Legs feeling surprisinlgy great after a killer bike. Settled into a nice pace and ran like I know how. Realized about 5min out that I had forgotten my race belt. Spent a lot of time trying to figure-out how not to get a DQ for that one. Lots of great excuses came to mind.

Wound our way through the harbor and then up the only big hill. Someone had written inspirational messages on the hill which were awesome! Helped me push up it for sure.

Once we crested the hill it was some flat and then a gradual uphill out to the turn around. This is where it got gnarly for me. Stomach was hurting like it never has before. Not sure what the problem was.. I think it was a combo of things. Could not get anything in! Ended up doing the entire 10 miles on 1 shot block and two sips of water.

Despite the stomach problems I was feeling really good and keeping up a strong pace. Saw all of my race buddies looking awesome!

The last mile was sheer will to keep the legs turning over. Saw Mike about 3/4 of a mile out. I croaked "How much further?" He tried to explain where the finish was but I continued to be demented and could not understand. I told him it was time to pick-up the pace and he ran me to the chute. Took it in hard the last 200m to the finish.

Everything at the finish was pretty much a blur until I made my way over to the food tent and got some calories in. Next stop, an ocean soak. After complaining about the cold ocean earlier in the morning, I was really happy about the temperature several hours later. Ended up going in twice!

Watched all my friends come across the finish with big smiles and then headed home to the condo for some R&R before a big night out on the town in SB and wine tasting the next day..... That's for another post though.