What a day!
I basically wanted to hurl for several days leading in to Oceanside 70.3. I had a lot of nerves. I usually take the pressure off myself with myriad excuses, but I only had one or two or three this time.
Transition was a hive of activity. This was the first time I’ve had the pleasure of being on the AWA rack, which… Whatever… It means nothing. You’re just closer to your closest competition, I guess. There were a lot of us ladies in our outfits with our gear. Many seemed to be doing the passive-aggressive competitive girl thing.
Like ^this^ but on the inside and all wrapped in some false pastiche of girl-powery feminism.
I kept my head down, set up my transitions, and excused myself to go stand in line for the port-a-potties for about 20 minutes.
And after standing around in limbo for a while longer, listening to the pro cannons and helping teammates with their own nerves and last-minute emergencies, I decided to bolt up the long line of awaiting athletes to join my wave.
I got there just in time, cap in hand and goggles between my teeth, as my wave was told to swim out toward the start buoys.
The swim started out comfortably enough. I quickly found myself behind two women who were swimming a comfortable pace and let them lead the way. About three minutes later, however, we ran into prior waves and I lost my ride. Three minutes after that, I saw the sun for the first time that morning. I was absolutely blinded, and strained to find the next buoys.
The unconventional geometry of the course further disoriented me. I wasn’t swimming strong or fast, and knew I was weaving all over the place avoiding other swimmers. Here’s a map of how I swam.
AAAAAAANYWAY, I wasn’t pleased with how that went down. I checked my watch at the exit and just hoped others had issues out there too, because my time was super meh.
Time to hit lap and move on to the bike.
Having ridden in the area before, I was not looking forward to the Oceanside bike course. Road conditions generally suck, there’s debris everywhere, and we were heading in to Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base, which doesn’t exactly conjure images of natural beauty. My experience led me to believe it would be all dirt and concrete, with nothing to enjoy. But guess what? We headed into some scenic hills, and the rough roads had been repaved by the Mariney guys.
I felt pretty good throughout the bike. My orders were to not worry about watts, just to do what I do (I’ve done this before, after all), and conserve myself for the run. Coach Steve cornered me in transition and harped on and on and on about racing the run. Pace watts strategy BLAH BLAH BLAH. I mean, those of you who know him know what a talker he is.
The ride felt great. I wasn’t concerned about what place I was in but figured I was third out of the swim and was passed, so maybe I was riding around somewhere in the top 5 of my age group? Woo!
The last several miles were into the wind but net downhill. I knew it could be fast if I just became one with the breeze.
I got back to transition and definitely knew my time goals were out the window. That’s OK. Like Coach Steve ordered, my only job now was to get the run done in a timely manner. If I could deliver a good run, I was pretty sure no one would yell at me.
I came out of transition a little too fast but settled into my goal pace. For the first 5 miles or so, that pace felt easy as pie.
A few women came around me, per the yooj, but I was surprised to find myself passing people. I even passed back some of the passers within a couple miles (hahaha). Although I was studying everyone’s calves, I didn’t notice anyone in my age group. Like, anywhere. NO MATTER, I was only concerned with running. LOL JK I was also totally obsessed with watching oncoming traffic and hollering at people I knew. Cheerleading is either a huge waste or source of energy, I can never decide which, but I know some people appreciate it.
I also soaked up a few cheers from my Wattie Ink. teammates as well as Cortney Haile, who decided not to race locally this year or something (WORKS FOR ME) ;). She told me I was “on the podium,” which was great news. The athlete tracker is a total pain in the ass, so I appreciate how difficult it is to get or give any information on the fly. However, it turns out that at that point I was LEADING MY AGE GROUP and somewhere in the top 10 overall.
I prepared myself to make it hurt for the second loop of the run and hopefully drop the hammer. I tried, but my pace didn’t change… well, no, it did, but in the wrong direction. With about 3 miles to go, things went completely haywire. My left Achilles started barking, and I was making ugly faces and noises just trying to keep moving. Time froze, and while the first loop went by like cake, suddenly the mile markers just stopped coming toward me.
Somewhere within the last 1/4 mile, maybe (I dunno, I had no concept of distance at this point), a lovely lady wearing a Muddy Love edition Coeur kit (Brynje Enderle) passed me like I was standing still. She had 37 on her calf, so, all I knew for sure all day was that I lost a spot so soooo close to the finish. That kinda sucked, but there was nothing I could do about it at the time.
I’m kinda used to getting passed on the run, and fully expected to lose spots there –see Vineman last year. Of course, in retrospect, I see several places where I could have picked up 22 seconds –the margin between Brynje and me– somewhere on the course. Like pushing a *smidge* harder on the swim to make up for getting lost. Riding just an extra watt here or there. Not taking quite so many seconds to put on socks in Transition 2 (this is new to me: I usually run sockless for any triathlon under a full Ironman, but my new runnery-run shoes seem to be lined with porcupine quills).
Anyway, I’d like to think that everything worked out the way it was supposed to. Brynje was a gracious and deserving champion, and we shared a few laughs on the awards stage. I was happy to share it with Coach Steve, who also got second (and second overall), also by a matter of seconds (12).
Here’s a dorky picture.