Every morning, I wake up faster. At 5:30am the alarm goes off. I get up, eat, train, eat, go to work, eat at work, get off work, train, eat, and promptly pass out. Then I wake up faster again. If I don’t immediately bounce out of bed, I lie there for a moment and think, “Today I am faster than I was yesterday.” It’s a great feeling to be getting faster every day and will usually put a smile on my groggy face.
That said, I continued my PR streak at the Sentinel Triathlon in Santa Cruz on September 23. It’s essentially a shorter version of Big K, the half I did 2 weeks prior, or rather, Big K is a longer version of Sentinel, which was celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. So this is one of the oldest tris around here, though it would be my first time racing the course. It is kind of funny that the sport of triathlon is roughly my age.
One of my favorite parts of the weekend was having a sleepover with some of my new local teammates from Team Sheeper, based in Menlo Park (about five miles from work). Lorraine and Michele were also racing Sentinel and we stayed with Virginia and her husband Glenn, who live about 30min from the beach, in a cute little town up in the Santa Cruz Mountains. It was so peaceful and quiet up there, I felt like I was about to go camping! V & G were the best hosts ever, I later told them it was like a pro homestay, or what I would imagine a pro homestay is like, so good practice for when I go pro later. We had a yummy home cooked dinner, played with their dog Willow, and slept in comfy beds. Best of all, I got to bond with my local training mates; I move around so much I feel like the perpetual “new girl.”
We drove down the mountain race morning and I met my mom in the transition area, who handed me the running socks I had forgotten to pack. She brought G-dog, who was very excited. (He gets that from me. Everything is just so exciting!!!) I took my time setting up and then headed over to the beach only to start jogging in my wetsuit to the swim start, which was further down the beach than anticipated.
Just like at Big K, the swim went around the wharf. Unlike at Big K, I didn’t get my face pummeled. There were only two buoys that were set by the end of the pier, so there was plenty of room to deviate from swimming a straight course. I opted to swim the shortest and most direct line to the first buoy, aiming for the end of the pier, instead of going with…well…everybody else, who seemed to be taking it really wide. Soon enough I looked up, finding myself completely alone, and realized that the ocean current was pushing me into the side of the pier. A volunteer kayaker actually ended steering me away from it. I linked back with some swimmers as we rounded the end of the pier, and it was another ambiguously wide route back to the beach. The water was choppy on the way back and at times I felt like I was swimming in place. Not the quick swim I was hoping for; I washed ashore with a big wave and stumbled across the sand.
T1 like 2 weeks ago was a bit of a run from the beach to transition. Amusingly, it was a shorter run than Big K—it really was like a mini-me version! I got on the bike as a spectator yelled at me, “go pink and green! Like Ferrari colors!” Really? Cool! I’ll have to go as fast as a Ferrari! And in fact my bike did feel the fastest it has all season. The training has kicked in and I had also dropped my cockpit down by a couple spacers, so my aero position was slightly more aggressive. After seeing the official race pictures from my last race, all of which featured me sitting upright on the bike, I vowed to stay aero as much as possible. Obviously so my pictures would come out better. My legs felt extremely responsive, and the turnaround appeared much quicker than expected. I even did the take-the-feet-out-of-the-shoes-while-still-biking trick on my way into T2. yay!
Weather-wise, it was a cool day (actually rained the day before), and my feet had frozen while I was biking. I took off for the run and felt like my feet had turned into ice blocks, I couldn’t feel them! I focused on my breathing and a quick cadence, the feet finally thawed out around mile 2. I had been visualizing myself running 6:58’s off the bike, but unfortunately there were no mile markers laid out so I didn’t really know how quick I was going, I just went as fast as I could. I could hear myself breathing as I began passing the age group men, taking them down one by one, it wasn’t pretty, but at least I was moving up! I hit the 5k turnaround at about 22 minutes, and from there on out, it would be a battle against my mounting fatigue. At this point, a triathlete boy my age thanked me for pushing him on the bike and run and unlike me, was able to pick up the pace back to the finish line. It must be hard for boys to get passed by a girl in hot pink. Maybe not. A lot them were rooting for me
It became difficult to stay focused and at times my vision went blurry. I had to remind myself to keep moving, keep motoring through the field. I saw my local teammates at various points on their way out and was so wretched I couldn’t respond to their cheers. At one point I glanced at my watch and thought, “hey, you can still PR even if you slow down!” but I snapped out of it quickly and gave myself a few choice cuss words. During the last mile, my low back threatened to cramp up, courtesy of my new bike position, and I was quite afraid I wouldn’t make it. Even more talking to myself, “a PR is not going to get handed to you on a silver platter, you have to work for it!!” And work for it I did. It was all I could do to keep thrusting one leg in front of the other, and I could only focus on going from signpost to landmark to tree. I finally saw the host hotel in the distance, but was not exactly sure where the finish line was relative to it. Soon enough, I saw my mom cheering for me to GO!!!! and I realized it was time for my finishing kick. Oh, that hurt. I was so happy to be done, finishing right at 2:24:59. I was really glad my back didn’t go out!
Turns out my efforts were good enough for an age group win (my first in California after just moving back here), and 15th overall female. I took another 3 minutes off my Olympic distance time despite a longer transition and was ecstatic that my mom was there to see me finish on top of the podium! Sort of. I actually just missed getting my name called out as I was in the midst of a fabulous complimentary massage. But I still won a folding chair that had the 25th Anniversary Sentinel Triathlon logo on it and promptly gave it to my #1 fan, my mom! Perfect for taking to the races.
I’m very excited (like G-dog) about my continued improvement as I am learning first-hand the effects of keeping a consistent training schedule. I will keep at it, and wake up every day faster. Next up will be my season closer, the Treasure Island Olympic Tri in my very own backyard, San Francisco!