This was a highly anticipated race for me since it was my first race back after my concussion in August at theUSAT AG National Championships. This race would also my first ocean triathlon which made me really excited and nervous. I have wanted to do an ocean triathlon for some time and I was thrilled to finally be able to cross it off my bucket list. As with any triathlon there is a lot of preparation work that goes into it but this one was particularly complicated. I would be facing the ocean swim which I had very little experience with growing up in Colorado and the swim is the portion of the event I sustained a concussion in my last race; I guess you could say I like to face my fears. I would also need to make arrangements for travel and be able to break down my bike and put it back together again. This is something I have done before so it wasn’t too difficult but there is always the chance of something getting lost or damaged in transport and having limited resources to fix it far from home which added some anxiety. So I bubble wrapped it best I could and prayed it would be safe.
I decided it would be fun and a good experience to have my oldest son go on the trip with me, so we packed up and headed to the airport. It was fun to know we’d be going somewhere warm while it was cold in Utah. The flight went well and we enjoyed the interesting sights at the airport like the cool birds in the lights and petpotty. LOL
One thing I didn’t anticipate was dealing with some allergies. I’m not sure what was in the air but my body didn’t like it so I found myself sneezing almost immediately coming off the plane. The good news is that it wasn’t as noticeable at the race venue by the beach. We especially loved the brand new black rental van (literally had 4 miles when I turned the key) as we navigate our way to our destination. I was thrilled to see and catch up with a long-time friend and stay with her cute family. They would very generous to us. I was also pleased to be able to put my bike back together and have it running smoothly for the race (no transport damage). This was a huge relief.
(So happy to have this sweet ride from Bountiful Bicycle) When we headed down the next day to the Mission Beach area for packet pickup, to check in my bike and browse through the expo booths; we found it difficult to preview the course. This is a large event with over 1800 athletes (many world-class elite athletes) so the venue had limited access and I was unable to preview the entire route as I usually do before an event. I also knew there would be no chance race day morning since they would be shuttling all the athletes into this International Triathlon Union event because of road closures. It makes me a little uneasy not to see the race route in its entirety before an event and have to rely on a well-marked course but it’s what I had to do so I studied the maps the best I could and went through my usual race preparations.
Endurance Films national team gear – check
Emergen-C to boost my immune system – check
Elete in my water for the race – check
New Skin spray coating to protect my barefeet – check
On race morning the weather could not be more perfect for the event. After setting up transition I headed to the water just before my wave started.
The ocean water felt great. This event was a beach start so I practiced a few running/dive starts and swam a bit to get my body ready. As I was waiting for my wave to start the announcer warned us that there was a strong side current that would be pushing us to the side. It was easy to see its strength as many of the previous waves were completely off track, so I made sure to start on the far side so it was more likely to push me on track. Soon the horn went off and we were on our way. It took a bit for us to spread out as we had 181 athletes in our wave starting at the same time. It was different to smell and taste the salty sea water in my mouth but I felt strong and worked well against the current. The swim seems to go quickly and I focused on my form finishing up with some dolphin dives as I swam into the shallows to surface on the sand. I ran out with quick fast steps out of the water pushed through the deep sand up to the transition area. The transition area was quite large with 1800 plus athletes representing 41 US. States and 15 countries participating in the event so I knew I had to move quickly to speed up my time. As I made my way to my bike I worked my wetsuit off and geared up quickly for the cycling leg. Unfortunately the first part of the ride was narrow and didn’t allow passing so I really had to hold back. The cycling leg had more hills than I expected but I was still able to move past people fairly quickly. Since my wave was second to the last to start I had a lot of people to work on but found myself having slow down frequently as many narrow sections restricted movement “no pass zones” and there were many hairpin turns where we slowed down to nearly a stop. Overall this slowed my average pace significantly and would undoubtedly not indicate my true potential on results but I did what I could. The middle portion of the ride took us on a loop around historic Fiesta Island, the site of the first-ever triathlon held in September 1974. It was fairly windy on this portion but I felt strong so I continued to push past as many athletes as I could and was only caught be a few small groups of men. At the end of the ride, when I was coming into transition as I put my feet on top of my shoes and started to dismount my shoe unclipped and my bare foot smacked the asphalt really hard. When I ran back to get my shoe it was very painful and I also could feel every step to my assigned transition area. I was happy to get my cushioned shoes on. I slowed down the first mile to take it gentle hoping my foot would feel better and after a while it seemed to go numb so I just pounded the rest out. I hit the two mile around 13:50 (6:55 min/mile) so I was going a good pace. I remember thinking how beautiful the run was along the path beside the bay and what a great opportunity I had to be in this event. I continued to pass people and worked my way to the finish. I noticed it seemed to take quite a while to get there. It was clear the run was much longer than a 5K and after talking to other athletes my suspicions would confirmed. It was probably over a half mile long which was reflected on my results. I would guestimate my actually 5k time to be about 21:40/50. So, nothing too speedy but good considering my foot was still hurting. It was inspirational to see many paratriathletes competing; many with only one leg so I really have nothing to complain about, after all I had a foot even if it hurt.
As always my favorite part of the race is coming in for the finish. It’s always a thrill to hear your name announced over the loud speaker and have people cheering you in as you are surrounded by banners and music and all the festiveness of a race. I ended up with top ten in my division and met my goals for this race. It was especially great to stay with a good friend and have my son with me to share this experience with. As always I missed the rest of my family and was happy to be back home (home sweet home) and was greeted with a cute welcome home chalk sign made by my children. Happy Training, Coach Lora Erickson www.BlondeRunner.com