Oh, heeeeyyyyyy there, last day of September. When did you get here? I cannot believe how fast this year has flown by. It’s insane to me. Nine months of 2015 are over and done with. Not that y’all aren’t aware of this already. However, I am super excited for October. It holds my favorite holiday!
I was on a business trip in California and since I’m crazy, I decided to look up local races that were in town. I was honestly just looking for a 5-10K, something to keep me going while out of Florida for 10 days. But wouldn’t you know, I found a Sprint Triathlon over the weekend I was in town! It was located inside the U.S. Marine Base, Camp Pendleton – Semper Tri. I HAD to sign up! What girl wouldn’t want to race with a bunch of our military’s finest cheering her on??
This race turned out to be the most challenging one I’ve completed to date. My wonderful parents were able to come down and cheer me on, and that meant the world to me. They have always been so supportive in all of my sporting activities throughout my life. I have been racing for a year now and this was one event they hadn’t seen me in, till August 1.
A few side notes for this race: I had to rent a bike and that was expensive, so I only did it for a couple of days. So that didn’t allow for much practice riding on it. I also needed to wear a wetsuit. That was challenging! I had never put one on till I bought one in July. By the way, I’m not sure why stores have dressing rooms for wetsuits. It took me about 20 minutes to squeeze into that thing the first time. No way would I have tried it on in a store! Getting it on became easier with practice.
Oh, and swimming in the Pacific is MUCH different than the Gulf in Florida. The Gulf is usually smooth, like glass. It looks so peaceful and inviting. If/when there are waves, they’re pitiful. The Pacific, on the other hand, doesn’t mess around. I practiced an OWS in the early morning before work one day and I’m glad I did! When I was swimming back into the shore, I was a distracted blonde admiring the sunrise over the buildings on Pacific Coast Highway. As I was turning to breathe on my right side, a wave was time perfectly and I swallowed half of it and it swallowed all of me. I flipped around several times and I didn’t know which way was up. Shockingly, I didn’t panic. When I finally popped back up to the surface, I turned myself around and went back into shore, more aware of the waves surrounding me.
I was nervous (as I am for all races) and excited all at the same time. My parents were troopers and sacrificed their day to see me race. Again, SO HAPPY they did! We arrived at the race site around 5:30am. I got all checked in and went down to transition to setup. You noticed that I said DOWN to transition, right? Yeah, it was located at the bottom of a hill. A big hill. As I was walking my bike DOWNHILL, I saw where we were to mount and dismount our bikes and I just laughed. The mount/dismount line was on an incline. Haha! It was ridiculous.
I got my area all setup and put on my wetsuit to go warm up in the water. The skies were overcast, which was really helpful on the bike and run. The ocean, however, did not look friendly. As I was waiting for my heat to be released, I watched three, fit grown men be pulled from the water via lifeguard boats. Needless to say, that did not make me feel good at all. And of course (I learned later) that my wave was hit with the worst swells of the race. There were big crashing waves and a rip current. None of which I’m used to in the Gulf. Not to mention the COLD water. I couldn’t feel my feet halfway through the swim.
The swim was really rough, but I completed it. I didn’t want to fail. And surprisingly, I did pretty well with ripping my wetsuit off. It probably helped that I put body glide on like it was going out of style. Everything seemed to go so smoothly. Then the bike hit. Mount on an incline, they said. It’ll be fun, they said. Um, NO! It was terrible, but I did it.
The bike course was longer than a normal Sprint distance – it was 18.6 miles or rolling hills. Yes, hills. Yet another thing that we don’t have in Florida. The scenery was beautiful though! I felt the soreness in my calves immediately after dismounting on a DECLINE. Oy vey!
Lucky for us, that steep and steady hill was a part of the run course. Awesome, right?? After the race, my mom said, “You were looking a little rough coming up out of transition.” Haha! Thanks mom! 😉 Dad reassured me that others didn’t look too good either. It was brutal. I already have an ugly run and that hill didn’t do my any favors. Thankfully, that was the only hill in the run course. But it was windy! I felt like I couldn’t catch a break.
Although my teammates were 3,000 miles away, they were with me on that course in my head and in my heart. They had taken the time to text and call the night before to wish me luck and give me virtual butt slaps. Repeating mantras that we tell each other all the time helped me immensely, especially in the run course, my worst leg of triathlon.
The last stretch of the run was the best. The finish line never looked so good! We finished on top of an aircraft carrier and the Marines were passing out the medals. The thought of pretending to need CPR crossed my mind, but I didn’t want to embarrass my parents too much.
Semper-Tri was definitely the most difficult race I’ve done to date, physically and mentally. It was such a great experience though. I finished it. Maybe not as fast as I would have liked, but considering all the different circumstances, I was pleased with how the morning turned out. Remembering this race has helped me in preparing for my first Olympic distance triathlon in November. Which is only a month away now… WHAT!!!
October is going to be a blur. I’m already nervous because I’m going on a trip and will be taking a week off from training. However, I am so looking forward to this trip! I’ll be going to the Appalachian mountains in Kentucky with a group from my church to help winterize homes for those who need it. I know it’s going to be a great trip in more ways than one. Training for my race that week will be put on hold, but I’m OK with that. This is important to me as well and I can’t wait for it.
Sunday, November 8, is race day. My awesome teammates will be there as well, many of them stepped up their distances and will be completing their first Half Ironman. I am so excited that we’ll be racing and celebrating together. We’ve worked hard for this. Let’s go, Venice!!
All photo credit goes to my AWESOME parents! I couldn’t do any of this without your love and support, Don and Kathy. I love you guys more than you know!!