Thursday, July 23, 2009

Strawberry Fields Sprint Triathlon and the Ride back from Oxnard...on bike

7/19 - Strawberry Fields Sprint Triathlon.

Up at 345am, get dressed, have breakfast (or something like that), make sure everything is packed (i packed up pretty much everything into the car the night before - u NEVER want to pack for a race on the morning of!), mentally prep for myself for the day and pray for a quick moment.

Pick up Detra at 435am, load up her bike and stuff.

Pick up Shirley and Jon at 5am.

Arrive at Oxnard Beach Park at 6am.

Race start - first wave at 700am. My wave starts at 730am, Shirley's wave started at 708am so we went out to the ocean early on to send her off.

I spent about 15 minutes in the water while waiting for my wave to start - the water was freezing cold, the water was pretty choppy. I was so glad that Shirley and I went for a practice swim the day before, when it was even choppier. Very nerve-wracking, but I knew I could do it as long as I kept my heart rate down and just went slowly at my pace.

Finally, time for my wave to start. I didn't even use my legs. I just pulled with my arms, which saved me a lot of energy and oxygen (hence keeping the heartrate down). I felt a lot of people passing me (kicking, punching, swimming over me, you name it), but I didn't get shaken up by that. I just kept going, pretending I was in the ocean by myself. I had moments of panic, but they were temporary. I knew I could do this, it was only 400 meters. The water was cold and the waves came and hit me several times, but i just kept going, not thinking too much about anything, just telling myself that this was totally doable. I swam really really slow, as I knew that was the only way I could get through this very cold water swim. I got out finally, i looked at my watch, it took me 18 minutes. I was ok with that, just happy to get out of the water without a panic attack. Yeah, i'm on land!!!!

Bike and Run - short 12 mile bike, mostly flat. Uneventful, except that my inner thighs and hip flexors felt so awfully tight. I did my best. Then the Run (3 miles) - forget it, my legs and hips were so tightened up that I could barely lift my legs. I felt quite scared when I saw this happening, because the first thing that went through my mind was "geez, how am I going to do a half ironman if i can't even do a sprint???" Oh well, what do you do, you just do what you can. I finish, 1 hour and 48 minutes total time. that was a sloooooooow race, but I was glad I got some practice racing in.

The race was not even the big event (except for surviving the ocean swim, yey, pat on my back) - Detra and I planned on riding back to Santa Monica from Oxnard on our bikes after the race. That is about a 58 mile ride. I figured, might as well try. By the time we left the race site, it was 1035 am. Already starting to get hot.

A couple of tricky turns on to the Pacific Coast Highway from Oxnard, but after that it was just a straight up ride for EVER... several rolling climbs that sucked the energy out of me, but the challenge was not even those hills, really. First, it started getting super hot around noon. Second, Detra got a flat tire that took forever to fix (45 minutes?) it got even hotter as our ride got delayed. I was hungry, we never stopped for real food (just kept eating trail mix bars and gels...don't want to see them for another year). I think there was sand left in my tri shorts so i was very VERY uncomfortable sitting for hours....ouchhhhh, and my legs and feet started swelling up (i think it was from the cold water (bad circulation) and then getting really hot???) and it was making my bike shoes feel like torture contraptions...totally feeling miserable. To top it off, because of the hot weather, the PCH was so crowded with cars (PCH goes along the beach) and there was also some accident at some point, where cars were mean and deadly to cyclists... then my front tire got gum on it which collected debris every 20 seconds which i had to scrap off... ha ha i usually don't get so dramatic but mang this ride was one thing after another. I was so tired both physically and mentally.

At mile 42 (Big Rock/PCH) I was done. Sooooooo done. At that point i had stopped like 5 times in 10 minutes to scrap off the debris that stupid gum kept collecting (it just wouldn't go away or dry up!) I called Shirley to come get me (they had my car, already back in Santa Monica all showered up and full from REAL food), which she so kindly did in the crazy traffic. I felt bad but I was also so tired. I also held Detra back a little bit but i think she was done riding too. so all in all I did a pretty brave and tiring ride attempting to ride back from Oxnard, partially failed. I was still happy with it though, because I did the ride after racing, which not many people think of doing. I guess i've become one of those crazy people that think racing is not enough activity for the day. Well, I needed a long and challenging ride, and I definitely got one. One thing to note though, was that I did finish all the main rollers along the PCH...the point i stopped was basically all flat afterwards.

This morning, I was on the bike at a higher (more difficult) gear but I was doing pretty well, and my run wasn't so bad! Maybe the struggles from that day made me stronger. :) At least it was a relief that I could run 2 hours decently well after a 30 minute spin on the bike. If it were like last Sunday, there was no way I could have done what i did this morning. I think the cold water really stiffened me up that day, i don't think I will have that problem on race day (8/1) in Sonoma, as it is over 90 degrees out there right now. I do have to worry about hydration, on the other hand.

Anyway, I had to document this very interesting experience of racing then having a miserable bike ride back - i have never done such a thing, I don't regret it, I just need to be better prepped next time (i.e., stop to eat real food, leave early from race site instead of hanging around afterwards).

But regardless of what happened - thanks Detra, Shirley and Jon for a great, memorable day of fun (yes, it was still fun I suppose)!

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