I jumped at the chance to do this race again. Not because it is in my hometown (which is always fun) but because I had taken two previous passes at this race and gotten significantly worse the second pass. It was my first triathlon and still my very favorite because it is always a challenge. Little did I know the challenge would come early on…
Having completed IM Santa Rosa 70.3 in May I thought it would be fun to do a sprint distance again also. It’s not my favorite distance because I don’t like that ‘red line’ feeling. What I was looking forward to was the short swim! After swims of 1400-2300 yards in racing and practice this shorty swim was going to be quick and fun.
Got in the water to perfect water temps. I love that. We have had a very mild spring so the water temps really could have been much colder. Once our wave went off I settled in to focus. I normally check my watch every so often in longer swims to see “how much farther” and “Are we there yet?”. I made a concerted effort not to check this time. 400 meters would be quick right? So I didn’t check my watch and kept my head in the game. It did go by quick even though I was dodging back strokers and breast strokers nearly the entire leg. If you had told me when I exited the water that the swim was actually 781 meters I would have laughed. Seriously. It didnt feel that way. But I exited the water and switched to transition time. 855 yards. Did I swim that out of whack or was the course longer? No time to think about it now. On to the bike! Swim time: 23.18. T1: 1:57
I was pretty terrified of the bike. Two years ago during my second attempt I had put on my helmet in transition but didn’t really check the placement of the chin strap and darted out and up the steep hill too fast. I ended up walking a chunk of that hill. I was embarrassed then (even though the hill is long and steep) I knew a couple extra seconds to double-check gear would make a huge bit of difference and it really did! I chased Kelly and Kelly and Felecia up the hill. It was motivating to have such amazing strong women near by to motivate me and push me just a bit harder. Once I reached the top in one piece I felt relief. It was time to settle in for what used to be a very tough ride for me. This time I couldn’t believe how easy it really was. When I reached the turn around it seemed short (it wasnt) but that made me excited! I talked to some riders on the way out and on the way back. Some were new to triathlon. Some were veteran athletes. It was a true reminder about how much I love this sport. Before I knew it i was heading down the steep hill back to transition while Oly distance athletes were headed out for their ride. I couldnt help but waffle between relief that I was almost done and jealousy. I havent done this olympic yet. Timing has not worked out for it. Its on my to-do list. It will get done. Bike time: 53:59 T2: 1:53
Probably the best part of my day happened in T2. My dad was just outside the fence. I wasnt expecting him to come but it was just what I needed to push me on the run. I hastily introduced him to my training partner and teammate Courtney and headed out for the run.
My public goal for this race was sub two hours. That would be tough given the run. Ive been known to walk this run. Its hilly. Stupid hilly. But lets see how it goes. I felt really good headed out. Mile one was sub 10. Huh. I still feel great. Saw lots of my friends on their way back in to the finish line. Man. I have really fast friends. I dont remember much after this except that after the hill in the neighborhood we do that was a bear I looked at my watch and thought, with one ish mile left that sub 2 hours was possible. After all, this is JUST A 5K. I buckled down and crossed the finish line at 1:53:25.
What I neglected to mention was that my private goal for this race was 1:45. Had the swim been the right length I would have likely made that goal. It was frustrating but just anther reason to come back and try it again. Had a hit that goal time I might have placed 3rd. As it stood I placed 4th in the 40-44 age group. I was pretty stoked about that considering the company I was in. The lesson? Race the race you are dealt. No excuses. I PR’d all the legs of the race despite the longer swim. Thats a victory and proof that Im getting stronger, not just older.
The other lesson I learned was that I have met the most AMAZING people through this sport. My team was nothing but supportive and uplifting the whole day.
I also met a new friend in person for the first time. A couple of weeks ago she messaged me on Instagram to tell me that Bass Lake would be her first triathlon and Friday night we actually met in person. I remember my nerves here three years ago doing my first triathlon. It was unreal. My dad said it best “I didn’t know it was such a production” he said. And this is considered a local race. Can you imagine what the production value of an Ironman race would be? When its your first race, it might as well be an Ironman. I think she is hooked to the feeling now though. She had a great race too and learned a lot about the sport. I’m thankful to now call her my friend. Great job Jessica!
When I tell you that I learn something new every time I race I will tell you that this time I re-learned to appreciate those close to me for their friendship and guidance. While I didn’t hit the big goal I wanted I still hit a milestone and managed to cultivate friendships in the process. In the end, the majority of us do this for fun. We will never get paid to compete in this sport we love. We need to find all the enjoyment we can in the journey, not just the finish line. I’m not done yet. Stay tuned.