I chose this race initially thinking it was going to be my second or third triathlon of the year. It is one of very few collegiate specific triathlons on the West coast, and is a qualifier for Collegiate Nationals next month in Clemson. As the early season progressed, I soon knew this would be my first triathlon of the season; I’d be competing against the best collegiate athletes on the West coast, some of which were in the top 15 last year at Collegiate Nationals! Talk about a rust buster! But, even though the race was on Sunday, the whole experience really began Saturday.
My dad, step-mom, and step-brother set out over the pass around 3:30 p.m. after picking up some new gear from Matt Balzer on our way out. We knew the weather wasn’t supposed to be great, but still had my brand-new-to-me tri-bike strapped into the bed of my dad’s F-150. As we drove into Roseville and Sacramento, the rain started to come. I sat inside of Chic-fil-a as my bike sat in the rain accumulating water as the rain kept coming. As we drove closer and closer to San Mateo, the weather got worse and worse! The whole highway was eventually more like a canal! The whole road was covered in water! At this point I thought to myself, there is no way we’re going to race the bike portion the next morning. This really bummed me out because I have put in so much time at Indoor Power this winter to fix my biggest weakness. Plus, I really wanted to race my tri-bike! When we got to the hotel, it was still pouring! We unloaded everything and got to work drying the bike and getting ready for bed and the next morning.
I slept well and woke up the next morning surprisingly refreshed by my 4:00 a.m. alarm. I always wake up 4 hours before my event to get my nervous system ready and shake-out before the race. I also always check my morning heart rate. I recorded a new personal low heart rate, 38 BPM! I knew it was going to be a good day!
The hotel gym was your typical gym; it had a tread mill and a little seated spin bike and some machines. I turned on SportsCenter as I ran for a couple minutes and then stretched or rolled out. I kept feeling better and better as my 40 minute shake-out finished up.
I walked back to the room where I ate a Peach-Appricot flavored Fig Bar and started drinking my Roctane Drink mix. Everyone was still asleep in the room as I assembled my bike and got my things ready to leave. My dad and I left for the race, which was about 15 minutes away and got there as packet pick-up started 2 hours before the race. The weather was absolutely perfect! Clear skies, a light breeze, and the perfect temperature. I got my bib number and then got all of my things into transition. My dad had left to pickup my step-mom and step-brother and I asked him to bring some extra water and my other shoes. I did my warmup and got into my wetsuit. My dad still wasn’t there with the water and we were 15 minutes from the race start! I needed the water to mix my Roctane powder in my bike bottle. He said he was 10 minutes away and I trusted him to get that water in my bottle. I ran to the swim start which was a half mile from transition in my bare feet! I got there with time to spare and got in the water to warm up!
The swim was chaotic! I put in a ton of time this off-season in the pool as well and was excited to see where my fitness was! Out of the 135 person field, I was still 27th out of the water and had probably swam much longer than I needed because of the quality of the swimmers and getting stuck on the outside. I really just wanted to stay as smooth as possible as I thought the other 2 disciplines would be my strong points on the day.
Exiting the swim, we had a half mile run to transition on the dirt and road. My dad got my shoes to the swim exit and I flew by people as they ran barefoot and I had slipped on my shoes! Running into transition, I picked off a couple more people and was extremely excited to ride fast!
I made up a few more spots on the bike! The off-season training and new bike purchase had really paid off! It was the smoothest I had ever felt on the bike portion. It didn’t feel like I had to go to the well to stay with the guys and even catch and pass some! Towards the end of the ride, my right calf started to cramp up and I was pretty worried. Side-stitching had really derailed some of my races last year. I told myself to just relax and stretch as much as possible in the bottom of the pedal stroke. I transitioned from bike to run in 14th place! I was really excited and love when my parents give me those updates! I set out on the run pretty conservatively, hoping for a really strong finish. My calf was still cramping, but I stayed relaxed and ran through it and started to feel good as I passed people. At the turn around, I counted 12 people in front of me, and thought to myself, “I can run myself into the top 10!” I counted them down as I passed them, 11… 10… 9… I sprinted in the final 200 meters and it felt great! My dad and step-mom said it was the best I had ever looked post-triathlon! I am extremely pleased with 10th place at this race because I’m only 2 months into training for a 9 month season! The rest of the guys in the field are looking to peak in the next month!
After the fact, I looked up the results and saw I had been bumped up to 6th place! I was shocked! My dad said, “Oh yeah! I heard they were talking about disqualifying some people.” I never saw anyone get disqualified on the results, but I guess they had some time penalties.
I had an adrenaline rush for pretty much the rest of the day! We went to San Francisco and did some shopping and ate some food. The rest of the trip and drive back was also quite entertaining. We got stuck on the pass for 2 hours at a dead stop and then were turned around 2 miles from the summit. Lucky for us, we had family near by and traveled back the next day. Only sad part about that was my bike was still in the bed of the track and had about 5 inches of snow piled up on it. I just had it tuned up and they said everything was fine. This was an almost perfect start to my season! I’m looking forward to the next 7 months of training with new vigor as the fire has really been stoked!