Thursday, March 10, 2016

(2) Triathlete's Coming Through... Desert International CRAZY Race Reports...

Mr. Cool, calm and collected before his race... :-)
Small clarification... Jeff did a reverse sprint one year ago, but this weekend, he did his first beach start, 500 meter swim, 14 mile bike, 3.1 run.  He is now totally and officially a triathlete!  :-) 

For the 5th year, Jeff, Anna and I headed out to La Quinta for the Desert International Triathlon weekend.  For the past (3) years, we have been camping at the race site (campground is 1/2 mile from the start) and for the 3rd year, weather was a MAJOR part of this weekend.  I've got a pretty cool story to share, so buckle up, and enjoy the ride...
The sprint distance race was on Saturday and Jeff had PERFECT conditions.  Cool, not cold... calm weather... beautiful views.  Camping onsite gives us the luxury of heading to transition early, setting up, then going back to camp to eat, relax and finish pre-race preps.  I, on the other hand, new photog for my sweet husband, was a mess... camera, chairs, cow bell for cheering, emergency supplies he might need, etc. Thank goodness my nerves didn't transfer to Jeff.  Pre-race photos, chatting with our tri friends, and time to line up in the swim chute.  Here are photos to tell the story of Jeff's race...

Just out of the water... having a great time... time to
get on with the bike!
Transition time... Jeff is already on the bike and ready
to go... perfect example of a cyclist doing a tri... "get...
out... of... my... way!"

... and there he goes... My favorite finisher!

Back at camp and lucky Abby gets to wear Daddy's medal...
Tons of stress at this moment... nobody knew
that this was my first race with my Garmin...
and that I just set it wrong and couldn't reset. 
Quick smile for Jeff and back to TOTAL FREAK
OUT!  Reminded myself I never had this
technology before... just... time... to... race!
Great day... back to camp... family afternoon... weather so calm we made a campfire and smores... and the trees started to rustle.  Have you seen the movie, "Twister...?"  When the winds start to slowly rustle and the next thing you know you have a Cat 5 tornado coming through your drive-in movie screen...?  That pretty much sumarizes the next 10 hours.  Camping neighbors started pulling up their canopies, putting away their chairs, pretty much packing up their outdoor living spaces.  We decided to follow suit, and within a few minutes, the winds started picking up and a neighboring site lost their easy-up to the wind.  All night long, the wind HOWLED, bumped and crashed and we found the winds got up to 70 miles per hour.... trying to get some sleep because race morning was coming...

5AM and the alarm goes off... and the wind is still howling.  I jumped up and got to the public bathroom to get ready... and found a camper... head to toe in dirt... and all of her belongings around her.  She had spent the night in the bathroom because the wind had torn her tent apart.  I got back to the trailer and Coach and Steph had just arrived from their hotel 30 minutes away. (They had come in from Vegas for the weekend to support us and race with us.)  Concerned about the race conditions, we got down to the venue.  We found all of the port-o-potties blown over, the entire race village was gone... every tent had blown away... several of them were in the lake... the Race Director had the event on hold.  It was 1.5 hours before the race start and nobody in transition... maybe 50 people milling around chatting about what was going on. 

Time to get it done...!
I walked back to camp to eat just in case we were going to race.  Coach stayed at the venue to see what was going on.  Sun was rising and wind was still blowing... slowing down at times, then blowing hard again.  Coach called and said the RD was moving foward with the race, but we discussed the safety issues of racing in these conditions.  Although this was my 2nd most important race of the year (behind Oceanside just four weeks away and becuase I had done this race for 4 years and never reached the podium) we decided it was too risky to race.  I decided to pull out of my first race.

FINALLY... lower back pain killed my great ride, but I'm
actually happy to start running... WHAT!?  Happy to run... ?
We spent the next hour watching the race venue... we could see the swim start from our trailer.  They kept trying to get one of the (6) or so swim markers out onto the course, but the wind kept stopping them.  By now, there should be hundreds of triathletes on the beach in their wetsuits, if the race was a go.  Nobody was there. 
Winds calmed a bit and they got one of the swim markers out on the lake... then another half hour of no movement.  
We decided to walk down to the venue to turn in my timing chip (shoot, I was already going to lose my entry fee, I didn't want to pay another $30 for my chip.)  Walking through camp, we came across several other athletes that bowed out, too. 
Then I got a call from Coach, who had already turned in his chip and left, but decided to come back for one more check...

Starting to run... feels good... sandstorm hasn't started yet...
Things were moving fast... race was on... wind died (for the moment)... people setting up in transition... and here I am, having one of those nightmare moments... the traditional race nightmare... either you are naked... or you show up to a race late... or you show up and forget something you need to race like your running shoes or your bike...

...I ran back to the trailer, did my last minute prep, had Jeff get my fluids together, I grabbed my pack, I jumped on my bike and FLEW down to the transition area... riding over grass, through the park... to a transition area that was totally empty... I heard the announcer say, "Wave One, one minute..." (I was wave 5 and there was only 2-3 minutes before each wave start... and it usually takes me a minimum of 1.5 hours to set up transition, potty, body marking, potty, fueling, mental prep, potty... HOLY COW!)

DONE!  So happy my Coach was here and raced with me!!!
Coach met me at transition... "You get in your wetsuit, give me your transition stuff."  I started throwing stuff at Coach to set up... I'm still giggling thinking about those 5 minutes... I was telling my coach how to set up my transition area... as much as we all do it the same, we all want it set up our way.

Ran out of transition... I'm not body marked yet... CRAP!  Ran to find someone official, "Do you have a Sharpie... do you have Sharpie?" (note to self... have a Sharpie in transition bag)  Found someone... number on my upper arm and then had to strip off my wetsuit to my ankles so my age could be marked on my calf... AUGH!  Only in triathlon is it OK to strip off your wetsuit in a rush, put your butt in a stranger's face, and asking him to hurry and write your age on your calf... :-) 

FIRST PODIUM in (5) years for this race, and totally LOVE this
celebration photo!!!
Race had started... had to run into the water... although my quick bike to transition and Adrenaline were working as a "warm up" I had to get water in my wetsuit and my face in the water... even though they were announcing "Everyone out of the water."  Got over to the swim start.  Time to focus... crud... I usually spend the morning getting mentally ready... almost time to go.
Coach was beside me... "Ready to go...?"

I can't tell you the number of responses that I would have liked to have said at the moment, but it was time to go.  At the end of the day... swim, longer than expected due to the wind moving the buys... bike... OK until the last (4) miles when the wind started back up... and I can't explain the misery the windstorms caused on the 6.2 mile run. 

Racing is racing... part training... part luck... a LOT of mental grit.  Feeling AWESOME after this weekend and time to make these dreams come true.
(4) weeks until Oceanside... time to make it happen! :-)