The Russian River is an amazing place. The past two winters, while California struggled in a long drought, rainstorms upstream turned Guerneville (former home of the swim start for the Vineman) and Monte Rio into Atlantis – that is, they were momentarily underwater. These towns are used to the river overflowing its banks, however, and are resilient. Monte Rio was quiet as ever (though overrun by a bunch of triathletes) as I prepped for my second Olympic distance race.
If you want to be transported to the roots of triathlon, this is the race for you. I love this race – low key, competitive, and super fun. I’m so glad I raced it last year and I’m thrilled I was able to race it again this year.
The Sandman is no joke. You start with 0.75 miles around the cement ship in Aptos, a 13 mile ride through the hills, and a 4 mile beach run on the sand. I love the location and I love the challenge.
Last year this was my second race – ever. I had a blast. I also had a pretty decent race! This year was still a challenge, and I had a slightly tougher day, but I’m happy enough with my performance.
Here we are! A year after what I had originally planned as my first triathlon. I can’t believe how much I’ve learned since that decision!
First off: huge thank you to Topo Athletic, the incredible team behind the shoes that have taught me that running isn’t the WORST and that it is actually kind of fun and the team that has supported me since I met them at the Oakland Triathlon last year. What a wonderful group of people!
Secondly: thank you to my mom who has supported me at every race she can attend and all throughout youth sports, and my sister who attended her first triathlon – slightly reluctantly, but she was lured by the presence of PokemonGo in Jack London Square.
Thirdly: thank you to the fabulous members of Oakland Triathlon who allowed me to bounce questions and ideas off them (Chris, Karolina and Rachel), practiced shoe exchanges in Oakland parking lots (Lydia), and kept me training hard (Chavon).
And last but not least: thank you to USA Productions race organizers, volunteers, and spectators!
I have procrastinated massively in writing this up. It isn’t short. I’d like to say I’ve moved past this, but I can’t lie – I haven’t. I’ve had ten flats in less than two months, and now every time I ride I feel the anxiety pit in my stomach: will I flat again? Will I be stranded in the hills? Will I be forced to walk to my destination?
It’s been a little rough.
I’m going to attempt to get what I need out of this, and still enjoy looking back.
First of all, the Monte Rio Triathlon holds a special place in my heart. This was the first triathlon I ever raced (…a whole year ago). It also is the first race I’ve ever repeated – raced more than once – so far. The course is beautiful, Monte Rio is a quaint and quintessential California vacation destination, and the organizers are pros (ran/run Ironman Vineman 70.3 and [independent] Vineman 140.6, now both Ironman races). Despite what seemed like perfect conditions, my day did not go as expected. If you look at race results, I’ve got a super strange (..slow) bike split – and that’s due to my first-ever flat (and first-ever flat change under pressure).
Second of all, I hate to fall on ‘excuses’ for why a race didn’t go the way I pictured it. Unfortunately, a flat derails anyone’s race – from beginner to professionals – and I’m learning that it’s how you react that makes it into an ‘excuse’ or ‘race day condition.’
Last year, this race required you to pick up your timing chip in the morning at the parking lot (four miles away from the start) – they fixed that for this year. Packet pick up was just as easy, timing chip included, as last year. I scoped out the swim, and my teammate confirmed what I’d been hearing: there was most definitely a current in the Russian River, but it was also much deeper than last year!
And then… I wandered over to the finish line.
I knew it existed, and I really didn’t want to remember that it existed. Especially after my body’s reaction to a finish line sprint at Half Moon Bay.
I’m thrilled to have started a new job this week! It’s been a little crazy, especially considering that I am also moving on Wednesday of next week.
Sunday, January 31 Long run, 6 miles (check, most excellent) // Monday, February 1 Master’s swim in the morning (we’ll see how this goes) // Tuesday, February 2 Pace run, 4 miles – looking for a 9:45 min/mile pace // Wednesday, February 3 Short run, 2 miles – love having a foundation route literally around the block // Thursday, February 4 Pace run, 4 miles, and hopefully a master’s swim in the morning or evening // Friday, February 5 Rest day! // Saturday, February 6 Master’s swim and a chill run afterwards
Sunday, January 24 Long run, 5 miles (yuuupp) // Monday, January 25 Master’s swim in the morning (nooooope) // Tuesday, January 26 Pace run, 4 miles – looking for a 9:45 min/mile pace (noooope) // Wednesday, January 27 Short run, 2 miles (nooope) // Thursday, January 28 Pace run, 4 miles (not quite) // Friday, January 29 Rest day! (psh got it) // Saturday, January 30 Master’s and bike (Noope)
First day back to Master’s practices? Check. New (huge) opportunity tomorrow? Double check. Let’s make this happen.
Sunday, January 24 Long run, 5 miles // Monday, January 25 Master’s swim in the morning // Tuesday, January 26 Pace run, 4 miles – looking for a 9:45 min/mile pace // Wednesday, January 27 Short run, 2 miles – love having a foundation route literally around the block // Thursday, January 28 Pace run, 4 miles, and hopefully a master’s swim in the morning or evening // Friday, January 29 Rest day! // Saturday, January 30 Probably going to Master’s and bike (weather-dependent). May throw a run in too. DO ALL THE THINGS.
Sunday, January 17Long run, 4 miles Nope, friend was in town. // Monday, January 18 Long run, 4 miles and recover after a friend weekend // Tuesday, January 19 Rest day partly because I’m exhausted, partly because my apartment flooded, and partly because I am lazy // Wednesday, January 20Pace run, 3.5 miles at 9:45 min/miles still dealing with flooding, just had to go home and wait it out // Thursday, January 21Swim in the morning and pace run, 3.5 miles at 9:55 min/mile; core strength training – ran with Sports Basement Berkeley and attended a foot strengthening clinic – so far, very painful but helpful // Friday, January 22Easy 2 miler Last day of old job, needed to just decompress // Saturday, January 23 Mixing it up with swimming, headed back to Cal Aquatic Masters!!!! So excited. Ran a 2 mile brick after for good measure!