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.
Whoops. Yell at me, I meant to share this yesterday.
Happy Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving is probably my favorite holiday. It revolves around food and togetherness. People wake up early to do an activity before gorging themselves (Turkey Trots, hikes, and so on), and then spend time together cooking and eating – I guess some people watch football – in the name of being thankful.
I felt awesome the whole run, didn’t experience any awful GI/flu-like symptoms afterwards, and headed over to my mom’s house for the big day!
I’m so grateful to have a loving family, strong supports and loving friends, and my health and the health of those close to me. I’m grateful to have found an excellent team to learn from and train with in Oakland Triathlon Club. I’ve experienced the illness of a loved one, and we fought through that; I’ve experienced my own injuries, and come back from those. While I don’t doubt our resilience, I’m grateful that we don’t have these obstacles to fight right now.
In addition – a few weeks ago I pulled a feral kitten in to my house from the cold California winter (really, it was actually a super cold snap). She’s been through quite a bit – half a dozen vet visits and a two night stay in the emergency vet. But she’s a strong itty bitty kitty, and has recovered very well! She spent yesterday sleeping, eating, or pouncing (also see: typical kitten behavior).
Quick note: anything ‘rock’ related was fair game for jokes this weekend. Detour on 101? Rock Road. Instagram topic? Dwayne Johnson. Looming geological feature which Mom and I spent hours reading about on Wikipedia? Morro Rock (it is actually super cool). Really – all we talked about this weekend was ‘rock’ in all its forms. Except when Mom (aka the super-sherpa) found a Great Blue Heron and was very sad she missed a picture and then was super-ecstatic when he was there a few minutes later.
Date: November 9, 2015 | Location: Morro Bay, CA
Weather: Cool, clear skies, 60-70 degrees (except for the 58 degree water)
Race: Sprint | Age Group: 20-29
Results: Division – 2/14; Overall – 36; Women – 7/44
What happens when UC Berkeley’s Triathlon Club hosts an intercollegiate-but-also-open-to-the-public draft-legal, ITU rules race?
Well, a team from OTC decided it would be super fun to compete in the mixed team relay (it was super fun!) and try our hand against a bunch of college kids (this was not as fun!). The four of us arrived plenty early for the event to discover that we were really the only ones not directly connected to the Cal Triathlon team. Whoops. The Bearathlon was a great event!
The mixed team relay event is a really cool way to race. If you geek out over triathlon like some of us do, you can watch sweet videos recapping the elite races.
Every athlete races a full, but mini, triathlon. The order is typically woman/man/woman/man. At the Bearathlon, scheduling actually made more sense to have the first male leg go first, so that messed with our plans a little bit. I was originally going to lead off, because my swim is strong enough that I probably (hopefully) wouldn’t fall too far behind in the mile run. With our plan out the window, we entered the race just hoping to have fun and go as fast as we could.
Sprint triathlons are just that – you’re moving pretty fast for a fairly long period of time but not so long that you’re not, you know, sprinting. This was a super sprint. I could NOT stand up straight during the run, because I was trying to move fast and my body was not ready for it!
Cal put on a great little triathlon. I saw a friend (who won his event, easily) I used to coach with, which was a nice treat, and met Kaori, the Race Director for Morro Bay. I had no traffic issues, and since the race was so short there was no need for support on the course. It was super fun, priced very well, and a great experience!