This seemed like a good idea six months ago. That was my thought as I was driving out to Sonoma to the hotel the night before the race. I've had half a dozen olympic events this year so far. This was the first half. Watching the weather report the previous week had me pretty much consumed with fear for this race. 90-100 degrees, humid, sunny; basically the worst possible conditions for me. I don't do well in hot. My mom and dad had flown from New York for their first triathlon.
As we woke up at 3:30 am (my parents beginning to question what in the hell I was thinking) and drove the 20 minutes to the start to find that the weather for the start of the race as fairly acceptable. Took the bike into T1 (T2 being ~60 miles away in Windsor) and made my way to... the very....very back of the transition area... literally as far away from the exit as you could get; my story for both transitions. Hit up the port-a-crapper (twice) donned the sleeveless wetsuit and headed down to watch the pro's start and myself start 8 minutes behind them. My goal being 5:30-5:45. I had banked on a 35 minute swim, 3 hour bike, 2 hour run plus transitions. Assuming the heat and my first HIM would take its toll on me.
A bit of a different swim than I'm used to, when they say this is the safest swim in triathlon, they're not kidding. To call this an OWS is almost silly as the deepest part of the river was around my chest, the most shallow I found myself clawing along the bottom and half of my other competitors walking with water around halfway up their shin. Water was a great temperature, very comfortable and easy to swim in, save that it was very, very murky. Until the sighting there was really no ability to see anything, which was good for me considering my goggles fogged totally over at around 20 seconds in. I stayed relaxed and could have gone significantly faster but kept saying to myself, "There is a lot of racing to do still today, don't kill yourself yet." All in all a fairly uneventful swim which is always a good way to start a race.
Never really have much to say about these, I've done enough triathlons to have the transitions down to pretty good. Grabbed the helmet, started up the computer while running and booked it out of transition.
Time: 2:56. Not bad considering the transition area was a half a mile long and I was the very last stall in the whole thing. Oh well. Someone had to be.
Hopped onto the bike, put my feet on the shoes and started to pedal. All systems go so far. Didn't bother to try to get the feet into my shoes until I put some distance down between myself and the other people around me. Got the right foot in with no issue, as usual. I've put my feet in my shoes while riding a million times. Reached down to get the left foot in... and realized that I forgot to unlatch the shoe in before the race. Somehow I managed to get the shoe unlatched, my foot in it, and restrap it with no issue. The weather for the ride was pretty great for racing. Cloudy, cool, even a bit of a mist for most of the ride. This was all great, except that my new helmet, the Giro Selector, the face shield fogged over and until we hit windsor, 51 miles into the race. Was a little bit nerve wracking at times coming down the hills at or near 50 mph on my 20mm conti slick racing tires with the 80mm deep S-80 wheels.. definitely felt a little nervous. Had to pee so bad on the bike. Tried for about 10 miles to pee... on the bike. I knew I was having a pretty good race and didn't want to stop at that point. I couldn't. Something an infant could do... I could not. By the end of the bike I had to go so bad it hurt, and had resigned myself to taking the time to stop at the porta potty and pee in T2. That was the only disappointing part of my day. Yes. Thats right. I said it. The most disappoint part of my day was my inability to piss myself. Was expecting a 3 hour ride, but cool weather and pretty good roads prevailed.
Once again, I had the farthest away spot from the entrance and the exit as humanly possible. Started into the transition area racked the bike, threw on the sunglasses, socks and shoes and headed out to the ru....er... porta potty. I've peed a few times in my life, I like to think I know what I'm doing. So coming into transition I thought to myself well I'm 15 minutes ahead of where I want to be, I can sacrifice the 45 seconds it will take to pee. Got into the small, hot, dark porta potty and did the 2XU shimmy (lingo stolen from another Trifuler) and opened up to pee. And pee. And pee. Oh my god is this ever going to end. This was the single longest pee of my entire life, go figure it was also the only one that I was being timed on. My mom and dad must have thought I went for a nap at transition. They saw everyone I come in with come and go... and I am nowhere around. Finally after what seemed like a 5 minute urination session it ended, I threw back on the trisuit and headed out for a the 13.1 mile run.
Time: 4:50. Damn. It.
I've had better runs. I've had worse runs. A few notes about it. Coming from San Francisco I didn't think the course was overly hilly, but it wasn't flat either. There was almost zero fan support on the course, got to see them for a half a mile out and a half mile in. The scenery was not bad, but it did seem to be the same thing over and over again. The volunteers were great, and it was fun to see the pro's coming in as I was going out. Potts was leading when I passed him (by that I mean I was at mile 1 he was at mile 12. I call that passing him) which is good to see, he's a good guy. The halfway point was the vineyard which was nice to run though for the first half, after that I was pretty much ready for the vineyard to be done. The second half of a an out and back run always seems to go faster, though I'm pretty sure this wasn't the case. On the way back there were a couple times that I feel I might be able to go faster.. but I was so concerned with blowing up and not being able to keep even a jog up at the end. So slow and steady was the name of the game. Came in down the last mile and thought, "holy crap I'm going to finish this" looked down at my watch and thought "holy crap I'm going to finish this under my goal time". Came down the final chute and saw the wine barrels and suddenly all the pain was gone. Picked up the pace for that final quarter mile, getting a high five from my dad on the way to the line. They held up a finishing banner for us to run through, which was a new experience for me and a lot of fun to feel like you've won something.
Great race. Well organized. Fun to do. Would do it again in a second. Great weather and great volunteer support made for a really fun and memorable day. Total time 5:23:42; 22 minutes faster than my goal time, and I felt like I could have gone substantially faster on the run.. just didn't really know what to expect. Next time. And there will be a next time.