WEEKEND RECAP: A LONG WEEKEND OF "FIRSTS"
ok, let's start with the ugliest of firsts and get it out of the way:
as i left my house early friday morning to catch the train, i was stopped at a red light at a pretty big intersection wearing my bright ass yellow vest. as the light turned green, i began to pedal through the intersection and hadn't built up much speed yet when a white bmw comes from behind me and turns RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME into the gas station to my right. it was really all kinda slow motion but too fast for me to avoid going straight into the passenger side back door. i let out a pathetic sort of "aaaaaaauuuuugh!!!' and the beamer broke my fall. at this point, i still don't think the driver was aware of me, but the sound of my thud against the back of his car musta jolted him to accelerate ahead which in turn caused me to fall to the ground. luckily, i hadn't put my hand out to break my fall and landed on my lower arm instead. the driver got out looking all stunned and apologetic:
dumb ass driver: "oh my god i didn't see you!!! are you ok??"
me (to myself): "really? you couldn't see this big fat ass and my bright ass yellow vest??"
me: "yeah, i'm fine"
me (to myslef) : "but your side door sure isn't"
d.a.d. (who clearly hasn't inspected his side door yet): "really. i didn't see you. i'm so sorry. are you sure you're ok?"
me: "yeah, i'm fine. listen, i'm late for a train. just watch where you're going ok?"
my aerobars musta gone straight into the door, and then when he accelerated it just scraped the shit outta it. oh well, kharma's a bitch and sometimes payback is instant. my hand felt a little scraped under my glove, and my arm was throbbing a bit from where i landed, but no tears to the clothing, no worse for the wear. CARRY ON...
i thought i'd catch some zzz's on the train, but i was too excited. the scenery went from urban and industrial to gorgeous and lush by the time the train reached the shore. i got off one stop past Oceanside in beautiful Solana Beach to get a scenic 40 miles in on my way to...
Welcome to SoCal!!
met up with Rainmaker who was out from DC for the race. we clipped in and headed to see if we could get on the marine base for about 45 minutes of relatively uninterrupted riding. just as we headed onto the base, he asked what sorta pace i wanted to go to which i replied something like, "hey you're the guest. whatever you feel like. i'll hang on if i can." and that's just about all i could do. HANG ON. he took off like a bat outta hell, and i went totally anaerobic trying to keep up behind him. with all the solo riding i've been doing for Ironman, it was kinda fun to get pulled, no YANKED, by someone faster than me. the scenery was gorgeous, and at one point a marine chopper took off from a field right in front of us. VERY SURREAL!! on the way back we met up with a headwind somethin' fierce. i made a pretty pathetic attempt at pulling, and Rainmaker was just being polite to stay behind my slow ass. by the time we hit what i wouldn't even call a hill but more of a short incline, i waved him around me or he'd a gone backwards.
met up with Yanti and Dolores who were so awesome to drive down with my stuff and let me crash in their hotel room on last minute's notice. they were meeting up with their whole BeginnerTri.com crew for lunch, so Rainmaker and i joined them. then we all set off for the expo where i kept to my word and DIDN'T BUY A THING!!! Rainmaker, however, cannot say the same. check out his new secret weapon in the box...
Mwuaaaa ha ha haaaaaaaa!!!
and just as i was leaving the expo, low and behold, look who i catch in line at the McDonald's shack at the pier!!
Mickie D's: nutrition fit for a champ!!
our very own LA Tri Club member and young pro, Katy Donovan!!! no other triathlete's in site at McDonald's but there's Katy swearing she never eats it but craves it right before and after a race. SO THE PROS ARE HUMAN!!! then i asked her what colors she'd be wearing so i knew to look for her the next day. she wasn't sure because she still had to pick up her kit at the expo from her sponsor, Zoot, but she'd requested that she not have to wear any "girly colors," as she explained "powder blue and pink just don't look fast" NOW THAT'S MY KINDA GIRL!! in fact the only pro who looks good in pink is my personal fav, Michellie Jones. however, my theory behind her wearing of pink is that she's so damned intimidating looking as it is, she has to soften the blow to her competition!!!
we didn't get in the water 'til about 4 o' clock, and by then the conditions were pretty blown out and rougher than earlier in the day. i was supposed to get an hour swim in, but after we braved getting through the surf and around and out of the surfers' way, i was just happy to be in the water, and we maybe spent about 20 minutes total going south and back. again, i pretty much followed behind Rainmaker. don't get any ideas about this guy when he writes about how he could barely swim when he first started out in triathlon. he musta done his homework, cuz i couldn't catch him for nothin'!! coming back in, i got tousled a bit in a wave and my calf CRAMPED UP BIG TIME. this is the second calf cramp in the water in two weeks. crazy how a wave can do that to you in an instant. reminds me to just relax through a wave toss and not fight to the surface.
sat enjoying the late afternoon sun, and then it was time to bid Rainmaker goodbye so that he could rest up and get into pre-race mode, and i was off to find the crew and our hotel room. luckily, i checked my voicemail BEFORE i headed off to where i THOUGHT our hotel was. Yanti had called to say that the original hotel had overbooked and we were relocated to another hotel. after calling for directions, i made my way there just before dark. so there were 4 of us, and we were expecting to cram ourselves into 2 double beds as originally requested with the reservation. but in my last minute decision to make the trip, something told me to bring a sleeping bag and pad. good thing since the relocated hotel only had a room with 1 BED!!! of course without question, that went to Yanti who was the only one of us racing. Sherpa Dolores shared with her, and instead of the floor, i snagged the blue lazy boy recliner pictured below. it was actually quite comfy!!!
(l. to r.) Sherpa Dolores, racer Yanti and volunteer Verna.
us triathletes sure know how to crap up a hotel room.
i got up early to catch a ride with Yanti and Sherpa Dolores, and what an amazing Sherpa she was!!! she helped Yanti with all the packing, applying sunscreen, chammy butter to shorts, stickers to gear, racking of bike to car, and a ton of photos every step of the way. we walked in the dark to transition and said our goodbyes as Yanti set off to find her rack. i couldn't find Rainmaker as there seemed to be a huge tent obstructing his rack, but i made my way to find as many peeps from LA Tri Club that i could recognize. the buzz in the air made me really wish i was racing, but my turn will come in a few more weeks. today was all about cheering and pics, all 350+ of them!!!
my plan was to see and cheer as many people as i could out of the water and onto the bike. the pros started coming out, and i got some cool shots. and look!! two racers behind Michellie Jones outta the water is Katy Donovan!! you gotta love McDonald's as fuel..
the fierce, ruling diva, Michellie Jones with Katy Donovan hot on her trail...
dah dah dah.dah.dah...she's lovin' it.
NO POWDER BLUE OR PINK FOR THIS GIRL!!!
then while everyone was pedaling, i'd take off for my scheduled 16 mile run. i'd hopefully make it back in time to see as many as i could cross the finish line. it turned into a bit of a cluster fuck having to walk back a mile to the car to change and drop off all my crap, and i got started a little bit later than planned. the boardwalk was clear enough to be able to run right alongside the course without actually being in the way. HOW COOL IS THIS!!! next thing i know, here come the pros!! last years winner, olympian Andy Potts, was in the lead and looking strong, but the field was too close to say he had it in the bag. next up, the women's field was also close. Michellie had taken over the lead on the better part of the bike, but had dropped to 3rd by the time i saw them at mile 3 of the run. but there they were right out next to me with not much of a crowd around!!! of course no camera as i was on a training run myself. bummer. funny thing was that at all the water stops, the enthusiastic volunteer kids kept cheering me on thinking i was the lead woman. i have to admit that it felt kinda cool. hey, a girl's gotta dream right??
i felt good and strong on the run, but doing it along the course was maybe not the best idea. i kept running into other people i knew cheering on the sidelines, and then of course i had to stop to cheer racers as i recognized them. there went Rainmaker in a flash giving me the so-so sign when i asked how he was feeling. if that was so-so, i'd take his so-so any day!!! as i came in from my first loop, Andy Potts and 2nd place finisher at Kona, Craig Alexander, were NECK AND NECK to the finish line. Potts took the final surge and the win by JUST 3 SECONDS!! i kinda like how the olympian steps up to the half ironman distance and wins it last year at his 2nd attempt and then takes it again the following year against some seasoned competition. way to keep it fresh, Andy!! next the women started trickling in. i didn't know the 1st place woman, Mirinda Carfrae took 2nd, and i got to cheer for 3rd place, Leanda Cave, who i met when she did a homestay at a friend's for the L.A. Tri two years ago. Michellie took 4th. ok, enough cheering. gotta head out for the second lap. heading back from the second loop of the course i ran into fellow Tri Clubber and IMCDA hopeful, Carsten Dietz. he wasn't looking good but perked up when he recognized me.
"Monica, can you please take this from me!!! YOU'RE A LIFE SAVER!!!"
next thing i know, i'm doing the last 3 miles of the course with his fully loaded fuel belt on!! what's this guy got in here, a full buffet?? is he trying to get some extra weight training in on the side? this is only a half ironman with aid stations up the wazoo!! by the time i finally found his girlfriend, Juliana, to hand it off to, i was throughly exhausted, and i knew i'd already missed many peeps crossing the line including Rainmaker. with the added weight of the fuel belt for the last 3 miles, i didn't feel so bad about only getting 13 miles in instead of 16. so sue me...
i was done training for the day and it was still light out. SUCCESS!! and now i was left to just cheer in the rest of the crew. as i got to talking to some who had already finished, i began to not feel so bad to have missed the race this year. the bike course ended up being SUPER WINDY with over 20 miles of straight headwinds. uh, no thanks. i managed to spot 4 of the 5 bloggers i knew would be racing. Rainmaker was well on his way to the airport with a PR!!! Brian, aka Triathlete in a Cubicle also killed it as i predicted. maybe not what his goal was, but those winds just took it outta everyone. caught Fe-Lady on the run course looking proud and strong in her Operation Rebound kit. and low and behold, there was Neoprene Wedgie!! after all his doubts that his knee would hold up, he was looking strong and smiling. and he even beat his expected finish time!!! only one i didn't spot was CV Surf, cuz well, i realized i've never seen a picture of him on his blog!! CV Surf? any reports??? but my favorite person to cheer in was Miss Yanti. she towed the line after gashing her foot on the boat ramp at the swim exit, which lead to having to ride a good portion of the bike doing one-legged drills. then the winds just killed her with her more upright handlebars. you see, this girl just taught herself to ride a bike 3 seasons ago for her first sprint tri, so she's not so comfy with drop downs just yet. still she soldiered through, so saturday's finish was a HUGE DEAL. i mean can ya argue with a finish photo like this???
then it was back to the hotel to rest up for MY BIG DAY SUNDAY...
120 MILES TO BE EXACT. i was a little freaked out saturday night as i fell sleep in the lazy boy and my calf was still cramped from the previous day's swim. getting up the next morning, i had to limp to the bathroom to get dressed which wasn't a good sign, but at this point i really had no choice but to ride myself back home!! see how i set that up for myself?? no backing out now!! ok, it wasn't that dramatic. i coulda hopped on the train back north, but i figured that i wouldn't use my calves too much as long as i stayed seated for the majority of the distance. and after last weekend's long-ass ride made only longer by my inability to put my camera down long enough to get aero and stay there, i made the executive decision to leave the camera in my stuff that was being driven back by Yanti and Dolores.
i realized sunday just how naked i feel without my camera. i can't tell you how many times i wished i had it. so many things i needed to document. needed to document?? am i hearing myself?? what am i on a photo bike tour or an Ironman training ride??
i set off and started my bike computer just as i left the hotel, first heading towards the marine base to ride the flatter portion of the previous day's course. it was still quite windy this morning which made me feel even more for those who toughed it out on race day. but instead of trying to mash through it, i knew i had to spin to start warming up. after all, i had 120 miles to go....
made it out of San Diego county and onto Laguna Niguel at mile 36 where i had
and a REAR FLAT TOO!! no worries. i took it as an opportunity to see how fast i could change it on the fly. i was most proud of myself that i didn't touch the chain AT ALL. 5 MINUTES and some change, and i was back in business. it was pretty much rollers all along Pacific Coast Highway, and i think i was still a little skittish from the run in with the beamer at the beginning of this glorious weekend, so coming into the main drag of every town made me a little more stressed. still, i was plugging along, eating and drinking regularly, keeping a pretty good pace and the calf was holding up.
"mile 40. you're a 3rd of the way there. NICE. keep it up. stay in the game."
coming outta Newport Beach and just over the bridge at the Santa Ana River path, i had another first.
(did that make sense?)
ok, this is friggin' annoying. i don't bring my camera so as to not waste time, and now i'm wasting time changing flats. here i am, less than halfway through the ride and i'm on my last tube. i thoroughly scraped inside the tire looking for whatever was still in there, but nothin'. then i go to fill it with my last co2 cartridge and the thing starts to let the air out on its own before i can get it on the vale stem.
new tube but not enough air. i flagged down the next riders i saw, and a guy was nice enough to lend me his extra co2 (good bike kharma ya know). then i stuck with them for a few more miles until i got to Main St. in downtown Huntington Beach. with 70 miles to go and the rest on way more remote bike paths, i didn't feel good about not having any more tubes or air. the guys directed me to Jax where i met Michelle who sold me what i needed to get the rest of this mother done. Michelle asked what route i was planning to take back north and discouraged me from taking the 710 path as i had planned. last time i rode it was the first time i ever rode it, and i was with two guys. she said it smelled and was full of unsavory characters, and she didn't think i'd be safe riding alone there. oh, yeah, especially if I HAVE TO STOP AND CHANGE ANOTHER FRIGGIN' TUBE!!! with all that had already transpired, i figured it was a sign that i'd come to Jax and been warned. so i took the San Gabriel River path which drives me absolutely ape shit batty, but at least i only had to go one way on it, and at least i was headed in the TAILWIND direction!! so shout out to Michelle if you're reading this!! btw, she rides over 300 miles a week, back to back centuries on the weekends and has already run several marathons. think she might be ready for the 140.6?? she says she's confident she can do it all except for the swimming. um, anyone wanna write her some encouraging words in the comments section???
and off i went up the San Gabriel path. feeling good and flying. saw A TON of IMAZ folks out getting in their last long stuff before taper. thought of Bolder and his run ins with the prairie dawgs when one cracked out squirrel nearly took me out by crossing the path right in front of me. i swear i clipped the edge of his tail and then HE KINDA TURNED AROUND AND BARKED AT ME!! WTF??? hey, it was mile 80 or so, so i coulda been imagining things. descriptions of more things i saw and didn't have my camera for but maybe i was imagining and will be haunted by forever...
the lanky teenage kid running solo with a bright red cap and what looked to be a Che t-shirt, but upon nearing closer, it read "Pre Lives." the light on him was surreal and he was in the zone. he nodded at me as if to acknowledge that i was in the zone too.
the sunday rodeo complete with live Ranchero band. dust flying and cowboys everywhere. I WILL DEFINITELY GO BACK AND MAKE A PROJECT OUT OF THAT ONE!!
looking down when the computer red 66.6 miles. oh that's just evil...
looking down when the computer read 77.7 miles. now that's lucky...a foreshadowing to my upcoming Vegas Race perhaps?? i'm all in it to win it and win me some more registration bucks!!!
the ominous clouds that waited for me at the top of the San Gabriel path, sitting at the foothills, waiting to break with rain but holding off cuz i wasn't dressed for rain.
ENOUGH ABOUT THE LIGHT. STAY IN THE GAME, GIRL. LET'S GET THIS DONE.
off of the path, it was stop and go through city streets for the last 17 miles. i recall looking down at the computer as i started up again after one particular red light, and this time it read...
HOLY SHIT. COULD YOU RUN A MARATHON RIGHT NOW??
8 more miles without much incident, and i was at my front door. through 3 counties, countless zip codes, 2 tubes, 2 co2 cartridges and NOT ONE PHOTO. and anyone who wants to chime in with "no photo=didn't happen" can kiss my chapped-after-120 miles ASS!!!
(i overshot it just a wee bit i guess)
TOTAL TIME: 10 HOURS, 12 MINUTES
ACTUAL RIDE TIME: 8 HOURS, 11 MINUTES
(let's just say it's a good thing i swim fast enough)
i was supposed to run 20 minutes off the bike, but i was afraid to blow up my calf that was still cramped.