Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Central Coast Highlights

So, before discussing Saturday's excursion, I must add a few pictures from Friday.
Here I am, about to leave our lovely little corner of the world, headed off with the bike strapped in and ready to roll!

We failed to document the pathetic-looking tent, but check out my big grin in the Motel 6, showing off my water bottles! It was so nice to not have to schlep to and from a bathroom or water faucet! Cheers to that! And there's a bed in the room?! Total luxury!

After a restless night's sleep on my end but still better than being cold in a tent, we woke up at a decent hour and headed out for coffee and adventure. We enjoyed our coffee while taking a walk on the beach, and then we returned to the motel where we got ready for the day. I ended up changing into biking gear and gave Michael a "go-bag" for me with clothes into which I could change. Then, I set off for a nice bike ride from San Luis Obispo to the coast. I hadn't been on my bike since my flat tire and a tune-up following that, and it felt great! Shifting was so much easier, and it just seemed to be a cleaner and tighter ride. I did not push myself very hard, but I enjoyed moving around my legs. Plus, the CA Central Coast offers a great landscape for cycling - nice rolling hills, farm land, light traffic. It was great!

After a 40-minute ride or so, I met up with Michael who was waiting for me. At/In the car, I changed out of my cycling clothes, and we were ready for our day's adventure! We first stopped at Morro Bay, just north of where we were. We took a nice walk along the bay, saw some people kayaking and enjoyed the scenery.
That was pretty much the rest of our day too!

Michael likes to taunt and torment seagulls. This one willingly posed for a picture or two:

The major surprise upon which we stumbled was just north of the Hearst Castle at Piedras Blancas Beach. There was a sign posted that read "Elephant Seals". So, we decided - why not stop?! What else do we have to do today? And we thought that it might be cool to see an elephant seal or two. So, we parked and walked to the elephant seal viewing area, and what a surprise! There were TONS of them all along the beach, sunning themselves, napping, getting in and out of the water. Some even talked to each other, seemingly. I felt that I could watch them all day.!
Obviously I was pretty psyched about them.

Someone told us that all of the seals there were juvenile males, weighing up to 2,000 pounds. The bulls - or adult males - generally weigh around 4,000 pounds. The two guys below are practicing their 'battles' to establish dominance. Just like men everywhere...

After a considerable amount of oohing and aahing on our part, we begrudgingly left the area, heading east to Lake San Antonio. The drive took over an hour, but it wasn't a bad jaunt, lots of rolling hills that are still green! When we finally arrived at the park, it was show time! Sort of. I had some business to attend to - pick up my race packet and also attend a pre-race clinic. We didn't take photos of the park, and I fear that my words cannot fully describe how many people there were - coming in, leaving, some cyclists finishing up their leg of the Long Course which was Saturday, tons of people still running their final leg, and plenty of spectators just hanging out and cheering for the athletes.
We parked the car and walked down the hill to the "Exposition" area - that was where all the fun happens: food and drink vendors, lots of outdoor gear, live music, people hanging out after their race, wandering around with medals and gear and family and friends hugging them. I bought a cap/hat (see below!) which I officially love, picked up my race packet with all of my different numbers and bibs and swim cap, and then I attended the pre-race clinic. That was a HUGE help because not only did the guy running it talk about rules and regulations, he also gave us tips for the race, telling us what time to arrive, more or less, and then he walked us through the course, describing each leg.
Some of his information was basic but a good reminder. For instance - the bicycling helmet MUST be strapped on before leaving the transition area. Or, for the swim, put the goggles on first and then the swim cap so that you don't lose the goggles if someone hits you. All good stuff for me to hear.

(Here I am with my new spangled hat; the transition area is behind me - rows and rows of equipment!)

After the clinic, I actually felt really confident that I would be able to finish Sunday's race, despite his comment about first time-tri people who were doing Wildflower as their FIRST ever tri. "Brave souls" he said, which I decided to shrug off and focus on dinner, which we ate back in San Luis Obispo. At that point, it was fairly late, we were tired and ready for bed! Before crashing for the evening, we packed up everything and I also prepped my gear bag for Sunday, checking and double checking socks, shoes, energy stuff (is it food?), water bottles, camel back, and more. Then, I popped a Tylenol PM and managed to get some shut-eye before the big day!

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