Like most of this summer, our (or my) final, epic "Summer 2011 experience" did NOT include too much sitting around and relaxing. Back in May, when I signed up for the Santa Barbara Triathlon, I, in all of my foolishness, thought that we could go up to Santa Barbara and enjoy a lovely weekend before the summer officially ended. The triathlon experience would give me an exclamation point with which to dramatically close the summer, but then we could hang out, chill, stay in a swank hotel and have some romantic time together.
As we blew our summer "fun" budget on unexpected expenses such as a new computer for me and major surgery for our dog AND as we found ourselves craving time at home to hunker down and get back to a normal routine, the idea of a long weekend in Santa Barbara held less and less appeal. So, when I started to make plans for the triathlon, we decided to go up on Friday and return Saturday after the race. The 3-day weekend extravaganza turned into a very brief getaway.
Even though my grand ideas were quashed, it WAS nice to get out of town. The heat is well in the triple digits here. While I don't want to complain about the weather since we've had a mild summer so far, escaping to the coast, even for a day and a half, felt like a reprieve. Also, Santa Barbara is a pretty ideal place to go for a day or so. It is close enough to LA that it isn't difficult to get there, but it also has a very different feel (mid-sized town rather than urban sprawl). Oh, and one more minor detail - the scenery is gorgeous with long stretches of coastline, great beaches, dramatic cliffs, surfers that you can see from the road.
We ended up leaving mid-morning which gave me the chance to get in the saddle for a nice and easy ride before the race. We both had our bikes tuned up, and I wanted to get a feel for the improved ride before the race. We coordinated our departure time so that we would arrive in Santa Barbara just in time for lunch at Taquería la Super Rica. Despite knowing deep in my heart that Mexican food on the day before a race probably wasn't the best idea, I couldn't pass it up. The food was damn good, and we left totally stuffed. I picked up my race info, attended a pre-race clinic that reviewed the course and the transition zone (good stuff for me to hear), and then we headed back south to our luxurious accommodations in Camarillo, a town known mainly for its outlet mall, about 40 minutes south of Santa Barbara. Friday night, we met up with a friend at an Irish Pub where I proceeded to stuff my face with fish and chips. Again, probably not the ideal meal pre-race, but I figured "Oh, what the hell".
While not, perhaps, the most relaxing way to spend the day before a rather intense race, hanging out and being social definitely focused my energy on something other than worrying about the race on Saturday morning. Looking back, it might have been better to worry a bit more about the race throughout the summer. Or, if not worry about it actively, then to be more focused about my training.
Hindsight, at this point, is 20/20, and while there are some aspects of the event that, if I could, I would hit the 're-set' button and try to improve upon the experience, but on the whole, it WAS a pretty awesome way to end the summer. I am now totally exhausted and my body HATES me, especially my thighs, but there is a great sense of accomplishment that comes after swimming, biking and running for a combined (and slow and painful) 4.5 hours! This was definitely one of those "learning experiences" that provided plenty of positives and negatives from which to glean.
I kind of hate to say this, but I'm glad that the tri is over, and I feel quite ready to leave summer behind and begin the 2011-2012 academic year!