Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Santa Barbara Tri (aka "I am SUCH a rookie!")

Summer is officially over for me with the Santa Barbara Triathlon over and done with and an almost full day at the "office" today.  Side note:  I can't believe that Mondays now have relevance in my life.  That's both a good thing and a bit of a downer.
Back to the race recap, however!
Like most things in life, there were positive and negative aspects to the Santa Barbara Tri, some of which had to do with the tri itself (the course, organization, etcetera) and others that had to do with me. From my end, it was a bit of an organizational disaster.  This is where my rookie status totally comes into play!
First of all, I packed up all of my gear on Friday night, but Saturday morning I went through all of the equipment and had a minor panic attack because I couldn't find the timing chip.  That was my first "Oh shit" moment.   Fortunately, I located it - mixed in with my goggles and swim cap.
The other major mishap on my part was that I forgot my bike wedge (the little bag with important items such as spare tubes...).  It was NOT with all of my other gear, and when we arrived in Santa Barbara, Michael dropped me off and I rode my bike down to the transition area, gear in tow, trying to arrive ASAP.  As I was riding down the bike path, I realized that I'd left the wedge in the trunk of the car.  If I'd had my phone, I could have called Michael and asked him to bring it to me, but I didn't have my phone and we hadn't planned to meet up until before the swim.  By that point, there would be no way that he could get the wedge to me.  Not having the wedge basically meant that if I had a flat tire, I would be screwed.  Well, who was I kidding?  Even if I had all the gear, if I had a flat, I'd still probably end up walking my bike back!
All of these details put me on edge, and then when I arrived at the transition zone at 6:20, they announced that we had 20 minutes - not 40 (!!) to be out of the area.  Fortunately, despite my less-than-early arrival, there was plenty of room for me to rack my bike.  As I looked at the other bikes on the rack, I felt like a kid with a tricycle who was going to try to ride with the big kids on their 10-speeds.  Definitely a more competitive group than I experienced at Wildflower!  Once I racked my bike and geared up in my wetsuit, I headed out of the transition area to the beach.  At that point, it struck me that it WOULD be a beautiful day for the event, so I should try to not focus on the fact that I suddenly felt very unprepared to be racing for several hours without a break.
I also started to freak out because I couldn't find Michael.  It was a fairly small race, but I just couldn't see him.  I realize that I am an a adult and all that, but I do depend on seeing my one and only fan before a big race!  Fortunately, he found me - he'd been on the other side of the start line looking for me there, while I'd been hanging out on the other.
After words of encouragement from Michael and a quick dip into the ocean before my wave started, I was as ready as I was ever going to be to go and I even managed a smile:

My wave, Women 35-44 started around 7:41.  It wasn't a brutal start, thank goodness, and I managed the swim quite well.  Here is my POWER start into the water:

The swim was, surprisingly to me, my best leg.  Not in terms of time or anything like that, but I was super relaxed and enjoyed the experience!  I ended up swimming the mile in 39 minutes which was about 2-3 minutes slower than I ideally wanted, but I wasn't the last woman out of the water into my transition zone.  And that was pretty much my main goal!

Here is a smile for Michael who managed to position himself as I was coming out of the water and on my way to the transition zone:

As per usual (meaning, same as the last tri), my transition time sucked big time but overall the times were better than my t-times at Wildflower.  To be honest, I don't practice transitioning, and I know the old adage "Practice makes perfect".  Also, I definitely lather up with sunscreen, and to me, it's worth it to lose a few seconds or an entire minute to protect my skin.  One major mishap in THIS transition - I put on my cheaper pair of sunglasses, proceeded to frantically get into my biking gear, and then stepped on my nice pair of sunglasses.  After some muttering of curses to myself, I was out of the t-zone and on my bike:

There were things to LOVE about the bike leg - it was beautiful and the scenery was nice and varied with some rolling hills, some climbs, views of the coast and of inland chaparral, and it was fairly well-marked.  It was, however, an open course, which meant that there were cars and other cyclists sharing the road, which wasn't a huge issue, but I did feel that I had to be on guard, especially with the cars.  It ended up that I needed to be more on guard with the cyclists.  As I was coming to the end and taking a left-hand turn with some speed, an idiot decided to ignore the volunteer who was telling her to stop, so she went straight and almost caused me to crash into her!  
Small issues like that aside, I did enjoy the bicycle leg, and I did not have any bicycle malfunctions.  For that, I have to thank the Tri Gods!  Also, I tried to push myself throughout the 34 miles, and I even passed a few people!  I ended with a time of 2:13 which, for me, isn't bad, especially considering that we had 3 good climbs, the last of which was significantly longer (over a mile) and hit a pretty steep incline.  
Once I transitioned to the run (only 3:00 minutes for that transition - record time for me!!!), I started with a good pace but the main thought was "This is not fun."  Despite the total negative mental sound track playing, I knew that I could pass quite a few people if I focused.  I also managed a smile for Michael:
The run was along the Santa Barbara boardwalk and it was a straight out-and-back with just a few small hills along the way.  It was also open to other 'traffic', same as the bike course, which was kind of annoying at times because a lot of other people were clueless or just inconsiderate (I'm so negative, I know!).  I was pretty pleased with my pace, especially when I hit the mile 5 turn-around and it looked as though I would finish the 10 miles under 1:30.  I also left just a enough in the tank so that I could pick up the pace for the last mile, although I definitely look a lot less perky than when I started out but I finished in 1:28:37 - definitely under 1:30!

I crossed the finish line at 4 hours, 29 minutes and 55 seconds.  Pretty much what I had aimed for - 4:30!  It was great to be greeted by my one and only fan and give him a big sweaty hug and kiss.  Then, we loaded up and headed home!  I was ready for my ideal post-race celebration:  a cold beer, a huge sandwich from one of our favorite sandwich places (Dave's Chillin' and Grillin' in Eagle Rock) and some down time with our favorite old men:


kilax said...

Wow wow wow. Despite all the shake-ups, you totally rocked this! Congrats for an awesome race and a great end to the summer!

It is interesting that different races bring a different sort of crowd (experience-wise). Despite feeling like a rookie, were the other participants friendly?

Open road would scare me! Way to move past it and still rock it on the bike and run!

(P.S. Hope this comment goes through!)

Carol said...

Hi, Kristina! I just found your blog and wow, you're so amazing and inspiring! It may come as a shock, but I'm not at all athletic (haha, okay, it's no shock at all) and I loved reading this well written account of your triathalon experience. Congrats on a fantastic performance!

Anonymous said...

Seeing all of your photos and reading this recap has left me speechless. And feeling very lazy! Great job Kristina!

Your downtime sounds fantastic. I hope you've recovered and had a chance to relax this long weekend!

Kristina said...

Thanks for reading and for feedback!

Kim -It IS really funny how 'competitive' a field is or isn't. As for the other participants... I don't really dig the triathlon crowd - not, at least, the people that are really intense about it. That's probably my OWN insecurity getting the best of me, but it's an intense group, even more so than runners, I've found.

Carol - Thanks for commenting! You have a great blog that I love to stalk. I don't think that I'm athletic either, by the way!

Ameena - The downtime was great. I hope that you get some major downtime soon! Maybe when Maya goes back to school?

mindful mule said...

Those are some great splits for the biking and running sections! (I don’t know anything about swimming.) I better bring my A-game to Lasse Viren or I’ll owe you a margarita.