It's always amazing how much more relaxed I am when I approach a race with a "this-is-not-a-race" attitude. Of course, this can also be a bit costly, as I realized this morning when we were almost late! Michael dropped me off around 6:25 and I picked up my packet and made it to the transition area around 6:30, just enough time to set up, get my wetsuit situated, and be present for the athlete meeting at 6:50. Shew! One difference in today's race - Michael had some furry companions and I had two additional spectators:
Here I am with Gus and Milo!
And my three spectators.
We went back and forth about whether to take the dogs - they are older, it would be a lot of walking around and hanging around, and they'd probably rather just be home. Boy was I wrong on all of those counts - they LOVED the experience! Maybe we'll take them to Wildflower one of these years (if I ever go back).
Anyway, this non-race event... The plan: Have a solid swim, try to push it on the bike, and negative split the run but don't go too hard and end up sore or, even worse, with something pulled. As I stood around, waiting for my wave to start, I felt a bit of dread - the "oh, shit, here we go" thought. Once I hit the water and maneuvered more or less to where I felt comfortable, my attitude changed - it was a GREAT swim! Not my fastest, but definitely a solid swim - I didn't feel tired, although I did slow down on loop 2, and the Ventura harbor ended up being a fantastic place to swim. Then, on to the bike! The course was out, then three loops on roads going around fields, and then back to transition. The first two loops were good as I held a steady pace. I slowed down on the third loop, consciously in part so that I wasn't dead for the run, but I also think that I was a bit tired and and sore as the week's workouts caught up to me. Plus, I just lost my focus during the final loop which is something good to note. I ended up with a decent-for-me bike but a pretty sad showing overall for a flat course! I was very happy to turn into the transition and head out on the run, legs still feeling good. My first mile was a bit of a mess as I was running way faster than I wanted to be, but then things settled down and I held a steady pace, ending on a strong, if not amazingly speedy, note.
Ultimately, it was a solid performance, which is what I had hoped for. The swim wasn't my fastest time, but I needed something to boost my confidence after the Wildflower debacle, and this did the trick. The bike - oh, it's such my weakest link! I didn't love either the run or bike, but the course was super well marked and the volunteers were excellent, so no complaints about that. What is funny about all of this, however, is that I did walk away with a very slight PR for this distance, and I think it had to do with my transitions which, for the first time ever, did not totally suck. Finally! I also loved seeing Michael and 'the boys' out on the course, especially on the run, and I was glad that they were all having a good morning out there too.
The last plug that I'll give this race - great post-race food of hamburgers and hotdogs and beer. Sadly, I did not take advantage of the beer garden, and I'm now kind of kicking myself for passing up a nice cold Sierra Nevada. Fortunately, I can remedy that as soon as it's 5:00 pm here!