Santa Rosa, California
2nd place W35-39
I arrived in San Francisco late after spending what seemed all day in the air and waiting in airports. The weather in Houston had me delayed from the beginning since that was where I connected, but I eventually made it and was glad to see my bike and bags made it as well. Although, I will add that I was very unhappy with my airline in that they charged me $120 (ridiculas) to fly my bike and then when I got it in San Francisco, the case was obviously mistreated -- beaten up, half opened (unfastened) on one side. Needless to say, I was upset about the condition of the case, and fearful of what the status of my bike frame and wheels would be.
Anyway, I met up with Ryan at the car rental – he flew non stop from st louis and had a carefree time and was in much better condition! It was great to see him, and we took off to Santa Rosa where we were staying.
It was a beautiful morning – cool but not too cold. Im not sure what the temp was, but there was no wind and dry. I was a little afraid of the weather for Vineman since I had such a hard time in Portland a few weeks ago. I didn’t want a repeat of the chills on the swim and bike.
That morning we decided to put the bikes together before going up to Guenerville to check out the swim and drive the bike course. And it’s a good thing we did that. Because after checking my bike over and again for any damage from the flight, I went to put my saddle on and POP! There went the screw. Stripped. Actually, it was the screw hole to be exact. I barely had the screws tightened. I about freaked out. I knew this was not good on a carbon fiber frame. Well, in my usual fashion, the four letter words began spewing form my mouth as panic set in. Now we had to go straight to the bike shop to see if they could do anything about it. I didn’t think it could be fixed, but maybe they could do something? I was feeling a little desperate at this time. Typical pre-race anxiety was slightly (ha!) elevated by now….
NorCal Bikes was right down the street from our hotel and when we got there, Steve (popular name in bike shops) took a look at it and basically said he can try to glue in a new hole (key word here- “try”) or I’ll have to get a new frame. Hmmm. Well, what else was there to do but give it a try? They had it glued and ready within the hour with strict instructions not to ride it for 24 hours to let the silicone dry. I wouldn’t know for sure till Saturday afternoon if it would hold at all. Not much else I could do. Oh well….I just say a little prayer.
So Ryan and I were off to the bike course to see what we were getting ourselves into. This course was absolutely gorgeous and hilly. I’m glad we drove it, because in hindsight, I didn’t look at the scenery too much during the race! (this course had lots of twists and turns and some less than desirable road conditions, so the majority of the time, my eyes were fixed on the route) We got lost a few times along the way, so going into the race, I really didn’t know the way, but I had an idea what to expect- and it looked good to me.
We slept in today. After we got moving, we were off again to Guenerville for a quick swim in the wetsuits, a test of the bike, then a drive out to the pacific coast before packet pick-up. The water in the Russian River was cold, but not nearly as shocking as Portland, and that was good news for me. We had a great swim and everything checked out OK on the bike. I was feeling a lot more confident about my bike, but I still had that “what if” going thru my head. I had to keep consciously put it to rest.
We drove out to the Coast where it was really windy and probably 20 degrees colder than Santa Rosa. Ryan had never seen this part of the world, so it was pretty cool to him. I on the other hand, lived in Hawaii for a while, so I’ve seen all that rock and cold water– but am still amazed with its beauty. We took some pictures and then headed back for pizza (my pre-race grub) then onto packet pick-up.
Packet pick up was pretty uneventful, and the expo was about the same. The only weird thing was that we had to drop off our T2 gear (run stuff) and this location since the bike was a point to point. I picked a spot right across from a girl in my AG who had a nifty little flag on the rack so I would be able to find my stuff pretty easily (and that turned out to be a good call!) By now, it was 3pm and the wind was blowing and the sun was out blaring – but it wasn’t crazy hot. Weather wise, tomorrow should be a good day!
In bed by 8 – that was awesome!
I woke to the alarm at 3:45am to get the coffee going and pack my bags. Ryan slept a little longer while I packed my bags, hit the nebulizer and got breakfast ready. We had the car packed and ready to go by 4:45 and we were off to the swim start – the weather was cool, but pleasant. It was a good start.
We got into transition in good time to set up and went for a walk back to the car to put our extra stuff away. I was in the 2nd (of 17) waves, so I went off early and there was no time to fool around. (this was a nice change from Portland where I just sat around for over an hour waiting for our wave to start). After putting on my wetsuit and tearing a nice hole in it (just one more thing) I headed for the start. When I put the hole in it, a volunteer saw me do it and said – “well, that’s the “bad” thing for today- now it’s out of the way”. I laughed and thought about all the other stuff with the bike, my breathing issues, and agreed with her. “I’m due” I thought. It was gonna be a good day. I was soon corralled and into the water after wave #1 went off, giving us a little time for a warm up and to get into position. This was a deep water start unless you wanted to be way in the back of the pack where it was shallow. And off we went. What a great swim it was. Straight out and back, calm water and 8 minutes between us and the wave before us. That makes for a smooth swim because that time allows the cluster of slow swimmers ahead to thin out….so when I caught them, it’s was easier than normal – except for the one swat across my face from some struggling guy near the end. But that was it. when we started off, I saw 2 girls ahead of me, but when I came out, there was only one and I saw her go off on the bike just before me. I wondered where the other girl was.
After running thru the rocky transition area, (which was only partly carpeted along the entrance and exit areas – and not down the rows where our bikes were…. Oh, but the pro’s had carpet, of course…) I put on my bike shoes best I could with minimal gravel stuck to my feet and grabbed my bike. The transition area was pretty long, and by the time I got to the mount line, I was breathing hard and had to catch my breath to get on my bike and up the first hill – no problem…and off I went. I was feeling good on the bike from the start, and began passing guys from the first wave right away. Everyone was pretty spread out and we were all riding at different speeds up the first 10 miles of climbing – and it was fun! Driving it in the car seemed like it would have been a lot more technical and harder climbs, but when you think about it, the car is going a lot faster than a bike, taking the turns faster,so my perspective was a little off. The hills were fun, and the flats and downhill were cruising fast. After about 15-20 miles, there were a few of us who settled into an even pace all riding legal which made for a great ride. I would catch most of them on the up hills, and they would get me on the down hills – back and forth, keeping each other going strong. It was great! I passed that one girl somewhere along the way (can’t remember when), but I never saw the other one I thought might be out there. Since I was riding pretty well, I started to wonder if I beat her out of the water after all… anyway, the bike was going well – and yes, the saddle was holding. The course had it’s fair share of bumps, so I was really aware of shifting my weight or riding around them to avoid any extra jolting that might do me in….the hardest climb of the day was at mile 44 - chalk line road – down to about 9mph and it was pretty long-- Easier then anything I’ve ridden at red bluff, and about as long as sand road out there. Over the top I went and into the 35+mph downhill – an then – OUCH! At full speed, a bee of some sort made it into my suit and stung me right on the sternum. Immediately I sat up to take a look and pulled the stinger out while trying to steer. I didn’t like that at all. I finished off the down hill and rode steady for a while, wondering if the sting would cause a reaction. But after a few minutes passed, all seemed well except for the sting itself – so I got back into my pace and rode in. Riding into transition, I was feeling great and again, it was great to hear Theresa’s voice yelling my name and cheering me in. She’s the best cheerleader there is – and that girl can yell! Into transition I went straight over to the trusty little orange flag where I placed my stuff the day before. I racked my bike, put on my shoes and took a little look around and there wasn’t another bike in sight in my age group. That felt pretty good knowing I was in front. I knew Shawn Carpenter would be coming along in the run, but I didn’t know what kind of lead I had – and if she would catch me. She won this race last year and I knew a little about her going in. One thing I knew is that she had a Kona slot already, so I wans’t too worried if she passed me!
Off on the run, I saw Theresa on the way out and she ran with me for a bit when my legs began to cramp. Crap! I had forgotten about this problem I have – it’s been since last year that I’ve done a Half, and I tend to cramp within the first mile of the run. As soon as it happened, I stopped. The first mile was a real problem. I tried to get going, but my quads would begin to seize. Now I was getting mad. One guy gave me some salt (thanks! Whoever you are), but I knew it was probably from fatigue rather than dehydration. I tried to stretch my quad, but as soon as I nbrought my foot up, my hamstring cramped, so that wasn’t an option. So, all I could do at the time was sit down on my knees and lay back. I did this 3 times in the first mile – making it to the mile 1 marker at about 13 minutes. Uncool. But, I was moving forward. I could hear the voice in side my head “keep moving forward”….no matter how slow, always make progress. So at nearly every aid station, I asked for ice that I rubbed on my quads (a trick I learned from the missle) and continued on. Usually, the cramps subside if I can hold them off, but today, they decided to stay with me for the entire run. every hill was tricky. It was at about mile 3 that I got passed by a girl I assumed was Shawn (which it was) and was now playing the game of not getting caught by anyone else. I had no idea if anyone else was coming or where they were, so I just kept trying to keep the cramps off and continue moving forward.......The last few miles seemed to take forever, but I finally made it to Theresa who was waiting near the finish line. She cheered me in her usual fashion and I headed straight over to medical to lie down for a while.
While I was lying down hoping for the cramps in my quads would go away (no IV's - although I knew an IV wasn't necessary anyway), it all began to sink in. I was going to Kona! Unless I got some sort of penalty, DQ, or for some crazy reason missed the awards, I was headed for Hawaii. And Clearwater...and Germany....and Kona!!!?! What a great feeling. How Cool is that!
I went into this year wanting to qualify for Worlds in all 3 distances - and I did it. Deep down, I knew I could, but it's neat to see it all fall into place. anything can happen in these races --I could get sick, get a flat, cramp up (hey, wait a minute...), have bike trouble.... so you never really know until the end. And I didn't just wake up one day and go out and race and have this happen either....this has been a process. a few years in the making - all of the time, lifestyle changes, ups, downs, base buliding, body changing...but it continues to pay off as I accomplish one goal after another. I continue to surprise myself. now i get to go to these races and see what will happen next! stay tuned.....
ITU Short Course Worlds in Germany