I should have been more suspect of this so-called Long Course triathlon – longer than an Olympic and shorter than a half. I thought the Santa Barbara Triathlon would be an easy-breazy beach race. With a 1 mile swim, 34 mile bike ride and 10 mile run, it wouldn’t matter that I barely trained.
I bumped into my friend Liza. We knew each other in DC and she lives in Santa Monica now. She mentioned that this is a hard course – coming from Liza (an amazing athlete), I realized I might be in for a little more than I planned. The swim start was my least favorite kind – running in to the ocean Baywatch style. Fog hung low over the choppy water and the race announcers described it as slightly better than pea soup. My wave went off at 7:35 am.
It was my worst swim ever. Ever. Not only was my time horrible, but my mental state was also poor. I just wanted out. My arm was getting chafed by my wetsuit/tri top (I swim in a sleeveless suit). The waves were relentless and I could barely see the buoys. And, I was thirsty from guzzling salt water each time I attempted to breathe.
There was some slight relief when I took off on the bike ride. Then the hills hit – false flats, a few long climbs, and more false flats. My stomach was aching from the salt water and I could still hear the ocean swooshing in my ears. Only the avocado trees distracted me from time to time. I saw Don from GGTC at one point and Julia passed me at another.
When I got off the bike, I was not sure I would be able to run. My stomach ache was terrible – I felt like a pumpkin having my insides cleaned out. I debated walking vs. running vs. quitting. I walked out of transition and started to jog lightly. The fog was lifting and with a little sunshine, I started to perk up. My stomach cramps faded and my pace picked up. Suddenly, I liked running. I even ran up the hill! And, by the last 2 miles, I remembered I was racing, and started picking off each person in front of me. I ended the race feeling strong and satisfied.
It was not the best race of my life by any means. But, I’m happy I found joy in running and the willingness to keep going. Best yet, I got to spend the weekend with friends from all my triathlon communities: DC Tri, Wheelworks, and GGTC! And, we had a great time partying with the LA Tri Club on Saturday night.