Race Recap: Triathlon at Pacific Grove

I registered for this race two weeks prior. I wasn’t sure if I was going to get this day off from work, since Saturdays are still considered work days for me. But regardless of whether I was going to get the day off to race or not, I’d been decently training.

This was my first time racing in the Triathlon at Pacific Grove, but my second with Tri-California events. I knew that I would not be disappointed; Wildflower was a blast and Pacific Grove was sure to follow up! This was also my second ever Olympic distance, I was pretty stoked!

Saturday, September 13 :: Race Morning & Pre-Race
It’d been a long time since I did a race on a Saturday! It tripped me out; usually we race on Sundays. 😛 With Pacific Grove only about an hour or so away from my house, I was able to sleep in the comfort of my own bed the night before. (The two previous triathlons, I was either sleeping in a tent or a hotel bed.) For those who aren’t familiar with Pacific Grove, it’s literally next door to Monterey. In fact, our race course (the run portion) touches base at the borderline of both cities!

I made some steel cut oats for breakfast, and gathered all my stuff to throw into the car. We drove my Escape (aka Zeus) since we weren’t sure what the parking situation would be like down in Pacific Grove.

One of my fellow teammates, Kelvin, was already at the race venue as I was getting ready. He let me know where he had parked, so that my parents and I could park in the same vicinity.

We arrived just as the sun started to creep out. The morning was overcast, actually. And a bit chilly. I went to pick up my race packet, which was a breeze, then made my way to transition.

Once my transition area was set-up, I grabbed my swimming gear (wetsuit, earplugs, cap, etc) and headed down to the beach/start line. Over the loud speaker, I was told that transition would be closed to athletes starting at 7:30, which was when the first wave was going off. So I took what I needed and went to find my family and friends on the beach.

I definitely had some pre-race jitters; it didn’t help that my wave went off nearly an hour and fifteen minutes after that first wave was to go off. It was pretty cool to see all the male athletes go off, and it gave me a chance to see how the swim course was going to be. I mean obviously, you can see by connecting the buoys, but this was my first ever race where each discipline required athletes to do laps to complete the distance.

About 10 minutes before my wave took off, I went into the water to get acclimated. Holy moly, that Pacific Ocean was SO COLD. The announcer said the water was about 61 degrees, which was surprising because it felt way colder than that. I think it was just the initial shock of getting in. (The water in San Francisco’s Aquatic Park is a lot colder than Pacific Grove; it ranges somewhere in the 50s.) I knew I needed to get water into my suit, so I dunked myself under and pulled the neck of my suit open to let it all flow in. Oh man, I really wanted to scream. haha It was just so cold! My teeth were chattering!

Anyway, I needed to get out of the water, since the start was actually on the beach. Athletes were to cross over the timing mat and then run into the water. I prefer these kinds of starts over the floating starts. Right before my wave took off, I looked at my parents and I knew this was going to be one hell of a race.

Swim – 1.5k – 2 laps – 39:15
As usual, the shock of my warm-up helped me ease into my swim. I wasn’t sure about swimming in the ocean, this was my first race doing so. This swim is known as the “kelp crawl,” and yes, that’s exactly as it sounds. The kelp really wasn’t that bad, and sometimes I would just grab onto it and propel myself through the water. (Is that considered cheating? lol)

The first lap was good. I was really good at sighting, and I let my body ease into the stroke and breathing. As I was swimming, I was trying to look below me to see if there were any interesting creatures. I was only able to see the sea floor, up until I got to the first buoy. Then it just turned dark. And of course I psyched myself out by thinking of Jaws. LOL I ended up singing the theme to myself and thought that my reverse psychology would help. It kinda did, but then I figured if a shark wanted to eat me, it probably would’ve done so already!

So before athletes could continue their second lap of the swim, they actually had to exit the water, and run around a beached anchor and then enter the water again. I think I was a bit disoriented when I exited the water, and I think I ran a little too fast because I was catching my breath as I entered…. But interesting experience anyway!

The second lap, my sighting was horrible. I noticed myself going off towards the right and had to keep sighting to see the buoy. I think it had something to do with my body going from horizontal to vertical then back to horizontal in such a short amount of time. (My brain was dizzy!) That, and there might have been a current in the ocean. Oh, this was the lap that I saw a starfish under me!! I was so amazed! I really wish I could’ve swam down in and touched it. But hey, race day, so I had to keep going. haha

I saw my parents coming out of the swim, and I was slightly delirious. I dropped my goggles going up towards transition, which probably cost me 2 seconds. I waved to my parents, and heard my mom yell, “FOCUS!”

Transition 1 – 5:23
I ran into transition and tried to get a cup of water at the water table. I couldn’t, because my hands were stuck in my wetsuit! I was struggling to get it off; I think it’s time to buy some more TriGlide. Eek! But once I got it off, I grabbed a cup and ran towards my area.

I didn’t really dry myself off, just my feet and legs. That probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do, since I struggled trying to get my bike jersey on while wet. lol! But once I had everything on, I grabbed my bike and headed out

Bike – 40k – 4 laps – 1:51:20
There really isn’t much to say about the bike. Being that I had 4 laps to do, it was all mental than it was physical. I’d ridden the bike course previously, but as a leisurely ride and not a training ride. I had an idea of what it would be like.

The bike portion featured the most BEAUTIFUL views of the coast. I tried to soak it all in during my 4 laps while trying to maintain a consistent race pace. I wondered if the volunteers got bored of seeing the athletes 8 times, because you’d see everyone when you went out, then came back in, then back out and back in again. haha

My parents were out on the course, but more towards the turn-around point. It was nice to hear them cheering.

I started getting my typical biking aches (due to my bike not being properly fitted. NTS: Do that in off-season) around the end of lap 3 and it held on until I was done with my bike. Luckily, this time, my nerves weren’t pinched so hard, and I had feeling in all ten fingers. Woot!

Kelvin was already done with the race, and as I was getting into transition, I saw him, his fiancee Kathy and my parents cheering for me!

Transition 2 – 3:34
Man, I gotta get faster at this bike-to-run transition. I took off my cycling jersey and threw on my Bangarang jersey, then put my shoes on. I had to also reset my watch so that I could track my run. I grabbed my gel and some water and made my way out…

Run – 10k – 3 laps – 1:17:31
I started out way too fast on the run, and it eventually caused me to slow down for the rest of the run. But that’s okay. I don’t think I ever mentioned that I went hiking at Yosemite the weekend before. Yea, that gnarly 8-10 mile hike we did was causing trouble to me on race day! haha It sucked big time.

I thought the first lap was HORRIBLE. By mile 2, my calves were cramping and spasming so bad. The course itself was decently flat with only slight rolling hills. Nothing impossible. But my calves were not having it.

I consumed my gel around the halfway point, and that made the last two laps a little more bearable. My mom ran with me towards the turn around point on my second lap. As usual, she was giving me tips. I managed a slight negative split from my second lap to my last lap, and even though I was a bit disappointed in my time, I was happy that I was able to get through the 10k okay!

Finish – 3:57:03
When I came into the finish from my last lap, I tried to sprint in as fast as I could. There was a lady in front of me, but I didn’t have it in me to pass her up. So I let her finish before me (you never cross the line at the same time as someone else!) and I felt okay with that!

I saw my parents and Kathy and Kelvin at the finish. Then I made a bee-line to get some food!! I found out that my mom wanted me to come in at sub-4, a goal that she told everyone BUT me. lol As always, I just wanted to finish. I wasn’t sure how I was going to do, because even though I had been training, my training was still focused on running, not so much the swimming and biking.

Overall, a great experience at Pacific Grove. This course is flat, fast, and fantastic! It’s great to do time trials on. I will definitely be returning next year.

Special thanks to my family and to the Bangarang Runners for the support! My tri season is done for 2014. Time to step up to the plate, and finish off 2014 with some running events. 🙂

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