I abruptly welcomed the 2016 triathlon season by jumping in on registering for USA Productions’ California International Triathlon. I’d been training pretty consistently, and figured I might as well try the International (or Olympic, if you prefer) distance.
Race day was early on Sunday, June 26, 2016. The day’s events took place at Shadow Cliffs Regional Park in Pleasanton, California. Along with the International distance, USA Productions offered a Sprint distance. The morning had a nice chill, but for those who’ve previously raced in Pleasanton, you know that it heats up quickly.
My mom and I were in for the International distance, my dad on the Sprint. We racked our bikes in the same area in transition, and we set everything up. I had my usual pre-race jitters and felt them creeping up as I watched all of these athletes ready to go for the kill. I had plans to have fun. I had no intention of gunning for a PR at all. I just wanted to survive.
Swim – 1.5k – 00:38:43
The swim felt like the longest swim of my life, ever. I felt like I was going nowhere, and going nowhere fast. The buoys seemed so far away, and I was feeling discouraged. Strike one, Lianna. That small moment of defeat in the swim really held me back. The funny thing, this swim is in a calm lake, with a comfortable water temperature. I really just couldn’t find my niche. I did what I could, and actually ended up with a personal best on my swim for this particular distance.
Transition 1 – 00:05:08
I struggled to get out of my wetsuit following the swim. It’s been nearly two years since I’ve raced a triathlon, so all of this seemed “brand new” when it really wasn’t. (Note to self: Practice transitions!) Chugged some water, dried off what I could, and then got ready for the bike. I saw our friend, Isa, out by the mounting line. And I was off.
Bike – 40k – 1:47:30
This was the discipline that I’ve always been weak at. But I knew there was going to be improvement here because this is what I’d been training and working on the most lately. The bike ride was mainly flat, but then it had a long, gradual climb into the valley. That’s where I struggled, and where I think I exerted way too much energy. It was a weird feeling. I was excited because I knew I was doing better than I’d done on this distance previously, but also struggling. If that even makes sense. I didn’t drink enough liquids, and I don’t think I ate enough. I think the race adrenaline got me feeling some type of way. I did, however, set another personal best on the bike…. I typically finish a 40k in a little over two hours. This was a solid sub-2 and while I am happy with it, I knew I didn’t race smart. And ultimately, the bike got the best of me, which left me hurting on the run….
Transition 2 – 00:03:59
I saw my dad at the entrance to the transition and I was about ready to cry.I had a flood of emotions filling my body, and the bike had depleted me. My legs were heavy and I was fighting to get out of transition. I drank more water and ate a gel before making my way out.
Run – 10k – 01:39:58
By the time the run came around, it was hot. And the moment I stepped out onto the trail, I knew the run was going to be a long one. I also remembered how much I hated running at this particular park because it lacks shade pretty much everywhere. Luckily, there were aid stations at every mile. I dumped water on my head at every chance I had. I walked practically the whole thing. I tried to run when I could, but the heat was just eating me up. You could feel the heat radiating from the ground up. At the start of my second loop, I decided to just walk. I felt like the last person on the course. Surprisingly, I wasn’t. I ran the last quarter mile into the finish, where I saw my parents and felt relief.
Overall race time: 04:15:20
Post race, I felt like crap. I started feeling lightheaded and dizzy. I think I hit the point of dehydration, but I also figured it was because I scarfed down half a burrito immediately after my finish. My body probably didn’t know what was happening between the heat and solid foods going into my system.
Despite the feelings of defeat multiple times throughout this race, I am decently proud of the personal bests I set in the swim and the bike. I know now that I need to race smarter, not harder. My body had been exhausted of nearly all energy when the run came around, and that should not have happened had I been smarter about my bike.