Friday, May 9, 2008

Wildflower: How the worst swim of my life turned into the best one, or dammit, why did I forget the safe word?

I wrote this whole huge report and realized I forgot my times, so here they are, for the short attention span theater crowd:

Overall: 1333 of 2390 ranked
Division Rank, M30-34: 170 of 241 ranked
Finish Time: 03:17:11
Swim: 00:26:11
Division/Overall: 67/589
T1 00:03:49
Bike: 01:32:22
Division/Overall: 126/875
T2 00:02:37
Run: 01:12:09
Division/Overall: 227/2007

And now for the story.

Unlike Denner, who broke his WF post into the race report and the overall weekend impressions, I'm just gonna lump it all together, since for me the experience and the race are all one and the same.

It all started at Costco...Man if I had a nickel for every, not gonna do that.

Anyway, Brian picked up the RV and we met on Wednesday night to load up and make the communal food run. Turns out that running thorugh a warehouse full of food with no menu plan and 8 triathletes who haven't had dinner leads to madness. $450 bucks later we made it out (without the giant can of Bueno! cheez sauce, which still pisses me off.).

Thursday morning, it was into the RV and off to Wildflower we go, but a couple of hours into the ride, this is pretty much how it looked:

It was all uneventful, until Brian clipped the crippled guy. Well, his truck. It was too funny, watching this guy pull a wheelchair from his extended cab and thinking "Christ, what a drama queen," only to find that he only had one leg and one the foot he had was a bootie like they put on you when you break your foot.

Long story short, he had paint transfer on the bumper. Paul got a good shot of Jason doing some ad hoc car repair.

Then there were the three highway patrol cruisers. Most memorable moment: Brian's field sobriety test, which he passed once they explained the rules, followed by the following exchange:

Cop: Sir, I don't think you're under the influence. So, did you hit him intentionally?

Brian: Um, no.

Cop: You mean you didn't try to hit him and only manage to scrape the back corner of his bumper.

Brian: Um, no.

Cop: Okay.

It was a long hour and a half in Valencia, but then we were back on the road. We finally made it to Lake San Antonio around 6PM and immediately, Scott broke out the tequila. The night went from there.

Yes, Allison, we see you.


Preview day. We rode down to transition, which was fascinating. Acres and acres of empty racks.

From there it was off and up Lynch Hill, which Coach Gurujan had told us was way harder and longer than Torrey Pines. After the first time up, it didn't seem so bad, and we took off out along the course, which was beautiful.

You belong, among the wildflowers...

And then it was packet pickup and back to camp to hang out and watch the long coursers get ready.


The long course and the mountain bike sprint. Same course, not quite the same time, but still a bit of NASCAR wreck thrill when the fast guys on mountain bikes were sharing the chute with the slow long coursers. I had to wonder for a few minutes whose blood I'd be running through on Sunday. I only saw a couple of guys bump shoulders and hit sandbags, but incredibly, no one went down. The crew went back to camp to wait for our long course buds to run by, but I had to wait for Ben to finish the MB race. Which was cool because I got to see this:

Yes, that's a fox.

Shortly thereafter, Ben:

Sorry buddy, you got beat by the furry.

I'm gonna skip over the expo and the swim preview and get right to:

Sunday: Race Day

So first of all, the TriCal folks are all Christians, and the race starts after church, so my wave didn't go off until 9:25AM. Jeez, but even so, it was hte usual race morning jitters. I honestly wasn't feeling it at all, especially when I got to transition and found someone racked in my spot. And, this was the view of the bike out from my rack:

After milling about for an hour or so, it was time to go and get in line. I seeded myself well and got off to a clean start on the swim, but that was about all that went right. A couple of hundred yards in, my goggles fogged to full opaque and I had to stop to clear them. A minute or two later, again. I cleared them again and took off swimming, but I just didn't feel it. My rhythm sucked, my arms felt like wood and about every other breath I got a mouth full of diesel, I mean lake water. I got lost twice and had to stop to figure out if I was anywhere near the course. I just knew I was going to finish the swim with a 40 minute time or something otherwise ridiculously out of character for me. When I took a split on the Timex as I hit the ramp, I was convinced it was broken. It read 26:58, which is about the fastest I've ever gone. My official time was 26:11, so I did something right, but I'm damned if I know what it was.

Up the ramp and into T1. On the way, I heard my name and there were Pat, Erin and maybe Damien (I was the rocket, so I don't know who exactly, sorry.). It was awesome to see them so early in the race. It reminded that, damn it all, I was racing.

I intentionally took some extra time in T1, so that I'd have my heart rate under control before I launched up Lynch Hill, which is about 100 yards from the mount line. It worked. I trucked up solidly, veering around the rattlesnake coiled in the middle of the road. At the top, I saw Coach Gurujan in his official's jacket and he gave me another big cheer, just as I was putting the hammer down to go for the real ride.

Out on the highway, I was feeling good, holding my speed up and not hurting. At the bottom of a roller, there was a guy changing a tire off to the side. I swung out to give him some room just as I heard the official's bike coming up behind me. As he passed, I heard "Move over!" and got flashed two fingers. I figured I'd just got my first penalty. 2 minutes. It pissed me off, but there was nothing to do but keep going. So I kept riding.

One of the biggest moments of my race happened about 2 miles past the turnaround, so around mile 14 or 15, when Greg passed me. This is big for me because, even though he passed me, it took him that long. Considering he beat me in the race by 37 minutes, it was cool.

I wasn't quite prepared for the big climb on the was back in, so my average speed fell off a bit, but I still felt good and as I headed back into the park to drop Lynch into T2 I saw Ben cheering me on. He pumped me up a bit and I totally channeled Damien on the way down. I don't think I touched my brakes. I barely made the dismount line.

T2 was a lot faster than T1 and I was out onto the run, where I saw Paul and got another boost.

The run sucked, like I knew it would. My foot is almost healed, but not quite, and though I was able to run on the roads, the trails nearly killed me. Plus, since I was running funny on my right leg, my left overcompensated and kept going numb. From miles 2-4 I couldn't feel it at all. Plus, my base is shot from not training my run for three months. At any rate, I pulled through it, ran as much as I could and walked when I had to. Ben was waiting at the top of Lynch Hill again and I picked it up, deciding to run all the way down, even if it killed me. I kept it up too, hearing bikers whizzing by me like angry dragonflies (that yell things like "On your left, god damnit! as they try not to crash into bikers and runners in their direction and still somehow not cross the centerline).

Finally, the finish chute was in sight. I figured I didn't have far to go so I dug in, found whatever was left and powered through. I got a yell from Paul J. in the chute and powered in. Across the line and out into the crowd. I totally spaced on the free athlete food and water. Good thing Ben was there to buy me a beer. Thanks buddy. Best beer ever.

And then we waited for everyone else to finish. This where I come back to the penalty. Gurujan found me and Brian and asked how the race went. When I told him about the official, he grinned and said "That was me." So I asked what he penalized me for and he said "I was waving to you. The asshole wagging his butt into the road while changing a tire got a penalty for not moving all the way over." I think I laughed for five minutes.

The it was a couple more beers, a quick race review with Coach Trent ("Dude, you should warm up next time. You won't feel so crappy in the water.") and finally, it was time for the long, long climb back to camp.

And then we drank. Jason, you don't get to pick chasers anymore.

So glad it's over.

And that, as they say, was that. Monday, we packed up, parked our hung over asses in the RV and headed home.

Bye bye Wildflower, see you next year...FOR THE LONG COURSE!!!!


Ryan Denner said...

dude, you smoked the swim!

I can't believe all 8 triathletes ONLY walked out of costco at a modest 450 - i would have expected more like 600!

good times for sure...

ann marie said...

I never knew that you were into furries . . . although I'm not surprised