August 28, 2011

Santa Barbara Triathlon Sprint Course ~ August 28, 2011

Everyday Shuffling 

A year ago I did my first triathlon sprint – half mile swim, 6 mile ride, 2 mile run. Today I returned to try it again. 

I started to lose interest in the race as the race day approached this year. I am not sure why, but as it got closer I wanted to do it less. I stopped “training,” a term I use loosely. My idea of training is weekly spin classes and laps in the gym’s pool. And forget running. I haven’t ran in at least 6 months, and I think I am being generous with that timeframe. 

But being responsible, I planned on fulfilling my obligation – after all I had told lots of people that I was doing the SB Tri (sprint) again this year.

My pre-race strategy suffered as well. I didn’t eat like an athlete the day before, but I did eat a good Mediterranean meal. I went out the night before, but didn’t drink and went home early. I didn’t sleep well, but managed to get up early and get focused. BUT, and this is against all good code of athleticism, I wasn’t having any luck having a “moment,” which is vital before any race, and I took extreme measures. Coffee and oatmeal hadn’t worked – but two drags off a Virginia Slim worked it’s magic within minutes (I’m not a smoker, nor do I advocate smoking, but this is a trick I have learned works for me for this “issue”). 

How’s that for a pregame strategy. 

Parking was a bitch, and after begging a stock boy at a local market to allow me to park in the back, I was heading to the race staging area. My 20 year old mountain bike barely passed inspection and they weren’t as impressed with the kickstand as I was (it’s very useful!). After wedging my 1994 GT Outpost Trail mountain bike between two futuristic looking road bikes, I went about setting up my transition area. 

The transition area is a funny place, you can always tell a newbie: they’re the ones looking around at everyone’s gear nervously. Now that I am a pro, having three sprints under my belt, I like to help the new comers out. Leaning over my rusted mountain bike as I climb into the ragged surf wetsuit I use for the swim, I doled out advice to all those who would listen. God bless and good luck. 
The first leg of the tri is the swim, the only one I am any good at (which is mediocre at best). But I like it, and enthusiasm can win a race! So off I went with my enthusiastic self to the starting line with my new friends in tow. 

Waiting for your wave is just plain nerve wracking. Some people get in the water so they are not shocked when they jump in again 5 minutes later. I say “screw that” – either way I am going to be freaking cold. I’d rather direct that feeling of shock into becoming powerful adrenaline. Plus, then you’re just wet, cold, and waiting. 

As I was waiting, my friend Tanya suddenly appeared at my side in a bright red jumpsuit Where’s Waldo style. “HI!” Well okay, hello. And off I went. 

Sixteen minutes later I was trudging up the sand heading back to the transition area. The swim was really easy. No hiccups, but I did swallow a ton of seawater. I was bonking out though and needed some GU.

As I made my way, I saw Tanya in her red suit on the beach with her camera, “HI!” Well okay, hello. Off to some GU! 

I was shaking and just needed a fix. GU is an energy gel “fix”. Sucking down a tube, I struggled out of my surf suit, dried my feet, and put on my running shoes. I made peace with the fact that this transition time would be longer than normal for me, but I wanted to stop shaking. Maybe it was the pre-race cigarette. Eh, whatcha gonna do now. I put on my helmet (safety first), grab my bike, and started off to the bike path. 

As I made my way to the bike course, there was Tanya. “HI!” Hello. Now to ride!  

This did not go well. I was still wearing my wet bathing suit (I had just added shoes - sexy), so that makes for a very slippery situation. I jumped on my bike, immediately slipped on the seat, sending the seat spinning – around! What the…?! I don’t have time for this! Struggling to stay off the ground, I managed to lock the seat quick release and continued to ride. But the seat was too low. As my knees started to get wracked, I realized I was working way too hard (besides already working harder on my 20 y.o. mountain bike). I pulled over and adjusted the situation. Much better. 

Well, the seat was better, the bike itself still sucked. People were passing me without even peddling while I was standing up on the pedals and putting my weight behind it all. I was definitely working harder not smarter. Poor form. 

And there was Tanya again, “HI!” Almost done. 

The ONLY nice thing about having the run last – your legs are already in motion, An object in motion will remain in motion, so I had to keep moving. This part makes me feel like a little puppet, like someone has strings attached to my legs and are moving them in puppet fashion. Shuffling, shuffling, shuffling. Down went the bike, and off I went to shuffle. 

“HI!” Everyday shuffling. 

The run is a matter of mind versus body - my body can do it, my mind doesn’t want to. Remember, I haven’t ran in 6 months, but two miles is most peoples’ warm up. Just gotta keep on shuffling. Everyday I’m shuffling, shuffling, shuffling (yes, LMFAO "Party Anthem" song got stuck in my head). Shuffling. 

“HI!” Done. 

After all this, my time this year was EXACTLY the same as my time last, within three second. Freaky! I did better in the swim, run, and transition times, but the bike time was longer – damn bike bringing me down! 

The sprint is always a good time, and if you are in shape, you’ll survive. If you have good equipment, you’ll do well. If you actually train – well, who knows what could happen!