Monday, September 13, 2010

Kelp....lots and lots of Kelp

This past weekend Andy and I headed down the Monterrey Peninsula for a bit of sightseeing and the Pacific Grove Triathlon. I was excited to race a shorter event vs. the 70.3s I usually do and see how this old lady would do against some good short course racers. There were only 2 women on the pro list over at 33 and the eventual winner, Annie Warner at 31. The rest of the women were mid-20s or so.

After the race we went to grab something to eat in Pacific Grove and found yet ANOTHER car show. 3rd one in the last month. Weird.

We stayed in Carmel. It was a short drive to the race but since I did not start until 12:25 I figured it did not matter. Plus, I wanted to show Andy around Carmel since my father grew up there and I spent a lot of time there when I was younger visiting my grandparents. My grandma and grandpa passed away almost 10 years ago and my dad and his brother sold the house. I went to see what it looked like now. The new owners have changed it around a bit and after almost walking past it I recognized the big tree in the backyard.

After the pre-race briefing in Pacific Grove we paid $9.50 to drive down 17 mile drive and take in the sights. It was beautiful. The golf courses are amazing and the mansions are stunning. We stopped and checked out Bird Rock and the Lone Cypress (picture below). However, after that it was getting late and my blood sugar plummeted and I demanded that we get back to Carmel for dinner quickly. It was a luxury not to have to worry about getting to bed super early since there was no 4am wake up call on Saturday morning.

Now for the race. I can say one thing: KELP!!!! My training partner, John, told me before the race to avoid it all costs even if it meant taking a longer route between the buoys. However, I during the race I could not see a clear path and swam through most, if not all, the kelp that was on the course. At one point I came to a dead stop and was completely tangled in it. I am sure this happened to others but at that point I felt like I had a magnet for the stuff. All I wanted to do was get out of the water. I hated the kelp, hated it! The one bright spot of the swim, besides finishing it, was having a sea lion come and visit before we took off. He cruised around, checked out the lifeguards and swam pretty close to shore. It made me smile right before the start which was nice since I was a little nervous.

All the clear water in the world and I would swim right into a bunch like this.

View of the swim, you can kind of see the kelp I battled.

My transition was pretty good. I fumbled with my wetsuit a bit but executed my flying mount well, got going and then put my shoes on. There was one woman in front of me and another behind me. About halfway through the 1st loop (of 4) we became a group of 3. We were working together a little to catch up to the leaders who were 2 minutes up but my legs were not feeling it at all. The very high effort right at the beginning of the bike was not agreeing with me one bit. I hate to admit it, but I was dropped off the back. I am more of a build into it, steady type racer and that is not what a draft legal race requires. So, there I was, dropped and riding all alone in increasingly windy conditions. Great. Wonderful. To say I was less than thrilled was an understatement. I was pissed. I was pissed at my legs, pissed at myself, pissed at the wind---you get the picture. I could see the 2 who dropped me working together and then I saw one of them get dropped. My legs started to come around. My watts came up and I was catching up. By the middle of the 3rd loop I had caught up to one of the women and I just passed her. I did not want to work together, I could tell she was a kind of done. I worked really hard into the wind on the last loop, cruised with a tailwind on the way back to transition, jumped off my bike sending one shoe flying and headed off onto the run in an effort to catch someone. It was funny because during the entire race when I would come around to start another loop on the bike I could hear the announcer talking about me and how I was an "endurance" athlete---nice way to say old and slow I think. Anyway, I decided to embrace my endurance-ness (not a word) and ride and run the last parts of the race better than the women in front of me.

I got a glimpse of the gaps at the turnaround for the 1st of 3 loops. I was about 2 minutes down to 4th place. Andy gave me the splits at the end of the loop and I was catching up. I kept plugging away and closed the gap even more after loop 2. In fact, the woman in front of me had caught and passed 3rd place so I had two woman in front of me to chase. I went for it the last loop. I knew I would probably run out of real estate but I tried as hard as I could to catch up. I ended about 1:15 out of 3rd and less than a minute out of 4th. I was happy with the result on a "short" race for this endurance athlete and broke 40 minutes on my 10k run.

My cheering crew. John, his wife Julie and daughter Grace, Jason Campbell (John's teammate at PacWest) and of course Andy (the photographer).

The Podium---I am in the red Saucony shirt.

It really was a great weekend. On the way back to Napa we stopped in San Francisco for a party at my friend Jill's place. She and her husband are moving to Sydney for 3 years so they had a going away party. Let me tell you...there is nothing like showing up to a party all salty with race numbers written on you and wearing compression gear. I looked like a really big DORK. Luckily, I was able to go upstairs and take a shower and then rejoin the festivities in normal looking clothes.

I am enjoying a day off today and then will be back to training tomorrow for my last race of the season---Scott Tinley's. I am excited to race another Tri-California event; they do a great job of taking care of the elites and put on great races. I definitely enjoyed Pacific Grove, minus the kelp.

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