Obligatory Triathlon Experience Write Up

I took part in my second triathlon today, the Santa Cruz Sprint Triathlon. It consisted of a 750 meter swim in the Monterey Bay (kelp and all), a 12.4 mile bike ride and a 3.2 mile run. Nope, not even sniffing at the kind of distances the Ironmen do but its a start. Plus, its alot more feasible for me to train for and enjoy a sprint tri than much of anything else at this point.

Maybe in the future I'll be able to step up to Olympic or International distance tris but this is where I am now.

The race itself was pretty fun really. The start was on the beach next to the wharf in Santa Cruz. The course was straight out, straight over and angled back in. Then a long trot to the transition area, peel off the wetsuit, dry off feet, yank on socks and get cycling shoes on. Then helmet, gloves and sunglasses and off for a blast straight out on Delaware and then bombing back along West Cliff. And then again since we did two laps. Then back down the short hill, into the transition to convert to running gear and back out to West Cliff for a 1.6 mile run out and then back.

The fastest men in my group did the enter course in a pretty impressive 1:05. That's 65 minutes all told. I did the course in a much more leisurely 1:41, that's 101 minutes all told. Something went wonky with my chip or something but there's no time splits for my bike stage. But my times for swimming and running are enough to figure out what I already knew, I'm fastest on the bike, slowest in the water and my running's somewhere in the middle but more towards my swimming than my biking.

Almost After
Some more or less random thoughts about the day, the race, the venue and whatever else:
- We got lucky weather-wise, the sun came out, there was no rain and the swells were gentle.
- I had my first good strong runner's high at about the three quarter mark on the run. I cannot remember having a runner's high that felt that good, lasted that long or left me feeling so much stronger.
- I need to improve my swimming.
- I will need to upgrade multiple aspects of my equipment depending on what kind of races I choose to do.
- The swim was easily the hardest part despite having a full wetsuit for warmth and bouyancy. The suit also made full unrestricted swimming more tiring and difficult.
- Even peeing while in the ocean, I had to stop to pee during the run.
- The aero bars I borrowed for the race proved to be not much use as there was almost no headwind on Delaware (the course ran straight out to Natural Bridges which is usually directly into a strong wind).
- A mountain bike with slicks is no match for a road bike.
- I feel like kind of jerk when I pass kids or old people.
- This was a much, much smaller race than the Wildflower with probably less than 750 total athletes compared to the 7500 there.
- The giveaway shirts are really good quality but the overall bags get a C+ rating. Needs more food samples.
As with the first one, this was also a major learning experience. Not just in how to race but in how to step outside my comfort zone, adding cross training to my exercise, putting together an exercise routine with clear goals. Getting my candy ass out into the ocean to be pushed and tossed around and flexed and bent and splashed and reminded that there's more to life than the 9-5 (or 8-4:30 in my case), there's more to life than punching a clock and then punching the buttons on the remote control.

I've been thinking about various moments in the race that stick out. The semi-dread of standing in the starting paddock with a whole bunch of other 40 somethings. Some are going polar bear style, no wetsuits at all. Some are fully encased in nice warm neoprene from bootied feet to hooded head and gloved hands. I think about running out to climb aboard my bike and remembering that I had a nice thermos of hot coffee I'd been planning on having a quick mug of between swimming and biking. I remember the feeling of making the turn on the run, feeling the course go all downhill and easy. I remember the guy on the rack next to mine celebrating his anniversary with his wife (on the rack across the way) by doing his first triathlon. I remember the people cheering encouragement during transitions and at the finish.

Time to start thinking about what's next. What kind of race I might want to do. I know I prefer mountain bike courses and am really, really looking forward to switching my bike back over to its mountain configuration. Being able to go real fast on the asphalt is fun and all but I'm a trees and trails guy.

The brunch with my family at Aldo's down on in the harbor was a pretty nice way to cap off the morning. The salmon benedict they make there is really quite excellent. And, so far, the only injury I've sustained has been one very sore outer left foot. Its made walking a bit of a chore and its a little swollen. Hopefully it'll heal up overnight.
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