I was almost that person who runs with a helmet on....
I did the Tritonman sprint triathlon at Mission Bay today, and though it wasn't nearly as cold as it's been lately, it was still freakin chilly first thing in the morning! But overall, I had a blast. I did this tri to practice racing in cold before IMCA and am so glad I did. I have total issues with cold hands and feet, and today was a reality check as to how bad that gets: I screwed up my transitions because of numb extremities. T1: couldn't un-velcro and un-zip my wetsuit; T2: couldn't unclick my helmet!! Asked for help with both.... I ended up getting 2nd in my age group, so my bike/run was legit enough to make up time (not my swim, ha). It was a 500yd swim, 12-mile bike and 5k run and I did it in 1:10. Oh yea, ankle is still kind of sprained too.
Here's how it went down:
I showed up at 5:30 and got to set up transition in the pitch dark. Note: bring flashlight to "small" races. Tritonman was put on by UCSD, had 400 participants and transition area was right on Fiesta Island - no high-powered lights to guide us. Kind of a cool experience with it being pretty laid back - no assigned rack areas or anything. I helped a first-timer who didn't know what to do with his race numbers, he had the helmet sticker on his bike. I racked next to some super cool Marines who were Nytro-lovers too. Good times. This was my first race minus a support crew. Totally on my own; however, my ex-boyfriend-turned-good-friend was doing a 16-mile a.m. run and planned to end up on Fiesta and watch me cross the finish line.
Race got off to a late start because of registration overload. I was in the second to last wave and jumped/ran around in my sandals -- no bare feet on cold mud -- to stay warm (forgot those sandals on Fiesta, they might be there now). By the time Open Women's went off (7:10?), the sun was blinding in the direction we had to swim. I'm already bad at spotting/swimming straight in the ocean, so this didn't help the matter. Surprisingly, though, the water was way warmer than I expected. Tasted like complete crap (heard something about a dead whale recently?), but at least it wasn't arctic. Got out in like 9 minutes, ran up the beach and into T1 where the wetsuit-taking-off problem happened. God knows how long I took.
I was ready to crank hard, wanting to average at least 20 mph. I'm currently borrowing a Cervelo P2SL from Nytro (some issues with the Felt, more on that later), and was stoked on the level of quality. I felt great the whole time on the bike. But looking back, I should have put on gloves or even a long-sleeve shirt. I was going fast enough to really freeze my hands and skin. Three laps and about 30 minutes later I dismounted, feeling on pace to do well. Then T2 happened. First, I dismounted too early and had to run for way too long in bike shoes to my transition area. Then the helmet catastrophe. I spent probably 2 minutes trying to unclip it and just couldn't. I was ready to go running with it on, but I asked for help instead. Putting on shoes was crazy too - my feet were so numb it felt like I was putting shoes on someone else! Don't know what my T2 time was, but likely 5-plus minutes!! Crap-o-la!!! That makes me so mad!!!
Frustrated with T1 & T2, I was anxious to get running. I felt great from the start. My ankle is still techinically sprained and I've only run maybe 5 times since being off running for a month (yikes!), but I was able to bust out a decent pace. Feet thawed and I think I ran it in about 21 minutes? Not sure. Meanwhile, the college crowd was finishing their race and the weather was getting better every second!
Crossed the line at 1:10. Not as good as I wanted (of course, I'm hard on myself), but a great learning experience - those transitions got the best of me! I now have a lot to think about and plan for IMCA!
After the race, pro Jim Vance was the guest announcer and UCSD had a crapload of legit prizes to give out. I think about 4 Xterra wetsuits were given out, on top of shirts, backpacks, books, watches. To win a pair of Rudy Project sunglasses, Jim set the challenge: Swim across the bay, run out and touch a tree and swim back (looked like about a 500yd trip). Anyone could charge, fully clothed or whatever. And with that, roughly 10 guys were in the water. Jim also had couples who raced do a wheel-barrow race down the beach for some prizes, there was more water competitions - people went in fully clothed! He's a funny guy and got the crowd rambunctious. Quite entertaining.
Post-Race Day: A 50-mile bike ride
My friend, Brad, showed up to see me finish as planned, and we headed to Cantina to grub after the show was over. Cantina was excellent as always. Nice and full, Brad and I decided to get in a solid bike ride. I knew I still needed to get in training mileage since the sprint was only about an hour workout, and Brad was in the same boat. So, we set off from La Jolla, up PCH, swung right in Solana and headed east on Del Dios Hwy, eventually turned around and back to PCH, and then my favorite: a nice long trek up Torrey Pines to finish up the ride. Love that hill! Killer. While I was riding up, a dude with his age written on his calf passed me. Had to ask - yes, he had done Tritonman, too, and was riding back from pizza/beer at Pizza Port with his friends. He said he was pretty buzzed. Ha! I think I would have died if I were him!
So, pretty cool day. Started off coollldddd, but ended up being gorgeous. Just one of those picturesque San Diego days.... Hope things stay nice for the Tour of California Sunday!
Oh, and speaking of cold, I was offered the opportunity to do some writing for a really cool triathlon website, www.amateurendurance.com. Check out my first article here! (It's on cold-weather training.) This is a great site geared toward newbies, but there are tons of resources that any level of triathlete can find useful and informative.