So with the SUP race, knowing that I can be a stubborn competitive athlete with my racing and push really hard, I did choose to ditch the 8-mile long course and "downgrade" to the short course (they said it'd be 4 miles but it was really about 5).
Pregnancy 'Sets In'
We took a long, leisurely two-day drive up the California coast (minus the Big Sur area). Ate fresh fish tacos a couple times and found some great places to walk Finley.
|Santa Cruz area
|A little beach off Highway 1
|Play time, all the time!
We got to our "Stairway To Heaven" house in Guerneville on Friday evening and the house was simply breathtaking. A cozy yet kind of modern wood cabin tucked in the forest. Crisp and outdoorsy.
Saturday was race day and it didn't start till 11am. Which was good because I felt like shit in the morning, again. I figured this would be my new norm. I made some paleo pancakes and eggs but the pancake mix wasn't jiving and the eggs were gross. I forced them since I knew I needed food. Already I was thinking about the pizza I'd order post-race (and I ended up eating a WHOLE pizza to myself) along with a post-race smoothie mmmmm.
I was supposed to take a shuttle to the "private" race start (they don't tell you where the race start is) but I was struggling with how I felt and also it was overcast and chilly and I didn't want to be sitting out there in my bikini top, shorts and no shoes for 2 hours waiting for the race to go (it was point to point so I couldn't bring clothes to shed). So we decided we would just drive and find the race start to drop me off -- we knew the race distance so how hard could it be to just drive up the river several miles? Turns out it was really hard to find this damned start line haha!
We drove around looking for it for over an hour without success. It's kind of a long story but we ended up having to sort of trespass (shhhhh) and finally found it with literally minutes to spare before the race start. At one point I was like, "We're not going to find it. I'm not doing this race today." We should have just asked the folks at race registration and explained the situation but we didn't, whatever. I also had switched that morning from long course to short course so I wasn't in their system anymore since they couldn't update onsite. Living on the edge!
|Finally found the start - whew! That was close.
I quickly got to the front of the pack, and the first 1/2 mile included some rather tricky maneuvering through the river including mini rapids (hard to call them actual rapids but it also wasn't calm water) and even obstacles like big roots and trees sticking up in the middle of the river, along with some really narrow and shallow areas at the beginning. At one point I heard a splash and turned to see about 100+ yards behind me a woman had fallen. She was fine but it was a bit chaotic in the beginning. They had course markings for "dangerous" zones but it was still sketchy to actually avoid those zones.
Once I got in front with no one around I relaxed a bit more, started to really soak in the GORGEOUS scenery (seriously breathtaking!), and the river started widening with the current slowing down a bit too. I caught up to some of the dudes in the men's division that went off a few minutes before us. I found my rhythm. It was overcast and not hot at all. I had forgotten my hydration stuff at home so that morning I found the ONLY hydration pack in all of Guerneville and bought it for like $20. It was old school, tasted too plastically, and I realized I probably didn't even need it. I was on track to go sub-1 hour and was not too hot or thirsty at all.
About halfway I was like, "Dang I might win this." But then I stopped thinking like that because as is with any race, anything can happen. Sure enough a few minutes later a lady was gaining on me and ultimately passed me sometime in mile 3. That was an important moment of maturity for me. I was not giving 100% effort because of my pregnant state, but I was pushing comfortably hard. So, I had to decide: Do I push harder to catch her and make it a race, or stay within my comfort zone and not over-exert? I chose the latter because it wasn't about me anymore and I just didn't feel like playing with fire by pushing harder than what felt right on the day.
I still kept her within about 10-20 yards the whole rest of the race and we finished less than a minute apart going 1, 2. Near the end of the race (where the Vineman 70.3 swim used to be) the same ol' shallowness proved to be tricky and even after all the rain this year there were spots that felt like they were 2 inches deep it seemed and also some sandbars to avoid. Again, it made for some tricky maneuvering to find the deepest safest spots to pass (while avoid overhanging trees and bushes on the shoreline), and a couple times I even had to get off my board because it was too heavy and scraping the bottom. All that was short-lived though and not enough to make a big difference in pace nor hurt the board/fin.
I finished in about 55 minutes and it was 4.7 miles, but my watch had accidentally stopped for a couple of minutes at some point so those numbers aren't totally accurate. Still, that was my fastest paddle to date -- thank you downstream current! I felt a little winded and my upper-body muscles were awake, but certainly nowhere near exhausted upon finishing. It was like, "When's round 2?"
I chatted with the lady who beat me, she was awesome and turns out she was formerly a competitive SUP racer (you could tell with her strong arms!). Then there was a post race festival on Johnson's beach (Vineman start) where they didn't call my name at awards because I wasn't in the system due to the course change. Ha! Off those get my smoothie and soon after my pizza.... (and John his Russian River Brewing beers).
|Still my #1 sherpa after all these years. And now my baby daddy.
I was personally proud of myself for this race. I could have easily bailed all together justifying that it'd be "safer" to not race while pregnant; meanwhile, I could have also pushed a lot harder and been careless during the race but I didn't because it simply wasn't worth it to do that. It's cool to feel like my life, especially while building a baby, is about more than me and it's not just about what I want anymore! It's a great feeling. I'm embracing the changes each day and fascinated by this process.
The rest of the trip was just the R&R we (I!) needed to get in the perfect mindset for building a healthy baby.
I'll share more of my first trimester life soon.
|Baby's first race lol!