Redux: Further thoughts on SBC
Heavy Fog = Can't see the buoys (or even the shore once you're out there) And wait a second, HOW does the course go?
My goggles are fogged up before the countdown even begins.
We're off! Start initially OK, then boxed in and cut off by swimmers colliding in front of me and others squeezing in from the sides---"Excuse me!!!"
Where is the first buoy?? Oh, ok; geez, the swells keep hiding it.
Around the buoy ok, crowd spreads out a bit, and GLUG somebody swims right on top of me, slamming my head down just as I was about to breathe; I swallow half the Pacific, yecchh.
Wait a minute, why is everyone swimming back toward the beach?? I thought we were simply making a 90-degree turn at the buoy. Ummmm..... Zig zagging, weird, just follow the swimmers in front of you and hope for the best (ha!).
Settle down, warm up, start to feel okay. Very choppy, swells defeat any sort of rhythm you try to establish, send you off course as they charge obliquely toward shore. Cannot see a thing!
Very hard to navigate: Fog, swells, fogged up goggles. Constantly have to raise your head to see where you're going and where the other swimmers are. Geez, you could be out in the middle of the Pacific for all you know! Ouch! My QR's starting to chaff my neck---never had that happen before.
Turnaround confuses the hell outta me, but at last I'm on my way back. Feeling pretty good, wish I could SEE better so I could take advantage of it.
There's the gal in the orange wetsuit who clocked me at the start; ok, I started with her, gonna finish ahead of her! GET HER! Motivates me, I swim strong, keep watching for that flash of orange (wait, is that her or a buoy???).
Passing many different colored caps from earlier waves....chaff, chaff, chaff, damn that's uncomfortable.....Final buoy in sight! Still can't see the beach though. Pass Orange Wetsuit, round the buoy, head for shore.
Swells help you in the last few meters. Stop, stand, hit the split button---35:56!!! Oh, (expletive), that's awful! Wetsuit off in the surf---Eeeeyow! That is COLD.
Run up the beach through arch of balloons. Hey, Skip! Has Roxanne come through already? Yep, two minutes ago. Ouch! (Roxanne says she's a lousy swimmer and was sure I'd beat her out of the water :-( )
Trudge numbly through the sand to the TA, trot urgently over the asphalt, disgusted with my performance. Get to my spot, and what the hell is this? How rude, sand in my basin. Some enterprising athlete chose to help himself to my footbath. Grrumble grumble grummble.
Fumble with shorts, cleats, etc. Amber lenses in my Oakleys are covered with mist from the heavy fog. Pause to wipe them dry two or three times before they're clear enough to put on. Lousy transition! 5 minutes from the time I stopped swimming to the time I hop on my bike.
Drove this course yesterday, tough: Subtle hills, narrow roads, lots of shallow climbing mixed in with occasional steeper stuff. Descents and the faster rolling sections very technical, some rough pavement. A real challenge ahead...
Why do so many people ride on the left side of the lane, blocking???
Across the freeway, head for the hills! Twists and turns, climbing begins, gradual but draining. Sit back, gear down, spin.
Sun is breaking through the fog over the hills now, the layer of fog on my amber lenses intensifies the glare, yow. Wipe 'em off with your glove, Ah!
First major descent, and very technical, Toro Canyon Road. Here I go, starting the hairiest part, and I WHAP BZZZZZ @#$%^! OUCH! I don't believe it, it's happened AGAIN, the second time in as many races, and the damned thing is stuck in my upper right arm like a bloody hypodermic and I'm whizzing down this twisty road at 30 mph and can't knock it away. OW! Ok, a short straightaway, get it off. Sheesh.
Twists and turns, watch for that abrupt, hidden left turn...there it is! Slow it down but hold as much speed through it as you can...yow, that was a bit close! Thank yous to the volunteers. Hammering the flat now, oh, gawd, damned stinger's still stuck in my arm, get it off! No wonder it hurts so much. Urrrgh.
#1420 ahead of me is blocking, showing no sign of moving over. I creep up behind on his right (I know, shouldn't have done it, but I was exasperated) when he suddenly decides to move over. Urrgh. He yells, I yell, we're both pissed, it's ugly, then Kurian shows up from behind and puts me in my place, taunting me with "Well, if you wouldn't suck wheel so much!", laughing at my fury. #1420 puts it into testosterone overdrive to drop me. Hrrumph.
Jockey around back and forth with Kurian for a bit, hovering near each other but being careful to keep legal distance. Who's this guy drafting us, though? In a very friendly voice, Kurian tells him, "Dude, you GOTTA get off my wheel or you're gonna get DQ'ed." Guy doesn't seem to understand. "Look, I don't know if you're doing that on purpose, but I wouldn't do it if I were you."
Narrow road, I struggle to avoid drafting Kurian, drop back as road ascends gradually. Fog breaking up to reveal a gorgeous day, the incomparable Santa Ynez mountains rising majestically above as we labor through their foothills.
@14 or 15 miles, Kurian ~20 meters ahead of me, spies Roxanne up ahead. He catches her and I'm still 25 meters back when we hit one of the nastier climbs. Ugh. Use the 25. Grind grind grind. "Where's the chair lift?" a fellow racer inquires.
Whew. Over the top, Roxanne and Kurian outta sight, I descend like a bat outta hell to catch them. Get 'em at about mile 17 or 18, drop Roxanne, Kurian stays with me.
Rolling, descending, climbing. Pass many, passed by a few (always on the climbs). Don't eat/drink very much---course is too technical to take hands from bars much. Thank god for JetStream! I get down half a PowerBar, lots of water, a little Cytomax, a little MetaboMax.
On a long straightaway with a slight drop, look who's here up ahead! Motor on by #1420 without a word. Short-lived victory---he catches and drops me a mile or two later on the next climb, oh well. Story of my life.
Climb back up Toro Canyon KILLS me. "Kurian, remind me again: WHY do we do this?" Major Grind. Why do I feel like I'm about to fall over on this grade??
Yep, I blew my wad on this ride, and I know better, darn it. Felt like the bike wasn't long enough to give me a sufficient cushion going into the run, so hammered my legs into oblivion. Well, might as well finish it up for all it's worth now. HAMMER the descent back to the beach, but never catch Kurian again after that bloody climb up Toro.
Back to the beach! Fog's still in down there. I'm gonna make it in from the bike under 2 hours, yes!
Enter the TA just behind #1420, feel kinda guilty for being so pissed at him.
Bike split: 1:55:36, average speed 17.4 mph. Not bad! 1:03 T2, respectable.
#1420 jogs by on his way out and says to me, "Hey, I'm sorry, I was rude out there." I reply "Oh, god, so was I, I'm sorry too! No hard feelings, have a good run!" I feel MUCH better! (Kurian later remarked, "I think he bore the brunt of that bee sting," and I sheepishly agreed).
Ready to run, let's go! Trot out of the TA straight to the Porta-John, thank god it's there. Oh, no TP, yeeeuck. Oh well....
OK, here we go. Trot trot trot Oh man, am I thrashed!
Flat (thank god) along a paved path skirting the gorgeous beach, lined with palm trees and neatly clipped swath of green grass on either side. Very SoCal!
Feel really wiped, and all I can hope is that maybe it's just the usual "Legs need a mile or two to warm up to running" bit, but....
Roxanne flies by like a happy gazelle around 3/4 mile, surprise surprise! "Go get 'em, girl!" I order.
PowerGel just before the mile marker, Strawberry Banana, yum! Hope this kicks in soon!
Hurt hurt hurt. Can't even get HR up, hovers around 160, even though feels like I'm pushing; I know, I know, my legs are simply fried. *sigh* Survival mode. Try to focus on the scenery, you're a tourist, so just do the Tourist Trot. Enjoy beautiful Santa Barbara! Hurt like hell while you're doing it!
Mile 2, parking lot, then The Hill. It's ok, mentally prepared for it, Kurian warned me, it's not too bad. See the first woman (Bettina Ernst) heading in and cheer her on. (I wish I was headed that direction...) Trudge up the hill, maybe 1/4 mile. Flattens a bit, then more gradual uphill to the 3-mile marker.
MORE gradual uphill, gawd. Here comes #1420, slap hands and exchange encouragement. Whew, crest the hill, turn left down into a park, across a steel footbridge, into residential streets.
Flats & slight uphills. Roxanne's returning when I'm just past mile 4, Kurian's 1/4 mile behind her. Hit the aid station before the left turn down a steep half-mile to the turnaround. Yes, we have to run right back up what we've just run down, ugh.
Cruel, but not unexpected. Hit the bottom and kiss the 5-mile sign, turn and head back up the hill, on my way home! Plod, plod, plod. Man walking ahead is moving faster!
PortaJohn stop at the aid station at the top, my intestines are grateful, but it sure wastes time!
Thank heaven, slight downhills most of the way back, even some definite downhills! Still have to walk the aid stations to maximize hydration. Keep cramming down PowerGel. Don't think I like the LemonLime much, but Strawberry Banana and Vanilla are great!
Serious FATIGUE. Come on, it's all downhill, all downhill, keep going! So tired I can't even use the downhills effectively to gain time; I'm still getting passed by everything on two legs.
Sun is out full force now, it's hot. Whew! Mile 7 to 8, that great downhill, back to the flats. Through the crowded parking lots and now-bustling beachside path. Struggle to keep moving, hard to concentrate to avoid pedestrians, bikes, rollerbladers, and those damned PedalBuggies!
Those last two miles take FOREVER. Plod plod plod. Finally, there are the Expo tents, the transition area, the finish line! Brain-dead, numb with fatigue, into the final stretch. Trot, trot, trot, trot trot trot trottrottrottrot...
Kurian and Roxanne meet me in the final 50 meters and run with me, urging me to finish strong. Crowds cheering, my brain frying, my legs and lungs screaming, how much more can I take?? Churn churn churn, turn 'em over, turn 'em over, almost there....BURST over the line and have never been so happy to stop running in my life!!!
4:25:41. The run took me 1:47:26; less portapotty stops, I reckon I did a blinding 10:30 per mile, woo hoo! But y'know what? Doesn't matter. 'Cause TriBaby is now the Southwest Regional Long Course Champion Athena, so there!!!
;-) :) :) :) :)
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