What happens when you unexpectedly get the chance to race for free the day before the race? Well, apparently you have an AWESOME race! At least, that’s what Michael and I found out at the Playa Del Rey Triathlon yesterday.
Both the USC and UCLA Triathlon teams volunteer at the Playa Del Rey Triathlon every year. We bring volunteers, we get fundraising points for our teams. So, naturally, on Saturday I was out there setting up transition for three hours with Eric after our long ride through Palos Verdes. Right before we both left for the day, I was casually making jokes that I wished I was racing. Marcus, the race director, looked at me and said, “Haven’t you volunteered all four years?” “Yes.” “Want to race in the WCCTC division? I’ll comp your entry.” “Hm. Well, I guess I’m racing tomorrow then.” And then I went and signed up and made my traditional pre-race packing list.
Now, going into this race, I knew it probably would not be my best race ever. Since the group ride that I did Thursday (which I need to write a post about…), I had been feeling REALLY tired. I hadn’t taken a rest day since Alex was visiting two weeks ago, and I’ve been working my butt off at every work out. Sure enough, I was pretty beat during the race. However, apparently being really tired was still enough to place 6th overall, only about three minutes back from the leader. Oh, and it was also enough to put up the 3rd fastest bike split and 5th fastest run split of the day for the women. (Apparently I need to get faster in the water…)
Swim: I tend to have issues with entering the water in ocean swims, and this race was no exception. It was REALLY wavy, so I felt like I was being swallowed for a good chunk of the swim. For the first time, though, I actually made a point to try to draft in the water, which turned out to be mildly successful. I just couldn’t get the proper feeling of the water under my hands! Ah! Eventually, I finally found a rhythm and just went with it for the rest of the swim. The current was NOT fun, however, and the swim times that everyone put up show it!
T1: I did like a 1:30 T1. Enough said. BAM. My abilities to strip are getting better and better. I did have a little trouble with my helmet, since I forgot to loosen it before the race. Whoops. I guess I should also start really practicing my mounts, too…
Bike: I knew I’d be tired on the bike, but I still decided to go for it with a take-no-prisoners attitude. Within the first two miles, I was close to an all-out sprint. Even better, one of the CSULB kids and I kept playing picking games, so whenever he got ahead of me, I went right ahead and passed him back. As we approached the turn-around, I started counting the girls ahead of me. There were three. And they weren’t far ahead; about a mile at most. I HAVE to catch them, I thought to myself. Luckily, after the turn-around it was a false flat with a down-grade, so I used the speediness of my beloved Felt DA4W (Mark) to push me the rest of the way. I couldn’t catch them. NOOOOOOOO.
T2: I had decided before the race to wear my Garmin on the run, in order to try to beat whatever pace it said I was going. Apparently this was a poor choice, though, since it took what felt like FOREVER to take my watch off and put the Garmin on. My transition time wasn’t that bad, so I guess it really didn’t take forever. Still. I should’ve thought that one out better.
Run: Since I knew ALL of the volunteers, there were a lot of cheers for me as I went out on the run. Aka I started the run at almost an all-out sprint. And held it. Kind of. I knew the girls weren’t far ahead. I knew I had to catch them. I just prayed they were slow runners, so I’d be able to catch them. I didn’t. I gained quite a bit of time on them, but it wasn’t QUITE enough. And one girl passed me. After she passed me, I tried SO hard to stay with her, but I knew it wasn’t going to happen, so I just stayed strong the rest of the way, right through the finish. Overall, my run was an average pace of about 20 seconds faster than my average pace at Long Beach Tri a month ago. SUCCESS. SIX MINUTE MILES, I’M COMING FOR YOU.
Lessons learned: racing on 12 hours of “taper” does not lead to a winning race, but when you’ve been working as hard as I have, it can still lead to a pretty awesome race. 6th woman overall. Rockstar bike split. Awesome run improvement. Swim, meh.
Time to take a rest day where I do little more than leave the couch, and then time to get back to work.
Next stop? RENEGADE RACE TURKEY TRI IN SAN DIMAS! See you all out there!!