I drove to Oxnard July 16 (Carmageddon weekend) with absolutely no traffic. This was amazing considering all the traffic warnings and delay notices. I arrived at Strawberry Fields Triathlon’s expo area before noon and spent the afternoon after grabbing my registration packet hanging out in my tri group’s booth and walking around the expo.
The booths are visible in the distant background of the photo above.
The expo had everything that I’d bought over the course of my last few triathlons and more. It’s good to know that the racing world will never lack a supply of racing belts — that elastic belt you attach your bib number to — or packets of sweet-tasting energy gels. I made sure to visit the sand and watch the waves and walk around the transition area before I went to my hotel.
Below is a view of the bike out area. It was a pretty long stretch of grass that we were expected to roll our bikes along to the street and not ride them. Probably for the best. I wouldn’t want to try to clip in to my pedals on grass in a race. More photos are on my Flickr account if you click through on right side of the blog (Flickr Photos).
Heading back to my room, I did the usual Italian food carbo load– but it was a comfort food meal for me more than anything. Next I stayed up way too late and at some point I knew I had to shut my eyes and sleep so I did. I got up a few hours later and checked out of my hotel at 4:45 AM and drove to the triathlon area, arriving early enough to snag covered parking at the nearby Embassy Suites Resort.
I’d done this race before so I was fairly confident that I’d be able to beat my previous time. The weather and water conditions were touted as perfect. The plan was to beat my swim time and the other legs of the race by about 3:20 each. My execution of said plan was sub par. I was on the sand, ready to go with my start wave and when the megaphone beep sounded, off I went toward the Pacific. Getting past the wave break was fine, but as soon as I started really swimming toward the first buoy I looked straight ahead to sight where it was, turning my head into an oncoming swell and… inhaled. EPIC FAIL.
For the rest of the swim I couldn’t recover well enough to get a full breath of air into my lungs. I was wheezy and ended up resting twice for a few minutes trying to cough out the water on two different lifeguard surfboards before deciding I had been in the water long enough and made myself power swim freestyle into shore with what little lung capacity I had left. I wasn’t the very last one in the ocean, but I knew I was well behind my start wave by that point.
When I reached the transition area about 1/4 mile away from the water I was pretty ready to vomit. I pulled off my wetsuit and sat down until the nausea passed and changed into my bike gear. Fortunately that leg went much more smoothly and I recovered enough to beat my bike time from last year by 1 minute 18 seconds. For the run, I was a little out of it and ran the slowest I’ve ever run in an official race. Oddly enough today I ran 4 miles, walking a little to cross a small stream both there and back, and finished within a minute of the time it took me to run 3.1 miles on that race day.
I finished the triathlon. That’s what was most important. I was exhausted afterward and bummed that not only did I not beat my time by 10 minutes, I came in about 20 minutes slower. I still enjoyed my weekend there and cheered on my teammates who came across the finish line getting top places in their entry categories. I have to do this race again next year to prove that this year’s results really were a “fluke” even though my downfall was likely due to not setting foot in the ocean in about 8 months before race day. Lesson learned!
Post Race Plans
Since then I’ve been at the beach to do an ocean swim an average of once a week. Last week I had a much better swim but the water was freezing. Today it was warmer, but choppy with significant swells. I swam in to shore before I reached the 2nd buoy, upon the lifeguard’s rec, where I promptly got the front-load washing machine treatment with one wave that I saw coming as I exited. I had new goggles and was curious to see where I’d end up after the wave passed. I remained calm through the tumble until my head popped up through the surface and I saw the remnants of the wave’s white fizz dissipate before my confused eyes. I was still facing the shore, but my net distance gain toward shore was zero. I paddled some more until I stood waist high and trudged in. At long last another ocean swim was completed.
There are only 6 weeks until Nautica Malibu, and I’m running my very first half-marathon in just over 4 weeks. I’ll likely run a few 10k distances and a 10 miler at some point before then. Maybe it’s just me but even 10 miles seems like a long run, let alone 13.1 miles. I know lots of people who have done the Disneyland Half and enjoyed the race so here’s to me trying something (else) new, hopefully with no Charley Horse(s) dragging me sharply awake and in pain the next day. If you have any half-marathon training tips, please leave in a comment.