Our trip across the country was long and exhausting. We left home Tuesday night to stay nearby the airport, we grabbed the kids at 4 a.m. and hustled off. Eight hours later, we were only in NJ with a mechanical problem in our plane. We were taken off after 2 hrs on the tarmac, put on a new plane, and as a result, missed the connection in TX. Long story short, we finally made it to San Diego at 8p.m ( 11 our time) and then had an hour + to go before getting to Oceanside. We were beat. I was stressed about recovering from that since I had also been up at 4 a.m. for two days prior to leaving. However, we were ok. Thursday we spent the day getting my bike from the cool Nytro bike shop, wandering the expo ( my kids love those things... ), finding groceries and a yummy breakfast spot and getting checked into the race.
Friday--- the day before. I hate the day before. I must say. Friends and family close to me know this too. I'm kind of a twit that day. I get anxious and nervous. (I'm EXCITED too but the positive excited feelings seem to be squashed by my anxiety) Here's the thing though. It's part of the process for me. If I was apathetic and calm, I wouldn't be ready to rock on race day. It's my way of building to the full 'state of arousal' that is needed to go after it from the start. Mark constantly tells me, "Good... glad you're nervous. You've never done well at a race you weren't nervous for." I know but I do not like the feeling!!!! Who does, right?
As anxious as I was, I was a little slack with my prep. I didn't' Realize it at the time, but I forgot a few things. A towel in T1 Bag, speed laces.... things that cost me time for sure in transition. Lesson learned.
The logistics of the race were a bit more complicated than most races. There are 2 transitions at Oceanside. I was staying next to T1. What that meant is I racked my run gear the day before and rode my bike to T1. Some people set up their run gear on Saturday and had it laid out in normal fashion. Mine ( and a lot of others ) were hung on the rack in a bag. This just made T2 a bit slower and more cumbersome, but not a huge deal.
Not much else to say about the pre- game events.... let's get on with the race!!
4:30 a.m. I was up and at 'em. This is a bit late for race day! I could see the lights of T1 and hear the talk across the harbor from my hotel kitchen. The adrenaline was building. I hopped on my bike, and rode to T1 in the dark....wishing I had a friend racing with me. It felt lonely to be there by myself.
Walking in, I saw a Zoot kit in front of me and thought maybe... Amber?? Hi!! Amber Ferriera is a Pro Triathlete from NH. She rocks...check her out. 11th Pro at San Juan 70.3 and 10th the other day at Oceanside just a few weeks later. Amber is coached by my old coach here in Maine and we attended part of a training camp together a few years ago. I was happy to chat with her for a few minutes before we both headed off to get settled.
I did my thing at the bike rack. Wandered around from bathroom to bathroom, dropped my morning clothes bag, mozied to the Pro rack area to see if I could find and "bother" Beth Shutt for a few minutes ( no luck.. we still haven't met in person but we're friends in the blog world! :o) ) and then went back to check the bike one last time. The lady next to me spoke up and asked if I was Angela. She had heard my name at races before so we had a great chat about Vegas and this and that. She was very cool.
Time to move to the swim...
We were corralled in waves, I was #13. It was crowded and moved fast. I watched Andy Potts come out of the water followed Closely by a pack of men. The women were out soon after. I screamed for Amber. And Beth. I was no longer nervous... but ready. I felt the change... it always happens. I'm still full of uneasy emotions and I want nothing more than to Start, but the nerves aren't the same. I felt like I was in my element again. I knew what to do. I was in a good place and ready.
Finally... we stood at the edge of the water and dove it. It was cold at first, but ok. We swam out to the start line and I was stroke for stroke with another girl. I expected I was looking at my competitor for the next 30 min. I had no idea what to expect that day. I hoped for a top 10 age finish. But, I was way out west. I know a lot of the women I race back in New England, but out there, I had no idea. What was I up against??
I started shaking with cold as I waited for the start.
Without warning... GO!
I kicked SO hard, put my head down, and sprinted. After a bit, I started to breath every stroke and settle in.
This is when I take note of what's around me.
Nobody. I left them behind. Yes!
And..... hmm.... maybe I can take this one. Let's see how this goes......
|The boys watched from the rock wall at our hotel...This green cap might be me.|
|View of finish area from the Pier|
|look from our hotel at the swim start|
I felt great on the swim. The water temperature was cool, but totally refreshing and comfortable. I pushed pretty hard, watched for the kids up on the rocks and just found a solid rhythm. Before too long, I caught the waves of men that had gone off ahead of us and started weaving through them. I rounded the final yellow buoy and got ready to turn in and head back on the orange. Next thing I knew, some guy on a paddle board was right in front of me and hollering. I ignored him, wondered why he was getting so close to me, and kept on swimming. Wait...?
What?? I yelled up to him.
"Go right! Red buoy!!"
|The 3 boys watching the swim from the rock wall right outside our hotel room.|
Oops. I was off course. I Really thought I was at the turn spot but not so. I corrected myself and slid around the red buoy. It didnt' seem so bad to me. But later, Mark & the boys told me I was really off. ( I stilll don't think so... :))
Little did I know, girl #2 wasn't far behind me during the swim. However, when I went too far Left, she went too far Right. So, I guess it all worked out. :)
I exited the water but completely missed the clock so I had no idea what my split was. I heard Mike Reilly announce my name and say, "All the way from Paris, Maine, Angela Bancroft." I smiled. I dropped my cap. Then I dropped my goggles. I stopped to get those but let the cap go. I struggled with the wetsuit zipper. Always. It was a long run to the bikes... (part of my T1 time excuse) but I got there and started yanking the suit off. Hey! Riika was there!! She told me her goal was to "hang on my feet for the swim." I never saw her out there but I said, "Hi!! You did it!" She and I yelled words of encouragement to each other ( I know, sort of odd since there we were dueling it out for spot #1 in our age group) and she headed off out of T1 ahead of me. oops. I was fighting with my socks. Rookie mistake. But there I was. I had arm warmers all ready too... nope. No time. I stuffed all the junk back in the bag and took off.
swim time: 26:42 1st division 9th overall
I rolled away on my bike and knew I was feeling good. I wasn't gasping for breath and felt totally in control. My legs were 'on' and things just felt smooth....
We climbed up a short but steep hill and headed off. Most of the bike course is on Camp Pendleton and we're not allowed out there to preview. This ride was 100% mystery to me except for studying the graph & description on the website and listening stories from past year.
So.... the huge 'speed' bump ( no idea if that's what it was, it was way way bigger than most I've ever seen ) across the road a couple minutes into the totally surprised me. I was down in my TT bars and saw it too late. I quickly sat up & grabbed on but not in time to grab my nutrition bottle off the front bars and it was GONE in an instant. I know I am supposed to stop and pick lost items up, but trust me, if I had, I would have caused a 30 bike pile up. The course was very crowded and while my bottle rolling across the road was bad, it would have been worse for me to stop dead in my tracks on the crowded road-path we were on at that point. I swore to myself and then, just moved on.
The worst part? Two minutes later, the road was terrible again ( not a huge bump this time, just nasty road) and my Second bottle flew out!!!!!!!!!! AHHHHH!!!! NO! NOW I had a bit of an issue. All fluids + electrolytes, gone. First 5 minutes.
OK.... stay calm Ange. I actually was calm. My mouth had the worst ocean after taste but besides that, I was and would be, ok. It wasn't hot. And, an aid station was coming fairly soon. Either mile 10 or 13. I couldn't remember. I took a deep breath, asked myself if I was 'pro' enough to handle it ( not a pro pro...but an experienced racer with my head on straight...) and decided yes, I could handle it.
Shortly thereafter, I came upon the woman who was just after me on the swim, but beat me out of T1. Riikka Aramo is her name. She and I bonded on this trek around Oceanside I must say. After chatting before the race, I really liked her. I was happy for her to have a great swim and the yelled, "Let's go girl!" as she whizzed out of T1 ahead of me. Sure... we were definitely racing each other. But, in a friendly way I have to admit!! I rode up and she asked me how I was, I told her great but that I lost my bottles. She was so cool..... first expressed her concern with a comical little swear in my honor and then offered me a GU. :) I love triathletes.... Hard core racing but in it together 'til the end. I was all set and we split up in good legal fashion.
The next 20+ miles were fast. I was having a blast and felt really incredible. I did have to stop at mi 13 to securely pick up two bottles and at that point, lost my lead, but I knew it would be ok. I was smiling and feeling incredible. My skin was comically pale and I know I stood out a bit that way. Seriously, just the week before I was skiing here in Maine with hand warmers in my gloves and there I was, on Southern California roads riding my bike. It really made me smile. I was pushing and yet, the pace and power were coming easily. Hey, guess there's something too all those trainer rides!
The course is pretty fun. For a while, it's really fast. There weren't many hills ( slightly rolling) and we were winding all around. Turns and corners, on the road, behind buildings, on paved 'paths' and up narrow areas with no pass zones. Around mile 22-23, the climbs began. For a few miles, they were just normal rolling hills. The surrounding backdrop changed from dessert-like hills and valleys to green mountains. I came around one corner, looked ahead, and laughed out loud. The climb that we could see coming our way was huge. I could see 100s of bikes slowly wiggling their way up this mountain. For some reason, I was excited. I was riding with men that day. My wave was the 1st of the amateur women so I had the pleasure of cruising by a lot of guys. So many were cool & supportive telling me to 'go get 'em.' One man, in his 60s, even hollered, "Hey.. where are you from? You're pretty strong!" That made my day. I guess he could tell by my paleness that I wasn't a Southern California girl. (speaking of that paleness... guess I should have applied some sunscreen before racing that day huh??? oh oh... that pale is now pink and it Hurts!!!! Saturday was our first day of sun all week...I should have known the clouds would burn off that day... ooops...)
Back to the hill. It was pretty slow! I think I even hit 4mph a few times. I put my head down and thought about the fun day we skied White Heat in big powder, the many many mogul runs I had to endure with my boys, and all the other unconventional training I had done on skis over the winter. I passed the guys, and I caught back up to Riikka. (She had gone by me when I grabbed those new bottles... ) My legs felt strong and I felt good the whole way up. I was having a good day.
The hills continued through mile 40 with a few more big climbs and lots of rollers. In addition, we had a strong headwind during that period. The pace slowed down, a lot. But after mile 40-42 or so, things got fast again. The roads opened up, the bikes had thinned out, and I was able to push the pace back to T2.
Riikka and I were very close together at this point. She and I passed each other back and forth from time to time. Again, always with encouraging cheers. We knew we were in spots 1-2 and we wanted to keep it that way. As we got close to the pier to finish the ride, she hollered up to me, "Hey!! You need to get ahead of that guy in yellow up there! There's a no pass zone and we can't get stuck!" How cool is that?? I yelled, Thank you!!! And hammered up ahead of him. So did she.
The ride finishes on a stretch down "the strip." It's along the ocean and lined with people cheering. I sat up, unclipped and headed in... So far so good.....
Bike split 2:44 1st in Division.... in 5th place for amateur women at this point
the day was coming together.
T2--ok... again.. pathetic transition. Rusty I guess. As I described earlier, I had to hang my run gear vs laying it out. No big deal. I dumped everything out and sat down. Socks on. helmet off. Glasses on. Race belt. Shoes... shoes! WHAT was I thinking???? NO Speed laces. Ugh. My hands were not working properly! They were swollen and fumbling like they do when they're cold. I wasn't cold but.. I had no dexterity. focus.. tie your shoes...little bow.. double knot... oh man. How many times have I done this? Note to self: tighter bottle holder for bike and Speed laces! Ugh...
Riikka was in and out of T2 faster than I was. " Come on girl... let's go!" She yelled. :) I yelled back, "I'm coming!! Have a good run! Great ride!! "
( Later.. Mark and my Dad talked about how anxious they were because "she" was Right there!!!! Mark even came close when I started the run and said, "hey, the first girl in your age group is RIGHT there!!!" I smiled and said, "I know... we're friends..." and he just looked at me a bit confused..... haha... Still...believe me, the race was on. )
I was off in a minute. Garmin strapped on. Gels fumbling in my hands but feeling good.....
The first few miles of the run are flat, as promised. I was told this run was "pretty flat." We did have to climb a ramp that goes up and down to the pier. It wasn't bad. Just a random back and forth with some strange turns. The sun was out ( I was burning... big mistake not to put on sunscreen. I was lazy about it b/c the sun really wasn't out during the week while we were there.) and it was bright reflecting on the ocean and the white concrete road/path. I was getting hot. (Maine girl here... I know, it was only in the 60s or so... maybe 70??)
|This shoes that ramp.. it's really a picture of this cool giant bubble the boys were no doubt enthralled with. But I'm showing you the ramp at the beginning of the run.|
I was running 6:40s or so and felt gooooood. I felt 100% great. No probs. I caught Riikka and we chatted for the last time during the race. I had plans to hold my pace right there or at least, sub 7. But.....
we ran off down the strip. The course was still flat. It was beautiful along the ocean. The water was sparking. The path was bright white. Good stuff. I savored the moment. I was in 1st and I was feeling good. I pinched myself, "is this happening? How did this happen??" I had no expectations of coming here to win. This was my season opener across the country. My test run. My risk. I smiled.
|Beginning of the run---yay! Time to see the kids and Mark.|
The course turned us left... up a hill. Ok. Another climb. No big deal. Then, it got long. For some reason, it felt really really long to me at that point. The next few miles were 'mostly' a steady climb. It wasn't steep by any means, but it was up. In addition, my garmin hadn't started properly and there were no mile markers. It was one of those parts in a race where you are flailing a bit... what mile am I on?? Where is the turn around? Where is this Flat course I was promised?
After another turn and a bit more running, we made a 180 and headed back. There. Ok... NOW I know where we're going. My pace had slowed more than I wanted it to, but I got my head back on and focused.
Just run back to town, do the loop and see the family (the FORCE behind all this... right Doug? :)), and then bring it home!
The run back to town was hard, but I was handling it. I tried to get my pace down again. I hadn't been passed. I was still in it. I could taste it. I allowed myself to taste it. Until that point, I was conservative. I was still wondering how it was happening. How did I get to that place?
But now, 5-6 miles to go ( I wasn't really sure... ), it was time for me to own it. It was mine, and I didn't want to give that up.
I ran hard. I wasn't going too fast, not as fast as I wanted, but I was running with all I had at that point. I took in the gels, stuffed ice in my shirt, sponged off my face, dumped water on my head ( yes, I was that hot) and drank a bit of coke. A mile + to go and I know I was smiling.
( run split 1:35 1st Division and finished 6th overall amateur women)
total time: 4:52
I did it. I was back along the strip by the ocean, the waves were crashing SO loud ( the ocean is my true happy place ) and the Finish sign was in sight. It was crowded and I had to weave in and around people. I pushed hard, put my hands up, High fived Mark and one of the kids, and ran across that line with a huge smile of happiness and satisfaction. Racing... I do love it. If I wondered at all during these long winter months, I am no longer in doubt. The day was a total blast and now I'm hungrier than ever before to nail this Ironman I have coming up.
|Happy with my 3 awesome boys|
|On the award stage... they started early so I had to 'run' up there just in time and Mark missed the photo op|
|Nick looking cool as he cheered me on. Mid race I heard the sweetest, " Go Mommy Run!" as he trotted along next to me for a minute. The best.... they are my force.|
|Oceanside 70.3 |