Canada is cold. Many Canadians book travel south in February for some needed vitamin D and to basically un-clench everything from the neck down. So when the training partner in crime has a few extra airline points lying around and there’s a free place to stay, we book flights to typical warm places. Southern California here we come.
The plan was simple: smash ourselves with long rides until our legs are screaming and our saddle sores pop themselves. We arrived Wednesday afternoon, settled in and headed out for a 12k run. The thing about California is there’s really no doubt about where you are. It’s exactly as you picture it from movies and TV shows. There are palm trees, long beaches, boardwalks and plenty of flesh.
Day two started early. 5:45 early. We were graciously invited to swim with Tower 26 and they did not disappoint. I was (very much surprisingly) placed in lane 2 (of 8!) for just a little workout of 5100yards at faster-than race pace. I’m pretty sure my right shoulder is still in the pool somewhere. I needed a solid nap and copious amounts of coffee to get out the door for workout #2. 100k ride through Topanga Canyon to Malibu and back on the PCH into LA. You know what is so totally awesome? A long, warm ride with your favorite training buddy on a brand new bike. The climbing was manageable and the traffic was negligible. It was nice to test out the winter ride fitness. Thanks Ride78 for the legs.
Day three was a tour de fancy houses ride and a little run through Will Rogers’ park. After another nap and some eating we went out for another little spin that took us down to Venice beach. Need a tattoo? They have just a few places where you can get one. Nothing like riding your carbon race bikes along the beach bike path like tourists. We also got to meet this little fellow. Squeals heard for blocks.
Then it was off to Palm Desert for a change of scenery and to race the Desert Triathlon.
The day before the race we road 30k down to the race site very wind aided and I opted out of the practice swim. BRRR. Did I just say BRRR in Palm Desert!?
Here’s the brief race report:
Pre-race: Arrive at race site just as the clouds are starting to release their liquid sunshine. Comment that I could pretty much care less about this race, but I paid to be there so might as well give it a try. Set up transition. Attempt to help some newbies setup their transitions that both helped them out and made my area a bit more streamline. I know, I’m so nice. Feel the rain begin to fall harder. Yes. I said DESERT not DESSERT. If I wanted to race in the rain, I would have stayed in my temperate rain-forest. Oh well, perhaps it’s my cold-climate advantage. Put on wetsuit to stay warm. Ahem.
1desert: arid land with usually sparse vegetation; especially : such land having a very warm climate and receiving less than 25 centimeters (10 inches) of sporadic rainfall annually ( I think all that rainfall came down in the 2.5hrs we were out there.)
Swim: Sometime between Challenge Penticton and this swim I forgot the importance of a warmup. I got on the front of the start line (because I’m a lane 2 swimmer y’know). Gun goes. I sprint. I fade. I stop swimming. I have my first ever panic attack in the water. This is roughly my 30th mass swim start and I swam it like drowning cat. I seriously considered swimming to shore, but damn if the thought of wasting $125 USD (which is enough for a new car in Canadian these days) didn’t keep my arms turning over. I caught my breath and tried to pick up the pace. I came out the water 7th in my wave start and thankful to get on my bike.
T1: It always surprises me how many people have NO idea how to transition. Practice people! Here’s another little tip: run past the mount line. I ran 10 feet past everyone and hopped on my bike in clear road.
Bike: I’ll tell you anytime that a perfectly flat bike course is not my forte, but it sure is fun on your brand new TT bike. My goal: ride until my quads feel like they will rip clear off the bone. At this point it was raining pretty hard, but my Vancouver blood kept me warm. I found a little group of men that were keen to work together legally (although one of them didn’t have any issues with sitting on my wheel) and we cranked around the looped course. One very strong female went past and I fought to keep her in my sites. No such luck. I’m hoping thehippietriathlete will share her riding secrets with me. Overall, the ride was fun.
T2: This time I surprised myself with how efficient I can be. Making split second decisions; visor, no visor? Glasses, no glasses? Socks (yes, socks. It’s sandy. Ouchy) shoes. Run.
Run: It’s always a gamble going hard on the bike and wondering what that will do to your run. From the first few steps, I knew my legs were ok and I could push the run. It was a bit lonely out there for the first loop, just a few guys in my sites and no carrots to draw me in. Finally, around the end of the first loop I saw the back of another female and made her my goal to run down. I caught that smoking fast rider just as we started loop two. There weren’t any other girls in site so I tried to just “keep it hard” and let it “get ugly.” Honestly, it was really fun. It’s so nice to race when you have the fitness to push yourself. I ran the 6th fastest run-split at a new 10k PR pace! The course was a bit short, but even extrapolated out it’s a new PR. Crazy.
For the race I didn’t care about and started out in fear, I ended up 8th women (including 3 elite) and 3rd in my AG. Also weird that I was still in the 30-34 AG. I turn 35 before the end of the year. Whatevs. OH! AND! I got to race in my new Coeur Sports kit. I love love love it. Besides being super comfy, I love the pattern I got. I feel like a rock star. Hopefully I’ll get some race pics in it. Thanks Coeur!!
The race was our last planned workout for the training camp, but somewhere between Palm Desert, In-and-Out Burger and LA we hatched a plan for the last morning in California. I think it even warrants a whole other post.