Race Report: Santa Barbara Sprint 2012 (…and Perspective)

Well, the first race of the season is complete. I of course did not train for it as I wished, making it to the pool–oh, maybe twice in the past several months. My running and biking and strength training is happening, but honestly I haven’t fell into a solid system of training or anything. I’m using the heart-rate info from my triathlon coach to guide me, but I haven’t been motivated enough to plan out entire weeks of training. I’m hoping that will come as I train for the next race!

This race took place at UC Santa Barbara–a beautiful campus I’d never been to. The swim was an ocean one, so I was a little freaked out by the idea of how FREEZING the water is this time of year…but was ready to start racing again. For the first time, I actually had a guy (and his amazing dog) out there supporting me–which I really appreciated. He didn’t quite have the enthusiasm my mom sports (after I jump off the bike, he sarcastically says “Oh, now you get to run!”), but I was just happy he got out of bed early enough to get me to the race on time.

The swim was horrifying. I got through the initial set of waves to only have an incredible sense of panic take over. I think it partially had to do with the temperature of the water & I hadn’t warmed up to it at all yet. Then, since the waves were hitting us at a diagonal, in the middle of this panic came HUGE WAVES again! Oh lord. It was the first time in a race I actually looked for a kayak, thinking “Ok, I’m done with this.” At that same time, a guy shouts–YOU CAN PUT YOUR FEET DOWN. Excuse me? Sure enough, it was shallow enough that I could stand up. In that one moment, the panic died down. And I started walking through the water–pretending to move my arms in a swimming motion. It was hilarious to me (and against all course rules, but it wasn’t like I was winning the swim). I would’ve done this the whole race, but it got deeper & by that time, the panic was over & I just swam normally. It’s just so crazy how your mind affects your abilities–especially in the water, where maintaining your normal breathing is pretty much a requirement.

I was frozen as I tried to get out of my wetsuit & onto the bike. I literally couldn’t take the wetsuit off & just had to sit there until my fingers moved. The first few miles of the bike were a complete blur as I just tried to cough up all the salt water & shake off the slow swim. But, I looked around & what an awesome course. Santa Barbara is just beautiful, and I can’t help but take time to notice the amazing scenery along the way. There were gentle hills but nothing crazy–some pretty curvy bike paths, which is new to me. Most of the races I’ve done are completely on the roads, which don’t curve quite so much.

By the time I got to the run, I was exhausted–but ready to be on my feet. The run was mostly a trail along a lagoon–with beautiful views of the Pacific along the way. I had an awesome run–no breathing problems, no cramping, just a solid 3 miles.

The race did its basic job of waking me up & getting me ready for another season of racing. I placed 2nd in my division, which I’m sure wasn’t huge–but it involves a belt buckle medal (they may take away if they found out I was WALKING through the swim!)–which is awesome. I had a wonderful post-race brunch with the guy (his dog stayed in the car) & finished the day off with some wild mountain biking. Yes, I said mountain-biking post-triathloning. It can be done. And allows for eating LOTS of food, which is always a plus. My legs are totally bruised, but I loved the experience & am now eager for a mountain bike of my own.

On a downer, the guy who came to that race (and his dog) are not in the picture at the moment. It makes writing about the race a little bittersweet because I’ve always wanted the kind of guy that can spend a weekend outdoors with me–regardless of what the activities are, I realize more and more that I’m happiest when outside and active. And it’s fun having a partner-in-crime, especially one you can laugh with. I’m trying not to write too many “breaking up” entries on my website–you guys might start to think I have issues or something, so I’ll just leave it at that & let the whole situation just “be.” I will keep on training, preparing for my next race (which is twice as long, yikes!) in about 5 weeks in Orange County. My mom is coming down for that, and I can’t wait to see her & spend the weekend laughing, eating, and talking about triathlons with her. I promise to hop in the pool a few more times so that the swim is less of a monster for me.

HAPPY EASTER! to everyone. We are having an Easter BBQ, & it’s a beautiful warm day out in L.A. If you keep up with my Facebook, you may have read what my tri coach told me–basically impressed that I had such an awesome life right now. This is hilarious to me because I’m always beating myself up about the things I can’t get quite right, the bad decision-making, the wrong paths I sometimes take. When he told me all the things that were great about my life: my youth, my health, my job, my business, my social life, my hobbies–I looked at him like he was crazy, and he says, “Why? You don’t feel that way?” And I answered, “No, it always feels like I’m struggling.” We laughed about perspective, about how we always think everyone else has it all together.

It was sort of strange to be so open/honest with the guy that just forced me to ride up huge hills & run until I was about to puke–but it is a moment that has stayed with me. Do I wish that every area of my life was easy/fun/fulfilling? YES! Will it every be? No, it’s life! All I can ever do is maintain perspective, to be OK with the ups and downs, to know that every challenge presents opportunity for growth & every wonderful opportunity offers me a chance to say “thank you” & be grateful for it. You know I love me some cheesy metaphors/analogies–and when that guy said YOU CAN PUT YOUR FEET DOWN in the ocean, it was just funny how immediately I could relieve all the stress, the panic, the anger, the desperation–by simply not trying so hard. Not trying at all, really, other than the mock stroke I was doing with my arms. Some things are just out of our control–other people’s decisions, mainly, and by letting go of the need to control/fix people or situations & simply “putting my feet down,” knowing the crazy ocean will do it’s own thing & that I will be OK–it is a relief. But I still should probably continue to hit the pool in the next 5 weeks because, I mean, the water ain’t always so shallow! OK, time to go buy some burgers, have a great Sunday.