I debated all day Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and today about whether or not I would write this blog entry, for a few reasons. I decided to do it, because this is about my personal experiences, and I want to share my version of this day. And as much as Saturday's Power Brick was a really rough day for a lot of people, actually it seemed like a tough day for most of my teammates, I actually really liked the day. There, I said it. I enjoyed the Power Brick.
The day started off super early out in Zuma Beach. I picked up my teammate Melissa on the way since she lives close to me. And, I realized that having a carpool buddy is not only more efficient, it also keeps me calm and relaxed and not thinking about the upcoming ride (preventing any unneccessary anxiety), thanks Melissa! When we left the Valley it was pretty chilly, but I figured it was going to be a warm day once we got going. Wrong. We got to Zuma Beach about 7:20 and as we got out of the car we were hit with a cold, strong wind. Yikes!
|looks peaceful.... think again. photo by Paiwei Wei|
We set up all our stuff for full transitions and got on our wetsuits. We weren't swimming - the waves were big and the ocean was rough, but we were practicing transitions (good for me, as I am very slow at this). After some quick directions from the coaches the year 1s (me and my fellow newbie Ironteamers) went out to the beach for a minute, got our feet sandy and then were told to go. I changed as quick as I could and headed out.
|top pic: getting instructions, bottom: wetsuit stripping|
photos by Paiwei Wei
As soon as we got on PCH and started heading north we were riding in to very strong headwinds, that did not let up for the next ~20 miles. This wind was gnarly. I was keeping up with my nutrition the best I could. Every time I'd reach for a bottle the wind would pick up. So, instead of drinking as often as I normally do, I would grab the bottle when I could and take a few bigger swigs. This seemed to work for me. There were a couple of moments where I got pushed hard, by crosswinds, and my bike started to move to the side of the road. I'm not a huge person, but I'm not tiny either, I don't know how a small person would have made it through that ride staying on the road. Seriously, it was that windy.
I tried not to worry too much about my speed and focus more on my nutrition and trying to keep a high cadence. And, I was pretty successful. It took me 1 hour 49 minutes to get to the turnaround - 19 miles away. SO slow. I got to Las Posas and refilled my bottles, excited to head south and have a tail wind. I got back to the turnaround at Trancas (another 19 miles) in just over an hour. Way fast for me. Awesome.
Next was Encinal. What, you might ask, is Encinal? Well, Encinal is a road off PCH, a long, road, that goes up and up and up. It's just over 5 miles long, with ~1400 feet in elevation gain. That's a lot of up. Coach Brad told us at the beginning of the day that the steepest part is the bottom and that its not as bad after the beginning. He also warned us about a hill that, "looks like its going in to outer space." We would not be going up that road.
|the road to the top... up, up, up. photo by Marvin Tabangay|
I was doing pretty good going up Encinal. I seemed to find my inner climber. I wasn't going crazy fast, but I was doing damn good. I came around a bend and saw this road, that looked like it was going in to outer space. So steep and I had a moment where I gasped, having forgotten that we would NOT be going up it. After a near panic moment I remembered and continued on my merry way. I stopped twice to pause for a moment and collect myself, but not for long and I got going again. I made it to the top in under an hour, actually in 53 minutes. Sweet. This was the longest, hardest hill I had ridden. It's classified as a category 2 - for those who don't know, that's hard. The most I've done before is a category 3.
|view from the top of Encinal. Worth it. Photo by Paiwei Wei|
Then the downhill. I'm starting to be less scared of the downhill, but we had been warned about the winds, specifically cross winds, and been told to be careful coming down. I definitely felt the wind pushing me around. But, I didn't have a death grip on the brakes and I made it down in one piece. I knew Coach Holly was behind me for most of the downhill and there was something comforting in that knowledge. It took me 22 minutes to descend. I'm very proud of myself for getting down this hill without melting down. When I got to the bottom I was told to head back to the start based on time and not do the out and back. I was disappointed to not hit the 56 miles, but I got close - 52.06.
|that's a giant hill at the end of a long ride...|
Even though this bike ride was difficult, and it was, and the winds were a nightmare. It actually went pretty well for me. I was properly hydrated the whole time and I got my nutrition right - FINALLY! So many of my teammates had a really rough ride and for me it was not the same experience. This was a good day for me in many ways. Yes, I hated that wind, so very much. But, I never had a moment where I wanted to quit. I knew I would be able to finish and I knew this was all making me a stronger cyclist. I was, and still am, very proud of myself for surviving and finishing strong.
After this ride I had to do another transition and go for a 10 mile run. And, it was still windy out. Our transition area was covered in sand. So, after dumping the sand out of my shoes, reapplying sunblock and strapping on my hydration belt, I was off for a run. I was curious to see how this run would go. The last time I ran for any length of time off the bike I was feeling like crap.
|so much sand. photo by Paiwei Wei|
But, the run started well. I was doing a 6:1 interval (run 6 minutes, walk 1) and sticking to it easily. I was was keeping a pretty good pace too, around an 11:30/mile with the run walk interval. I wound up running with a teammate for most of the run, Jen. It was really nice to have some company after so many hours alone on the bike. We wound up walking up a big hill in the middle, because damn, that was rough. It was a loop, so we had to walk it twice.
When we got back to the beach to run the last mile and a half in the wind was in full force, pelting us with sand. It hurt and was uncomfortable. But, we just kept moving forward. We started to walk because we were exerting so much energy running and we weren't really going that much faster than a walk. Finally, when I could see the last little bathroom hut I knew we needed to run it in. We clocked in at 9.52 miles, with a 12:30 pace. Considering going up the hill twice and the beach wind on the way back, not too bad.
|there were moments were this run felt mean - going up the hill, twice! sand pelting my face from mile 8 on, but I did it!|
I felt physically good all day. No upset stomach, no GI issues. I felt like everything just clicked for me. I was so happy with how my day went. Then we I got back I had to dig all my stuff out of the sand again. I think its possible I took half the beach home with me, seriously there is still sand in my car, my tri bag and my
dining tri room floor. And I recovered pretty well too - doing proper recovery and the workouts the next day seem to have really helped. Yay!
|T2, sand city. photo by Kelly Miyahari|
I know a lot of my teammates had a really rough go of it out there on Saturday. And, I hope they know that they all impress me so much for finishing strong. There were some tears and some anger, but they are all incredible and rocked that day and showed it who is boss - the Ironteam. And, remember, we are doing this for something greater than ourselves. I love you guys!
Just over two weeks til Wildflower! Nervous and excited! And, in less than two days - Ragnar Relay SoCal with team So Much Cooler Online! Super duper excited! (Also, sad that I'll be missing a long ride with the team this weekend for Ragnar, they are riding to San Diego on Saturday while I'll be running there. Have fun team, I'm gonna be thinking about you all.)
Note: I think I labeled all photos correctly by who took them, if not, please let me know and I'll update. (Also of note, I'm a bad blogger and don't seem to ever take pictures of my own, must rectify!)