Well, obviously I've left Tucson by now. It was great to finally get out of there and the drive through the boiling hot desert of Yuma and the desolate I-8 was pretty uneventful. Getting to Oceanside made it feel like the beginning of the season once again. I hadn't race a half since this race last year, and this was my fourth time competing there, though my fifth time visiting. In 2008 I got injured only about ten days before the race and went in the hopes that maybe I'd wake up race morning and my back would be magically better, but that didn't happen, so I spent the day as a spectator with privileges thanks to my race bracelet and a timing chip that never crossed a timing mat.
I had never been to a race like that completely by myself. My mom had accompanied me in the past and other times I've stayed with friends. Last year a bunch of QT2 was there but most of them spent the winter training to race in Puerto Rico a couple of weeks ago, so only two others were there and we didn't stay together. I did know some other people from New Hampshire racing although we didn't get together before the race. I guess in one way it was good because it allowed me to be incredibly rested the day before the race since aside from eating, I spent pretty much the entire day lying on my hotel bed with my feet up. And thoroughly enjoying having so many TV stations.
I wasn't incredibly excited about the race. I just didn't feel as ready as I felt like I should've. I felt as though I hadn't raced in a couple of years even though it's only been a tad over six months, though a lot has gone on in that six months. I was on the later side getting down to transition as I only had to ride my bike down and was in the 18th wave, going off at 7:33 after the first wave at 6:40. I also started riding down to transition without my bottles for the race, but fortunately figured that out about a tenth of a mile down the road, so after that false start, I headed down. I was only about a half-mile from the race, so not a long ordeal.
Transition was set up quick and after almost heading to get in line with my swim wave without my goggles, I grabbed those and got in the LONG line of people. Not that I wouldn't have had time to go back and get them. I wasn't really nervous, I was just kind of indifferent. Although I was interested to see how the swim would go. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the water was about 60 degrees, which there might as well be 80. The first year I swam there I think it was about 53, which was not pleasant.
Upon getting in it sure felt cold, although once we started swimming, I really felt fine. It was overcast which made it really easy to see, another nice change of pace. After spending a while among people in my wave, I started hitting the obstacle course of the swim waves in front of me which is good in the sense that it makes you feel good about your swim split since you're catching people who started several minutes earlier, but is also a huge pain because you just keep having to swim around people and as usual, I never had any feet to try and hold onto because I would always have to swim around them!
Things got rough as we were exposed to the open ocean and I felt like I was never going to finish the stupid swim and I wound up exiting the water with a typical swim split for me. Although I did feel pretty good about it since when I got out of the water most people's bikes were still there, which is an unusual occurrence. Out on the bike I felt pretty good and the first half was quite fast. I was passing people, but fortunately it just didn't seem that crowded since it seemed I had actually taken care of quite a few people on the swim. It was still overcast and nice for riding. Like usual, I rode too hard though. And oddly, on some of the steep hills I saw a couple of people literally just keel right over. I know it's steep, but it's not that bad. things slowed down quite a bit as the hills and the headwinds came and I wound up with a disappointing split.
Onto the run. Well, what can I say? I seem to get worse at this at every race. My legs felt kind of crappy which was my own fault for having ridden too hard, so I decided to walk the aid stations. It was slightly less demoralizing as I ran than last year, yet I wound up with a worse run split.
I guess in a lot of ways it was good to just get out there and race again for the first time in a while, just get it out of the way. But again, it's frustrating to continue to get worse at this. I didn't get too upset over my slow finish. But not long after I had gone back to my hotel and showered and chatted with my mom and my coach, it suddenly dawned on me that it was the first race I'd done that I didn't get to talk to my dad after and tell him how it had gone. And that was the worst. I'm sure there are bound to be more moments like that that come up, but I hadn't been blindsided by that sort of thing yet since September. Everything else was much more obvious. It made for a rough post-race evening.
But as always, things move on and it was time to continue my little adventure. The next day I hopped in the car and drove 50 miles north to Santa Ana, where I'll be spending a week with one of my best friends from college and her husband and two kids. Hearing the weather back home I'm of course glad that I decided to extend my trip. It was only about an hour drive which might have been shorter had it not been for the awesome southern California traffic! They live in a nice little area that is only ten minutes from this pool:
I still find it kind of crazy how long I've been away and that I'm just driving all over the country. Let's just hope that sooner or later this all pays off! I'll be here until Sunday, then off to QT2 camp in Florida.