We arrived in LA Friday night. The weather there is pretty sweet. Saturday morning, we got up early and met Drew Haberkorn so that he could put me through a crash course in "not drowning in beach starts-101." I've been body surfing and boogie-boarding before in decent-sized waves, but that was for fun. Although I was trying to have fun here, the purpose of this lesson was to get from the beach through the 5-foot waves and to the open, more smooth water as fast as I could. I'm glad I took this crash course the day before my race because when we said go and headed into the ocean for the first time, I got rocked. I was being pushed backwards, being flipped by the under-toe, and more water was going in my mouth than I could handle. I finally got into the smooth water coughing uncontrollably while Drew and Kyle were looking on laughing. I needed and did a few repeats of this "exercise" before I felt comfortable and ready to roll the next day.
I felt good and ready to go Sunday morning. I set up transition and went for a run warm up along the beach. Running along the beach as the sun comes up at 6:30am really relaxes you. It's pretty cool. After getting my wetsuit on and practicing one last beach entry (it was a good one) I made my way to the start line. When the horn went off, it was a free for all. Sand was flying everywhere as we had a 100-meter sprint before plunging into the water. I got into a good position for a while, but the current immediately took me off course. I thought the whole field was gone. I was thinking, oh great, another terrible swim. Just then I found someone's feet and stayed on them for a while. I was settling down and getting into a rhythm. I went to pass him, but I didn't feel I could hold this pace so I backed off and got right behind him for the rest of the swim. When I got out, I heard Drew yell that I was 7th out of the water out of the 15 guys that started in my wave. Pretty good for me, considering I thought I had another terrible swim.
I jumped on the bike with my swimming partner and we took off. I knew in my mind that I was feeling good and I was a stronger cyclist than this guy next to me so I took off. I rode hard for 2 or 3 miles. At around mile 3 on the bike course, the route takes us from one side of the road to the other, riding on the left side. I made the switch, but in the middle of the median was a huge bump where 2 slabs of pavement come together. I'm not very good at dodging things on the road so of course I ran right into it. Luckily I hung onto my bike and stayed upright, but both of my water bottles shot off my bike and were left rolling around on the pavement. I knew right then that the rest of the day was going to be a tough one. No hydration on the bike means tough second half ride and really hard run. My swim partner passed me back along with my good Sports Basement buddy Nate Helming. Nate was too fast to stay with today, but I rode behind the other guy for the rest of the bike.
I jumped off the bike, had a great T2 and started off on my run and felt my hammies cramp up right away. I went out hard and caught Nate, who had put about a minute on me over the 40k ride. I passed him and kept surging until about the 2-mile mark. I hit the wall after that. Nate passed me back and I slowed to a long run pace. At this point I started thinking about my season and how much success and fun I've had this year. This year took me to Florida and to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. This season introduced me to my coach, Brian Priddin. This year I crashed on my bike for the first time ever. Miles 3 and 4 of the run were spent thinking about these types of things and admiring all the fans that came out to support the athletes running through downtown LA. In the fifth mile, something happened and my back and hamstrings loosened up. I found another gear I had been missing all day. I started to pick it up and reel people in. I finished strong at the Staples Center and LA Live and was happy to be done for the season.
Kyle and I packed up the car and headed home soon after the race. Lessons from LA: 1.) be prepared to wait in traffic at any time of the day, wherever you are in the city. Ridiculous. 2.) next time, try to dodge big bumps on the road the might knock off your water bottles.
I look forward to a few weeks of relaxing and not training. Maybe go mountain biking in Walnut Creek or around Lake Chabot. Have a few beers! (not at the same time)
Shout out to Chris Lieto in Kona. Good luck man! We'll be watching back home in CA. Also: Go Blue! Kick Sparty's ass!