Friday, September 4, 2015

Oakland Triathlon Festival :: Race Report

Conversations with friends the week leading up to this race mostly aimed at answering the very difficult question of which cause to support on the podium if, I mean - ahem, ahem - *when* I won...  Oh, you know, things I truly believe in like:
1.  Helmets
2.  Bidets (unfortunately I couldn't come up with TOTO merch in time for the race)
3.  "Save the whales" (went out the window when local news broke last week...)
4.  SweetWARE (nah, we don't have hats)

Well, on Friday while packing up a beat-up backpack with race day necessities guess whose warrior eyes were staring up at me from the bottom of my t-shirt drawer???  That's right...  This guy:

"Worf be with you".........  "And, with you."

What?!?!  It's not like I yelled, "Prime directive!" as I crossed the finish line or anything...  Okay, okay, I *did* have a speech prepared in Klingon...... but I guess speeches when you win your age group is not a thing so Qapla'!

Anyways..........  As most of you already know, the buildup for this race was kinda insane.  ALL YEAR, yes, that's right - *all year* - I've been working toward this goal and I didn't even have a bib until the day before the race.  Haha - crazy right?!?  The wonderful people who run the Oakland Triathlon Festival made an exception and allowed me to transfer a bib from another OTC member over to my name last-minute.  Woot!

Everything was going according to plan.  Bib, check.  Wetsuit rental, check.  Clean bike, check.  Well-rested, well-nourished, check, check.

The morning of the race was like clockwork.  Pre-race was a breeze.  I even pooped on schedule.  Ha!
Sorry, TMI.

It was pitch black when Billy and I rode down to the start and it was still mostly dark when I set up my transition area.  We were both looking around, like, "Holy shit, is it raining??"  We could barely believe it!  It was, indeed, drizzling....... in Oakland...... for the first time in almost a year.  That's supposed to be *good* luck, right?!?!  I'm pretty sure that at that point everyone racing was thinking the exact same thing:  "First rain of the season = bike course slip-n-slide."

Billy walked down to the start line with me.  Time to get my wetsuit on!  That's when it really hit...  that oh-so-familiar-you're-about-to-swim pit in my stomach.  I burped/whispered to Billy, "There's a lot of fast people here."  He kept me thinking positively though, like always, making me laugh and putting my thought process back on an upward trajectory.  Before too long I was like, "I'm glad I went to the course previews" and "Hey - I get to ride my bike after this!"  Billy is the best.

The ramp down to the dock felt super strange.  Did anyone else notice that there wasn't a realistic sense of urgency to get in the water???  Maybe it was just me, but it seemed like there were a TON of people just standing around arms crossed with expressions on their faces like "Someones gonna have to push me in 'cause I ain't gettin' in that water."  Needless to say, that group was still swimming up when the horn blew for the start.  Yikes!  I was one of the lucky ones who got between those buoys just in time to pee my wetsuit.  YES - winning again, see?  Pattern.  ;)

Okay, this is where I actually do a race report, I swear.

Swim (Distance .6mi :: Time 23:52 :: Mantra "It's not....  about... the whale.")

The next twenty-four minutes was a total nightmare!  I've already tapped most of it out (with my sissy who just learned EMDR - perfect timing btw).  What I *do* remember is a faint feeling of....... eternity??  There were moments when I considered just turning around and going back, or swimming to shore, or hitching a ride on a nearby boat.  I was aware enough to try to draft off fast people a few times, but I couldn't keep up steam long enough for that to work effectively.  About a quarter of the way through I started breaking into breast stroke every 200 meters or so just like "UGH!  Why am I doing this again???"  At one point - about half way through - a guy swimming diagonally across the course straight punched me in the face.  I was like, "Wrong sport, dude!"  Owie.

I *may* be making this sound slightly worse then it was.  I don't know.  I was trying *so* hard to tire out my arms without hyperventilating it's possible that I actually hit a stride...  Other positives:
1.  I didn't swallow very much water.
2.  I was able to breathe bilaterally (kinda cool)
... and most importantly!
3.  I made it to the dock.  Ahahah!

Ramp, shoes, go!  Billy and Keenan were cheering for me right before the pedestrian overpass.  Billy yelled, "10!"  Best husband.  He had counted the number of women with my color cap ahead of me.

Time to start taking numbers...

Bike (Distance 12mi :: Time 35:20 :: Mantra "I've got a perfect machine.")

Yes, bike hug!  I started over-taking people right away (even though the course was slick).  A guy peeled out right behind me on the first turn, so, that was a good reality check.  I slowed waaaaaaaaaay down for most of the corners.

Everyone was feeling the rain.  There were a lot of cold volunteers out there that day and someone told me there were something like 20 crashes on the bike course.  Oy!  The conditions slowed down a lot of otherwise very fast people.  No surprise that the woman who won the sprint was from Great Britain and going to school in Boston - so probably the most comfortable with rain...  Excuses, excuses!  I know, but seriously though, you could tell who the Californians were because we were riding around like "What's this wet stuff?"  Ha!

I averaged 20mph according to my garmin.  A little extra oomph from Billy and Keenan rounding the corner to T2 and, boom, 5k between me and the finish line, baby!  This transition was quick as a wink.

Run (Distance 3.1mi :: Time 22:13 :: Mantra "Elbows back.  Knees up.")

So I have this goo...  Cue the over-analysis.  What now?  WWWD (What Would Worf Do)???  Aaaaargh!  I ate some goo and then obsessed about what to do with the sticky half-eaten packet in my sweaty little palm for the next 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, my legs felt like two piles of bricks and the only people in my sights were men and U20 girls.

Back to the mantra.

I was feeling good about my pace when my GPS beeped (2 miles down, 1 to go) and two women blew by me like I was standing still; first, a 31-year-old wearing a black top and black compression socks and then a 27-year-old in a bright orange top.  That's when I heard Christina yelling from her car window, "Goooooo, Amy!!!!  Woooooo!!!  Goooooo Amy!"  My legs had just enough left to get up and down those stupid stairs and sprint the last 200 meters.  After crossing the finish line, I looked and looked for this woman in black but I could not find her anywhere.  I figured she must've just kept running like Forest Gump or something... She's probably half way to Texas by now, and such a pity - honestly - because I wanted to ask her about what kinds of steroids I need to start taking.  ;)


Anyways, the unofficial results said I got first in my age group!  I didn't argue with anyone when they called me up to the podium, but I know in my heart that there was a 31-year-old who beat me!  I was partly relieved when I saw her name above mine in the electronic results...  Not crazy.  You're not crazy.  Who are you talking to??  [looking around] Oh me?  What?!?!?  No.  Totally sane here...............

So, I don't know what happened to Kris Blum, but I guess I got 2nd in my age group and 13th overall.  Weird results, but I was satisfied with the race!  It felt great to be up on the podium and surrounded by my biggest supporters (Billy, Mom, Dad, Chrissy, Sarah, and Henry!).  We all high-tailed it to Hob Nob in Alameda after for bottomless mimosas and banana pancakes.  YUM!  I'd been looking forward to those pancakes all year...  They taste *so much* like, oh, how you say??  In my country we call it.... ah yes - winning!  Hehe.

A loooooong list of unofficial coaches guided me this year and I'm grateful to all of them.  The OTC coaches *especially* have made me fear the water less and less.  Many OTC members were in the top three for their age groups for the Sprint and Olympic distances and that's enough to make a local girl's heart sing the TNG theme:

Other standouts from Saturday:
1.  The woman who got second overall in the Sprint was 54!  Amazing, right?
2.  Check out these two ladies (Mary Cantini Norkin and Betsy Bikle - both in their 70s - what?)!  Can you imagine being 72 and finding out that you *didn't* win your age group?!?!  Eyeye...

Well, that's about it!  If you enjoyed reading this, click "Join this site" on the right side toolbar above and specify whether you want emails or a weekly digest from yours truly.  If you're already subscribed, I feel sorry for you, but thank you anyway for reading all my blah blah blah.  You'll be hearing more from me in the coming weeks regarding adventures in nutrition, tri training, racing my bike, and more!

Okay, that's all for now.  More later.


  1. Amy, that was an awesome, funny and inspiring post! I'm so very excited for you and what a great athlete that you have become! Love you!