Sunday, April 21, 2013

Race Recap: Huntington Beach Triathlon

Who is ready for an egg burrito from Eat Chow? This girl!

I waited a few weeks to write this because the one question that people kept asking me was, “So did you have fun?”  My first response is to kind of squint and wrinkle my nose because “fun” is not the word I would use. Not that it wasn't fun it’s just that my brain still hasn't computed what the heck happened that day!! Maybe this race recap will help sort it out.

5:30 AM that morning, the alarm goes off and I am up. Immediately I am getting good luck texts from friends and family. Someone asks if I feel nervous? I don’t. I think is something wrong with me? Shouldn't I be nervous or at least excited? I feel nothing. Weird.

Brad on the other hand looks like he is going to throw up. He is tightening his bike chain mumbling to himself, “How did I let you talk me into this?” I laugh. I love him for doing this with me. I would still love him all the same if he hadn't but it was nice to have him in the thick of it with me.

We ride our bikes to the race. This was a good transition from home. With the wind in my face I just told myself this is just like any other Saturday. Just a little swim, ride and run on the beach. No biggy.

Brad and I set up our bikes and head down to check out the waves. On our walk down Brad mentions that he didn't sleep last night because he could hear the waves all night. Now, we live in Newport relatively close to the beach but the only time we can hear the surf from our house is when the waves are big. Like really big. Like, I don’t go in, big!

As we stand on the shore watching 6-8 foot waves pound the beach I start to get a little nervous. I start talking to myself well if the waves are big I will be OK as long as the current isn't too strong. So much for that wish! Knee deep into the water the current wants to tow me under. PANIC has set in. Brad and I looked at each other and my face looked a little something like this: 

Note to self: I should have swam in the ocean more to prepare. Got it. Lesson learned.

The Swim (1/2 mile): The first wave of swimmers were the “professionals”. As we watch them struggle against the ginormous waves and current, adrenaline starting pumping through my body. The next set of swimmers started strategizing based on the mistakes of the first group. In the midst of this Rose and Adam ran up and gave me some last minute tips, “You are going to want to run to the far left, don’t try to run straight out, start swimming as soon as possible and get under those waves”.  Adam followed up with, “Uhh I am not going to lie to you this swim is going to be tough. Just breathe and keep a look out for those waves”.

10,9,8,7,6,5…and silence. I hear nothing from that point on. My legs are moving. I am in the water. Oh sh*t these waves are huge. I am trying to dive under but my wet suit is too buoyant  I am being tossed around the whitewash. I can’t breathe. Oh sh*t these waves are huge AND I can’t breathe!

I finally make it past where the waves are breaking. I am treading water trying to catch my breath. I am in the middle of a serious conversation with myself (who knows exactly how long this lasted) but it went along the lines of get a grip Anna, breathe, just calm down and swim like you are in the pool. Two life guards ride up on a jet ski. They are asking me something and I can’t hear. Forgetting I have earplugs in total panic sets in. Have I lost my hearing? Did I hit the sand? Then I see the guy on the back doing a thumbs up and a thumbs down. Ohhhh am I OK?  Yeah I guess. My thumb comes out of the water in the up position. Alright, time to get busy. Lets do this. I put my head down and swim it out.

Note to self: The mental aspect was huge. Once I was able to mentally calm down I was fine. I am not sure how to incorporate this into my daily training but I am going to need to find a way. It was key to getting myself out of the water. 80 people were rescued that day and I could easily have been one of them had I not stopped and gave myself an attitude adjustment!

The best part about getting out of the water was number one it was over, I lived and was touching the sand and number two, that Rose and Adam were there screaming their heads off with joy! Saltwater and snot are dripping from my nose. Adam is running ahead (backwards!) snapping away pictures and Rose is running behind me whooping and hollering and smiling away! Yup, these are my people! The BEST brother and sister I could ever have!!

The Bike (10 miles): As soon as I clip into to my bike, I know I am smiling! I ride the Santa Ana River Trail every weekend so this is just another day! I am spinning along at 19 MPH and I feel good. I passed a few people and got passed by a few people. What was so great about this was that everyone was encouraging each other. Looking good, you’re almost there, push it, lets go!  I have heard Rose say that the triathlon community is just that, a community and that everyone in a race is rooting and helping each other. It’s impossible not to love these people, their spirits and their energy.

Half way through the ride Brad and I pass each other. We are air high fiving and whooping at each other! I can tell by his shit eating grin that he is having as much fun as me! 

The Run (2.5 miles): This was a 2.5 mile sand run. I wasn't particularly concerned about the deep sand run. Brad and I do this every weekend as well. The only curve ball here was we hadn't done much back to back work with running on the sand. Sure I had biked and ran back to back but always on the pavement.

Note to self: Train in the conditions that you will be racing in. Seems obvious now but wasn't 3 weeks ago.

I started out wayyyy too fast. I kept telling myself to slow down but I just couldn't  Well until the sand just became so heavy and thick my legs simply just felt like lead. It became hard to breathe again and I thought, Why am I doing this? This is stupid!

 Just as I am about to slow down even more I see this guy buzzing out onto the sand. It has to be Adam. Ok suck it up Anna you’re almost there! Soon I see Rose charging out on the sand with Brad next to her. As they are running in with me I can hear my family on the side lines cheering right along with them. I know I’m smiling like a fool…so yeah, I guess it was fun after all!

Random thoughts: In karate people would always talk about how it’s not about the black belt but about the journey getting it. Triathlons are no different. I loved sharing with Rose, Adam and my husband my first ocean swim and my first canyon ride. I love that I have met so many great people along the way. I love that I have chance meetings at the gym with other triathletes either in the pool or the pain cave (uh that’s the cycle room for all you non triathlete people out there). I love all the introspection that has come in the hours and hours of training.

I have heard people say the race is just the victory lap and now I get it. It is like seeing the finished product. It’s a good chance to see how far you have come. Not just race and time wise but as a person.  The person who finished this race will no doubt be different at the next finish line. Yeah that’s right the next finish line. I am already registered for two more races this year. And Truth be told, probably there is a Half Ironman somewhere in my future but shhhh don’t tell Rose. Wink wink.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Look Mom, No Hands!

First ocean swim!

When my alarm went off this morning my eyes flew open and I thought oh my god I am doing a triathlon tomorrow! Wake up Brad lets go! Last day of training!!

In karate before a belt test the instructors would always say, “I would wish you luck but luck has nothing to do with it”. Meaning, plan the work and work the plan. Put the time in you know it will take to get to where you want to be.

The last few months of training weren't always easy. There were days were I simply didn't want to get out of bed, or it was raining or the wind was blowing, or, or, or…but I got up anyway, got dressed and got it done. That’s what it takes.

That’s what it takes not only triathlon training but any training. Any goal. Any dream. Set your course, follow it, work for it and never give up.

I had no idea when I started all this that these races and all the training which have such an impact of my life. Maybe it’s because I had a lot of time while on a run or on the bike to ponder and think about things. Maybe it’s because I found out what I really made of when I pushed myself that last mile.

Last week my husband and I went for our first ocean swim. My husband is a tough guy. He is not scared of anything. He rides his motorcycle at 160 MPH, he snowboards like a manic, he spars with the best of the best – he has no fear. However swimming was a different story.

As we looked out at the ocean as Rose and Adam explained where we would be swimming Brad looked over his shoulder and mouthed to me, “There is no pool side to hang on to”. Nope, there wasn't.

I kept thinking about the no pool side comment throughout my week.  A week where I finally decided to leave my office job and give my own business 100%. A week where I started helping my sister and her husband with their business. A week that will end with my very first triathlon. Yup, no pool sides to hang on to. The training wheels are off! I thought I would be scared at this moment but instead I feel so incredibly strong, brave and free.