UCI Race Report
You ever ran cross country? No. Well let me break it down for you. It’s 3 miles of non-stop gut wrenching racing. Today after a 6 month long hiatus I was returning to the racing scene. I was going to run more than I was used to, 3.7 miles, then hop into a pool swim 250 and then drag myself out to run 2 miles as fast as I could. Non-stop. Yeah it sounds as it is. You can imagine how I felt when I lined up with the Men’s team at the start line of UCI’s Zot Trot. Things were going to get rough and by the looks of the course and the grey clouds up ahead they were going to get messy too. It didn’t matter though because I was past the point of no return. The lap bar had been secured and the ride had left the docking bay.
After a brief countdown someone blew a whistle and we took off. Fun fact, the rain meant UCI had made some last minute adjustments to the course, adjustments that no one in the race knew. The Zot Trot’s men’s race literally went out in a trot until finally we hit the streets of Irvine and started to pick up the pace. The field thinned out as the first few miles went by. The race seemed to go on forever. I was used to racing a 5k in a stampede fashion but now I was running by myself without anyone to push me. The hills on the course were brutal. They weren’t the short hills that my High School XC Coach had trained me to eat like they were nothing. These hills stretched out for half a mile and beat you down as you ran across them. By the time you recovered on a straight away another hill appeared to tear you down. Needless to say I was really happy to see transition. I sprinted through the straight away, took off my hat and shoes, grabbed my swim cap and goggles and booked it to the pool. My race suddenly came to a halt as I soon discovered my goggles has snapped. Totally not cool. So I did what anyone would expect me to do; I jumped in without goggles or a cap and swam blind. It was rough. Really, really, rough. Well not really. It was like to trying to make your way through your dorm at night without waking up your roommates. I had zero visibility and Henry was right all of the blood in my body had gone to my legs and that meant that every stroke hurt my arms. After what felt like an eternity a lifeguard materialized in front of me and directed me out of the pool. I stopped thinking as muscle memory kicked in. Michellie’s dive and climb 50m repeats kicked in. Adrenaline rushed through me as I ran into T2.
I pulled on my racing flats and ran out of T2 breathing heavily as I navigated my way into the bike route that had been turned into the 2nd run route. As soon as I hit the road I turned up the tempo. I had lost a lot of ground and you were crazy if you thought I was going to let those swimmers get away with it. Left right left right. My mind went numb as I pushed my body forward. I wasn’t a person anymore, I was a machine that got faster with every person I passed. Pain shot up my Achilles but I ignored it. With 200m to go I wasn’t going to let anything stop me. 150. 100. 50. 25. And finally after what seemed like forever I leaned forward to cross the finish line. Out of breath, and out of my mind I stumbled aimlessly for a bit before I remembered that I’d left my swim cap and goggles in the pool deck. You know it’s never ceased to amaze me how your mind focuses on tiny details when you’re so full of adrenaline and today was no exception. Calmly I made my way over and grabbed my swim cap and goggles stopping to talk with Zack who’d been taking pictures of all of us as we glamorously (read sarcastically) made our way into T2.
The rest of the day was a blur until we made our way to lunch. I was hungry as hell after racing for almost an hour and you best believe I grubbed out at. When we finished eating we all packed into our cars and started the drive back to La Jolla. Once I was comfortably situated into the passenger seat of Ella’s car I put my earbuds in, played the “Up” soundtrack, and relaxed for the first time in a while. As the first few notes of “Married Life” played I looked out the window at the seemingly endless bright blue ocean and smiled. My endless race replays and criticisms stopped as a calm crept through my mind; I had no idea how I’d gotten this lucky and I had no idea what I’d done to deserve this but hey I wasn’t complaining.
Article By Franny Lopez