I’m generally a peppy person. Might even be a morning person, though it’s hard to tell in college when most days start after 10 AM. But its Halloween weekend, and my goal of getting to bed early was quickly replaced by a new goal of waking up early enough to have time to brew coffee. Third alarm did the trick. Coffee downed, car started, DJ Snake Radio turned on, and I’m on my way.
I get to La Jolla Shores and park. The ocean is calm, almost as smooth as a lake. Air temp is mid-70s, skies partly cloudy. It’s another perfect day in San Diego and race conditions are as good as they get. Caffeine is starting to kick in.
Race day, baby.
Looks like most of the team made it on time to help with set-up. Lots of tired faces. Maybe I’m not the only one who went out last night. Do I look tired? Nope – got my game face on. Kind of. Three hours until race start.
Set-up is going smoothly. Joanna and I are tasked with filling two five-gallon water coolers, and we embark on what will turn out to be quite an adventure finding drinkable water. Walking around the Scripps campus, we find a spigot with a sign that reads DO NOT DRINK and a public shower. “It’s law that water from public showers must be drinkable, right?” Nah, too sketch. Apparently water faucets out here are as scarce as water itself. California, man.
Back at the Shores with two full coolers, other teams have arrived. There must be over one hundred racers here. Now I’m getting hype. Through registration and tatted with #71, I’m race ready. Almost – need to warm up. I take a quick dip. Water is clear and frigid but not bad with a wetsuit. Back on the beach, our team is gathering for a cheer. T-T T-R-I, T-T T-O-N, GOOOOO TRITONS!!!!! This is my first race as a Triton, and man am I ready.
Let’s freakin’ go.
Coveskipper is a sprint aquathlon consisting of two laps around a quarter-mile swim course, each with an ocean entrance and exit, followed by a 5K beach run. We line up on the beach awaiting Katie’s command to start. Mass starts are dangerously fun. Imagine one hundred athletes all sprinting at once towards a single target, and add to that waves, dolphin diving, splashing, thrashing, drafting, and clawing for position. As you can imagine, it’s a good idea to expend some extra energy sprinting away from the pack early. Goggles are on tight. It’s go time.
“Take your mark.”
I sprint towards the water. High knees, high knees, high knees. Surf’s getting deep. I dolphin dive under a wave, push off the bottom, and come up. Surf’s shallow again so I run some. I’m behind some dude in a red cap. I dolphin dive again and somehow end up on top of the red-capped competitor. Sorry bud – all’s fair in love, war, and open water swimming. Two more dolphin dives and I’m in water deep enough to swim. I’m neck and neck with two other swimmers. Time to sprint – let’s beat these guys to the first buoy. I pull ahead a bit, but someone is right on my feet. I round the first buoy with the drafter still on my tail. I try to drop him on the turn but he’s one fast fella.
We stay neck and neck through the turn around the second buoy. As we head towards shore, the drafter leaves my feet and tries to pass me on the right. I somewhat catch a wave and dolphin dive until the water gets shallow. Time to run. I reach the beach in first place, feeling tired already. I’m worried I took the swim out too aggressively, but the crowd on the beach is cheering, and I feed off that energy. One lap down, one to go. Again, I enter the ocean with high knees and then dolphin dive – or so I try. Less like a dive, more like a flop. Whatever, let’s get back in the zone.
I round the first buoy and see my competition a couple body lengths back. At the second buoy, he touches my feet. Heading in towards shore, he starts to pass me. Uh-uh. I give it all I got. Forget the run, I’m winning this swim. I reach the beach a few seconds before the next guy. I enter transition and take off my wetsuit. Well, I try to. Somehow my timing chip got on the outside of my wetsuit and it takes a solid ten seconds to remove. I’m beginning to wonder if Torin was right about a wetsuit being a bad idea in a short race like this…too late to worry about that. Sunglasses on, I exit transition.
I’m winded from the swim but legs are starting to feel good. Just as I start to get in the groove, two SDSU athletes pass me. “Focus on your own race,” I tell myself. Past the first turnaround, I see my teammates who, despite being exhausted themselves, exchange words of encouragement and high fives with me, a much needed boost when nearing a race’s end. I see the field closing on me. Let’s pick it up a notch.
I am passed by two more runners. No more! I can see the finish line. Legs are getting tired, breathing is getting harder, heart rate is getting faster, but I push on. Almost there! I can hear the crowd cheering. Last push! I cross the finish line at 30:25, 5th place overall.
I’m delirious, but I feel that strange satisfied feeling that makes triathlon racing so addicting. Maybe I’m just high on endorphins. Maybe it’s the smell of the burgers Jason is grilling…
My heart rate comes down and I join my teammates at the finish, smiles all around. Seems like everyone is pleased with their performances! We’ve trained hard over the past month and it showed today. But this is only the beginning of the season. A San Diego “winter” filled with hard training and fast racing awaits!