WCCTC Conference Championships
Conference! First Olympic of the season! The course at conference involves a 1500 m swim in Lake Lopez followed by a 40 km bike through San Luis Obispo’s rolling hills and finally a 10 km run. The swim actually almost didn’t happen. It’s been so dry in California that the lake is practically empty, but heavy rains the week before the race managed to raise the water levels enough that we could swim.
I’m preparing for the swim, and the first thing I notice is the boat ramp. After swimming, we need to climb up a boat ramp to get to transition. The drop in water made it so the boat ramp is a little closer to a boat mountain. The team walks down, we do a quick cheer, and then I start my warm up.
It’s 8:05 and the gun goes off for my wave. I’m not an amazing swimmer, so one of my goals was to make sure I don’t start too hard so I can build through the swim. It’s pretty easy, especially during a mass start, to go way too hard in an effort to not get swallowed by the mass. I managed to avoid killing my arms in the beginning, and was off. About 5 minutes into the swim I started looking for someone to draft off of. Drafting during the swim always cracks me up, because if done right, every stroke you are tickling the feet of the guy in front of you. I don’t know of any sport but open water swimming where tickling the feet of your competitors makes you faster. I start building, leapfrogging my way through the back of the pack. Visibility was really bad because of the fog, so by staying with people I managed to swim (hopefully sort of) straight. Right as I’m getting ready to get out of the water, the lead women’s pack catches me and one of them kicks me in the face, knocking my goggles off. But at least the swim was done!
As I run into transition, I’m completely gassed. The swim went on longer because of the crappy visibility, and oh my god that boat ramp was steep. I manage to remove my wetsuit, jump on my bike and I’m off. The whole way out during the bike had a tailwind, which made cruising at 26-27 mph pretty easy. It took me a while to recover from that swim, but once I do I’m chilling. I love the bike. I manage to make up some time, passing plenty of people while only getting passed a few times. 75% of the way through the bike, there is this utterly steep hill. It isn’t particularly long, but it’s so steep that a fair amount of athletes don’t have the gears and need to walk up. As soon as you finish the hill, you turn around and go back down. I get into the most aggressive tuck I can manage and fly down. After the race I checked my Garmin, and I reached a top speed of 45 mph down that hill. It’s pretty exhilarating going that fast on only about an inche of tire. That downhill and the ensuing tailwind took me all the way back to transition. I jump off my bike, put on my running shoes and push to complete the final leg.
Out of the 3 sports, I’m best at running. But that still doesn’t make it easy as both my quads begin to cramp as I try to use my hamstrings as much as I can. A few crazy fast runners caught me and flew by me, but for the most part, I was catching people. I can’t really write that much about the run because I don’t remember a whole lot. Running through that chute for the last time (at least as a collegiate athlete) was a pretty good feeling.