UCLA Sprint Triathlon Race Report
By: Symone Carreno
The UCLA race is the first race of the season, but for me, this would be the first triathlon I’ve ever done. I was extremely nervous leading up to it mainly because I had no idea what to expect. Yes, I ran cross country in high school, but I had only been training in the pool for a month, and I had barely gotten a proper bike two weeks before the event. On top of that, I had only gone on one bike ride before the race, and my swim training was less “working out” and more learning how to actually swim. Overall, I felt supremely inadequate. But I had signed up, and this was happening.
After giving my bike to a team member I had just barely met on Friday so they could take it up to UCLA for me, I would get into the car Saturday with Rachel, Tori, and Amanda…three girls I also barely knew. I was really quiet on the ride up because I didn’t know the girls well. When we arrive at UCLA, I have to jog to the meeting place because everyone has their bikes but me. When I finally acquire my bike, I find myself on a confusing ride as everyone tries to learn the new course. I ended up getting lost from the main pack, and ended up regrouping with people behind me. My anxiety about the race then increased because nobody in this group really knew the correct route that well either (mind you, this group consisted of senior team members like Dan and Jason. If they were unsure of the course, you can only imagine my confusion). Learning the route for the run was no better. I walked away more nervous than ever before. Everyone left to go get the race packets, and then to the houses that would be accommodating us that night. I was part of the group that would be staying at Jason’s house. After a nice dinner made by his parents and waiting for the clock to display a reasonable time to go to bed, I found myself on an air mattress falling asleep next to my teammates. Pretty soon 4 AM would roll around, and we were up getting ready to go. In the early hours of the day my nervousness was to be replaced with general confusion as I followed everyone else and did what I was told. This would set the tone for my whole morning as I followed the team from Transition 1 to Transition 2, putting my things where they were supposed to go and listening to any rules or advice given to me. This also means that I didn’t properly warm up, but since I was unsure of how this whole race would go, I wasn’t particularly worried about this. I stretched for a bit, and then I waited. On a good note my nervousness had been replaced by both excitement and curiosity. I was ready to experience a triathlon.
Due to my beginner swimming skills, I was number 226 in the race. I stood shivering in my tri suit, and watched the 225 people ahead of me start their swim until it was finally my turn. My swim was slow and steady, and I took breaks on each wall so that I wouldn’t get too tired. For the bike, the only thing I could think about in the beginning was how cold I was. But after a while I had dried off, and was able to focus on working hard to get up the hills. The loop they had us do multiple times was basically half uphill and half downhill, so it was both fun yet brutal. Also, my front brakes literally flew off partway through, and I had to be extra careful for the rest of the bike portion. Overall I highly enjoyed it, but was unpleasantly surprised to discover how numb my legs were after I dismounted. Since I don’t have clip in bike shoes, I was able to go straight to running from Transition 2. Aside from the one hill on the route, I kept a fairly decent pace and was able to have a strong finish. A lot of the team members had cheered for me during my race, many of which I had successfully learned their names over the past day or so. I happily realized that I felt awesome after the race and couldn’t wait to do another, but also that I felt a little more integrated into the team after finishing. Needless to say, I can’t wait until the next one.