Lavaman Triathlon, race day has arrived!

On Sunday morning, Tony was already up at 3:30am, eating breakfast and stretching. I slept for another hour and woke up with an unrestful sleep. All night I kept thinking about my the hole in my tire.  I was also thinking I should have replaced my tire tube last night. But that would mean, that I wouldn’t have spare tube in case I got another flat tire during the race. But for piece of mind, we decided to change it. We rushed to change the tire, gathered our equipment,  get out of the hotel room. As we were leaving out room we noticed some fun posters that were left on our door.

Poster made for Donella

Poster made for Donella

Poster made for Tony, he even got a fun drawing.

Poster made for Tony, he even got a fun drawing.

For safety purposes and wake up calls, we all checked in with our  TNT team manager, Katie and Coach Meggen  at 5:45am. Afterwadrs, we were off to the race.

All Silicon Valley TNT members had to check in with Katie before going to the race.

All Silicon Valley TNT members had to check in with TNT Team Manager, Katie, before going to the race.

Due to my flat tire (and not having a floor pump) we had to speedwalk a 3/4 of a mile.  It was a beautiful sunrise.

The sun was rising as we speed walked to the race transition area.

There was a beautiful sunrise as we speed walked to the race transition area.

Transition area.

Transition area.

I squeezed my bike into this tiny area.

I squeezed my bike into this tiny area.

We got to the transition are kinda of late. Stressing out I wasn’t able to relax, take pictures, warm up or enjoy the pre race socializing. I rushed to find a floor tire pump, set up my transition area, and met up with Tony in a long line for body marking and timing chip pick up.

Getting body marked. This left a number  tan on my shoulder for over 2 weeks.

Getting body marked. This left a number tan on my shoulder for over 2 weeks.

Tony showing his digits. #249

Tony at body marking, showing his digits. #249

As we were in line we heard the announcer say  that participants were now allowed to get into the water for a 15 minute warm up.  I was thinking to myself, ” Shoot! I really need this warm up in the water.”  It takes me awhile to get used to the initial cold. Oh well, no time for that, still  had to get  body marked. On the way to the beach start, we met up with the team and took a group Silicon Valley TNT picture.

Team photo of TNT Silcon Valley Monterey Bay Chapter

Team photo of TNT Silicon Valley Monterey Bay Chapter. ( I'm the bottom left corner)

With 2 minutes left to warm up in the water, I jump in a shallow part of water.  And darn it,  I step on corral! It was what our coaches had been warning us about all week. I look at my foot and it’s red a little bleeding and stinging. Oh well, no time to pout about this my wave was coming up. I didn’t really feel much of it due to all the adrenaline and excitement at the race start. Btw haven’t had a chance to purchase the photos from the event photog, but in the meantime here are a few “proof” photos.

Pre-race everyone waiting for their "wave".

Pre-race everyone waiting for their "wave".


Swim Start

There were 5 waves with 3 minutes between each wave.  The waves are as follows:

– Wave 1 – Male & Female Pros and Relays
– Wave 2 – Age Group Men – 15-39  ( Tony’s wave)
– Wave 3 – Age Group Men – 40 & Up
– Wave 4 – Age Group Women – 15-39 ( Donella’s Wave)
– Wave 5 – Age Group Women – 40 & up

Tony’s wave was 6 minutes ahead of mine, so I got the chance to watch the him and the rest of the red swim capped boys take off.

The swim start of Tony's race.

The swim start of Tony's race.

Tony's in there somewhere.

Tony's in there somewhere.

Tony finishing his swim.

Tony finishing his swim.

A few nerve racking minutes, it was my turn. I along with the rest of the pink swim capped ladies made our way into the water. I was nervous, but surprisingly I didn’t feel like puking! Yippie! I was quite happy about that. This was the moment I was anticipating for the past several months. Can I really swim in the ocean without a wetsuit or life vest?  Can I really be out there with a crowd of people clubbing my head, pulling my ankles, pushing, and shoving me all over the place. All those hours learning to swim, learning to bi-lateral breath, snake swimming, gaining stamina and  training in the pool. This was the part I most dreaded and was most excited to accomplish. Getting thru the swim would already be a reason for me to celebrate.

Pink Swim Caps: Ladies swim start.

Pink Swim Caps: Ladies swim start.

Can you see me?

Can you see me?

I swim at slower place, so I decided to hang back. Since this was my first Olympic distance,  I’d rather swim from behind, than get trampled on. I decided that I would swim along the the outer side of the pack and along the line of rescue  kayaks and surfers. That would mean I would be swimming farther distance and much more than necessary, but it gave me peace knowing that if I got tired or panicked I could grab on a surfboard. I was actually expecting to grab on to an emergency surfboard a few times.

I was hoping to not grab on any rescue kayak or surfboard, and I didn't! Yippie!

I was hoping to not grab on any rescue kayak or surfboard, and I didn't! Yippie!

It was time, the gun went off and just like at the Stanford Treeathlon, I was expecting to be left in the dust. But surprisingly, I was actually  swimming next to  people and more surprisingly I was actually passing people. I was shocked. After a few uncomfortable elbows  in the head and pulling at the ankles I started to feel comfortable. I had to remind myself that I am swimming “my race”  and not to over exert myself early on. Because, the water was so clear, I didn’t have to worry so much about “sighting”.  I still zig zagged a little, but not anything off course. The corral was kinda of a pain to dodge, sometimes it came out of nowhere and was so close to the surface. At some points it felt like you were swimming in between valleys. The water started to warm up and it was so clear..almost like swimming in a pool.  As I started to get more comfortable, I passed more people ( and many others passed me as well) and didn’t need to be so close to rescue surfboards or kayaks. In the beginning, my goal was to grab on to the least amount of  surfboards…..now I actually I didn’t need to!

All waves were now in the water.

All waves were now in the water.

I was half way done with the swim and I wasn’t even tired yet, I was so happy that I started to smile underneath the water. I even enjoying the water life and turtles underneath.  But as the last 500m was drawing near, yesterday’s wind started to pick up. My goggles were getting loose. I had to slow down and fix them. The last thing I wanted was the salt to get in my eyes. The ocean salt was so strong and it starting to sting. The water started becoming choppy, and the glare was getting stronger. I had been out there for over 30 minutes and the salt was starting to take toll on my throat and nose. It started to really burn. I was so close and just needed to finish this last stretch I could see the shore getting closer. I took my last stroke and I could feel the sand…I HAD FINISHED THE SWIM! I got up and saw a flash and saw that a photographer took a photo of me. ( I would later see how unflattering and tore up  I was! ha!)  As I ran out of the water,  I heard Coach Meggen and Katie say, ” Good job! Go Donella!”  I couldn’t believe it! I was so excited like I had already finished the race! It  didn’t even think that I had 31 more miles left to go! I was just enjoying the moment.

Swim to Bike Transition

From the ocean we had a 500m run from the sand to the asphalt transition area. In order to get the sand off of our feet, we had the options to run our feet into to 2 kiddie pools.  As i was heading toward the porto potty….uh huh. I stopped. I know people were going to give me grief for stopping. But I HAD to relieve myself.  The average transition time is 3-4 minutes….with my lil’ tinkle I was over a  whopping six  minutes. It may not sound long, but when you compare it to everyone else’s  it’s loong. Here I am having a delish pack of orange Gu for lunch…

Slurping some Gu...tases like a packet full of syrup.

Slurping some Gu...tastes like a packet full of syrup.

Biking on the Queen K
Biking usually gives me some time to rest after the swim. It was actually kinda cool to bike on the Queen K for our first Olympic distance tri. As I mentioned before Queen K is actually part of the same road course used during The Hawaii Ironman which consists of a 2.4 miles swim 112 miles in the Hawaiian lava desert 26.2 miles marathon run. The conditions of the bike event was the one thing many of us were unprepared for. We were biking against the headwinds that were going 35-45mph.  Since you were being hit by the wind from the front and the side, you also had to kinda bike diagnally so as not to pushed off sideways from your bike.

Queen K

Queen K

During the bike ride I hear a familiar voice yell ” Go babe!” I looked up and it was Tony on the back from his ride. Since, we start the race during different waves, we rarely get a chance to see one another. I was glad to see him in action.

Tony biking on the Queen K.

Photo proof: Tony biking on the Queen K.

Initially the biking was going ok, I was actually thinking that despite the conditions  I might make an ok time. I only have 10 miles to go, then suddenly the headwind became stronger.

Donella biking in the tough headwinds.

Photo proof: Biking in the tough headwinds.

There I was along with other participants going on a downhill on the lowest gear. It felt as if we were uphill, when we were actually going downhill.  it was nice to have fellow TNT members from across the country encourage one another. Throughout the course I said “Go Team!” to many people….and vice versa. I would especially say it when I passed someone who looked like they were struggling. They would always respond with a smile, as if gave them that little extra boost. When training in the bay area, you can easily hit 40mph going down hill on the highest gear.It was so hard going against the wind. The last 10 miles took me forever, to enjoy the ride (eventho the conditions were uncomfortable)  I began to singing Journey’s song “Don’t stop believin”” to the top of my lungs. It was so windy that  I doubt anyone could hear me.  But if they did, I hope they enjoyed it.  My tummy was starting to hurt. I think  the Gu and Gatorade was not mixing well. As I was getting closer to the transition area,  I knew that I was behind in the time I was hoping for. I was kinda feelin’ tired and little bummed. This must have been the part that Coach Chris warned us about during his talk about  the “Highs and Lows” that we will be feeling during the race.  He mentioned that at some point during the race you’re gonna be thinking ” this sucks! It’s hot! I’m tired”.   At that moment I was kinda feelin, “Man this sucks, I’m slow!” as I was thinking this the cars on the road were cheering me on and encouraging me, “Go Team!”  This is where the postive mental stuff kicks in. It felt  nice and I appreciated it.

A few minutes after I stopped singing at the top of my lungs.

Photo proof: a few minutes after I stopped singing at the top of my lungs.

Bike to Swim Transition
My transition this time was better. No need to potty, but I was wishing I could do #2…..uh huh….that’s right…#2. But there was no way I was gonna go that in a porto potty.  When I returned to the transition area, I saw Coach Mike purple mohawk and all ..cheering on his wife Vanessa. As I was heading out to the run out he said ” Go Donella!” …and off I was to the lava fields.

For reference: Here's a pic of Coach Mike, he placed in his division. Last year, he won the event.

For reference: Here's a pic of Coach Mike, he placed in his division. Last year, he won the event.

Running
After a 1 mile swim, 25 mile bike ride all I needed to do was run6 more miles.  My legs felt heavy….I couldn’t even go 5 minutes without stopping. I had a new black hat….and I will never wear it to a race again. I never knew that it was going to attract so much heat. It was like an oven in my head.

  • 1st  water stop
    I poured a little water on my hands and daintily flicked it on my face.
  • 2nd water stop
    I poured some water on my hands and patted my face and
  • 4th water stop
    I took my hat off and poured it on my head.
  • 5th water stop
    I took 2 cups of  water in both hands and barbarically flung it at my face.

Water was dripping down my face and shoulders and I didn’t care. I was hot, tired and I had a tummy ache.  There were times I was thinking “Lord, help me!” There was still head wind, with every mile the terrain got harder.

Instead of head wind, I was hoping more for a breeze.

Instead of head wind, I was hoping more for a breeze.

The terrain started with lava fields, then it was some nice   cobblestone, then it became trail running.

Donella  running on the rocky trails.

Photo proof: The rocky trails. I ended up tripping towards the end, so I had to slow down even more.

Running in the course.

Running in the course.

Gotta be sure not to trip and fall.

Gotta be sure not to trip and fall.

Keep on going...

Keep on going...

All along the course there was message created from rocks.

All along the course there was message created from rocks.

My ankles were not liking the large rocks.

My ankles were not liking the large rocks.

Tony on the las leg of the race.

Photo proof: Tony on the last leg of the race.

My "hands in the air" kinda look more like "stick 'em up".

Photo proof: My "hands in the air" kinda look more like "stick 'em up".

Just as you turn the corner, you  heard the music and the cheers. The beach still looks so far away. And the people at the finish line look like ants…but you think. oh it’s still within reach…just a mile more. Then, suddenly, just as you think the terrain will get easier……it runs to sand.  Sand??! You gotta be kidding me. After all this we still need to go thru sand. And if any of you have ran on sand….it is no fun.

Sand??!!

Sand??!!

Tony: "Don't let that guy behind you, pass you!"

Tony: "Don't let that guy behind you, pass you!"

Especially on the last mile. Finally, reaching the beginning of the beach…I see Tony. I heard him say, “Go, babe” All clean and fresh in a new t-shirt.  He ran along with me, taking pictures, just as he was taking the above  picture he says, “Don’t let that guy behind you pass you!” and my response…..after 32 miles…..was “Don’t say that! Not now!”. Hahah I didn’t have that extra kick of energy I was hoping for,  but I did have the energy to raise my “hands in the air” at the finish line.

On the end of this picture, was my coaches, mentors and teamates cheering me at the finish line.

At the finish line was my coaches, mentors and teammates cheering me on.

Finish my first olympic distance triathlon! Yippie!

Photo proof: My first Olympic distance triathlon! Overall Place: 703 ; Swim: 44:02; T1: 6:19 ; Bike: 1:53:11; T2: 3:19; Run: 1:23:59 ; Time: 4:10:50

Tony finishing his first Olympic Distance Triathlon.

Photo proof: Tony finishing his first Olympic Distance Triathlon - Lavaman Tri Overall Place: 266 ; Swim: 31:18; T1: 3:21 ; Bike: 1:22:58 ; T2: 1:32 ; Run: 54:20 ; Time: 2:53:29

As I crossed the finish line,  waiting for me were my coaches, mentors and teammates cheering me on. Everything crossing the line happened so fast, I crossed, the photographers snapped pictures, a staffer took of my timing chip, a volunteer handed me a bottle of Gatorade and water. My coaches and teammates surrounded me with high fives, hugs and smiles.

Surprisingly,Dave Scott, remembered us from the night before and come up to us congratulated us at the finish line.

Surprisingly, Dave Scott, remembered us from the night before and come up and congratulated us at the finish line.

Surprisingly,  Dave Scott ( six time Ironman Champ) was there.  It’s like having Magic Johnson of the Triathlon world,  come and  chop it up after a race. He remembered Tony and I  from the night before, we talked for a bit and he congratulated us on our race.  He asked me how I did, I said ” I’m really hot and  tired” but realizing that he had competed and won several Ironman Championships..I kinda of felt silly for saying that. He was really nice and friendly, I really surprised that he actually made and effort to come and talk to Tony and I after the race.  So it was kinda cool to have a world renown champion congratulate me after completing my first Olympic Triathlon, but  the one person that I was really happy to see at the finish line with a big smile and warm hug….was my love, Tony. =)

We did it together.

It was an amazing journey and I'm glad we had the opportunity to experience it together.

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