Race Report: Pacific Grove Triathlon

Short version: I killed it. Probably thanks to a fast (for this race) swim, I was only a bit over a minute slower than the fastest I’ve gone here. And, I won — even though the results say otherwise. Now, I can’t walk because my right little toe may basically be broken.

Long version: We rolled up at like 8:00 for my 8:45 start. While I was trying to pump up my wheel (with disc cover) and screw the screws back in, because they have to be somewhat unscrewed to pull back the cover to get the pump in, this woman walks by and says, “You girls are late.” Yes, gee, thanks.

I was totally the last girl on the beach pulling my wetsuit on with 7′ to go (and at least some small part of me thought: I’m sure they’ll hold the wave for me — which they totally wouldn’t). But, seriously, if this was a running race or a cycling race, I basically would have been early. Stupid triathletes. I even warmed up for 6′ running + 5′ in the water. So there.

The swim is brutal. It looks like this:

Not me. From Slowtwitch
Not me. From Slowtwitch

It was cold, but not knock-the-breath-out cold. And, it was a fast start, but not knock-the-breath-out fast. Pretty quickly it was four or five of us swimming hard at the front and then one girl just pulled away, all easy, like she suddenly decided she was done messing around with us. I sort of followed, as best I could, which meant I was pretty quickly out in second by myself. At some point, I got stuck in some kelp and had to stop to unwind it from my arm. A girl caught up to me then, which was just as well, since it motivated me and I sprinted to catch up with her. She got caught in some other kelp, I somehow took a cleaner line, and by the end of the first lap I had about 10″. Then, I put my head down and just swam hard all by myself. Every time there was clean water I swam as hard and as fast as I could. Every time I hit kelp, I took shallow strokes and just got through it. Still, it felt like the stuff was reaching out and trying to drown me, even pulled my goggles off.

When you swim, you have no idea how fast you’re going or what kind of time make sense, so I was prepared for the clock to read 26′ or 27′. I was surprised, then, when the announcer said, “Next wave, you’re just coming up on 5′ to go.” That meant I swam under 25′!!!

That was so exciting, I almost didn’t care about the rest of the race. Almost.

I transitioned fast and was on my bike with one goal: catch the girl ahead of me. About halfway through the first lap, I passed two girls biking kind of slowly in running shoes. I didn’t think they were the girl ahead of me — I wasn’t even sure they were in the race — but we were the first women’s wave, so who knows how they got there. At the beginning of the second lap, I caught the first girl and realized she was 14 years old.

The rest of the four bike laps (really out, U-turn, back, U-turn, etc) went by. I passed lots and lots of men and some women. I sang the same five lines of Taylor Swift and Rihanna over and over, because it’s a way to think without thinking. It hurt a lot, but I broke it up into sections. I didn’t have a power tap, so I just tried to do each out and back section in a bit over 8′. I don’t think I actually did a single section in 8′, but I didn’t slow down either. The fastest I’ve ever gone on this bike course is 1:07, but that’s really hard to do and it seemed unlikely I’d have the bike fitness for it. When I realized I was going to bike a 1:09 I was pretty happy with that. Expectations are a funny thing, because the other year I biked a 1:09 here I was pretty upset about it.

I got off the bike as the first woman. But, when I went to pull my bike shoes off, I couldn’t get them off. I couldn’t feel my feet; they were frozen. This didn’t bode well.

I tried to pull my running shoes on and couldn’t. I sat down and worked them on, bit by bit. But, the same thing happened that happened in 2008: I couldn’t feel my toes, so I couldn’t get them into my shoes right. My toes were all bent under and I started to run, but when you’re running with your own toe wedged under your foot, it’s pretty painful. I stopped again and tried to pull my shoes off and back on. I could see a bump sticking out all weirdly in my shoe, which I presume was my toe, but I couldn’t move it. Finally, I decided too much time had been wasted on this already (my T2 was slower than my T1!) and I just needed to run.

It was painful.

I told myself it wasn’t going to hurt less if I slowed down, so I might as well finish as soon as possible. I told myself I just needed to run under 42′ and I could do that. Just run 6:40s, I thought, you can do that in your sleep. Apparently, I can’t do it after swimming and biking, though. Yet. It’s been a long time since I’ve done an age-group race like this. I forgot how much of a superstar you feel like as you blow through all the men’s waves ahead of you. When every. single. man. started before you started, you do nothing but pass people the entire race. On the run, my pace seemed blistering compared to the people I was passing, who cheered for me and yelled. At the end of the first lap, I realized I was not running as fast as I hoped I was, but close. 6:50s. My math got fuzzy, though, and hard to do. I just sang in my head and kept my cadence high, pushing as much as I could.

I knew the girls behind me (including the 14-year-old!) were about 5-6′ back and not closing. I passed two other girls, who were jogging/walking, on the first lap of the run. Which was weird. Because I was the first woman and in the first women’s wave, so I don’t totally know how they got there. There was also a girl about 5′ behind me, who I lapped on the bike, so I don’t know how she was then 5′ back. It was all very confusing. But, I knew I had it. I was killing it. I just wanted to put as much time in as possible, figuring some of the 34-year-olds in the wave behind me would be fast. Then, with 3/4 of a mile to go, a 27-year-old passed me, running 6:20s or so. I hadn’t been passed the entire race. I was so confused, I had no idea she was there, but I couldn’t match her pace. She went by and I couldn’t believe I’d gotten run down. I was so discouraged. In about 15″ I went from killing it to convinced I was doing terrible. Then, I remembered I still was about to do a far faster time than I could have hoped for and I finished.

But, at the finish, the girl wasn’t anywhere. I wanted to congratulate her; I looked all around. It wasn’t until after I changed clothes that I saw her still racing, still on the run course. She’d been on her first lap?

I ran a 42:30 (ok) and went 2:20:58. I knew that might be fast enough to win the overall on this not particularly fast course, but I couldn’t tell. The results at the finish were all messed up (and clearly some people were confused). It now seems like I did win, but the results have a girl listed in front of me who pretty clearly must have only done 3 bike laps and 2 run laps. And, also, if a 24-year-old in my wave really ran a 31′, I would have noticed. So. I can’t quite decide if I want to be that person who emails in and flags the result. I mean, on one hand: does it matter? On the other: I probably am that person, right?

Now, my feet are pretty messed up. I think my right little toe might be sort of broken. I can’t really walk on it:

Ouch.
Ouch.

17 thoughts on “Race Report: Pacific Grove Triathlon

  1. That swim is silly. And I too hate trying to cram frozen feet into bike or run shoes – nothing else makes me feel so incompetent. Well done on the day though! Maybe those random girls were relay racers?? So excited you’re back to racing. And crushing it.

  2. Get a friend to leave the results feedback for you (that’s my non-confrontational self talking). It really is only fair – you won! I’m just surprised there was so many mistakes and confusion; hasn’t this race been around for awhile? You’d think the organizers would be on it. But great job.

    1. I think it was just people who didn’t know how many laps to do, etc. Who knows. I thought I’d just wait for them to sort it out and they did! Without me having to email in.

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