Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Wildflower 2013

This year I have had the wonderful opportunity to coach the TNT summer triathlon team- for the Wildflower Olympic triathlon  as well as the Vineman 70.3 (half-Ironman distance). At Wildflower this year I was coaching, and spectating, as well as doing a little relay race of my own.

The weather up at Lake San Antonio can make or break your day on the wildflower course. Most years it is hot and sometimes windy, and usually very very dry. The weather reports this year leading up to the race were showing no exception to this trend. Forecasts were in the high 80's and low 90's for the weekend. We told our team to hydrate, hope for the best, and prepare for the worst.

After reports like that, and the fact that every time I had been to Wildflower before (training, or racing) I had spent the weekend in my car or in a tent, I was even more delighted that this year I had decided to join some other friends and teammates in renting an RV. Best. Decision. Ever. Our RV turned out to be an enormous palace on wheels with AC, refrigerator, freezer, satellite TV, and washer/dryer. Not to mention beds that were not yoga mats on top of rocks. Definitely a great idea.
I arrived late late Thursday night so I'd time to acclimate and get logistics figured out all day Friday before the races on Saturday and Sunday. I spent Friday checking in my participants at the campsite, answering questions and trying to acclimate to the hot and dry weather (and drinking about a gallon of diluted Gatorade in the process to keep myself hydrated). I had decided to run the 13.1 mile long course run course as part of a relay with Sara D, and Kevin- my current and former teammates. Our team name was "Turn Around Bright Eyes/Total Eclipse of the Heart", and for some reason it was my big idea to do the relay and for me to do the run- which had certainly done a number on me last year.
Team "Turn Around Bright Eyes"
Saturday, while Kevin was swimming and Sara was biking I was able to get a little more sleep than my super speedy relay teammates since I had the last leg of our race, so I had some time to get my nutrition dialed in and continue to hydrate hydrate hydrate. When it came time for the run it was certainly hot. I got to transition in just enough time to get situated and ready to go before Sara D came flying in off the bike course; I grabbed the timing chip from her ankle and took off onto the run course.

It only took until mile 3 for me to start to feel some signs of heat exhaustion. I've gotten pretty good now at recognizing the early warning signs. so I definitely felt it coming. When I got my first "chill" I knew it was time to slow it down. Through frequent walk breaks, and bottles of water dumped on my head, I was able to regulate my temperature and stay cool enough to get it done.
On the run, high-fiving away the heat stroke
I even pulled it together well enough to run through camp where lots of spectators cheer for the runners coming through before "the pit". At one point I saw Carlos cheering with the Square One crowd (offering up bourbon and bacon to the athletes going by)- he ran with me for a moment and cheered me on my way- "can't stop, won't stop!"  The runner next to me asked as we passed: "family?" to which I replied without hesitation- "Yes, Iron-family." It was great to see my tri-teammates (who should have been in their tents and out of the sun!) as I ran through camp, and a bunch of Ironteam people in "the pit" as we all struggled up, then down, then up again, before the final downhill to the finish line. All in all, it wasn't the fastest 13.1 miles I've ever done, but I'll take it!

Olympic Swim Start- Purple TNT wave!
On Sunday the weather decided to throw everyone for a loop. Instead of hot and dry and sunny, we got cold and dark and windy! I personally took it as a gift from the triathlon gods, because as mentioned above, I know what it's like to race in the heat- and I'd choose cold and windy over hot and sunny for myself and my participants any day of the week! There was excitement in the air for our team as they made their way to the start line - many of them for their first triathlon ever!  I stayed up at the top of Lynch Hill while the other coaches went down to help everyone through the start process.

Captain Monica cheering in her (somewhat creepy) sock monkey costume
As our people made it out of the water and into transition my fellow coaches and I kept track of everyone with our very effective and official-looking 2-way radios, so I was ready for everyone as they came up Lynch Hill- arguably their hardest climb of the day- right out the gate from transition. Tushar (dressed in his trusty banana costume) and I encouraged our teammates and everyone else with cheers of "Go Team!" "Good Work!" and "This hill is bananas!" Our team did a wonderful job despite the windy bike course- and everyone made it in before the cutoff!

From Lynch Hill I was able to see everyone come back in from the bike and await our runners for their last mile of the race. Although the run course is a challenging 6.2 miles, mostly on trails, all our people were in great shape and smiling ear to ear when they got to the top of Lynch for the last time- possibly because they knew they only had one mile to go- all downhill- to victory at the finish line! I was still bundled up in my parka with my backpack and radio when Maya came through with Marjorie and I started running with them to the finish line. Lucky for me, Maya stuck to her intervals all the way down the hill and they finished the race strong and looking great!
Everyone on our team had a great day despite the crazy weather and everyone finished the race with time to spare!

Two other friends of mine also did the Olympic race that day- Becca and Mike. Becca had been talking about doing Wildflower for years, so I know it was a big deal for her. They both had great race and a great day- which was made even more incredible when Mike proposed at the finish line!
Becca and Mike at the finish line- she said Yes!

1 comment:

  1. Just stumbled across your blog and had to say the bourbon or bacon guy was awesome! Just wish I had enough in me to grab some on the way by. Didn't know if I wanted to laugh or collapse at that point of the event.