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2008 Uvas South Bay Triathlon

Day before the Race
Picked up my race packet and swim cap the day before the race. My thoughts were very grim when I saw my swim cap. Since swimming is not one of my strongest events, it's one of the few times I wouldn't mind having a loud color swim cap like a neon green, neon yellow, neon orange, maybe even a neon pink. Nope, those colors were assigned to other swim waves and my age group was assigned the dark navy blue swimcap. Hope the lifeguards notice me if my leg decides to cramp up during the 3/4 mile swim followed by a 16-mile bike and 5-mile run.

Day of the Race 5/18/08
I pull myself out of bed at 4:30am and I'm on the road by 5:15am since the course is an hour away. The organizers recommend arriving onsite 1.5 hours early to park and setup transition for my 7:50am wave start. Spent about 30 minutes creeping along the last mile to the designated parking.

Definitely need to practice open water swimming. I can swim a mile in an hour at Quarry Lakes in the 107yd swim lane going back and forth without stopping, but going point-to-point without a nice swim lane to stay in and having to sight forward every few strokes while looking into the sun adds complexity. Was supposed to have 15ft water visibility but looking down I could only see 2ft of murky water.

Surfboard #1
I thought about warming up but dunked my head underwater and took about 5 strokes and decided I'd save my energy for the 3/4 mile swim. Big mistake. As soon as my wave went off, I went about 200yds, anxiety set in, chest constricted, heart rate cranked, and I didn't like looking straight into the sun when sighting east. The first lifeguard was stationed really close at that point and I decided to breast stroke over and rest. Guy was totally cool. The lifeguard said I had a decent stroke and should have no problem finishing and to just take a breather and continue on. I let the heartrate subside and started crawling again and then anxiety crept back so I did some backstroke while the wave that started behind me overtook me. After a few minutes of backstroke, I went back to the crawl and rounded the second buoy and surfboard #2 was in sight.

Surfboard #2
Heading north, everytime I took a breath to my right, I'd be staring into the sun again. Instead of the orange buoy, I sighted on the lifeguard in red stationed at the turn buoy. The lifeguard was a totally fit blonde in a red bikini. She would've fit right in on Baywatch. I took another breather on the surfboard and let my heart rate drop down to 115 before heading out again.

Surfboard #3
Heading west, this would be the longest leg. My goal was just to finish the swim at that point and I figured my best chance would be to take at least one more rest. At the midpoint of the western leg, I stopped at another surfboard. Stephanie, one of the swim coaches at the Santa Clara Swim Club said her brother would be out here on a surfboard so I asked if he was Stephanie's brother. Turns out, his name was Ed and he wasn't related to Stephanie but he does swim masters at the Santa Clara Swim Club. He said I was roughly at the halfway point.

After I left Ed (the only lifeguard name I remember), somehow Baywatch girl reappeared about 30ft away and was either pacing me or another swimmer on her surfboard just gliding across the water. Having a lifeguard ready to jump in and save me and seeing her on every breath definitely built up my confidence. All of a sudden, I rounded the final buoy and saw the boat ramp and swim finish line in sight. More lifeguards on surfboards were stationed here but I wasn't stopping. Energy level kicked up and I was running up that ramp. Didn't have much trouble finding my bike since it was one of the few left in the racks.

Nobody passed me on the bike but I passed many others. Even managed to catch a few others in my age group so I didn't finish last!

Notes for next time

  • arrive early or be prepared to park down the road
  • get a transition backpack to carry gear to the start
  • warm up before the swim start
  • wear number facing forward on the bike helmet for the photo
  • only need 1 water bottle on the bike
  • work on the swim

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