Friday: I decide to take a half day because I have not yet packed for the weekend. I have been filled with this immense desire to do absolutely nothing for the past few weeks. Usually my taper is filled with anxiety and urgency and the need to do something.Maybe it’s because I’ve been putting in longer hours (not more training volume; just fewer, but longer ,workouts), or maybe I am just becoming lazy in my old age.

After all, I did turn 30 this year. I once heard someone say that you are growing until age 30 and then you begin to die. (What a lovely thought.)

After a brief lunch of Chicken Fajitas, I begin.

First, even though I know I shouldn’t change anything right before a race, I have decided that I really want to race in my other bike shoes. I spent about 45 minutes changing out the SPD clips on my AXOs for the LOOK clips I had on my specialized shoes. [Specialized runs a bit small and my feet tend to fall asleep after about an hour on the bike. This is the reason for the change. I have been meaning to do it for months, but…. the procrastination factor.] I watch TV a bit. Then I pack. I watch TV a bit more. Then I load the car. Finally, I am ready to go. Maybe I will just go to bed early and drive down at 3 in the morning (in hindsight, that wasn’t a bad idea).

I finally leave Sacramento at 5pm. I had planned to leave before 3! I finally got to Monterey at 9pm, after fighting traffic the entire way(damn! I forgot it was Friday!), to find that there was some sort of classic car show going on late into the night. Lovely! There was absolutely no parking! I did manage to get hold of one of the ladies racing the Triathlon at Pacific Grove the next day. Her husband was about to leave the hotel. I got his parking spot. Lucky me!

The rest of the evening was pretty uneventful. I went to bed in a beautiful room with the sounds of sea birds outside.

Saturday: I wake early, wishing I could continue to sleep, to cheer on my Team in Training teammates at the Triathlon at Pacific Grove.

I was amazed to feel the butterflies and nausea begin as I made my way to race race course. What’s going on here? I’m not racing today! Pavlov’s response I guess. My body thinks I am racing. Weird.

I had so much fun cheering on my teammates. For most of them, this was a first time experience. They were nervous and excited and I loved sharing that with them. (That’s me in the blue cheering on my teammate Brook)

After the race, Ted and I carpooled to Santa Cruz. We checked into the Coast Santa Cruz (every room has a beautiful ocean view!) and headed down to the beach for a short swim.

I had forgotten how much I love to swim in the ocean. It is such a different experience. When I was small, I read a book about a little tugboat on the sea. That’s what I always feel like. A small, brave tugboat bobbing along and rolling with the motion of the waves. I am insignificant and very important all at once.

After the swim, my good friend Cyndi arrived. I was so excited that she came to see me race. I have never had fans before. This was the first time a friend (who isn’t racing his/herself) has seen me race. It meant the world to me. We had the most delicious pesto pasta for dinner, and Cyndi was kind enough to mix up some Bailey’s and milk for me after I realized that my wine was dealcohalized! What?! I didn’t even know they made that! What’s the point?

After the final preparations of nutrition and numbers, it was bedtime. Still not nervous, yet…

Sunday: RACE DAY!: You can view Cyndi’s version of the story. Here’s mine…

The transition area was not pre-assigned. AND the transition is not flow through. Everything happens at one end. Dang it! Why do they do that?!I arrive at transition just after opening at 5:05am. There are already about 10 people setting up. I strategically pick my spot, on the end of a rack at the front of the transition area slightly closer to the bike in/out than the swim in/run out. Perfect!

The hotel is right next to the race start, so I head back to my room for a 30 minute nap. Lovely.

As I leave the hotel for the (mandatory) pre-race meeting at 6:30, I mention to CLo that I feel like I am going to puke. This seems to really delight her. She assures me that if I do, she will be sure to get it on film. Great. 

The nausea only escalates as I move closer to the beach.  The shock of the cold water helps to ease my queasiness a little as I dive in for my warm-up.

7:12am-I am at the start line. Nervously rocking back and forth. Bouncing gently on the balls of my feet. Shaking my arms and hands. Breathing. 10…9…8..deep breath..7…6..exhale..5..relax..4..soft..3.. quiet..2..breathe..1..GO!

And we are off. Running. Knees up. Dive. Push. Dive. Swim. Arms. Legs. Bodies. I fight for my position. Finally… I am clear. In my rhythm. I feel strong. I am alive.

Rounding the pier, I notice that I can’t see the buoys. Every now and then I catch a glimpse of a member of the water safety team. There are so many of them! I think maybe because of the storm warning we received over night… This is when I notice that the water is not near as calm as I was told it would be. We were definitely getting something from that storm even though it never did hit. The final stretch from open water to the shore seemed much longer than it should have. (Don’t I have the waves at my back? Shouldn’t the current be helping me?) Finally, I feel sand beneath my fingertips. Placing both hands onto the hard sand I lift my hips slightly to pull my feet beneath me and stand up into a run as I have practiced and done successful times before. Only this time… the ocean was not ready to let me go. A massive wall of water lifted me higher forcing me into a somersault. I rolled, losing my goggles and gaining and ear-full of sand. Back upright, I stand and run, fleeing the tempestuous sea. (1.2 miles=35:22.7)

The quarter mile run to the transition area turned out to be a benefit. When I mounted my bike I was ready to ride. I was loose and geared to go, without the usual disorientation that follows the swim. (T1=5:13.4)

I enjoyed every minute on my bike, but the most memorable part was flying at 40 mph with the ocean waves crashing 100 feet off to my right. It was beautiful. The course wasn’t flat by any means, but there was nothing that I would call difficult. Basically it was a nice rolling cruise. Enough grade to keep it interesting, but not so much to hurt. It was lovely. (56 miles=2:51:42.0)

Transition to run was smooth, uneventful. (T2=0:55.8)

The run hurt. Yes, it did. But what could I expect. Running is my worst event. It always hurts. After a few miles, I got into a groove. I was on pace, holding about 8:45. Well on my way to break 5:30:00. Excellent! Just keep moving.

At the turn around I was 2 minutes ahead. No problem, I though, I can totally do this!

At mile 9, it really began to hurt. I could feel myself slow. Keep moving! I told myself. Not much more. Do this!

At mile 10 I checked my time. I needed to hold just under 8:30 to make it. I still had faith. I can still do this. It will be over in less than a half hour. Just do it. Run!

Mile 11. I needed 8:15. What? I felt like I was going faster!

Mile 12. Less than 8 minutes. How can I feel like I am going faster, but actually be moving slower. I resigned myself to the fact that I would not break 5:30 today.

The last 1/4 mile or so was on the beach. It seemed like forever! But the time I saw the finish line, I had made peace with my performance and my results. I was happy to see my teammates lined up to cheer me in. I crossed the finish line very pleased and looking forward to the next one.(13.1 miles=2:01:07.9; Final=5:34:21.9) 

This was the best race of my life (better than World’s even!). I had so much fun. I never once had a negative thought. I had so much support from teammates, their families, and Cyndi. Although my body hurt more than it ever has after a triathlon…I can’t wait to do it again.

Thank you so much to everyone who helped me accomplish this milestone…

To everyone who donated to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society: Thank you! Beyond words. You have given more than you will ever know. You have saved lives. And that means so much!

To everyone who supported me and encouraged me: You are all amazing! Friendship is the most important thing and I am thankful everyone of my friends (live or on-line). You are all a very special part of my life. Even if at times I seem cold and confident and independent… your kindness reaches deeper than you know. Thank you!

To Team in Training: Thank you to all my mentors and coaches and teammates. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to be a part of something bigger than myself. Thank you for your friendship. Team in Training will always hold a special place in my heart. Thank you!

What’s next? First, Foxy’s Fall Century. Then the California International Marathon. And just maybe I will tackle the Napa Marathon again. Triathlon season begins in April. I definitely see a full Ironman in the line-up. Vineman? Florida? Lanzarote? Brazil? UK? Who knows… but there will be one. And by 2011…Kona