After relocating to San Francisco back in September 2015, I quickly found my space within the tri scene. Plenty of lovely routes to ride my bike and the lengthy Embarcadero to run along! I also joined the Golden Gate Tri Club to train with some other like-minded tri addicts!
As with most athletes, I tend to plan out my racing season with “A” races, “B” races and “C” races. In other words, I prioritise the importance of the races I participate in so that I can expend my focus, time and energy accordingly (an “A” race being the most important and “C” being the least important).
With my “A” races later this year, I used the HITS Napa Triathlon as a means of finding my feet in my racing shoes after a long winter of training.
I was extremely looking forward to the race as it was my first triathlon in the USA! In addition, I was visualising myself racing under the sun and working on my tan since California is known for its great weather right? But guess what, it was raining all weekend! Luckily we only got hit by a few small showers during the race but nothing major.
After prepping myself on the morning of the race, I was ready to get going. Did I mention that I had a great spot in the Transition Zone? I was located in one of the extreme corners of the zone which meant that I could not get lost 😉
I zipped into my wetsuit and was ready to swing my arms in the usual “washing machine” environment during the swim – I think I got off to a good start! The water was surprisingly warm and I was happy to not be zig-zagging my way towards the first buoy!
I caught hold of a stronger swimmer in front of me and managed to catch his draft. For those that don’t know, drafting behind another swimmer enables you to swim expend less energy whilst maintain the same speed (and it is not illegal in triathlons!). The conditions were almost perfect with not much wind, waves or currents however the course got crowded during the second lap.
I got out of the water and ran to my easily spottable location in the Transition Zone. Since there was some gravel, I got some small rocks caught in between my toes! So before putting on my cycling shoes I had to get rid of those rocks or else I would be in for a “bumpy” ride on the bike!
The bike course was super smooth as I think the road had recently been re-surfaced 😉 It was one of those courses on which you’re either going up or down. I personally don’t like such courses as I can never get into a nice rhythm 😦 Nonetheless I focused on what I had to do and in particular not to slip off due to the wet conditions! The bike was 2 loops and as always, I got overtaken by about 4-5 other triathletes – still need to work on my cycling legs 😉
After arriving into Transition in one piece with some fairly fresh legs, I switched into my running shoes and set off on another hilly course on the run! I was pretty much alone throughout the entirety of the run course. I looked back to see if there was someone hunting me down but there was no athlete in sight. I began telling myself that I could slack a bit since my overall finishing position is unlikely to change as long as I keep my running pace as it is. It is usually in these situations where you got to stop your brain from thinking with such negative thoughts. To counter such thoughts, I began reminiscing on a few of my past races where I ended up catching an athlete with 1 or 2 kms before the finish line. It gave me a mental boost and I ploughed up those hills. At the turnaround point with 5km to go, I saw the athlete ahead of me in the horizon. I began calculating the odds of whether or not I could catch him. I began telling myself that “the run is my strength” and “slowly but surely I can catch him”. I switched gear and began running faster. My lungs were feeling the additional oxygen requirement but I tried to ignore it. Inch by inch, I slowly got closer. I was beginning to think if I would have enough road left to catch him. Less than 1 km to go and I could hear him breathe in front of me! I consolidated myself and prepared the attack. Once I overtake, there’s no looking back – got to keep pushing!I overtook and got a huge confidence boost! The finish line was in sight and it was a matter of “do or die”. Luckily for me, I DID IT!
Took me a few minutes to recover and begin smiling again! I went straight to the food tent and began stuffing myself with bagels smothered with peanut butter and jam!
I was incredibly pleased with my splits especially my run time of 39mins. It has been a personal target of mine to consistently run under 40mins in an Olympic distance triathlon. Hopefully I can maintain this form throughout the remainder of the season.
Stay tuned for future blogs!