in like a lion

Remember that childhood rhyme, “If March comes in like a lion it will go out like a lamb?” If 2015 is going to follow that proverb, then I’m in for a smooth race at the end of the year. On Sunday, many soft Southern Californians braved lion-like conditions at what was the first race of a new season for most.

I’m not big on race reports, but this is a triathlon blog, after all. Ignoring the fact that I raced on Sunday would be like running a text-only food blog. So here’s a minimalist report on what was a whirlwind trip and race.

Desert Triathlon

On my way to T1. This photo made me realize that I’m developing swimmer arms.

Saturday morning I rode easy for three hours before heading to yoga teacher training at 12:30. I’d packed all my gear the night before and sent it off with Mark, who left for the desert Saturday morning with his parents. I cleaned up, ate, stuffed my bike in the car, and went off to training. I left training early, grabbed a salad from Seaside Market, and drove to Ben and Becky’s —thankfully they weren’t leaving until that evening as well and I didn’t have to drive out on my own. Bec tucked me in the back of their VW Westy while Ben expertly navigated the two-hour trek out to La Quinta (near Palm Springs). We arrived at about 7:30—me to the Butsko-Barber VRBO mansion and they to their camp spot at the race site. Hard core!

Desert Triathlon

Pre-race with awesome teammates, post-race with awesome mom-in-law.

We all woke up bright and early Sunday morning to pump tires and pack five racers’ bikes into two vehicles, all feeling a bit of Silverman deja-vu. Our rental was four minutes from Lake Cahuilla, so it was super low-stress. We’d heard horror stories about the dust storm at the sprint distance race the day prior, so were relieved to wake to calm. (As it turned out, we’d get rewarded in rain what we missed out on wind-wise.)

Desert Triathlon

Heading home on the last loop. (Photo: Stephen Banister.)

From there we all enjoyed the low-key race prep that only local, short races provide for veterans like most of us are. With a 7:30 race start there was plenty of time for body marking, bike racking, transition organizing, and a 10-minute warm-up jog. About 10 minutes before the gun went off, the rare, but much-needed rain started to come down. Thankfully it remained fairly light all morning though it still made for a messy, wet day.

Desert Triathlon

San Diego drowned rats. (Pictured: Keith, Dan, Gerry, moi, Jene, and Payton. Not pictured: lots of fun, fast friends.)

I came into this race with a very different level of fitness than when I did it in 2013, two weeks out from my best Ironman race ever (Los Cabos). With the combination of the rain and not being in peak shape, all I really wanted was to maybe swim faster and maybe shave a few seconds off my overall time. And that is exactly what I did. Other than tiny improvements, I was pretty much the same athlete this time around as I was in 2013. And given my just-a-bit-above-base-level fitness right now, I’m happy with that!

Desert Triathlon

Recovery, the only way we know how. (Not pictured: massive burgers, wine, dinner, more wine, and so…much more…wine…)

I swam a 20:52 (for a one-minute improvement over two years ago), rode a 1:01:26 (for the fastest female bike split of the day and a 20-second improvement despite slick roads), and ran a 43:44 10K (30 seconds slower than my 2013 time), for a 2:09:50 finish time. That was good enough for fourth in my AG and 9th overall (women). I’ll take it! Congrats to Katie, Becky, and my new Canadian friend Lizzie who killed our AG.

Results aside, it was so much fun to race with good friends, training partners, swim coaches, teammates, and familiar faces. I wished the weather had been better, simply so that we could all hang around the race site catching up, snacking, and watching the awards. Instead, we dragged our soaked, shivering bodies and dirty bikes back to the cars and high-tailed it home to get warm. From there, we indulged in the post-race downtime our crew does so well, basking in the promise of the first race of the year.

Desert Triathlon

Mark and his mom made the local paper!

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