Sunday, April 12, 2009


55° water temps in San Pablo Bay had me wondering what form of illness drove me to want to participate in the Vineman sprint triathlon. Many months ago, I decided to visit my son in San Francisco during spring vacation, and this tri was being held the same week of my trip, so…I signed up. I have a friend who has a place in Marin, and asked if I could use her bike. As it turned out, she was not around, but I had gotten James a bike for Christmas, so I figured I would use that. It is an aluminum Motobecane from Bikes Direct- a far cry from my Fuji SL-1, but perhaps I could make it work. He offered to put my clipless pedals on and agreed to come and watch me race. Most tris are held early in the morning, so none of my children have ever seen me race. I was really happy that he and Olivia would join me.

All week James and Olivia and I had a great time riding around San Francisco together (James borrowed his roommate's bike) and staying up late sampling California wine. I did run across the Golden Gate one morning with a friend, but on the whole, I was feeling totally unprepared for this race. I have been cycling a lot, but doing very little swimming or running. In fact, I have been doubting myself and my abilities lately. I was really unsure about this race.

But, Saturday morning dawned sunny and warm. As we drove across the bridge to San Rafael, I was starting to feel more positive. At the park, the plethora of jellies washed up on the shore gave me some pause. But, I was in the last wave, so I hoped they would all be churned away. I always feel like a stuffed sausage in my full wetsuit, but I was glad I had it, and my neoprene cap, as I plunged into the fringed waters. The swim was actually not so bad. I was surprised to find myself getting out of the water at the front of the pack. I am not a fast swimmer, but I am steady, and in a triathlon people often panic. Plus, I can swim a straight line, so I guess that gave me an advantage. After a quick transition, I headed out on the bike. The ride began with a 400 ft climb up and around a sharp corner with a 20%+ grade. Not a problem for me, but some folks walked. In fact, The Motobecane kicked butt for the whole rolling, windy course. I got some satisfaction as I blew past many competitors riding carbon tt bikes 20X the price.

The run started just as brutally, with a long steep stair climb up to the road making for a tough brick. But, the rest was flat for the most part and I felt really good. A few folks passed me, but I was just enjoying the warm sunshine on my face and the feeling of strength and well being. The last half mile I picked up my pace and closed in on a young woman ahead of me. I stayed just behind her until the last 400 yards or so. Then I put on the blasters and, Zoom! I felt her try to sprint as I passed her, but there was no way she was going to come close. At the finish line my son said, "Well, you didn't win, but you did beat her!" Booyah!

Here is a fun little video I made during our visit to the California Academy of Sciences.

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