Monday, October 13, 2008

TCSDs Inaugural Barely Legal Half Ironman


I'm not really sure what possessed me but I decided to play race director for the day. On Saturday, I put on TCSD's (www.triclubsandiego.org) inauguaral Barely Legal Half Ironman. I wanted a half ironman challenge that would be free to athletes with a Kona theme since it was the same day as Ironman Hawaii. I thought it would be great for both seasoned veterans looking for a final workout before Ironman Arizona or Florida, athletes wanting a final end-of-season event without breaking the bank, or beginner athletes wanting preparation for a half ironman race.

After much planning, many e-mails, and even a volunteer's meeting 2 weeks prior, we were ready to go. I had raided TCSD's storage shed and borrowed lots of supplies and the rest of the supplies were donated or borrowed from the participants and volunteers. I also had t-shirts made up (see logo above). Afterall, it's not an event unless you have t-shirts! The night before, Brent and I drove the bike course, hanging up signs and chalking the road (2 other volunteers did the run course). I was exhausted by the end. I never realized how long 56 miles was before!

The volunteers gathered in the parking lot at La Jolla Shores Saturday morning at 5:00 am. It was dark and we couldn't see a thing. Luckily, a few of us had brought flashlights. Braving the chilly, damp morning and air and torrential WIND (probably about 30 mph--reminded me of Ironman Arizona--hmmm), we set up the registration table.

Katrina, Bethany, and Cal at registration. It's dark and COLD!!!

Athletes started pulling into the "transition area" at 5:30. They used their parking spot for transition and registered at our table, decked out in a grass skirt to commemerate Ironman Hawaii. All the volunteers sported leis and grass skirts too. Each athlete signed in, got a number, a map and route slip and got ready to swim.

It was WINDY. The surf was huge. The lifeguards tried valiantly to drop the buoys but they kept getting dragged ashore. Their efforts were to no avail. Thinking fast, I changed the swim course, using fixed buoys already firmly planted at the Shores. I had to estimate the distance since these buoys were much farther out than I had wanted. I gathered the athletes and gave the pre-course talk, discussing the swim carefully: swim with a buddy, get out early if you need to, check out with the swim timer when you need to, etc., etc. The lifeguards positioned themselves courageously by the buoys on their boards (I don't know how they navigated themselves out there and braved those waters for an hour) in the tsunami-like conditions. The designated swim buddy (TJ), readied himself by some unsure swimmers. I blew the airhorn, started the timer, and they were off.

me--discussing the swim course

We have to swim in that?

Everyone slowly walked (no one ran) into the surf. The swimmers struggled to make it out past the breakers. They were tough and brave in those waters, churning like the spin cycle on a washing machine. A few of us stood ashore and watched their progress nervously. As each swimmer exited, we checked them out. I was relieved when the final swimmer came in. My flock had returned. They took their time changing into their bike clothes and taking in fluids and calories at the transition aid station before proceeding. Onto the bike.

slowly entering the churning waters at the start

the swimmers, engulfed in waves

the sentries, watching the flock carefully. Everyone made it back safely. Phew!

--exiting the VERY "rough" swim

another survivor!

Brent did it too (the whole thing, of course!)

Thomas (TJ) Johnson, dedicated swim buddy. Thanks, TJ!

After everyone started the bike, I hopped into my truck and started SAG support. I was hoping my services would not be needed. My plan was to drive the bike course, help out at the aid stations, and cheer at the turn-arounds. At first, my plan went accordingly. The athletes fought horrid wind on the course, which was also extremely hilly as well. The final report was 7,401 feet of climbing. Add some winds and tada! A bike course a'la Rachel-style!

--on the bike course

--Dean, Brent, and Lorenzo coming to the aid station

As I was cruising along, I got the call. Gina had crashed into a pole. Her shoulder was injured, and she needed to get to the ER. Dammit! I turned my truck around sped down the 56 at 90, hoping to escape a lurking cop. She had crashed in a hard-to-reach place of the bike path. I convinced the security guard to let me into the fancy, private residential area and snaked my way around until I found her. She had been riding with a group, and they had done a great job of taking care of her. Except for her shoulder, she seemed in pretty good shape. Her bike was okay too. We loaded up her and her bike, and TJ took her to the ER. (Luckily, nothing was broken and she is still expected to race IMAZ in 6 weeks. Phew!)

Gina with Steve and her bike after the crash. Luckily, her injuries are minor.

I slowly made my way back to transition and helped check the athletes in after the bike. They helped themselves to some fluids in transition and were off to the run. The run course was not for wimps either. The report is that it had 1,142 ft. of climbing (more than the La Jolla Half Marathon). Phew! We had 2 aid stations set up for them, mile 2 and the turn-around. The mile 2 station was also conveniently set up at mile 12. Plus, even though it was hilly, the course wound through the residential streets of La Jolla, with scenic views of the Pacific. I figured that if you're going to suffer, you better have something pretty to look at.

The mile 12 aid station volunteers gave me the call as the athletes headed toward the finish line. We all tensed up in excitement. As Dean came down the finish "chute", we held up the tape for him to break. He did the limbo as he crossed the "finish line", constructed out of traffic cones, brooms, a noodle, and lots of balloons. Each finisher got to break the tape, get a photo finish, and a finisher lei (a'la Ironman Hawaii style). Also, the top 3 male and female finishers got Halloween masks! Everyone got pizza too (which I got half off because they lost my order and delivered it an hour late).

Dean crossing the finish line limbo-style.

Dean, sporting his pirate mask (top male finisher).
Johan and Ray coming down the "chute"

--top 3 female finishers (Tracy, Claudia, and Paula), posing at the "finish line"

All-in-all, it was a very rewarding experience. There were some bumps in the road, which forced me to think quickly on my feet but despite it all, the event went very smoothly. Everyone carried an enormous amount of positive energy with them. The volunteers were AMAZING!!! And the athletes were awesome too. Thanks everyone!

Course Details:

Bike

9 comments:

Chad in the AZ Desert said...

Wow, now you are a race director, too? Awesome! I'm glad the whole thing went well.

I love the logo by the way.

Wes said...

Rachel, you are just one crazy girl... Crazy is as crazy does...

teacherwoman said...

Wow! what an event! Way to go Rachel!

RoadBunner said...

Congratulations on a successful event! You wear many hats!

Sara said...

wow you are pretty amazing you know that?

Toby G said...

Way to lead by example and take initiative to organize this event

Dan said...

Wow Rachel, fantastic job! What a great idea, and sounded like great execution, and way to think quickly on your feet. Looks like people had a good time doing your race on IM day.

Mon said...

these races look like a lot of fun, well after all the hard work.

Sherry said...

Holy cow, Rachel! The things that you tackle... you never cease to amaze me. An inspiration triathlete and now a race director!

That surf! OMG! We just don't see stuff like there here in the Gulf Coast unless a hurricane is brewing... and then, nobody would be crazy enough to swim in it! You Cali tri folks have iron guts!