Tuesday, October 13, 2009

TCSDs 2nd Annual Barely Legal Half Ironman

From the Race Director’s Perspective (Rachel):

In the spirit of Ironman Hawaii, I organize a Half Ironman “Experience” on the same day for the Tri Club of San Diego. It was such a success last year that I got "suckered" into doing it again (actually it was a lot of fun). What better venue to celebrate than San Diego. Donned in our leis and grass skirts, 14 volunteers set up the course for 40 athletes. It was “pot-luck” style; all the participants donated supplies like chairs, tables, Gus, Gatorade, water, and post-race chow.
--Group photo of athletes and volunteers. Top row, left to right: Laurent, Ryan, Chris, Mary, Mike, Marion, Stephen, Mary, Marie, Ray. Bottom row (L to R): Jennifer, Rachel, Gina, Steve, Brent. Photo by E. Richards.
--Group photo #2. Top row (L to R): Mark, Laurent (with son), Brad, Matt, Allen M., Steve P., Chris, Stephen, Joy, Rigoberto, Jason, Jiea, Mary, Seung, Sara, Allen L. Bottom row (L to R): Ryan, Tracy, Lauren, Johan, Rachel, Andrew, and Anita. Photo by E. Richards.

Athletes and volunteers arrived at the La Jolla Shores parking lot at 5:30 am. We all donned headlamps and carried flashlights. It’s hard to set up when it’s pitch dark! As dawn broke, the “lifeguards” dragged their surfboards, kayaks, and buoys to the beach. I was relieved. The water conditions were perfect. Small tide and glassy water. Last year, a violent wind had whipped the Shores into a frenzied froth, making the swim dangerous and optional. It had been impossible to drop buoys; the wind simply dragged them back to shore. I was excited; we would have buoys this year! Chris Teague valiantly dropped the buoy while learning how to kayak for the first time. I stifled several giggles as he flipped over several times. However, I was impressed with his courage; afterall, he had volunteered to basically get wet for over an hour to watch over the swimmers while I got to remain perfectly dry. Will kayaked out 1,000 meters south of Chris to drop the 2nd buoy while Ray paddled out on a surfboard to keep watch on swimmers between the two.
--Volunteers Mary, Katrina, Chris, and Marie set up the registration table. Photo by E. Richards.
--Brent enjoys some coffee. It's still dark out! Photo by E. Richards.
--Dropping the buoys in calm conditions. Photo by E. Richards.

I gave a brief course talk to the athletes. I was chattering a mile a minute, gesticulating wildly. I couldn’t contain my excitement. After donning their wetsuits, the athletes spent a few minutes testing the water conditions as I drew a start line in the sand with the toe of my shoe. As athletes lined up, Rick Summers hobbled out of the water, blood running down his leg. A sting ray. I was amazed at his bad luck. Panic welled in my chest. The athletes were ready to go but Rick was injured. The incredible, quick-thinking volunteers came to my rescue. Randi led him to a chair and gave him a blanket while Mary heated up some water using the grill. Meanwhile, I counted down the clock. “3,2,1…GO!” I blew my whistle with all my might. The piercing shrill of the whistle stung my ears, and the athletes charged into the water. They were off!
--giving the course talk (while wildly gesticulating). Photo by E. Richards.
--Rick nurses his foot in hot water. Stupid sting ray!
--Athletes march down to the water. Photo by E. Richards.
--Get ready, set, GO! Photo by E. Richards.

--And they're off!
--Swan diving over the surf. Photo by E. Richards.
--The swimmers head towards the 2nd buoy. Photo by E. Richards.
--Mike Burrows is first out of the water (and eventually overall winner). Photo by E. Richards.
--Johan and Mark done with the swim. Onto the bike!

I made sure my swim timer volunteers, photographers, transition volunteers, bike exit volunteers, and first shift bike aid station volunteers were in place. Then, I trucked off to the bike aid station to set up. I glanced longingly towards the Shores, watching the swimmers return home, streaking in a silky line that cut through the water. I wished I could have watched them a little while longer. But I had to go! They would be out of the water and onto their bikes in no time! As I drove up the steep section of La Jolla Shores Drive, the first hill on the course, I cheered on the lead cyclists. Oh, my God! The lead cyclists? I better get the aid station set up! They’ll be at mile 12 in no time!
--Andrew and Steve out of transition. Photo by E. Richards.
--James and Tracy in matching uniforms, together on the bike. Photo by E. Richards.
--The trio, Jackie, Rebecca, and Michelle (author of "the Athlete's Perspective" below) begin the bike. Photo by E. Richards.

I needn’t had worried. My truck can get down the interstate much faster than a bike can traverse the back roads. I set up the table, chairs, water, Gatorade, and snacks and then realized I had forgotten the grass skirt tablecloth. Dammit! We needed to have a Hawaii theme! I called Brent in a panic, and he assured me he would send it along with the 2nd shift volunteers. Oh, well. It’s just a tablecloth, I reasoned. I suppose I can let it go. The first shift volunteers arrived, along with my sister, the official race photographer. She set up her tripod and snapped away. I realized I hadn’t eaten or gone to the bathroom all morning.
--Allen scarfs down a much-needed banana.
--Brad, Johan and Marion at the 2nd bike aid station.
--Matt stops for a refill. Photo by E. Richards.
--Rori poses for the camera as Anita gets a bite from the help of volunteers Jenn and Nancy.
--Joy and Jiea at the aid station.

We stopped on San Dieguito hill, a tough hill in the middle of the bike course, centered in gorgeous Rancho Santa Fe. My sister would have some great photo ops. We cheered on all the cyclists that passed by, unable to determine who was racing and who was out on their regular Saturday ride. Everyone looks so different in their bike clothes. “Way to go! Tough it out! Good effort on a tough hill!” I got some odd looks. Some people commented, “I like your costume.” They were probably thinking, What is that crazy lady in the grass skirt doing? Whereas, we cheered on everyone, I heard that the 2nd shift bike aid station volunteers erred on the side of caution. Unable to recognize one of the athletes who stopped at the aid station, one volunteer ripped a pretzel out of the athlete’s hand. “But I’m in the race!” Mark protested. Poor, Mark had to fight for his pretzel when I was handing out freebies to everyone! Next year, maybe I’ll give all the athletes neon green bracelets to make identification easier.
--Mary, overall female winner, trounces San Dieguito hill. Photo by E. Richards.
--Mark battles the hill as well. Photo by E. Richards.
--Allen and James tackle the hill. No small feat. Photo by E. Richards.
--Mark fights for a pretzel at the 2nd aid station. He's an athlete! Let him have at it! He needs a neon bracelet!

I realized several cyclists were missing one of the turn-arounds. The course was marked with bright orange arrows and everyone had route slips but sometimes, people get tunnel vision. Thankfully, one volunteer had offered to sit at another confusing section of the course to help navigate athletes through the most complicated turns. I sped off to the other turn-around to make sure no one else missed the 2nd turn-around. One poor guy misunderstood that I meant “U turn” and instead took a left and started heading up a very steep hill. He was deaf to my shouts of “Wrong way! Wrong way!” Stuck at my post until another volunteer arrived to take over, I watched him go helplessly. When finally relieved of my duty 10 minutes later, I sped up the hill to retrieve him. He had figured it out and already had turned around. At the top, of course. He told me later with a great attitude that the extra downhill section had been very fun.

My sister and I sped back to transition, and I checked on the progress of the athletes and volunteers. A few had started on the run but most were still out on the bike. We sped off to mile 1.5 of the run course, where my sister got some gorgeous shots of runners coming down the trail with the Pacific to the west. I watched a group of sea lions leaping out of the water, showing off for some kayakers. For a few minutes, everything was peaceful.
--Sea lions playing and leaping out of the water just below the trail. Photo by E. Richards.
--Marion and Johan on mile 1.5 of the very scenic run course. Photo by E. Richards.
--Volunteer Will displays his talent in graphic design as he chalks the sidewalk by the Cove run aid station.

I made a stop at the first aid station to check on their status. Everything was going well. It was at that moment, I realized I was kind of tired. We returned to transition, where I scarfed down some bananas and made the call for pizza so it would be waiting for athletes when they crossed the finish line. Mary fired up the grill as well. The first run aid station reported they were running out of cups. Ugh. Brent returned from his son’s soccer game and I yelled, “Cups! They need CUPS!” He looked at me wearily and then asked, “Where are they?” I pointed and yelled, “CUPS!” I seemed unable to accurately communicate anything else. Obligingly, he found them, and took off to the run aid station to restock their cups.

--Allen battling one of the many hills on the run course.
--Greg tackling the run.
--James and Scott pause at the turn-around for a breather.
--James is victorious. Halfway through with the run!
Ann pins Mary's singlet back together.
Rachel S. heading back after the run turn-around.
--Athletes Jiea, Tracy, Andrew, and Lauren pause for some grub and laughs at the run turn-around aid station.
--Seung takes a breather at the run turn-around. This is not an easy course!

I received a text message from the aid station when the runners were 2 miles away from the finish line. At that point, all the volunteers would get ready. We already had the finish line ready, 2 poles stuck into traffic cones, with a noodle to make an arch at the top. Then, we tied a ton of balloons all around. As soon as we spotted an athlete, we cried, “RUNNER!” Two of us held crepe paper across the finish line, which the athlete ran through to break the finishing tape while a 3rd, sprayed the athlete with silly string. My sister took tons of pics, and everyone else cheered. Everyone received leis for their finisher medal. The silly string was lots of fun, and I enjoyed spraying everyone with random shots in between finishers. As soon as each athlete caught their breath, they ransacked the pizza, brats, hamburgers, drinks, and cookies. Everyone had brought a TON of food but I couldn’t believe how much we all consumed!

--Mike, overall male winner, poses with the race director. Photo by E. Richards.

--First overall male and female: Mike and Mary.

--Anita crosses the finish. She's hoping to go to IMAZ on a Community Fund Slot this November. You can visit her webpage here: http://anitatalevski.com/. Photo by E. Richards.

--James Rose gets leid after finishing. Photo by E. Richards.

--Jiea gets a mouthful of silly string.

--Lauren crosses the finish and gets silly-stringed.

--Andrew crosses the finish. Yippee!

--Matt can finally catch his breath on the other side of the finish line.
--Tracy and Jiea congratulate each other as I pass out leis.
--A good time was had by all.

--Brent and I were both very tired afterwards.

Everyone had a fantastic time. It was a pleasure to organize. I loved seeing everyone’s smiling faces. It was many people’s first time doing the half ironman distance. I loved seeing the pride in their eyes when they realize what they had accomplished. It was an incredibly rewarding experience.

Bike:
Run:

From the Athlete’s Perspective (by Michelle Guidroz):
So, this was the 2nd 'Barely Legal Half Ironman, put on by Rachel Richards of TCSD. I signed up because I'm doing my first Ironman next May, and figured I might want to give the half Ironman distance a shot first :) And it was free :)

Preparation:
I only had two months to train for this as I kinda took the summer off after my marathon :) My swim and bike training were both pretty solid, but we kept my running pretty conservative as I was having some knee issues before the marathon. Last week I kept feeling a little down because I was pretty convinced I may not be able to finish the run. The reality was that my runs were usually 30-45 minutes during training (that's like 2-4 miles for me). Of the last two weeks of training, I did two 7 milers....one felt good. So, trying to attack a 13-mile run was a little worrisome for me.

Friday was a little tough for me with my nerves. I was so stressed about my nutrition and either not eating enough or eating too much, which resulted in me not being very hungry! I think I got just enough in....then proceeded to not sleep well at all. Shocking, I know. So, we got up (ok, I got up) at 4:45am on Saturday (Ryan joined me by 5:30 :) and I went straight for the coffee and a muffin. I decided I 'd just go with a muffin or two for breakfast because it hurts my stomach the least before training/racing. We got everything packed up and headed for the Shores at 6:15am...in the dark...oh yeah.

Swim:
Ryan was my swim buddy for the 1.2-mile swim. I have a small fear of swimming in the open water and just having him next to me makes me feel much better. When I saw where the buoys were, I was even happier, because I saw that we wouldn't swim out too far before swimming parallel to shore :) I made a mistake and got all excited and jumped around right before the start or the race and had a bit of a hard time catching my breath after I started swimming. The swim was good; I just kept going and didn't stop. The water was pretty calm. After turning around to swim back, I could feel the water pulling me side to side as we swam back, which was a little stressful, but manageable :)

Bike:
I came out, feeling good, ready to bike. Went over to the car, gave Ryan my bike, changed, got on, then me, Rebecca, and Jackie all set out. There is an immediate HILL in the beginning. I could run up this hill faster than I can bike it. But we got up, and off we were towards 56 miles of bliss :) The weather was good, not too hot, I had my calories all in one water bottle (mmmm nice and syrupy!) and kept telling myself it needed to be gone before I got back so that I'd feel good for the run.
Man, it was a GOOD bike ride. I felt really good. Finally, training pays off :) When we got towards the end of the bike, we had to climb Torrey Pines hill...which normally sucks at any part of a ride. But today it was ok! I couldn't believe it. So I kept it kind of easy because I knew the hard part was coming......
We got to fly down the hill we went up in the beginning...which I thoroughly enjoyed....I had so much adrenaline running through me at this point, I couldn't wait to start my run!!
--Jackie and Michelle (right) at bike aid station.

Run:
So, came in, changed into run clothes and got my water bottles. I had finished the calories on the bike (plus half a banana and a couple pretzels). I was worried maybe I should eat a GU or something before running. Ryan said if my stomach felt good, just leave it be. So I started the run just happy that I felt so good, and ready for the fact I may fall apart soon :) I quickly fell into a pace, which was good. Two miles in we stopped at an aid station; I didn't need anything, felt good. So we kept on going....as I got closer to the half-way point I started seeing some of my fellow racers pass going the other way, which was cool....then came the turn around/second aid station. By now, I was FAMISHED, so hungry, I grabbed water and ate a couple of bites of a banana and was on my way. I was ok I think ‘til about mile 9. The last four miles were really tough...things started to really hurt and my stomach was really nauseous. We stopped at the last aid station...2 miles from the finish, and man, I was hurting. The fact that most of the remaining run was downhill was not comforting. Uphill, downhill...it all hurt. But even though it hurt so much, I was smiling on the inside...it was pretty much in the bag. I think besides being delirious, I was also in disbelief those last two miles...." I can't believe I'm going to finish this" was all I can think.
--Jackie, Michelle and Rebecca at the finish line.

Finish:
That last 1/2 mile REALLY REALLY hurt, there was a lot of grunting. Me, Jackie and Rebecca were all still together and we ran into the finish line holding hands in victory. It was really awesome because I think all three of us were pretty convinced no one would still be there by the time we finally came in, yet a lot of the party was still there, most importantly our loved ones...and a barbeque grill :)
--Michelle, very happy, moments after finishing.

I gave Ryan a huge hug, and he grilled me a veggie burger :)

It was awesome. I can't wait until Ironman Utah and I'm excited for my winter and spring training. I'm so happy to have my coach/boyfriend, really enjoyed racing with two awesome friends/training buddies, and enjoyed hanging out with my friends at the end.

It's Monday and I'm healing.....can't wait to do it again :)


Rave Reviews from the Athletes:

Thank you so much for such an awesome, first-class "event"
experience. This was my first half and I can only hope that the
halves I have lined up in November and March come close to matching
the support, camaraderie, and after party like this one did!

Thanks again to everyone who had a hand in making this an awesome
day!

Best Regards,

Stephen Kalaluhi


Thank you to all the volunteers and especially Rachel for putting this event together. I thoroughly enjoyed it and thought it was much better organized than most of the paid triathlons or running races that I've done in San Diego. Seriously. The course distances were actually pretty accurate which is more than what I can say about last week's race at Mission Bay! :)

Also, the aid stations were better stocked than ANY race I've ever done thanks to the generosity of the participants. I am psyched to either participate or volunteer at the race next year. Thank you again. It was a great workout and I can't wait to see the pictures. If whoever took that picture of me at halfway aid station on the run passed out under the tree can delete that for me.... :)

-Seung


What an amazing experience for my 1st 1/2 Ironman distance "event"! Thanks first to Rachel for putting this together. The next set of thanks goes to the wonderful volunteers. Everyone was so friendly and supportive, not to mention GENEROUS for giving up a beautiful Saturday in order to make this event possible. And lastly, a big thanks to all the race participants. I met many of you for the first time yesterday morning and enjoyed getting to know you and really appreciated everyone’s company during my 7.5 hours on the course. Happy recovery!

Lauren

--Mary, overall female winner, breaking the tape. Photo by E. Richards.

A huge thank you for a fantastic race and awesome experience! I'm so excited for next year's race!!! : ) I can't wait to see all the GREAT pictures too!

I wanted to say a special thank you to the lady at the turn around aid station on the run that pulled a miracle from her pocket, a single safety pin, to pin my malfunctioned tri-suit together so I could finish my race : ) Yes, my zipper came completely apart at 6.5 miles in : ( Now I know for IMAZ to carry a few safety pins in my fuel belt for that OMG moment.

Again, Thank you Rachel! Events like this just show that it's true; TCSD is the GREATEST club in the world! Where else could you do 2 free HIM in the same season?

And as with most tri-club events, it was wonderful meeting some new faces ; ) I'm looking forward to seeing you all again soon.

Safe Training Everyone!
Mary Scudder


A huge thanks to you all that volunteered and to Rachel for putting on an awesome event! I definitely enjoyed it this year, as I didn't have any poles jump out at me this year :)

Especially enjoyed hanging out afterwards and chit-chatting as being up in Oceanside and having active boys and a husband who works night, it's hard to make many of the events down this way.

Gina Thomas

4 comments:

teacherwoman said...

Looks like a great experience!

Leah said...

I love that you do this. Reminds me of a local race here: Five years ago, some of my friends started a grassroots cyclocross race in their backyard. Now it's officially sanctioned by USA Cycling and riders need licenses, etc. They never set out to be race directors, but now they are!

Colleen said...

Rachel, I'm so impressed with your race directing skills!!! :) Looks like everyone had a blast! Congrats to you and to all the finishers!

Ryan Denner said...

Hey Rachel - it was nice to finally meet you! Great job putting this race on!