I turned 40 on the 27th of October. For my birthday, I gave myself an Olympic distance triathlon, the Marin Triathlon, in beautiful San Rafael. What better way to feel young, healthy and strong? It would be my 3rd triathlon of the season and only my 2nd Olympic distance after a 5+ year hiatus.
The weather was cool and mild the morning of the race. I felt strangely calm and collected. The water was glassy and smooth, like a swimming pool, at a balmy 57 degrees (Farenheit). I donned 3 swim caps (including a thermal cap), a wetsuit, and arm warmers and a rash guard over my tri suit underneath. Cold was not going to be my problem on race day.
My new age group was small and sophisticated. We all high-fived each other before the start. The horn blew and I dove in. Better to get the cold over with immediately, like ripping off a Band-Aid. I quickly settled into a smooth pace, and was surprisingly not cold at all, probably due to all my layers of neoprene. The buoys sailed by consistently, and I felt calm and sedate. I finished the 1500 meters in 30 minutes, 2 minutes faster than Santa Cruz, 1 month ago.
Out of the swim, onto the bike. I had trouble getting out of my wetsuit due to numb fingers. Guess I was colder than I thought. The bike was not a great course, but since I had prepared by doing a lap of it the day before, I knew what I was in for. The course was 3 laps out-and-back on a windy, course of rolling hills with broken pavement. The plus side? Gorgeous views of the Pacific. The downside? 3.5 miles out. 3.5 miles back. 3.5 miles out. 3.5 miles back. 3.5 miles out. 3.5 miles back. You get the picture. I was cold and stiff on the first lap, braking conservatively on every corner after my nasty fall 2 months ago. After the first lap, I warmed up and upped the pace. I began to feel comfortable on Torch again, refusing to break, leaning on the turns, dropping into the aero bars for longer stretches, and pushing a bigger gear up the rollers. I was grateful for the preview the day before and ended up averaging 16 mph, not great, but respectable.
Then, came my favorite part--the run. The hill coming out of transition was a beast but all my trail running paid off; I was able to maintain a steady trot. A rewarding downhill appeared after that, and I found my running legs. The rest of the course was flat and fast, and I eagerly took advantage. I felt fresh and my legs turned-over quickly. I relished in how energetic and springy I felt. The miles flew by. My toes were still numb--I couldn't feel them until mile 3 of the run. I yearned for more miles and trails but those are wishes of a spoiled being. I actually had enough gas in the tank to sprint across the finish. I ended up running the 10k in 8:45 min/miles (25 seconds/mile faster than my last race) and shaved 10 minutes off my last Olympic, finishing at 2:50. Overall, I surprisingly finished 2nd in my age group. It was a great way to celebrate a birthday and finish out the season. I will be switching over to some running races this winter before starting the new year with a fresh season. It feels oh so good to be back.