UCSB Sprint Triathlon – Kendra’s Race
By Hyacinth Locke
I was looking forward to this race for many reasons. This would mark the start of my third year as a triathlete. I finally feel like I have a better idea of what I am supposed to be doing out there. I know the course because I am from here, I went to UCSB and work there now. Also I only live ten minutes away and did not have to get up before the crack of dawn. That is always a bonus. While there were so many things to be excited about there was one thing that bummed me out and that was the fact that this was my first race were my parents were not there to cheer me on. They have come with me to all my races over the last two years. It is nice having your own personal cheering section. Even though they were not there at the finish line to congratulate me I still got to see them during the race but I will get into that later.
Before the Race/Transition Area/Getting Pumped Up
This is the one race I participate in where the racks in transition are not assigned. You just find a spot and set up your area. I do not know why it just is. Since you can go wherever you want my strategy to finding the perfect rack is this: 1-find a rack that is not full, 2-try to be on or toward the end of a rack and 3-find a rack not completely filled with college students. Do not get me wrong I love college students. I have worked with them for over ten years but some of them have the most random conversations and I do not need to hear any of that before the race starts. I found myself a spot and got started.
I have a routine to setting my area up. The first thing that gets pulled out of the bag is my iPod. I put that on and start one of my race playlists. Once I have that going I empty of the rest of the items out of my bag, set everything up and then I step back and stare at it. I just look at it and go through every stage of the race in my head. When I feel like everything is in its correct place I do not touch it anymore. After that I got body marked, figured out how far my rack was from the entrance and exit at transition, bathroom break, put away the iPod, grabbed my suit and headed to the water for the start.
The Swim-It Begins!
The swim start is never close to the transition area in my races. I have realized that and accepted that fact but usually there is beautiful soft beach sand for me to walk on in my bare feet to the starting line. That is not the case here. Part of the walk down to the start is on a sidewalk which is fine but then the sidewalk ends and we have to walk on the road. Not all the roads on campus on smooth and pretty and this is one of them. As one participant yelled while we were walking, “Oh my God I feel like I’m walking on Legos!” It sucks. Most people are mumbling something under their breath while were walking.
I survived the walk and put on my wetsuit. I would normally I have this on by now so I could jump in the water before the start but for some reason I did not. Unfortunately since I had to take time to wiggle into my suit I did not have a chance to get out in the water and get acclimated to the water temp. I was a little freaked out but I luckily I found this very large puddle full of cold ocean water by the start and just sat in that until my wave started. People looked at me weird and some made comments like “How’s your spa?” but I just smiled and replied that it was lovely.
Finally the race starts. I’m the third/final wave. The tide was very low. I felt like I was running forever before I finally hit water. I swim with my eyes closed. I only open them to check for buoys and when I turn my head to breathe. The reason is very simple; I don’t want to see what is happening below me. I also have a tendency to start singing in my head to stay calm. Even though I was listening to fast, upbeat pump up songs before the race I found myself singing “Gaston” from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast on this swim.
Suddenly I hear someone behind me scream “OH MY GOD!!” My heart almost stopped. I thought “This is it. There is a shark. This is how my life is going to end.” When I turn to see what is happening I see two girls that I am guessing know each other but did not know they were racing and met up during the swim. Really!?!? I do not know if I have a lot of advice to give yet on triathlons but I will start with this: DO NOT SCREAM LIKE YOU ARE DYING DURING THE SWIM IF YOU ARE NOT DYING!!!
After seeing the reunion it is business as usual until I hit the sand. The swim ends at the bottom of a cliff and you have to climb three flights of stairs. Not cool. I am sure people were running up the stairs but I do not. I do not want to be the one person that slips and falls backwards so I just walk fast. I get to the top, head to transition, change and get on with the bike ride.
The Bike – I Find My Cheering Section
The course starts with a very nice ride downhill to Goleta Beach which is a fantastic way to start a ride. Then you wind through some neighborhoods, under the freeway, more neighborhood and then Cathedral Oaks. I was pleasantly surprised to find my friends volunteering at that turn and we screamed various things at each other while I passed.
During a recent ride with a friend I learned that I do not take in enough fluid while riding. Not getting enough fluid means cramping so sucking down fluids was my main focus on this ride. I knew the course and how long it would take me to finish it so I tried to plan out when I would drink. I decided when my hit specific distances on my watch I wanted a certain amount of my bottle gone. I think it worked out really well. This was the first race I did not cramp up at all!
The rest of the course takes you down Hollister and through some more neighborhoods before arriving back on campus. The highlight of my ride was towards the end. As I mentioned earlier my parents could not make it to the race but the bike course goes right by their house. I told them that the night before the race and said even though they could not make it maybe they could see me pass by on the bike. I gave them a time range I thought I would be passing by and said if I saw them cool and if not I would see them afterwards. Well they made it. Many of you may have seen them too. They were on the corner of Phelps and Storke. Obviously I did not stop to have a conversation but seeing them made my race that much better.
The Run and the Finish Line
I hopped off the bike and into my sneakers. Last year the course began with the staircase at the lagoon before running a giant loop around to the finish. This year they decided they having two staircases in a race was not the best idea and changed the course. Big thank you to whoever made that decision. This year the course was more of an out and back. We ran around the lagoon towards the staircase then turned around and came back.
I am not going to lie the run is not my favorite part of the race but it is the one part where you have the most people cheering you on and that makes it fun. I start my run and pass by a bunch of my friends right at the beginning. Screaming, hollering and pictures. I love it. I continue on around the lagoon, hit a couple of small hills on the way out, reach the turnaround and start coming back.
On the way back there is a stretch of path that is all dirt, it winds around and it is narrow. It almost feels like your running through some jungle being chased with all the trees and bushes around there. If someone is going to pass one of you is going to have to go off the path and into the tall grass. I am on this section when I hear a runner come up behind me. I start to move off the path and he says “I’m not passing you. I’m probably going to walk soon.” So we continue to run. After a few more turns he decides he is not going to walk and passes me. “I’ll buy you a margarita at the end!” he says as he passes. I never saw him again and I never got that post race margarita.
Half a mile left and I find my friend Kristine standing on the side to cheer me on. She is awesome and decides to run with me for a while. We chat for a bit while we run then part ways at the top of the last hill and I do the home stretch alone. I put whatever I have left into my legs and I go for it. I cross the finish line and it is over. I am not sure if the announcer said my name. Some people have a hard time pronouncing it. I imagine in my head that the announcer sees me come around the corner, looks for my name to say it and freaks out because he does not know what to say. Sometimes they get it, sometimes they just my last name and other times it is just my number. It is ok. I am used to it.
I grab a bagel from the refreshment table and start looking for friends. We high five or hug but not that super tight hug because one person is soaking wet and the other is not. A few mention that I looked a lot more comfortable out there on the course which was great to hear since this was the first race. We figure out a place to go for breakfast, I grab my gear and I head to my car where I finally get to call my parents and tell them how it went.
Overall I am happy with my performance at Kendra’s. We had great weather (overcast but not cold), smooth water and no wind. I went into this race telling myself I was just shaking off the cobwebs and getting ready for the rest of the season but after everything was said and done I realized that my body is a lot further along than I thought and I cannot wait for the rest of my 2013 season.
Editor Note: Hyacinth is also known as “Hy-C”, and the “C is for Cool”…