Yesterday, I ran my second triathlon, the Tri for Fun at Rancho Seco Park in Herald, CA. This was originally meant to be my first race, before I decided to do Napa last month. And a lovely race it turned out to be. Although first I had to get over this:
Why, yes, those ARE the cooling towers for a nuclear power plant. Rancho Seco Nuclear Generating Station, to be exact. It's actually decommissioned, and has been since 1989, but there's still something more than a little surreal about swimming in the shadow of those towers. In fact, the lake we swam in was actually built (or expanded from a small pond) to act as an emergency water source for the plant, should there ever be a fire. On my way out to the first turn buoy in the swim, I was actually sighting off the towers. So if I have 3-eyed babies someday, y'all know why!
(This and all the other photos included in this post were taken by Ken Emanuel, who played personal photographer to me for this race. He rocks, huh?)
This race was another "sprint" distance triathlon, which is basically anything under "Olympic" distance (1 mile swim, 25 mile bike ride, 10K run). In this case, that meant a half mile swim, 16 mile bike, 3.1 mile run.
I was very, very nervous about the swim. I am still a relative beginner as a swimmer, having only learned freestyle in October, and the swim was mentally brutal during the last race I did -- so cold and crowded and adrenaline-soaked that I completely panicked and nearly got bailed out by the rescue kayakers. This one, by comparison, was a breeze. For starters, the water was so much warmer. Warm enough, even, that my friend Emily and I posed for pictures in the water before the race:
There were plenty of people without wetsuits, but I wore mine, since that's how I'd been training (and it's a nice security blanket to know that your wetsuit will keep you floating even if you completely freak during the swim). Anyway, I felt strong right from the start (I think I'm somewhere in this picture!):
I felt strong in the middle:
And I finished strong, too:
took 5 minutes off my swim time from the last time around, coming in at 23 minutes. I'm certainly not going to be winning any swim races anytime soon with that time, but it's not far off what I would do in the pool, so I'll take it!
Next was the bike. 16 miles, gently rolling hills through farm country. Please notice that I am riding a beastie of a hybrid bike. It weighs an absolute TON. Clearly it wore me out, since in both of the pictures Ken took of me coming in from the bike ride, my mouth is wide open as I gasp for air :-)
And finally, the run. Heading out, and feeling great! (Especially when I saw Ken, cheering and taking pictures!)
Look at the spring in my step here:
This is actually kind of bad running form, so don't tell my coach, okay? I'm supposed to be working on NOT being so springy when I run! Anyway, this was about 20 seconds in, when I was still really psyched to be on the run. In reality, though the run ended up being the hardest part of this race (unusual for me, as a life-long soccer player). It was HOT by the time I got out on the run, which followed a red dirt road out into the hills for 3.1 miles. I was pretty much dying the whole time. Even had to walk up a couple of the bigger hills, which frustrated me.
I was SO happy when I saw that finish line, I totally sprinted to the end.
And I finished! Again! I guess this means the first time wasn't just a fluke, huh? I'm a real, live triathlete. Go me! (BTW, my actually time was closer to 2 hours, since I started the swim in the 5th wave, so the clock had already been running for 20-25 minutes).
Anyway, in closing, this little girl's sign is awesome. And true, true, true. This triathlon thing has definitely not been easy, but I'm so, so, so glad I jumped in and decided to do it.