After weeks of fighting off flu’s and what we affectionately called the “Tri Plague”, a brave few emerged for the first sprint Triathlon of the season. February 9th, on a Saturday morning, Cal Tri loaded up our cars with Gu bottles, Cliff Bars and road bikes and ventured 6 hours to beautiful land of Irvine. Many of our eager travelers were about to embark on their first Tri, excited to claim the title of Triathlete. For the rest of us it would be the first race to an eventful season.
Once we had arrived in Irvine we found our way to packet pick up and immediately began discussing the swim times we had entered at registration and compared start numbers. We then explored the nearby area of the Anteater recreation center, solidifying skillful mounts and dismounts (showing off the fresh new Capo bike kits) and exploring the nearby area during our pre race workouts. From there, as carb hungry athletes do, we enjoyed a filling dinner at CPK sharing in the excitement at the prospect of springing from our warm beds at 5am the following morning.
Sunday morning we eagerly pulled on the sexiest uniforms in the history of Triathlon (thanks Blueseventy!), whipped out the bananas and peanut butter, and chose the optimum adrenaline pumping music. Soon nerves were put aside and attention turned to transition set up and warming up for the quickly approaching race start. With no need to struggle into a wetsuit we clutched goggles and swim cap in hand and jogged to the pool start as the last call close transition rung out. Our presence was great and heard by many as the notorious California cheer shook the hearts and souls of our competitors. Interested to see how smooth the unorthodox swim start would go, we lined up and watched each triathlete bound into the pool one by one.
A struggle for the best position in the lane began as sleek bodies glided through the water, arms hurled from one stoke to the next, and legs powered along. After flip turn upon flip turn, each Cal triathlete tore out of the water, sights set on a swift move to the bike. Ready to crank out a strong performance we mastered the four loops with growing momentum and confidence in the familiarity of the course—not an impossibly challenging one, but enough turns to make you proud of your bike handling skills. With quads tight and glucose storage waning, we each blazed through transition and onto the final leg, a slightly hilly and rocky terrain. When the finish was insight it was a downhill free for all to leave everything on the course.
A solid race completed, another story to tell, a notch on the belt, a race bib on the wall, and the wonderful relief of being done. Inevitable hiccups occurred- bodies clashed in the water, the walkway to transition was a muddy slip n slide, bike laps were miscounted, some dismounts were less then graceful, and the rocky run terrain was tricky to maneuver. However, we took the good with the bad and showed each other unwavering support especially as every Cal Triathlete rounded the last corner for the finish with enthusiastic cheers and encouragement being catapulted their way. Mistakes that were made have served as personal learning opportunities, as well as insight for our teammates: to offer us strength, experience, ability to laugh at the nature of our sport, and to shake the small stuff.
In the end we had a fun time and concluded the Irvine experience with a post race feast at Bear Flag Fish Company. With bodies tired and bellies full we climbed into our cars and headed north along with a renewed fire to train hard and embrace the best part of Triathlon, racing season.