Racing with the Jellies…. by Sarah Cassell
I had signed up for UCSD’s Tritonman on a whim. I thought to myself “if a race is there, why not do it?” What I sort of forgot was that … I would actually have to be racing in a week. I had been training all semester, but the thought of my first triathlon in the ocean was quite daunting.
We headed down to San Diego on the Friday before the race. My teammates helped calm my nerves with some in-n-out (best pre-race meal if you ask me) and advice from more experienced triathletes. The next day we headed out to watch the draft-legal race which some of our teammates were competing in. Seeing the course beforehand helped prepare me for the race the next day. It was awesome to see my teammates do so well, with Greg Harper being the first out of the water and Anna Belk killing it on the bike. Furthermore, our Coach Jason was our second men’s finisher for Cal Tri.
In true triathlete fashion, we had to wake up at 4 AM on race day, I packed up and headed down to the race with my teammates. By the time we got to transition it was still dark, luckily I had my handy headlamp I don’t go anywhere without! Setting up transition was especially daunting. There were over a hundred triathletes in each collegiate division and the race field was speckled with real life pros.
The swimming leg of the race was what I was most scared for. I wasn’t a swimmer in high school; and, no matter how irrational, I had a fear that I would get eaten by a shark on the swim. The insane amount of jellyfish dotting the water didn’t help my nerves either. But once the countdown started, my nerves were replaced with adrenaline. The swim went by faster than I thought, despite scooping up a few jellyfish on the way, and I got to transition without any hitches, except for a few embarrassing photos of me leaving the water.
UCSD ran the race smoothly, everything was clearly marked and the volunteers were so energetic and happy to be there. Once I got on the bike, I too became much happier. The bike section was not hilly and it was simple to follow. The only bad part (besides my bike being two sizes too large), was that “Fiesta Island”, where we biked, was not much of a “fiesta”.
I was excited for the run because that is usually my strongest event, but getting off the bike my feet were numb. No matter how many times you practice running off the bike, it doesn’t get better. The course was three laps around the park, but each lap felt like a marathon.
When I finally got to the straightaway at the end of the run, I was so excited, maybe a little too excited. I sprinted the last 100 yards, passing three people and made it across the finish line. I was so exhausted by the end I couldn’t stand up. Which I guess is a good thing?
During the race, I was asking myself why we, as triathletes, put ourselves through such immense pain every time we race and call it… fun??? But, after the race I remembered: after a triathlon, you remember nothing of the pain you went through. The excitement and adrenaline overtakes you and you become caught up in the atmosphere of the race, you forget that ten minutes before you couldn’t feel your legs… and before you know it, you’ve already signed up for your next triathlon. (see you soon Stanford!)
Overall UCSD’s Tritonman was a great showing for Cal Tri. After calculating the results, our coach Dean figured that Cal Tri won first in both the Men’s and Women’s divisions. But it wasn’t the results that mattered to me, instead it was the love and support the entire team showed to one another. Throughout the entire run course, I couldn’t go thirty seconds without one of the guys one the team, who had finished earlier, running with me and cheering as loud as they could. I couldn’t be happier to be on such a supportive and hardworking team.
This race really showed me how much hard work can pay off. I dropped 20 minutes off my time from a local triathlon this summer! UCSD was a great way to start off the race season and really motivated me for my upcoming races. There’s nothing like a fun race in San Diego to show you anything is better when you’re “positiver”.