Anyway, I digress. I just finished what was my last race of the season, which I signed up for after what was supposed to be my last race of the season. After IM Louisville, I just didn't feel ready to shut down training & racing for a bit. The google machine led me to find the HITS Palm Springs race, and with my parents in residence in that area for the winter, it seemed like an easy & convenient place to go - so I signed up for the half aquabike event (1.9km swim, 90km bike).
I left the rainy PNW for the sunny desert... which was actually really cold (colder than here) between the hours of 4pm and 11am - but there were about 5 good hours of warmth and sun each day while I was there. The race wasn't really in Palm Springs, instead it was almost an hour's drive to Lake Cahuilla, which supposedly is in La Quinta but you actually have to drive around through Indio in kind of a semi-circle to get to the park.
|Transition area - everyone gets a stool.|
Friday my parents drove me to the check in, where I picked up my race package, dropped off my bike, and then my dad made me go to the pre-race meeting (I never usually go to those). Come on, dad! It actually turned out to be a good thing, as they'd changed the start time to 7 (from 7:30 as it said in the package), and changed the swim to one loop (from two loops as it said in the package).
Saturday my dad took me to the race, and it was so cold before the start I got into my wetsuit asap. I was glad to have him there as I could keep my socks and shoes on right up to when I had to get into the lake... and holy crap that lake was frigid! The race info said to expect between 60-63 degrees F (so around 16 degrees C, cold but not too bad, really). Race morning they announced it was 52 degrees F (11 degrees C) and it was FRIGGING FREEZING! I couldn't put my hands or face in as I was treading water at the start, and I was actually having trouble breathing once I was swimming, it was so cold. All I could think about was getting done as fast as I could, so I was working hard. It was very difficult to sight as the first stretch was straight into the rising sun. Plus, there were only 6 buoys for the entire 1900m loop, so basically once I got to a buoy I couldn't see the next one for awhile. And thanks to the volunteer on the red paddle board, wearing all red, paddling away from the red buoy...
|Sunrise at the park.|
My swim time was 35:30 (2nd overall in the aquabike) which is the slowest swim I've had in a couple of years. Boo. I found out later that people were getting between 2200-2300m on their garmins, so the swim was long. My hands and feet weren't working at all as they were blocks of ice. Thankfully there were wetsuit strippers, as I was really struggling with my suit, trying to get it off with frozen hands. It was also the weirdest feeling running through transition and not being able to feel my feet; I started walking as I literally couldn't feel my feet making contact with the ground so was afraid I'd faceplant right in front of everyone. My transition was pretty slow, as I was fumbling with frozen hands & feet. I decided against putting my aero top on because I didn't think I could get the zipper done up.
|Heading out on the bike... frozen.|
The bike course was pretty uneventful, two out-and-backs of flat, straight stretches and false flats. It took me about 20 km to warm up, but then I was fine, and the air was getting warmer which helped as well. The course wasn't crowded up where I was (humblebrag?), but there were packs and groups forming that I could see on my way back. I didn't see any marshals, and the two aid stations I think had two people each at them. I had a couple of bottles of my own, and some gels in my pocket, so I didn't need anything from them which was good. I rode hard, I didn't quite hit my goal of 85% FTP (I averaged 78% so still have a long way to go), but rode a PR of 2:48 (2nd overall).
There were two transitions for people doing the tri, and the aquabike finished at T2. Before I rode back to the park, I watched T2 for about 15 minutes. What a gong show. Incredibly poorly organized. They didn't have enough volunteers or any bike racks at all, so when athletes came in if there was no one to take their bike, they had to just lay it in the ditch at the side of the road. If no one brought their T2 bag, they had to paw through a pile of bags on the table. And, despite at the race meeting being told trucks transporting bikes back to T1/finish would have bike racks, I saw bikes being piled on top of each other in trailers. I was glad I chose the aquabike and didn't have to deal with that!
|Aquabike overall winner and 2nd place (me).|
Further, the results were all messed up (they had a woman in the aquabike riding 1:48 for the 90km, which would be a world record faster than Starky!) and they said they were going to hand out the awards as is, and fix results later including adding in penalties. That didn't sit well with a lot of people, myself and the woman who won included (as the 1:48 rider was listed in 1st place). So they fixed any that people pointed out, but not all. Weird.
So that's it for my race season for 2015. Sunday morning I got to go for a swim in the sun (which if you know me, is pretty much my favourite thing to do!). I don't race again until March, so I get some downtime before having to think about gearing up for another race season. But stoked for it already - can't wait until I can show you what the Team Betty kits will look like for 2016!
|Sunday morning swim.|
|Sunday evening sunset from the airport.|