The Ventura Breath of Life Triathlon is an old and dear friend of mine.  It was one of my first triathlons ever, back in 2008, when the race took place at the Ventura pier (now held at the harbor).  It is also one of my favorite races because it is 15 minutes from my house, and it seems that nearly everyone there–participating, volunteering, or cheering– is my neighbor, friend, boss, co-worker, former schoolmate, teammate, family member, coach, or coach-ee.  It has a casual, fun, friendly spirit, much-owing much to its humble, noble roots…the event began in 1999, with only two participants, in an effort to raise money for the “Dina La Vigna Breath of Life Fund” established in remembrance of Dina and her battle with Primary Immunodeficiency.  It has grown and evolved tremendously over these 13-or so years (read more here).

So, yesterday, I lined up on the sand at “Mother’s Beach” with a feeling quite distinct from the usual pre-race jitters.  I felt excited, yet calm.  At peace, and filled with joy to be there among so many friends…

The Race: BOL 2013
The Buddies: Parents, Boyfriend, Eric, Coach G, Swim For Triathlete-ers, Volunteers, Rincon peeps, Tri Running champs, friendly racers, old UCLA teammates, and new friends.
The Packet Pickup: My friend Mariel and I stopped by packet pickup right when it opened on the day before the race.  The volunteers were Awesome, and we were outta there in a jiffy.  Super chill.
The Accomodations: I got to sleep in my own bed!
The Cheering: I had my own cheering squad, once again: Parents, Brice, Eric, Coach G, and other top cheerers.
The Pre-race meal:  Night before: Quinoa with veggies, avocado, sunflower seeds, balsamic/oil, basil, tomato salad…and froyo.  Morning of: 2 pcs. whole grain toast, almond butter, banana, and 2 eggs (scrambled)…plus mate green tea, coffee, and “Kona Kola” Nuun.
The Conditions: Cool, ocean fog, no surf (in a protected area).
The Venue: The Ventura harbor/surrounding area.
The Course: Mostly flat with some slight inclines.  The swim is two loops, including a run out and back in between the two.  The bike course includes 3-big loops on country-ish streets.  The run is an out and back, and parallels part of the bike course.  Not extremely scenic, but there are plenty of opportunities to see/cheer for/high five fellow competitors while running/biking.
The Transition Set Up: They let me into the Elite wave!  There were only 3 of us girls in the first wave with all of the 29&Under men/relays/elites.  Our transition racks were right next to the bike/run out.  The transition area is in a large parking lot, and seems well-organized/not too crazy crowded.
The Bathrooms: There are multiple options here.  There are port-a-potties near transition, beach bathrooms also near transition, and multiple public restrooms scattered throughout the harbor area.  I jogged about 0.27 miles to a restaurant area and found an empty stall!  I felt like royalty not having to wait in line 20 minutes before the race start.
The Warm Up: I took my bike on the course for a few minutes, checking to make sure it was set to go.  Then, I ran to find a bathroom.  Before the start, I got in the water and swam around for a bit…did some butterfly…then chatted to my “fans”.  The start was delayed about 15 minutes, so had extra chat time.
The Uniform: Pearl Izumi P.R.O. onesy in black and pink!  Pearl tri shoes.  Pearl hat. Tifosi glasses. Rudy helmet. USAT wetsuit (which I left at the race…please let me know if you happened to see it and pick it up!), and Barracuda goggles (hand me downs).
The Swim Start: Calm waters.  Stayed to the inside, and tried to keep up with the speedy lead group but ended up in between clumps, all by myself.
The Swim: Smooth.  Only real difficulty is the double loop, as you end up starting your second loop either with or right behind a wave that is starting their first.  Just gotta stay alert.  
The Bike: Steady.  I felt like I went out strong.  Then, I saw an official point at me and write down my number (which means I get a 2 minute penalty!) about halfway through the bike course.  To write down the anger/frustration/beef I had about this supposed offense, I would need to spend precious time and page space.  So I will spare myself and any innocent readers.  When I saw the officials point at me, I felt simultaneously confused, upset, and thrown off of my groove (see below).  I told myself that at this point, there was nothing I could do to argue, protest, refute, or change the impending 2:00 penalty, and that I would have to stay positive and try to regain those 2:00 by picking up my speed.  However, my brain was in a funk, and I was drifting into a race “lull”… I started to think about the next leg–the run, mentally blocking out the moment and forgetting about the “right now” of the bike leg.  But, I told myself to shut up and snap out of it.  Get over it and move on.  Do what you can with what you’ve got. 
The Run: Strong.  I like feeling solid on the run and having something left to push it in at the finish.  I was able to get a few words/phrases out, and clapped my hands/high-fived friends–thanks for the encouragement, everyone!  It’s a good feeling to not be dying during a race and forced to run slower than you have trained to run.  More and more, I see that I want to leave the real pain and suffering to training, and just “let it happen” in races.  I want to enjoy the race because I have trained well.  I want to finish strong.
The Race Fuel: Berry fruit snacks on the bike.  2 bottles of Fluid (passion fruit tea) on the bike.  Cups of water/race drink on the run.
The Finish/Post-Race: I immediately saw my dreamy boyfriend and his cool bro (birthday boy) Eric.  Then, talked to some friends and played the game “WHAT DID YOU SAY????” while we stood right in front of the loud speaker where a lady with heft vocal chords announced as the finishers came in.  Got in the ocean for a quick, refreshing, ice bath.  Rinsed off and changed.  Saw some more cool people finish.  Rinsed off my favorite wetsuit and hung it over a wall to try.  Told myself “whatever you do, don’t forget to pick up your wetsuit when you leave,”  and proceeded to walk away and come home without my poor, lonely, wet, neglected, suit.  I love you, sleek and speedy USAT Revolt suit, which was given to me by a heroin of mine, Barb Lindquist.  *Update on suit, for the oh-so concerned and worried reader : it was found by a beautiful soul and I am picking it up this week! Amen!

The Results: I had the privilege of racing with a local pro triathlete-friend, Adrienne, and some other fast ladies, and I am honored to have finished anytime within the same era as them.  I am very happy with my swim time, as I have regularly been swimming only 2, maybe 3, times per week, mostly slow and easy.  Thank the Lord for a heavy swim background which allows me to focus on the bike/run in training! The race results added two minutes to my bike split, which would have been 1:10–something that can definitely use some good love and improvement.  My run split–43 minutes–is over 3 minutes slower than where I was back in 2008, but I am getting there.  I am majorly thankful to Coach Gareth for helping me to get there again–and beyond!  It is truly an honor to be working with such a triathlon legend and guru.
The Post-Race Meal: BJs fish tacos, and some peanut butter/chocolate chip pizookie for Eric’s bday!
The Visuals: (photo creds: Brice Oliver and Karen Oneil)

Pre-race with the lovely Annette!

Out and back in for round 2 of the swim.  Boo. Yah!

I heart my Pearl kit and Fluid bottles…but especially you, Mr. Photographer.

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