The M-dot experience is one not to be missed. The level of competition, the athletes, the spectators, the support, the entire buzz surrounding the event are all indescribable.
As Saturday grew closer, the athletes in Oceanside grew in number. Never before have I seen so many beautiful bikes (and those riding them weren’t bad to look at either)! Race day couldn’t come soon enough.
We awoke to an air temperature of 47 degrees, ate breakfast, got the bathroom outta the way, set up our gear in transition and went back to the condo to stay warm. The first wave (of Pros) was to start at 6:40. My heat wasn’t until 7:25 and Tom’s at 7:37.
We walked over to the start just as the first male was coming out of the water (in 22 minutes!!!). I checked my gear in transition one last time and walked over to chat with my dad. I must’ve been taken in by all the excitement (and the fact that my phone was ringing at 2:30 am. REALLY?! He can't sabotage me in person, so he's gotta try telephonically?!) because my brain wasn’t functioning properly. Somehow, I got confused with my start time and by the time my dad mentioned I should be headed to the start, it was 7:22. My wave was already in the water!
I ran frantically through the crowds of white, pink, orange, red, green caps and hit the ramp as I heard the siren and saw feet and armed flail a couple hundred yards away. I missed my start!
Playing catch-up was enough to keep my mind off how frigid the water temperature was, and it wasn’t long before I was in the middle of a pack getting knocked around. That calmed me some, but I had no gage of where I was among my fellow purple caps. Unfortunately, all my work in the water over the last few months went unrecognized as my swim split was extended form the late start. I reached transition (after a quarter mile run out of the water) in 37:22. They allowed booties for the swim (thanks to Garrett at WF for the suggestion) so my feet weren’t solid ice blocks upon exiting. I stripped the wetsuit, donned a long sleeve tech shirt and got on my way.
The bike course took us inland, through much of Camp Pendelton. I took in only water until about 35 mins when I washed down a Gu and I was feeling great. I’d been warned about the deceptively flat beginning. It was relatively flat for the first 28 miles and I was right at 20 mph for that portion. It was windy, but bearable. Then came the first big hill…Or should I say mountain…around mile 29. I got to the top feeling as though I might wretch my guts. The next 15 miles were much of the same, long steep uphill where I’d pass people gasping for air, followed by a downhill where I’d get passed merely due to weight of the rider and aerodynamics.
I spotted a CE jersey around mile 37 and said a few words to Mark as I passed by. The scenery was beautiful out there. Gorgeous mountains and a big blue sky. No rain or clouds in sight. I got a little choked up at the very fact that I was even out there. Somehow, as much as I struggle on the bike, it’s the one place I find the most gratitude. Soon enough, I saw mile marker 45 and the hills were all over, just 11 more miles and it was on to the run. Those last 11 miles were consumed by fighting some Santa Ana winds and were likely the slowest 11 miles of the entire course.
Happy to be off the bike after 3:05, I saw quite a few bikes on my rack and got a better idea of where I stood amongst my AG. After peeling off the sleeves and slippin’ on the Zoots, I made a quick potty stop and headed out for the run. And that’s where the fun really began...
The aid stations and spectators were amazing! My legs felt great. I felt I might shit myself for the first few miles, but some guy came along side and said “You’re going just faster than I wanna go, so I’m just gonna hang onto your back wheel here”. So, I struck up a conversation, which took my mind off the cramping in my belly. I lost him after a couple aid stations and hit the turn around in about 52 minutes.
When I hit mile 10, and verbalized that there was only 5k left, I picked up another guy, William age 33. We stuck together till the end. The bottoms of my feet were hurtin’ and once again, chatting with a fellow athlete took my mind off the pain. I couldn’t help but think how God puts just the right people in your life at just the right time. The 13.1 miles took about 1:44, just under 8 minutes a mile.
I crossed the finish in 5:37 on a sunny beautiful day in Southern California and headed straight for a massage and a couple pieces of pepperoni pizza! It was a great experience and so much fun! I didn't do as well as I'd hoped, but there are always more races and this one was quite incredible. At least I didn't blow up on the run.
Last night, I slept in my compression gear and feel pretty darn great today. I've spent most of the day on the beach as it's BEAUTIFUL out there. All sun and warmth. Probably headed for a short run to loosen up later this evening.
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