Pacific Coast Triathlon
Report by Michelle Balsz
Photos by Richard Quattrocchi
Yesterday I competed in the Pac Coast Tri, a sprint distance triathlon consisting of a 1/2 mile swim, 12 mile bike and 3.1 mile run. I hadn’t done this race in two years and even though I was physically standing pretty much the same spot I was two years ago, I was in a very different place…in my life.
That was then, this is now. “Then” held its own group of fears and doubts, feelings of loneliness, not feeling supported and stress. “Now” holds an uplifted spirit, newfound friends, tremendous amount of support, belief in myself, stress (yes) and last but certainly not least, Happiness. I had a completely different outlook on this race than I did two years prior. There were many changes in my life over the course of the last two years and I emerged a couple of months ago with a different attitude towards my training, racing and my life.
Six weeks ago I decided to do Pac Coast and sent Joby an email to see if he would put a training plan together for me. Not really having trained much since the Spring, I had been on my bike a few times since May, I thought I want to give this my best shot and PR over my time two years ago. I really wasn’t sure I would do it and quite frankly was afraid to even say it out loud to anyone, but I told Joby. Let the training begin! I was excited, scared of failure but definitely, definitely had a different attitude toward the sport I love. My fire that was barely kindling for years was ignited.
A good friend of mine who has been unbelievably supportive went with me to pick up my packet. We went to eat after and penned out on a napkin what I thought my times would be tomorrow. He was going to be taking pictures so we were trying to time out where he could find me on the course. Two years ago my total race time was 1:31:45. This year I was hoping to come in etween 1:26-1:27. As we began to write them down I gave more aggressive times that put me coming in between 1:21-1:22. I remember saying to him, “well you have to put it out there, right? Many of the best deals have been written on a napkin!”
I got into transition, it was still dark and I was looking for a spot close to end. I ended up setting up my transition right next to Jillian. I didn’t even know she was doing the race. I knew Rose was, but I had never met her, I had been reading her blogs recently and we were FB friends. I was so happy to meet her I actually gave her a hug! Poor girl, I think I totally shocked her. Sorry Rose! I couldn’t be blessed with better teammates and I mean that all of my Team FC teammates. There are some I don’t know yet, but will eventually I am sure.
The Swim – ½ mile Time: 14:08
Now we’re waiting on the beach and I am with Jillian and Rose. Finally its time…the gun goes off and we race into the water. I’m feeling good, out of breath but know it’s a short swim. A few wrestling matches with some kelp along the way and I exit the water crossing the timing pad at 14:08, napkin guesstimate, 13:30. I was ok with that! Now for that dreaded hill, oh well, everyone has to climb it.
Got into T1 still out of breath from the swim and that hill, threw my gear on and was out of transition in 3:01. Napkin guesstimate, 3-3:30. I am happy!
I got out on the bike, my heart was racing. The bike is my weakest link, the area where I need to spend more time on and some of my bike workouts didn’t make it in during the previous 6 weeks, but I did what I could indoors on the spin bike. I could feel I wasn’t where I wanted to be and that annoying voice of doubt that tells me “oh well, just ride, who cares about PR or Podium” was speaking to me. Rose says she “brings the hammer” I feel like I’m dragging one! I quickly wiped that out of my mind and who should come along flying by me? Rose! Saying “go Michelle” I was so grateful for that, I kept going keeping my fight. Seeing Adrienne and Marco out there cheering us on was a huge help too. Heading into T2 I decided to pull my feet out of my shoes prior to dismount. Genius! It made dismount and running through transition so much easier. I ended with a 41:31 bike time. Napkin guesstimate, 39-40min. I didn’t know that at the time, I didn’t want to look at my watch.
Had my fastest T2 time yet. I ran to my spot and racked my bike, took off my helmet and threw my shoes on. I grabbed my visor, bib & flask and was out of transition hoping to be around 1 minute. T2 time :43. :43 seconds!! Napkin guesstimate, 1minute.
Run – Time: 24:18
I got out on the run, put the rest of my gear on and downed what I had in my flask. Still not wanting to look at my watch I ran past the turn around for the Super sprinters, which I knew was the ½ mile point, kept going and finally looked at my watch. The only reading I could see was overall time of 1:05. At that point I knew I was nearly to mile 2 and that I could make my 1:22-1:23 overall goal. Heading out onto the trail a group of women out for a run joined up with me so I asked them if they were running about an 8 min pace and they were! I kept on my run down to the beach as they went on their way, made it the last steep ramp, walked ¾ of the ramp then started to run again. At that point I knew I was a half mile from the finish and it was time to turn it on. I had been practicing this, it was going to be my chance to make up some time and come in under 24 min. About 1/4 mile from the finish my hamstring started cramping and I had to do a hobble-run to keep it from getting worse and let it subside. That got me to the parking lot so I tried my hardest to run normally through the shoot to the finish. I made it! Actual run time, 24:18min, napkin guesstimate, 24min.
Guesstimate Time 1:22
All in all I am more than thrilled with how the day played out. I had a great time, got to see my friends be rockstars up on the podium, overcame some personal obstacles and achieved some goals. As I said in the beginning of this long race report (thank you for reading it by the way), this day held a whole new meaning for me. The feeling of elation I have is not just from my overall time. In a way it feels as if this were my first triathlon and a whole new dimension has been opened up for me. Thanks for reading, supporting and befriending me!