Wildflower weekend – Guest Writer Debi :-)

On Friday, kirsten, Linda and I went down to take a practice swim and pick up packets.  As soon as we started walking it started sprinkling.  Of course it did.  It actually wasn’t too bad since we took my favorite thing at Wildflower: the shuttle down Lynch hill.  As we were getting ready to swim there was a group of pros in front of us talking about how the water wasn’t too cold but to watch out for floaters.  Linda and I exchanged very worried glances.  But then she said the floaters were big chunks of algae.  Whew.  We got in and it looked like a ocean documentary “at the bottom of the ocean” as there was a constant flow of tiny algae and the occasional chunk of big algae.
Darren, Sarah and Wendy arrived and according to Darren they packed enough food for 8 people.  Wendy did recover from her limited range of motion car ride pretty well by going down to the festival and buying jerseys and getting free samples with Sarah and Cheryl.
It drizzled most of the afternoon and evening but it was manageable for everyone unloading and making dinner.  Good thing Darren and Sarah brought the easy up so we could have dry snack time.  The carrot cake cookies, M&M’s, licorice and Brownie bites  certainly helped take the urgency out of making dinner.  Thanks Sarah and Wendy!
Saturday morning it was clear and no rain.  We got Kirsten down to transition and Linda had a couple of well timed “Quit your whining, it’s only a half ironman” to calm her down.  For those of you who don’t know, last year when we all did Barb’s race and were walking the bikes and gear to transition she blurted out “it’s no big deal, it’s just a half”.  About 50 women within earshot wanted to kill her.
We got to see the pro’s swim and go off on the bike. Darren got a front row view as they flew in and out. Kirsten had a good swim despite the hacking cough she’s had all week.  Her transition was long, as expected.
Cheryl had twisted her ankle when she fell in a sink hole in the road speaking to her art Patron, Cindy, on the way down so she was a tad slow moving.  After we safely got her off on the bike ride, we came up and did a quick run and ride to remind our muscles how to work.  Then we had the most awesome camping lunch ever prepared by Wendy.  The sandwich bar buffet she prepared was phenomenal.  I had to take a picture.  With our stomachs full (and the occasional comment “I hope Kirsten is enjoying her gu”) we walked just a couple of minutes and saw Kirsten go by as she was finishing her bike ride.  She looked good.  Just a minute or two slower than last year on the bike.
We were able to go back to the same spot to see her go by on the run.  While we were waiting there was a nice breeze.  Wendy said “wow this is a perfect day, we couldn’t ask for better weather”.  Literally 3 second later the breeze changed to a huge gust of wind (aka tornado) and the easy-ups down the path blew over into parked cars, small tents behind us blew over and the Tri San Diego people frantically clutched their easy up to keep from losing it.  Linda, Darren and Sarah ran back the camp site and got the 5th wheel awning down and recovered cheryl’s painting which had flown off the easel.  We were relatively unscathed.  5 minutes later there were still two plates and a garbage bag floating about 100 feet above us.
They made it back in time to see Kirsten go by.  Darren had been smart enough to bring a half can of coke and set it on the path for Kirsten.  As she flew by she yelled “got a gu”, we all looked panicked and shouted “no but we have a coke”.  According the Kirsten that made her next three miles awesome, so good thinking Darren.
Linda and I went down to the finish line and everyone else rested their legs for race day.  Kirsten crossed with a big smile on her face and was only two minutes slower than last year.  Her run was a lot faster than last year so that was great.
The big news of the day was Volere brand had a sale of $10 on women’s tri suits.  Wendy and Sarah each bought one.  Since it was red, grey and white I made Linda try on one and she ended up buying one too,  Kirsten bought hers while we were racing yesterday.  Darren bought a blue one, however, there was a wardrobe malfunction noticed by Cheryl when he modeled it.  Little bit of white butt showing which would end up being a lot of white butt after a bike ride.

Saturday night after Kirsten’s race we all began preparing our tri-bags and water bottles and putting stickers on helmets and bikes.  Much electrical tape was used.  Darren decided to ride down and back up Lynch hill.  He is a masochist.  In fact, after seeing the mountain bike course people finish their race and mocking them for seeming so tired after such a short race ( 500 yd swim, 9 mile bike and 2 mile run)  he decided that next year he will do a double-the mountain bike and the olympic race back to back.  Wendy and I have vowed to hold him too it.  Cheryl made a delicious tri-tip (or so I am told) and we had mashed potatoes and yummy salad.  The Brownie bites were enjoyed by all.
Kirsten and Cheryl took their spectating duties very seriously and took orders for post race beverages and snacks to carry down with them to the finish line.  They also had to create a list of start times and projected finish times with 5 racers in different age groups. 
On race morning we all did pretty well with the jitters.  We told Darren to be happy that Wendy had brought so many croissants for his pre-race meal since I met a woman in line at the bathroom who had her whole bag of them stolen from her tent the night before.  I offered her his uneaten ones.   As we were about to leave and Wendy was putting air in her tires she realized she had a hole in her tire.  Luckily I had just bought a new spare one at REI and Darren did a quick change on it.  I decided to count that as my “save” for the day.  Then on the way down to transition, Darren popped his tube.  Of course he would be the first one to start the race, but he got it changed in time.
The wildflower transition is HUGE.  So big that Wendy got ashen the day before when she first saw it.  Spaces are assigned by numbers and wave starts.  Linda was just one row across from me and Jaime Baker another friend from Sacramento was just across from her.  We also saw Carrie and Rose from Sacramento before the race. they were down by Sarah and Wendy. 
The first wave went at 9 am, Darren started at 9:25 and we got to see him leave on his bike ride looking good.  Linda was the next start at 10:35 am, then Sarah in the pink cap at 10:40 and Wendy and I got to go in the over 45 group at 10:50.  By this time the sun was out and we were roasting in our wet suits.  Getting in the water was a relief.
Wendy and I did something we have never done.  We postioned ourselves about 4 rows back in the middle of the pack and we ran into the water when the gun went off and started swimming.  We normally hang at the back and walk in after most everyone has cleared out.  It was very exciting.  Not so exciting was the beating we took from all the swimmers around us.  It took at least a quarter mile before there was clear swimming and no danger from an adjacent swimmer.   I found a woman who was my pace and swam next to her so I wouldn’t go off course.  The algae wasn’t as bad as on Friday and except for a couple of warnings from the safety kayaks I didn’t go off course (or almost run into the dock at the finish like last year).
When I got out of the water, I looked for my cheap flip flops to run up the boat ramp (which is pretty steep).  Apparently someone else decided they needed them because they were gone.  Someone took Sarah’s sandals too.
I got out of transition ok (a little slower than last year) and started up Lynch hill on the bike.  This is when the reality of the cold I caught hit.  While I could breathe, I wasn’t really getting much oxygen.  My legs were killing me.  I realized this was going to be a very crappy bike ride.  At least 55 people passed me in that .75 mile hill.  I made it up and continued riding trying to make up time on the down hills.  At around mile 10 I pulled off the course and rested for 3 minutes, drank some water and ate a little.  Wendy came flying by looking great on the bike and checked on me.  I did see Linda going the other way passing someone at high speed.  I knew Darren was already on the run.  I felt better, got back on the bike and finished the ride.  I told myself instead of not finishing the race, I would just walk the run portion.
I had a really fast transition between the bike and run (the only place I was faster this year).  Fortunately there was some cloud cover so it wasn’t too hot.  My first mile and 1/2 were very slow, but I started to pick it up and actually passed some walkers.  At the  bottom of the big hill at mile 3 I saw Wendy and Sarah far ahead of me.  I was determined to catch them.  So I ran very slowly up the hill while they walked.  I was making up ground and eventually I was within shouting distance.  But I had lost my voice the day before so I kept asking the volunteers to yell their names.  After the 4th time, they turned around and were nice enough to let me catch up.  Turns out Wendy’s legs were cramping and Sarah’s stomach was cramping so that’s why they were walking.  I was so happy to see them I didn’t care about walking.  We power walked/jogged until we got to the top of Lynch hill and then we ran down it.  Wendy got a burst of speed and adrenaline and took off as soon as she saw the finishers shoot.  Sarah and I ran it in together and waved for the finisher’s camera. It was a great way to finish the race. 
Linda and Darren had already finished.  Darren’s time was good but he had a pretty traumatic day.  He got beaned really bad in the swim and has a lump on his head and he lost his gloves a mile into the bike ride.  Not to mention the flat tire to start the race.  He did have a little fun playing cat and mouse with another runner and really appreciated the girls in bikini’s at the 5 mile aid station.  Linda felt the effects of being sick for two weeks and her new bike gearing was not great on the up hills but she flew by people on the downs.  Her run was faster than last year by a few minutes.  I think the fact she didn’t have a coughing fit on Lynch hill was a victory for her.
Sarah, Wendy and I went to the finishers rest area and they had run out of the red finisher’s towels that they give you wet to cool down.  We were pissed.  Wendy somehow got someone to give her three white ones from last year.  The beverages carried by Kirsten and Cheryl were distributed and still cold.  We ate the yummy cheetos and managed to get ourselves all back up the hill for our lovely enchilada, rice and beans post race meal.

The best part of racing - finishing with your friends!

The best part of racing - finishing with your friends!

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