Sunday, April 5, 2009

Lauren's Oceanside 70.3 Race Report: A Humbling Experience.

In what is becoming a pattern, I'm sitting at the airport in San Diego waiting to catch my delayed flight out of here...perfect opportunity for blogging or slogging about my "fun" day. 

Lessons Learned: 
- Racing as a pro is VASTLY different than racing as an age grouper.
- Don't wear clear goggles when swimming into the sun.
- Study the bike course map and don't blindly follow the directions of course volunteers.
- Don't complain to your coach or husband on the run.
- Don't let a disaster in one discipline ruin the rest of your race.

Going into this year I was warned by coach Paulo and others who had made the switch that there is a huge difference between racing as an age grouper and racing as a pro. Apparently I did not internalize this and perhaps I had secret hopes that I was impervious to this phenomenon - this was not to be the case, however. 

Race morning was typical. I set up my transition zone (this time amongst the triathlete magazine cover girls), did a warm up run, and then sat in the porta potty line multiple times. I was surprisingly calm as I put on my wetsuit and made my way to the swim start. I lined up somewhere in the middle and when the horn sounded I had high hopes that I would find some girls' feet to draft. This was not to be the case. I swam as hard as possible and held on as long as possible but the fast packs of girls dropped me. After the swim turnaround I found myself directly facing the sun with nobody in sight. Was I the LAST pro girl in the water? The horror! I continued swimming in what I thought was a somewhat straight direction after almost running into some random guy on a paddle board (who happened to be telling me that I was off course) and finally made it to the boat ramp. I later learned that I was not the last girl out of the water, but was heroically leading the last pack of girls in an intricate and creative zig zag pattern. awesome!

After a three hour T1 (you'd think this was my first tri ever), I managed to jump on my bike and get my feet into the shoes. This WAS a first for me....a small victory in my long day. I got into my zone and started hammering to find all the girls that had beat me on the swim. Unlike the constant legal slip streaming of age group racing, I was alone. COMPLETELY ALONE. For someone that thrives on passing people, this was difficult. I am used to getting ahead in my age group by the midpoint on the bike and then just holding on for the run, but this is apparently not how it works in the pro field. I finally started passing a few people (perhaps 6 or 7 by mile 35) and was excited thinking that I was slowly making my way up to where I really wanted to be. 

Sometime after mile 40, I came across an intersection with one volunteer and a bunch of cars. I thought the volunteer was motioning me to turn right, so despite having done this race TWO other times, I turned right and headed up a huge hill. After about 5 minutes and 2 forks in the road, I realized I was off course, so I stopped, turned around, and climbed back up the hill. After about 10+ minutes I made it back to the main road and continued back to transition. Rather than shaking this off and continuing my race however, I freaked out and this is where I lost the mental battle. 

I finally made it back to transition with the longest bike time I've had in 2 years and the only thing I could think about was how unfair this was and how I needed to tell everyone this ASA FREAKING P so that they wouldn't think I was slow.  What were all my age group friends going to think of me? Would they secretly think I should have stayed age group? Was my coach going to fire me? Was my husband going to find a new person to which to offer his sherpa services?? Perhaps this energy could have been better spent focusing on my run. Perhaps I could have caught a couple of girls, rather than mentally quitting in T2?

The run was uneventful. I was running just to finish. I saw Matt right out of T2 and screamed to him how I went off course. I saw video of this later and while it is quite humorous now, I was definitely pulling out the "poor me" card and not following the HTFU mantra. I saw Paulo a minute later and tried to tell him what happened but he told me to shut up and run. This was the best piece of advice I got all day. I slogged though the run and finished the race in an unglorious cloud of anger and frustration. After spending 30 minutes pouting in transition and avoiding Matt's calls, I finally packed it up, walked out of transition and faced my friends. 

As I mentioned previously, I learned so much today. Most importantly, I learned that the mental game in professional triathlon is HUGE. I need to be prepared to deal with whatever comes my way and not let it affect me. Yesterday I failed miserably in that, but am going to pick myself up and get back to training and racing. I have only myself to blame and am looking forward to learning more fun lessons along the way! Bring on Wildflower!!!

Thanks to Matt, Purse, Paulo, and Shawn and Tracy for encouraging me on the run and throughout the day. I appreciate the support. Also thanks to Sara de BOOM (yes, she is related to Tim de she is triathlon royalty) for showing up and celebrating at the Drunken Crab Shack in my honor!! Congrats to all the other posse members who finished yesterday as well!

Note: This was posted by Lauren, not Lindsey. I forgot to log her off when I posted and don't want to attribute this day to her!


  1. Sounds like a great learning experience. I learned a few things Saturday as well. Keep up the good work.

  2. Paulo has told me to shut up and run before, and he doesn't even coach me.

    I'm sorry about the course thing - getting lost would have ruined my day as well. But now the pro debut is out of the way.. you'll nail it next time.

  3. You will nail Wildflower and probably a million other races in the future. I think some day you will look back on Oceanside and it will be a great story! Don't be too hard on yourself - you are strong and things will come together.

  4. Ugh! I think if I got lost on the bike course I would have just tried to ride off into the sunset and forget the whole running thing... :) So you held it together much better than you are giving yourself credit for! Like the others said, you will nail the next one and it will be that much sweeter! Congrats and good luck!

  5. Looks like we'll both take a ton from this race. You'll kill 'em next time. It was GREAT seeing you guys!

  6. Hang tuff chica... last year was my transition from 25-29 age grouper to pro, and it was every bit as amazing as scary! It's kind of like going from middle school to high school, you were the big kid and now you are the new kid on the block. I promise it gets easier... and you are brave to take on the challenge! ALSO... how cool will it be to sit in a rocking chair at 100 years old and think back, "yeah, I raced as a pro, or made a dream come true".

    Good luck this season and see ya at the races! Oh, it's okay to cry too :)

  7. Hey Lauren
    Just read your race report. Sorry to hear your race did not go as planned. I did check results in SA and saw there was a tough field. Taking a wrong turn is so annoying and frustrating. Be happy that your first race is over and know each race gets easier. Look forward to seeing you have great results this season. Believe in yourself!

  8. Hi Lauren- Dont know you, but Im a friend of Jacqui Gordons... I really loved reading this post. I am a pro as well and had a TERRIBLE race in Oceanside! It IS very different to race pro...can be tough. I think that the mental aspect is the toughest, but the most important part to work on. I am learning as I go as well :-) Hang in there, stay positive, have confidence in yourself and your abilities... I think it's the pros that do this that make it in this sport :-)
    Congrats and good luck in Wildflower!!