The San Diego Triathlon Classic has always been one of my favorite races. Not only is it a well-organized event in a beautiful location, but it was my first Olympic triathlon back in 2012, so it holds special meaning for me.

Having done this race twice (first in 2012 and again in 2013), I was grateful to know what to anticipate. I wasn’t nervous at all and was just eager to see how I would perform. I was hoping that this would be my best year given that it was the first time I would be on my tri bike and given all the marathon run training I’d put in the past few weeks. Chris opted not to do the race this year, so I ended up having a personal sherpa, photographer and cheerleader.

Chris and I arrived in Liberty Station just before sunrise and I had plenty of time to get settled in transition and take care of my pre-race ritual. While I’m usually full of pre-race jitters, this time around I found the quiet surroundings and “waking up” of the city to be calming.

The swim is an in-water start and I made sure to line up at the front of my age group. As the horn went off, I quickly found my pace and settled in. This was my first triathlon swim where I was actually able to draft the whole time. About 300 meters into the swim, I came upon another swimmer who was holding my pace; I latched on and stuck with her. I heard Chris’s voice in my head – “find some feet” and I did.

It turned out to be my fastest SD Tri swim, which I’m not sure if I should attribute to drafting or improved swim fitness, but I’ll take it!

Coming out of the swim, I jogged up to transition while peeling off the wetsuit down to my waist. As I arrived at my rack, I saw that all of the bikes were still there. I must be one of the first ones out of the water! Though, there were girls right behind me on my heel.

I spent the first few miles of the bike settling in. Soon enough, we were climbing up through the local neighborhoods toward the naval base. Then we came upon the infamous climb up to Cabrillo National Monument, which is now my favorite part of the race. Since I’m light and a decent climber (all the hills in Palos Verdes and Malibu), I was able to pass quite a few people here. Though, on the long descent, I was passed by a few guys (they’re probably more gutsy than I am!).

One of the things I love most about the climb on the bike course is that it leads you up to some of the most amazing views in San Diego. With the sun rising over the water, I made sure to enjoy the scenic vistas, while still pedaling at 20+ mph. I only wish I had a camera to capture the sights.

As I was finishing up the bike and heading into Liberty Station, I saw Chris and he was, of course, shooting and cheering away. Coming into transition, a woman in my age group who was walking her bike (looked like she was done and pulling out of the race) told me that I was first in our AG. While I hoped to do well here, I wasn’t anticipating an AG win. With that extra boost of encouragement, I went out for the run.

I started the run strong, holding a 7:30 pace. I was still feeling pretty good – the marathon training must be paying off! Then at mile 2, my left calf started tightening and threatening to cramp. I eased up a bit and did all I could to keep it from cramping and stopping me.

Given that the run course is two loops with both Olympic- and Sprint-distance runners, it was hard to tell how many women were in front of me. As long as I didn’t let any women pass me on the run, I hoped I would fare well. With about two miles to go, I knew that there was another female competitor about half a minute behind me and she had been slowly gaining on me. Once my calf cramp went away, I started to feel great, so I picked it up and made sure she didn’t pass me. On the final stretch, I kicked it in and sprinted toward the finish.

After I crossed the finish line, I did my usual post-race hands-on-the-knees, bent-over heaving until I caught my breath. Then I headed over to the food and stuffed my face with pizza.

I went over to the results to check out my time and standings. 2:30:12…just 12 seconds shy of breaking 2:30! A new Olympic distance PR. Great news was that I managed to place first in my age group and third overall. Woohoo! Bad news (well, not really) was that Chris and I still had to do a run per our marathon plan. Oh, the joys of racing in the middle of marathon training. Since we still had an hour before the awards, we knocked out a four mile run.

At the awards ceremony, it was great to see all the other athletes and competitors. One of the things I do appreciate about the SD Tri Classic is that it attracts some legit age group triathletes. To place in my gender and in my age group feels like a huge accomplishment and will certainly make this one of my most memorable races!

OVERALL TIME – 2:30:12
Age Group – 1/26
Gender – 3/140

SWIM – 25:53 (1:44/100m)
T1 – 2:13
BIKE – 1:14:00 (20.2mph)
T2 – 1:29
RUN – 47:11 (7:36/mile)

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