For 3 hours and 42 minutes. As strange as it may sound, it was so windy at every turn that I started to think it was just me – having an off day. I expected it the last 10 miles of the race. My coach warned me. My friends warned me.
When I saw my race photos, it pretty much showed everything.
Here I am in the first couple of miles of the race. When this picture is on my big computer screen, it almost looks like G-forces on my face.
Then there’s this one – I think from mile 17.
And then, I finally have a respite from the wind going downhill somewhere around mile 28. Speed. Oh, JOY!
Riding in a race like this one is little like babysitting a toddler. You’re constantly looking out for any possible hazards. Those rear-seat mounted water bottle holders make great rocket launchers for bottles. Misconnects at aid stations. And I think there were just some cold, fumbling hands out there. I pointed out those wayward bottles to the riders behind me. I didn’t feel like such a geek after all, holding true to my mountain biking roots and taking my Camelbak. It allowed me to keep my hands on the bars and my body in a tuck as much as possible.
The second half of the course took us through the Marine Corp’s Camp Pendleton base past tanks, helicopters, firing ranges, and lots of other military buildings.
Since I started right after the pros, I was passed by a lot of people (okay, hundreds of them) I never would’ve seen if I started with my fellow age groupers. It also gave me a chance to get in some more window-shopping for bikes. By mile 40, I was thinking like a true golfer. Must be the equipment ;-) Instead of pining for a new putter, I want a Cervelo P2C. (I did my serious looking at the expo the day before the race. Stay tuned.)
A huge thanks to Gayla and Jeff at Tri-Zone for loaning me some Zipp 404s for the race. They rent them out for anyone interested in trying them out before you buy ‘em. Despite the wind, I’m very psyched that I finished this leg of the course without bonking. It’s the farthest I’ve ever gone on a road bike in my life. A year ago, it was unthinkable to do a half marathon after completing my first half-century. It felt great to know that I came a long way since then – not just 56 miles.