I heard about this race from a friend of mine Jeff, and something in me said that I had to do it. I fundraised to get into the race, $600 dollars to be exact. Let’s just say that this race wasn’t about winning. To me it was about being inspired by others, the athletes who have the heart but didn’t quite have the tools and that’s what makes CAF so great. The money we fundraised went to help getting them what they needed to compete.
The weekend started with a race simulation for IMAZ but once I finished I had to get to my packet pickup for the race. I really was not expecting anything but the usual expo with the usual packet pickup stuff. But who did I just happen to bump into right as I stepped foot? It was Karen Aydelott who brought me to tears watching her in the 2013 Ironman World Championships as she was struggling to cross the finish line. Talk about inspiration from the start. It was incredible. As I went through the process and watching all the people out here especially the kids it really brought things into perspective. How fortunate we are to be able to do what we can do. How many people don’t realize how good they have it and complain every single day about how hard life is to them. I grabbed this picture from a friend because this is what our packets came in. You can read what our fundraising efforts brought to these athletes. Now at every packet up there is the swag bag. I wasn’t prepared for what I was about to get either. At every other race we get a cheap bag with flyers in it and then maybe a super small cliff bite. Nope I turned the corner and there were rows of Xterra transition bags with CAF imprinted on the sides. When I got home I emptied it out on my bed and holy cow! The best swag bag I could have asked for. Converse, Hoodie, Flip Flops, Nutrition items, socks, running gear, shirt, and special rainbow socks in honor of Robin Williams. I need to find a way to get more involved with CAF.
I got there a bit early so that I could try and find decent parking. I figured it would have been a total mess seeing as the even is in La Jolla Cove and parking sucks there to begin with. I found awesome parking though and got into transition and setup right at the end with great real estate. I ran into Alexis, Pam, Audrey, and Erika who were volunteering so it was nice to see the friendly faces. I didn’t really get anything prepped like my stickers and such till I was in transition because I didn’t do em the night before and this wasn’t a serious race. I walked over and talked to some buddies also doing the race as always. The best part about racing is the amount of friends you see and cheer on. At 7AM they gathered us all up to the watch the jumbotron where they had the parade of athletes along with a tribute to Robin Williams who I didn’t know till he passed away they he loved cycling and gave back to the Challenged Athletes Foundation. Truly a selfless man who passed too soon. With that I got to see and speak with a little bit from some of the pro’s like Meredith Kessler, Luke Mackenzie, and Paula Newby-Fraiser. These are celebrities amongst the triathlete community and it was great to see them out here for a good cause. I will note that I got dropped on mile 1 of the bike by Luke… it wasn’t fair cause I got the red light!
Swim: 20 minutes unofficial… I say that because the stairs up to the timing mat was congested and took 1-2 minutes to get up it.
The horn went off and had a very smooth swim, however it was hard to site with the smaller buoys and the rollers coming through and I was off course by a lot. I was still making good time and rounded all the buoys in what seemed like a super fast swim (I was right). Water was blue and could see the sea life. As I was swimming past the other athletes missing limbs I was honored to be out there sharing the experience with them. In fact I wish I could pull them behind me. Coming out of the swim and up the steps was a bit congested but ran into Jeff and we chit chatted. Then I hear in the background from Bob Babbit… Chris Holley what a hell of a swim. I was 5th out of the water of 87 people.
It was a little odd with this bike because they didn’t close off the roads so we had to stop at all the stop lights and signs. Oh and there were hills.. hard ones. La Jolla Shores Dr was nothing but up hill and then on the way back we had Torrey Pines. Surprisingly though it wasn’t as bad as I had though… that training is really paying off but I need to train some more.
By this time the sun was getting to me and I just kept on moving. I tried to maintain the run 4 minutes walk 1 minute which worked for the most part but going up La Jolla Shores Dr took more out of me than I had though. I had to walk the 2nd half up. The upside is that there is a sidewalk there so it looks like I”ll be running up that street for a while now. The volunteers at the aid stations where awesome and at mile 3 and 6 there was this kid who was just amazing and brought a smile to my face. It was going down La Jolla Shores that I tried to open the stride up more but my legs felt like concrete blocks and I really didn’t want to fall on my face. At mile 7 I had a visitor who ran/walked with me the entire time and cheered me on. Then around mile 8.5 on the final hill upwards I walked it and we started talking with a guy named Dan. He was doing the individual race as well and I noticed he was missing his hand. We talked all the way through to the finish line. His legs were cramping and mine where blocks… It was a nice reminder that it wasn’t about winning. It was about having fun.
Post Race: Cookie’s
Carrie was there and I basically ate the rest of the cookies she had in her bag. Yup I’m a cookie monster. Rhonda was there which was cool, she had never seen me cross the finish line. My company helped me grab my stuff in transition and then I was chatting with Jeff and Brian. We talked about the race and IMAZ and how we’re both feeling really prepared for it. He then introduced me to Eric who was a challenged athlete who also did Kona with the refuel chocolate milk team. That was awesome since I watched his progress through the Got Chocolate Milk videos with Hines Ward. I will do this race again either as an individual or as a team. It was nice to go out there and not have the pressure about who’s first, second, or third.