Monday, December 9, 2013

HITS Palm Springs Triathlon recap

Considering it was December 8th, it really was a beautiful morning for a triathlon. Normally December in Palm Springs shows temperatures around 70-80 degrees but with the cold snap we’ve had around the country, temps had dropped to the 60 degree range.  This event was a relatively recent addition to my calendar thanks to a fellow triathlete who “talked me into it.” I’ve been told that I need to quit caving to peer pressure! The others who were to compete this weekend ended up not coming down. This should have been a clue to me to not go but I am all about wanting to do that one last race of the year. My friend and surrogate daughter, Ashlan, planned on making the trip with me. The odds were stacked against us from the beginning.
My week began on Monday with my bike being stolen off of my car in my work parking lot. It was a “thing” but it dealt me a devastating blow to lose it. I have never been accused of sitting back and waiting for results so in a fast 72 hours I selected and was fitted for a new bike. I still feel violated that this person decided it was ok to take something that wasn’t his but there is always a silver lining and I believe I have gotten a better bike that will carry me through to my Ironman race next year. The second setback was when we were leaving Ashlan’s house Thursday night. She has a steep driveway and when backing out I slid into a fire hydrant. Small amount of damage but off we went anyway.  The temps were so cold on the way to St. George. At one point even hitting 23 below.

We were able to stay in St. George that night to break up the long drive and Friday morning we were off to sunny California. We made it to Palm Springs in time to check in for the race and check out the expo. The HITS series triathlons have a distance for everyone. Saturday was the half and full-ironman distance and Sunday was the open, sprint and Olympic distance races. The weather was a little crappy on Saturday and the competitors had to deal with some wind and rain. We were scheduled to volunteer on the bike course for Saturday and while we were not really needed we did find a purpose. A half distance cyclist crashed and needed stitches and transported back to the start since his bike wasn’t functioning. This is the first year he started triathlon and this was his first long distance race. It was fun to talk with him and help him out and I think we talked him into competing in St. George in May.

I was scheduled for both a 20 minute bike and run so headed back to hotel. First time on the new bike and it rode great. We called it a day after that and found a place to eat lunch/dinner.
Babe’s. Great place and I think we sampled everything on the menu. By then we headed back to hotel and vegged out the rest of the day. 4:30 am came really early.

It was about 45 degrees when we headed to lake at 5:30. The care and detail that HITS puts into their races is amazing. Transition area is nothing like I’ve ever seen.
The water temperature was supposed to be 60-63 but it was more like 55. I’ve raced where the water temp was warmer than the air but have never felt this cold. We had an in water start and when the horn blew and I started swimming I could not catch my breath. After about 100 yards I had to stop for a minute. I actually could not get into a rhythm of breathing and started heading to the shore thinking that this was going to be the first time ever of quitting a race. After a minute of contemplation, I started swimming again and somehow made it to T1. Slowest transition ever – 7 minutes. I know some people had hypothermia on Saturday after the longer swims and I could see why. I put a long sleeve top and a windbreaker on and headed out on the bike. I should have had shoe covers and gloves on. My feet did not thaw out until mile 2 on the run and my hands were cold the entire race. It was a flat course and after my slow swim I was happy to pass several dozen bikes. Everyone was having issues. T2 was quite a bit faster and the run was really nice. The weather had warmed up and I could shed my long sleeves and was happy I could finally feel my feet.
This was by far the most difficult triathlon of my life but am happy to say that my mental toughness training paid off. One last test of that was that after a quick shower and loading of car, we drove the entire way back home, making it in about ten hours.  This was a great venue and with a few changes in my preparation, I will definitely do it again.