M3 Race- Just keep climbing.

On Sunday, I raced the relay division of the M3 Triathlon put on by Renegade Racing with Carolyn and Stacie (2 of my old roommates and 2 crazy marathon runners).

Prior to the race I had been going back and forth about whether or not I should do the bike portion of the relay because of the pain in my knee. Facing an injury and dealing with pain in various joints has been a serious struggle for me. It is incredibly hard to go from training 7 days a week, with some double days mixed in there, to having to focus on taking it easy on my body. Since I haven’t been strength training or riding outdoors, I was worried I might be too out of shape to complete the bike portion of this Olympic distance relay. How did I determine if I was ready to do it?

After taking 5 days off from running and spinning, I went to a spin class and the following day I did a short 20 minute run. I felt good after both so I decided I could do M3. Plus the race benefited Challenged Athletes Foundation so I was going to attend M3 whether I raced or not.

I heard from numerous sources that this was a seriously tough bike course with lots of climbing and hills. For this reason, I decided NOT to look at the course map or elevation diagram. Is anyone noticing a pattern yet? Apparently, despite all of my Type-A personality traits, I like to go into some events blind. Perhaps, I prefer to be in the dark over being nervous about a course.

So race day arrives and we trek out to Valencia. It was cold! I mean seriously cold. But once the sun came up over the mountains, it was a beautiful day to race!

Our group before the race.

Carolyn was our swimmer and she did awesome! This was Carolyn’s first triathlon and first race swim. She was calm, cool and collected. All things I was NOT at my first race. Carolyn trained very hard in the pool for the race and it showed.

While I was waiting for Carolyn to come out, I jogged around, did some butt-kickers, high knees and shuffling to get my legs loose and warmed up.

As soon as I got on the bike we started to climb. If you live in California and have ever driven up the 5 past Magic Mountain on your way to Northern California, you know it starts to get hilly and mountainous. Yes, folks I was riding my bike on that hilly and mountainous terrain on the 5. It was some SERIOUS climbing. (Side note: I am by no means complaining here, I really enjoy climbing and it was very challenging which I liked even more.) I’m talking an uphill battle the entire way. There were no stretches of flat terrain. We were either climbing or descending. I absolutely hate descending. I don’t like it. It scares me. Especially when you are descending at a steep grade on uneven pavement. I basically white knuckled it the ENTIRE way down the mountain. Climbing didn’t bother me, descending did. GO FIGURE. I could have shaved a lot of time off if I had felt more comfortable going fast on the downhills but I saw gravel and sand and that was that.

It took me much longer to complete this bike leg than my last Olympic distance triathlon but I will assume that is because the course included so much climbing. Trust me, you don’t move very fast off mountains. Several of the people around me got off their bikes to walk them up the steeper mountains. But I refused. It’s all mental people!

This was only the beginning… And I look like I’m struggling already!

Stacie was ready to run when I came into transition. We waited near the finish to cheer her in! And there we were, finishing first in the Women’s relay. TA-DA.

Final thoughts on M3- It was so great to be in a race environment again, when I got off the bike I thought, “That’s it? I want to run though!” Guess that means I’m ready to race again.It was also sooo fantastic to finally race with Carolyn and Stacie. These two have been huge supporters and inspiration to me.

To top it all off- Carolyn and Stacie are running the NIKE Women’s Marathon in San Francisco this weekend! Good luck!

Renegade Racing also has the Turkey Tri race on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, so now I am seriously considering it! What a great way to burn off the turkey! Somebody do it with me! A good first triathlon for my friends who have been wanting to try one???

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