So, having driven down last night to King City, Kris, Andy Crews, Marc Weinberger and I stumbled out of bed, ignoring their overwhelming desire for coffee ("Hey can we stop by that Starbucks?" "No, I don't think so."), went NORTH on 101, with directions in hand, instead south on 101, as we have mistakenly done the last two times we've participated this event. Three times a charm, and we were on our way.
And STILL arrived late.
The advantage of arriving late is that you're allowed to park in the parking lot closest to the starting line. The disadvantage of that lot is, of course, it's the farthest away from the exit when you want to leave. Fortunately, we didn't need to do that until the end of the day.
So, we arrived, parked and hustled our butts over to the registration tent.
We ran to relay table, with the three of them each going to a separate table, even though, well, only one of them was supposed to check in for all three of them. Kris won in the "check in race" and called the other two over for their numbers, bags and tags.
Bags, shirts, bike and gear in hand, the three received their numbers and walked Andy's bike into the sea of bikes ready for the transition in the bike area. The area would have held the largest number of bikes I'd ever seen in a single place, if I hadn't see the area full at previous Wildflowers.
After dropping off the bike, well, the waiting began. The relay was the last group to go, in the various waves of people who started the triathlon. The first group to go is college men, followed by college women. We were so late arriving that the first wave of college men had already left by the time we mosied to our waiting spot. We had scoped this spot out our first year here, and it's worked well for us. We sat and waited. Kris had made a crucial mistake the first year in not sitting during the two hours before the race even started for the team, much less the next two hours before he was ready to run - he was exhausted before he even started running.
So, we sat.
When I personally wasn't sitting waiting, I was in line waiting.
Eventually, the older age group waves left the starting point, and the team in training waves started. There were a surprising number of team in training waves, maybe four, two earlier and two just before the relay waves, all with purple swimming caps.
For the record, everyone looks stupid in those swimming caps.
Eventually, an hour and a half passed, and Marc figured it was time to head down the ramp. I offered to gather Marc's extra stuff, and went down the ramp with him. I verified he had on the timing tag, which Kyle almost forgot the first year. I then made sure he made a beefcake pose, and wandered back up the hill.
Sorta. In reality, I wandered out low on the the peninsula so that I could take some better, closeup pictures of Marc.
To my surprise, Marc started in the middle of the pack. I was surprised because he hadn't done any pack starts before. This was his first long open water swim(but, thankfully not his first open water swim). I don't know, I just figure the jostling in the middle of the pack is a bad introduction to the whole open water swim.
And, apparently, I was right.
Kris and Andy, sitting at the top of the hill, had a better vantage point than I did, and noticed that about 30 seconds into the swim, Marc just stopped in the water and threw up his hands. He wasn't wearing a wetsuit, so it wasn't to take it off, as Robin had done last year. I missed the stop, so didn't realize something had happened.
Marc came out of the water at 39 minutes and, to his credit and word, he ran up the hill into the bike transition time. Despite the fact he had to run up the hill about 100 yards, around the corner, another 100 yards back down the bike area and around the corner to where Andy and Kris were waiting, and I had to merely negotiate around dozen RVs and run 50 yards outside the bike area, Marc nearly beat me over. I did manage to capture some on video, so I wasn't too upset, just surprised.
And annoyed, when Kris and Marc spent a good 10 minutes inside the bike area, going over what Marc had experienced. I had to yell at them to get them to come out and let me know what happened.
What happened was Marc was kicked in the face about 30 seconds into his swim, which was when he stopped. He took a few minutes to settle, before swimming again, taking about half the swim to recover fully. He didn't expect to finish under 40 minutes.
After Andy left the bike transition zone and we chatted, we then had another hour to wait for Andy to return. Andy had suggested we try Google Latitude to track his location on the racecourse, but decided against trying when we realized it would require cell phone coverage, which we couldn't guarantee.
What I find interesting about this time is how much the spectators and participants clear out. Before Kris leaves on his run, the first five, six, maybe 10 waves are done with the whole thing, not just the swimming and biking part. The crowds lessen and the event has more breathing room.
I like this part, except for very end, when I have to brave the crowds AGAIN for Kris' finish.
One of these years, I'm going to just write a number on my arms and go into the bike transition area, maybe holding a swim cap in my hand, a cap of any color, I don't care. I'm going to do this, because I'm annoyed that I miss so much that happens IN the bike area.
As Kris and Marc waited after about an hour and ten minutes and Kris' warmup, I had to wait outside the bike area, on the other side of a fence, about 25 yards from them. As is my current custom, I stood under whatever shade I could find, which happened to be under a Powerade flag that was just barely not vertical, and provided enough shade to keep my arms out of the sun if I stood just so.
Well, the spectators and participants start moving out of the area, right? That means the clean up starts, even though the race is far from over. The Powerade clean up crew decided that now as the time to move the flag / ad, JUST as Andy came into transition the timing chip to Kris.
For the THIRD year in a row, I MISSED THIS HANDOFF. I have no idea how I keep missing this damn handoff, and have to sprint to the top of the hill to take pictures of Kris on the far side, but I miss it EVERY TIME. Quite annoying.
Okay, third person in this three person relay has started his run. We three decide to wander, not really hustle, since we knew we had at least half an hour past when I was done taking pictures of his start, until Kris would come down the finish line. Andy and I figured if we could find a spot in the bleachers, we would sit there for a while.
Delighted, we did find a space to sit. Two rows, actually, were empty right in the middle of the bleachers. We couldn't believe our good luck.
That is, we couldn't believe our good luck until we realized why the seats were empty.
A woman just behind the seats and to the side was ringing a fucking cowbell.
It was loud.
It was annoying.
No, it was FUCKING annoying.
And it was causing me to go deaf.
Andy took one camera, I took another, and we wandered over to see if we could capture Kris in all his finishing glory.
The group finished in 4:46:22, which was a time of 2:46:22 if you clear the two hour wave delay.
After Kris had finished and managed to push through the annoying crowd that overwhelms the finisher, we found him standing along the side of the area, water in one hand, a finisher's towel in the other, and a finishers medal around his neck. Entertainingly, neither Marc nor Andy wanted the medal after Kris offered it to him. It's not like it's a gold medal or anything.
I had run into Jane a few moments earlier, pushing her two kids in a stroller. John was participating in the triathlon, and Jane was along for the ride. Or, as she put it, John's been to so many ultimate tournaments, this was the least I could do to support him.
We went off to get food and, for the boys, beers. I ate strawberries and the cooked cabbage I had brought, because, really, who doesn't love cooked cabbage?
When eating, I started people watching. I thought it very strange that a woman would sit down in the middle of a major walking throughfare, blocking foot traffic, then become annoyed when people had to step over her and around her. Had she sat anywhere away from Andy, she would have had no problem. Even though sometimes it's easy to complain, I have to say that it's often easier just to think about what you're doing and do something better.
Like the traffic rent-a-cops at the roads when we were leaving. Rather than letting two inflows of cars just zipper at a junction, they let cars from one side go for 5 minutes, then cars from the other side go for five minutes. Frustrated at their lack of efficiency, I suggested an alternative, to which they just became enraged at, how dare someone question their authority?
Yeah, well, just because you're waving traffic along, doesn't mean you know how to do it efficiently. Not that they had any motivation besides.
The drive back was uneventful, other than I nearly ran out of gas, stopping for a refill at the station near Andy's house. If Kris hadn't driven the car so efficiently on the way down, there is NO way we would have made it down and back in one tank. I have to wonder about my driving style now: it's costing me around $10 a week to drive so inefficiently compared to Kris.
Update: Marc was the bottom quarter of the open relay teams. Andy was the fasted in the open relay bikers. He finished in the 3% of all the bikers in the competition, including college and open. Kris didn't do as well as he wanted, but still shaved 2 minutes off last year's time. A successful triathlon. As Kris said, "Ah! I want to do it again!"