by Liezl Maree
Racing at Stanford was quite an experience. This was the first race this season that offered a draft legal option for us newbees. So, wanting to give everything a try at least once, I decided it was a wonderful idea to sign up for the draft legal Treeathlon. Little did I know that draft legal also stood for "do not attempt if you can't swim fast". I found out that if I ever called myself a swimmer, I was poorly mistaken. Surely, being MIA for a week of practices due to poor time-management during midterms round 2, didn't help my case at all during the Treeathlon.
To start things off, we woke up pretty late (at 5:10am WOW) after 3 snoozes of the alarm. But, Barry, Andie and I managed to pack the car pretty quick (mostly Barry and Andie, I was definitely the last person in the car - spoiler alert for how my race went). When we rolled up to transition to set our things up, I was greatly intimidated by the other girls, mainly the fact that they were taping gels to their bikes - WOW tape and gels, this was a whole other league. Emily and B were still setting up as Andie and I left to walk 15 min to the swim start to warm up. However, upon arrival, Andie and I found that we could not warm up due to the lack of lifeguards in the water. 10 minutes before the race was scheduled to start, there were about 5 girls near the start. But luckily, the lifeguards would help us delay the race for another 50 minutes. This also gave Henry and Sofia time to roll up to hang with Emily, B, Andie, and I as we all shivered in our wetsuits and listened to B complaining that her energy gel was already de-energized like an hour ago.
Finally, we were allowed to get into the 52 degree water to warm up. AWESOME. I really got the feeling that everyone was totally cool with not warming up... until a few brave souls started to slowly edge their way to the water, FANTASTIC! Then, everyone felt like they had to, so we all tiptoed our way to the majestically murky brown water. The water was so cold, I thought I had a metal necklace on that was freezing my chest. Everyone was ready to start the race just for the sole reason of generating body heat. Fast forward, the race starts and I really didn't want to get kicked in the face so I managed to stay on the outskirts of the pack, feet within reaching distance until about the first turn. Then I realized I had lost the pack. So on top of freaking out about not having gels or tape, I was freaking out about not having a pack to draft with and I was going to get lapped and I was going to be DQ-ed and yadayadayada. I sadly report that I resorted to backstroking and Henry got a picture of it. I vowed from that moment on that I would swim everyday the next week (but broke that promise promptly the next day on Monday when I sporadically decided to go snowboarding instead).
After flopping on top of the deck with numb arms, I was 3rd to last. However, on the run to transition (yes, there was a run TO transition) I managed to become 2nd to last. Then, during the struggle to get my numb feet in my bike shoes, I was finally in my rightful place of dead last. But, no matter, I mean I could still catch up right? Wrong. So wrong. The other girls had already formed their packs, two main ones with a few girls spaced in between. My main motivation at this point was to not get lapped out (which ended up happening on my 3rd of 4 laps by former UCLA athlete Hanna Grubbs who was WAAAYYYY ahead of everyone else, but gratefully I was allowed to keep going).
The run was basically just a way to thaw my body and start to feel my feet again. With no one near me, I felt I was going slow, which was confirmed with a barely sub 8 min pace. I would like to give all the spectators (Henry, Sofia, Michael, Henry's family, the Standford people, etc.) a genuine shout out for trying to convince me I was doing great despite my place in the race.
Well, I mean, I finished. If you ever feel like you had a bad race, honestly, just read this. But, despite being pretty much last, I would definitely do it again, but better hopefully. I also really liked that half our team raced early and half raced late so we could watch and cheer for each other which is always nice.