by Barry Weickert
I’ve been in and out of injury with ITB for a while now so I was unsure of racing, but I signed up anyways since my rehab had been going well and I was itching to get a race in. My resolve was not unwavering though; I even tried to transfer my race entry to a teammate a few days before the race. Fortunately for me, it didn’t work out and I was stuck with the race spot.
Before I knew it, my teammate Torin was driving me up to LA. We had an incredible welcoming from a former teammate, Ali. He had a carb-loaded meal plan all set up for us starting with chips, segueing into roasted potatoes of the sweet and normal varieties, leading into Bucatini with bolognese aka. fancy pasta sauce name I learned (with both veg and meat options I might add), and watermelon & fresh baked cookies to top it all off. We were pretty set to say the least!
After a quick night’s sleep and a breakfast as impressive as the dinner the night before (I won’t make you jealous with all the details), it was race time. The day ended up being gorgeous as ever with barreling waves to welcome us into the ocean swim start – I was STOKED, and frankly feeling a bit cocky coming from San Diego where we do weekly ocean swims. However, our team’s plan to go 1st-4th out of the water (there were 4 of us in the first sprint wave) came to halt when one of those barreling waves smacked the smug look off my face and the arrogance out of my ego, all while I watched my three teammates lead out the swim together. However, I got my act together after that humbling wave and hustled through the rest of the swim/transition and onto the bike.
I got on the bike and felt like I was literally flying through the course, trying to make up for lost time. It was an out-and-back and after turning around, I realized this was due to an incredible tailwind… which became a cumbersome and impeding headwind. However, my resolve didn’t waver since the race staff were great and cheered me on; not to mention the encouragement from my teammates racing (and being able to cheer them on back)! I cranked my way through the rest of the bike and T2 going into the apprehensively-awaited run.
I had told myself before the race that if I felt any pain from my IT band at all, I’d drop out to preserve my race season as a whole. I tentatively started the run and tried to keep it steady, but found myself going at pre-injury race pace with all the adrenaline. As I tried to hold my pace back, I awaited the impending pain that had been plaguing me on so many runs these last few months. However, the twinge never made its way out of my memory during that race and I just kept scampering through to the finish line where Ali and the marvelous Schofield twins were cheering me on.
I crossed the finish line and barely caught my breath in time to see Torin bounding across the final timing mat with equal fervor. Within a matter of minutes, our two women, B and Emily, crossed in similar fashion. When all was said and done, UC San Diego went 1,2,3,5 for men and 1,2 for women with only 6 racers total! It was an incredible feeling to a part of such a great showing and to know that everyone did so well. I couldn’t have been happier with how the day turned out and it was made all the better by having such great teammates to share the memories with :)