by Alireza Sarebanha and Maggie Goodson
Although some of my non-triathletes’ friends found it irrational (not the exact word they used!) to do this race on my birthday weekend, I was really pumped and ready for it. I couldn’t find a better way to enjoy my birthday weekend doing three things that I love (swimming, biking, and running) with people that I love, my super awesome teammates!
4:00AM alarm went off and 4:20AM I am driving on empty streets of LA on my way to UCLA. I was probably the first one at the race course which means no line for packet pick up and being able to pre-ride the course, warm up properly and get mentally ready for the race! Yaay!
I rode the bike course once and thanks to Katie and Dustin I was able to spot the tricky turns. After they cut the bike course short (due to rain), the bike course seemed really nice and it was clearly marked with cones. An hour later, T2 was filled with hundreds of triathletes ready to race but this doesn’t mean I couldn’t spot my fellow teammates, thanks to the super-doped design of our race suits and of course onesies (our very own Mermaid, Dinosaur, and Fox!). Quick warm up run, putting running gears at T2 and bike and cycling gears at T1 then heading to pool for swim warm up.
We warmed up at Family swimming pool (which I had no-idea it existed 10 min before the race and Captain Dustin to our rescue!) and came down to competition pool to get ready for the race! Katie led the cheering and our team was ready for a great race. Tyler was the first one to start and I was 7th. DIVE FEET FIRST! I can’t express enough how much I hate this! Right before it was my turn, I had this dilemma that whether I should jump as far as I can or just simply jump in and push off the wall as hard as I can! And of course the 5 secs that I had to get ready for my turn was not the best time to think about it! I ended up diving in the same way I do for swim races and while I was up in the air I remember FEET FIRST! I tried to bring my feet down and as you can imagine turned into a terrible start! Throughout the race, I was a little worried that I got disqualified because of it but I didn’t let it bother me too much so I can enjoy the race (Thankfully, I didn’t get disqualified!). Swim went well. I got passed by Zach and Barry and man I wish I could cheer them up but let’s be real we were swimming and communications aren’t that easy underwater!
T1 went well and in couple of seconds I was biking downhill to get started with five laps around UCLA campus and one of the hardest things right now was to keep count the number of laps that I have done so far! Bike course started with a downhill and that helped me a lot to get settled on my bike. Bike course was getting busier after each lap but it wasn’t packed. The roads were a little wet but it wasn’t terrible. I was even able to pass some people on some turns while trying to slow down reasonably before each turns. The big downhill before T2 was fun for two reasons: I was going really fast without worrying for a sharp turn and Joanna was waiting for us to take awesome pictures (Thanks Joanna!). My fingers were freezing during the bike and this turned taking off my feet out of my cycling shoes to a big challenge! Before the dismount line I was able to take off my right foot but oh no, my left hand fingers are not functioning and I need to stop before I pass the dismount line! I was so happy that I didn’t fall down and I was finally able to be out of my cycling shoes and start running to T2.
Transition went well and I felt ready to push hard on the run. First mile was slightly down hill and this helped me to get into a good pace. I was so happy that I didn’t have cramps in my legs and then boom half way into the run in an uphill suddenly I felt little spasm in my hamstrings. I had enough cramps during my previous race at UCI and didn’t want to happen again. I tried to lengthen my strides to avoid cramps (Not sure if it was the right thing to do!) and it worked. During the race specially in run course Kim, our amazing coach, was cheering us and that definitely motivated me to push harder and run faster and of course finish had!
Every one of our team did a great job and it felt nice seeing them finishing the race with a beautiful smile on their faces. It is always nice to see someone from our team on the podium and this time Zack was first in male collegiate division (Yoohoo!) and B got third in female collegiate (Great Job!). This year and these races are very special for me since this is my last year as a student and I am sure soon I will miss all these moments and these amazing teammates. Thanks for being awesome!
This past weekend was the UCLA hosted IronBruin, but more excitingly it was my 22nd birthday. Ella and I decided to go up a day early and celebrate my day of birth with my amazing family. So we went up and had a wonderful evening.
The next morning we did a mini triathlon. Starting with a pre-race run to the beach, and we did our Green Team duties by picking up trash on the sand. As well as touching the great Pacific Ocean (that totally counts ok). Then we jumped on our bikes and rode around town and got some amazing sandwiches. Ella also discovered an intense love for Pastrami sandwiches with all the fixings. We then attempted to get some homework done, which really resulted in us staring at our respective textbooks and chatting. Then the whole crew rolled up! I had B, Zack, Tyler, Barry, and Imran at mi casa. We all attempted to get some work done to varying levels of success. Greg then showed up approximately seven minutes later then projected and we loaded up into cars and headed out for dinner! After dinner, we got all our stuff out and organized and went through the course turn by turn on Google Earth. Which as it turns out makes it seem WAY longer then it really is. The street view looked terrifying and all of us were a little scared especially after Katie and Dustin’s emails linking us to specific corners on the course that were notoriously tricky. Then we all went to bed. Barry, Ella, and Tyler took away my worry by joking and laughing into the night, sleepover style.
We woke up way too early (3:45am, eek). And got ready for the race. We then shared some famous last words. “It doesn’t look like it’s going to rain….” As Barry and I loaded up bikes on racks we felt the first sprinkles of a long morning.
Ella drove me up to UCLA and it began to rain a little more. Minute by minute it seemed to be raining harder. We got there, parked, and road up to the course. I of course was wearing my unicorn onesie and Ella notified me that my unicorn tail was getting wet. We waited in line for check-in and were notified that the course was going to change due to the weather. It would be five laps instead of four and the steep hill would be cut out. And that throughout the course we might need to shout out our numbers to get splits, since there were no timing chips. We then set up our two transition areas and hiked up to the start at the pool.
We all convened at the edge of the pool for one of the best team cheers we have EVER done (thanks Katie), and we started. The official notified us that we could start either by jumping in (not diving), or pushing off the wall. I chose the latter and slipped into the warm (relative to outside) water. The volunteers reminded me that the bike was five laps and no flip turns. I nodded and they set me off. The swim was amazing and all I could think of was not getting passed by loads of people. In that I succeeded. I got passed by one guy who I used to draft off of the rest of the swim. I ran out of the pool and into T1. I put on my helmet and shoes, grabbed my bike and ran out of there.
I jumped on my bike and began the decent from the pool. The air was pretty cold, but it wasn’t anything I couldn’t deal with. The first lap I tried to stay calm and get acquainted with the course, I road the turns pretty cautiously and tried not to crash. I made it through the first lap when I saw a police car tailing the people in front of me. I was super confused, and kind of convinced that I was seeing things. But it was true a cop was going through the racecourse checking on people throughout (?). As each lap went by I got a little more aggressive on the downhill portions and on the turns. And as I passed transition each time I reminded myself what lap I was on. Five is a really big number to count to when your brain isn’t functioning as well as it could be! Around lap two it began to rain. This was a surprise to me, and it was the first race I have ever done in the rain. It was also around this time that B passed me. She cheered for me as she sped past and I said something back. She looked so strong! Once I finally got to five at the top of the hill I took my feet out of my shoes and realized that they were completely numb. I got to the base of the hill and had a really hard time finding where the dismount line was. I jumped off and began running with my bike into T2.
I racked my bike and thanks to our amazing, unique uniforms I could see Katie, and B on the field running. I then attempted to cram my feet into my shoes. Which is usually a very effective method for me. But since my feet were still wet and numb I had a hard time and had to bend down and pull at the tabs to get them on. I started snaking through the field and my feet were so numb they hurt. I ran passed my dad and he cheered for me. He told me my feet would stop being numb, and to quit worrying about it. The run course was parallel to the bike course and I got to see Jasmine, Esme, and Ella out there. They all looked so great! I ran past the first mile marker and I could feel my feet again. Mile two was a blur and then I ran to the third mile marker. I was so relieved to see that I only had 0.1 miles left of the race. I started to push it and a volunteer told me that all I had to do now was run into the finish chute. I started to run a little faster downhill where I saw all the spectators. I assumed that this was the finish chute. It was not… I hooked a right as Joanna directed me and snapped some pictures of me looking happy as all my teammates cheered for me, before I realized the finish wasn’t right there. I ran into the finish chute and called out my number. I walked back to where all my teammates were and we wore random articles of clothing from my dad’s backpack. Special shout out to those competitive swim days giving me a plethora of parkas. It was a relief to have finished such a challenging course and to have completed it in the rain was even more amazing.
As a finishing note (tehe get it) I would like to congratulate all of our racers on an excellent race. Everyone did so amazing, despite the conditions, and kept a really positive attitude throughout. Also I would like to thank our alumni’s Kerri for allowing her apartment to be used, and Jason Pianalto and his family for opening their homes to us AGAIN. We could not race nearly as well without you guys supporting us and giving us a good sleep the night before. Thanks go out to Joanna for the rad photos. And as always thanks go to Coach Kim for being so awesome.