by Monica Thrukal and Josh Weimer
I had been looking forward to racing at Coveskipper for a few weeks. I was mainly excited because not only would I get to race with my new team mates, but also with my friends from USC who were driving down that morning for the race as well.
As a new member of UCSD triathlon, I got to observe what it takes to put on a race behind the scenes for the first time.
All of our team mates volunteered for some job. Mine was to help pull sea weed from around the beach to create our “transition” area, where people keep things to go in between the swim and the run. I also helped to write people’s race numbers on their arms and legs.
Ella and I warmed up with a small run and also did some dynamic stretching! There were more people Coveskipper than I remembered from the last time I did this race in 2016. I found my old coach Rad, his dog, and friends I hadn’t seen for several months and chatted with them until the race was starting soon. Luckily, while most triathlon races start at 7:00 AM, Coveskipper began at 10:30.
Finally, 10:30 was approaching and we lined up close to shore, clad with wetsuits and brightly colored caps, with Rory on the loud speaker. Ella and I carefully positioned ourselves in the back of the pack of swimmers; we knew better than to trampled in the beginning of the ocean swim. Suddenly the mass of people was jumping over the little waves into the ocean, and so were we! The swim was short and fun, but I kept thinking that I need to swim more often, because I was slower than I remember being. The ocean was super clear this day, but sadly I missed a rumored shovelnose guitarfish spotting.
Then we were on to the run, my favorite part of races! I heard Rad encouraging me, and also Sofia telling “fun facts” about me on the loud speaker which made me laugh. It was so much fun to see team mates from both USC and UCSD and to cheer for each other as we passed by. This is by far the best part of collegiate triathlon- friendly racers! Running along the water’s edge to the pier and back twice, we had to dodge small children playing with sand castles, surfers, and dogs! I was so proud of all of my team mates, new and old who did great at the race! I am looking forward to a great season ahead.
Coveskipper was my first time doing a multisport race. I knew the day would mostly be about getting a feel for racing, so I decided not to have any goals for time or placing, but instead to just give a solid effort and try to enjoy the pain that awaited me.
Mass starts aren’t the friendliest thing to a first time racer. My swim strategy was to start conservatively and not be too aggressive on the first lap. However, that didn’t prevent me from getting jostled and kicked by the other swimmers around me. My lack of sighting experience also led me on a slightly wider course, but it allowed me to make some space from the other swimmers and focus on staying relaxed in the early part of the race. As I re-entered the water for the second lap, I was able to swim by my teammate Shapoor for a few minutes, boosting my confidence. The second lap was much calmer than the first, as the pack had become much more strung out, and I was able to focus on good form and speed up a little towards the end of the swim. I came out of the water with my teammate and fellow freshman, Hunter, and I ran into transition with him hot on my heels.
Initially, my plan was to complete the run wearing socks and shoes. However, my feet were covered in so much sand that I couldn’t fit my socks on. While my non-racing teammates bombarded me with chants of “just go barefoot” and “shoes suck” I stuck with my shoes anyway and felt like I’d salvaged my transition.Only a few steps into the run course I heard “Nice hat!” In my moment of panic over my socks, I’d completely neglected to take off my cap and goggles, a total rookie mistake. I decided to just throw them in the sand and keep on running, because holding them in my hands for the rest of the race did not seem like a good option…
The two lap run course created an interesting dynamic. Mentally, the course being broken down into smaller sections allowed me to focus on just completing the segment I was on, and not worrying about the rest. It also allowed me to cheer on and high five a lot of my teammates, which gave me a small boost of energy each time. As the run progressed, I was able to chase down more and more runners, and only got passed by my teammate Ferny. While I felt good on the run, high tide and squishy sand didn’t make my decision to wear shoes pay off. When I finally crossed the finish line, they were a couples pounds heavier from all the mud and seawater that had gotten into them.
When all was said and done, UC San Diego got first and second in the women’s race (shoutout to B and Emily!) as well as first and third in the men’s race (also shoutout Zack and Ryan!). The chill BBQ and awards ceremony afterwards was a great way to finish off an awesome race with an awesome team, and has me excited for race season in the Winter Quarter.