Last weekend, Alan and I headed south for the 26th Annual San Diego International Triathlon. Now, as you know, I am not a triathlete and did not participate, but Alan competed for his third year in a row.
The San Diego International Triathlon is one of the oldest triathlons in the country, held in the city that hosted the very first such race back in 1974. The race starts with a 1000 meter swim, followed by a 30k (about 18 mile) bike ride, and finishes with a 10k (6.2 mile) run. They also have a Sprint race, which is about half the distance in each segment. The swim starts at Spanish Landing at the San Diego Bay. The ride heads out through Point Loma to the Cabrillo National Monument, and the run starts at Spanish Landing Park, runs through Harbor Island, finishing up at Seaport Village.
We drove into town on Saturday, stopping by the race expo to pick up Alan’s race numbers, goody bag, etc. You are supposed to drop off your bike as well, but Alan wanted to change the tires before the event, so he decided to bring it in the morning. We got his stuff, bumped into a few friends and chatted a while, then headed up the coast to Encinitas.
We always stay in Encinitas when we are in the San Diego area. As my husband would say, we like the ‘vibe’ there. It is more laid back. There are certainly plenty of people, but it seems a little quieter than farther south. We like it. We had lunch at one of our favorite spots, St. Tropez Bistro, then stopped by Nytro and Movin’ Shoes. Didn’t buy anything, just said hi to the folks that run those shops.
Early dinner, early to bed, early to wake up. Alan likes to get to the venue early, giving himself plenty of time to prepare before the race. We were out the door by 5 am, heading south again.
I dropped Alan off at Spanish Landing Park, then went to park the car. My plan was to get into my running clothes, run over to the race start, making sure my husband had everything that he needed. Then I planned to take off for my run, more or less along the race course, hoping to run about six miles. I got in a few photo ops, then took off.
I got back to the park shortly before Alan’s 7:05 start. I found him chatting with Bill Bell, who is a legend in the Ironman Triathlon world. Back in 1974, his doctor told him to start running for his health. Well, he hasn’t stopped since. After completing about 62 marathons over the next seven years, he figured, “well, let’s just try an Ironman.” Now 87 years young, after completing 32 full Ironman races, 26 Half Ironman and 158 marathons, he has retired from long distance competition, but still competes at shorter distances.
Soon after, Alan was off on his race. I waited at the water’s edge for him to finish the swim. He wasn’t very happy with his performance, but he made it out of the water in pretty good time, then it was off on his bike. He had a good ride, then it was time for the run. It is always a challenge to start running after you get off your bicycle, but he ran very well. As soon as he took off, I did as well, back to the car so that I could drive to Seaport Village–the finish line.
Alan had a good run and was able to pass many runners along the way. One of the great things about triathlon, as a participant, is the body marking. Right there on the back of each athlete’s calf, is his/her age. You know right away if it is worthwhile to make the effort to pass the person in front of you. This happened to Alan in the last part of the race. He saw that the man in front of him was in the same age division. So he pushed. He passed him. As a result, Alan finished third in his division, good enough for a medal. The man he passed finished fourth. Good enough for…well, fourth. One second behind!
As we waited for the award ceremony, we saw a few friends from La Quinta and elsewhere around the desert. Jeremiah, who recently had knee surgery and is just getting ready to race again. (He’ll be up at Vineman 70.3 in Santa Rosa with us.) We saw Tim, an excellent athlete, who will be joining Alan at the St. George Ironman next year. Christa, an old friend, getting back into racing. Betty, fairly new to the sport in her first International distance race.
Finally, the award ceremony, and Alan was able to pick up his first medal as a triathlete. He has earned hundreds in running events, but after three years doing triathlons he has finally climbed the learning curve. Congratulations to my husband!
They also had a special award for Bill Bell, for his accomplishments and longevity in the sport of triathlon. Bill didn’t stick around. He’d picked it up and left, skipping the accolades. Guess you can do that when you’re 87.