|Costa Rica-Rev3, February 20, 2011|
First race of the year…Costa Rica REV3!
I decided this year I would race as many races as I could in warm places, then Costa Rica came up and I thought…beauty( perfect) I have always wanted to go there and then another one in San Juan came up next month….someone is looking out for me this year!
I happily packed my bags last night (as Kaisley laid down giving me her sad eyes) knowing that I would only need to wear my Profile speed suit for the swim and not have to worry about putting on arm warmers or toe booties in T1. Also the fact that I have a chance to go surfing in warm water made the choice even easier!
This race is an Olympic distance for the REV3 Pro Series. A distance I have not done since 2008 so it will be fun to go into unknown territory and see what speed I have this early in the season. I told my mum I was going to Costa Rica to race and the first thing she said is ‘I’ve always wanted to go there’ and the second was ‘is it a half?’ When I told her it was an Olympic distance race she asked if I were going to go to the Olympic Games! I think because I told her I was taking a year off from Kona and doing some shorter races (with the exception of the full distance REV3 race), she now thinks I have switched my focus to the Olympic games (as it would be the equivalent to Kona). I said no and told her I would have to get A LOT faster to qualify for that….her reply…’well you better get moving then girl!’ ….gotta love her!
I decided to change my racing up for this year and race the entire REV3 Series, some 70.3’s and the Super Sprint Grand Prix races. Having raced predominantly Ironman distance races since I began triathlon in 2002, my body and mind is craving a change and I think this decision will enhance my performance and extend my triathlon career.
I am on the plane to Costa Rica (solo) and amazingly have three seats to myself so have sprawled out on all three and am comfortably flying today….by that I mean not glued to my seat, death grip on the arm rests, counting down the seconds until the thing lands!!! I am not sure if this change will stay with me but I am hoping it will for the next haul is a lot longer...and no I haven’t taken any prescription drugs for this to happenJ
(Now I’m on the last leg of my journey home to San Diego and only managed to touch the leg of an air hostess through some turbulence on the way out of Costa Rica…she got lucky enough to sit next to me on her way back to Houston!).
I arrived on time to Costa Rica and as athletes came in from all over, REV3 had organized for us to be picked up and shuttled to the accommodation they had arranged for us.
As the locals took our bikes and bags from us, they jumped up on the roof top of the van and proceeded to tie our bikes down with twine and ensured us that they would be fine up there.
We hit the road which went from tar to dirt a few times and each time we hit the off roading sections we all waited for a bike or two to go flying off the roof. I thought I saw mine going flying off the back and they said ‘no, it’s ok, they just hit some tree branches’….that made me feel better!
Once at Hacienda Pinella we were dropped off at our respective houses which were situated on a 4000acre property, the landscape dry and nothing but bush land. Beautiful and quiet, the only noises coming from the surrounding wildlife.
My room was huge and as usual I quickly spread all my belongings over every square inch!
Friday was spent at the race site (about a 40 min drive away) and getting familiar with the course and attending the pro meeting. The course was a little hillier than I expected and needed to find a different cassette ratio as my 11/21 wasn’t going to be easy getting up the first couple of hills out of T1 and snaking it never looks good! Eric from REV3 had it swapped out by their guys there for me to a 12/25 which was heaven compared to the 21 on the 15%grade.
Saturday morning I went for a short run before breakfast then Bree, Annie, Amanda, Melyka and I took a short shuttle trip down the beach within the property and went for an ocean swim then walked back to our bags picking up some cool sea shells along the way. We were a little late in getting back to the drop off/pick up area and thought the shuttle guy had left. After a short time of sitting and waiting and Bree’s attempt to get us a ride with some locals back to our house (they weren’t actually going anywhere in the car, except to sit in there and smoke pot!) so we decided to start walking. We looked like Japanese tourists as we all had our cameras out to snap shots/ video of Iguanas in their natural habitat or anything else that moved. Shortly after coming off the horse trail and onto the main dirt road, our shuttle bus driver was hurtling towards us and we wave him down…turns out he was late…gotta love Costa Rica time!
I woke up during Saturday night/Sunday morning with a really sore throat but tried to go back to sleep and not think about getting sick. Sunday morning was an early pick up at 4am! We needed to allow for the driver being late and the drive to the race site. All went smoothly and the race started on time.
The water was a perfect non-wetsuit swim temperature, with some chop on it due to the gusty winds. The group split into two packs early and as I looked up I was in the group heading off course, realizing early I was right down the middle of the two and saved myself some extra mileage!
Onto the bike I was about a minute down from the leader and was in about 5th or so position. I took the gravel patch of 50m a bit faster than in training and hoped my off season mountain bike skills would do some good service to me and it had. Then straight up the hill which was said to be harder than ‘the beast’ in St Croix. Once out of the resort it was mainly false flats and wind. I did a double take when I passed a herd of cows on the side of the road, then on the second loop a local animal……???? Which at first I thought someone had placed there to stir up the foreigners racing but coming back, I noticed it had moved and its stance had changed too. I had made up some time on the bike but not as much as I had hoped. Although I did go flying over the rocky/dirt patch on the way back into transition which helped me make up some good distance and I came into T2with about 3 other girls.
The run went straight onto the beach, along a 4WD trail that meandered through camping sites and little shanty’s and food stalls with locals cheering us on as we ran by. The beach ended and we ran through the neighborhood along a dirt road and turned round and ran up the main road and back into the resort and down onto the golf course (1.5times).
I went by feel on the run and tried to remind myself it was only 10km, not a half marathon or marathon as this was probably the first time in three years I had done an Olympic distance race.
I had moved up into second without knowing it and crossed the line to be handed my medal and real coconut water…yes, a real coconut shell with filled to the brim of its natural water…oh so good! They also had three huge ice baths for us to sit in and cool off which was readily welcomed by all of us as it was over 30degrees Celsius.
Once we were all cooled off, it was back to the room where our bike bags were stored to pack them up so they could be taken back to our accommodation, another swim in the ocean which was rewarded by seeing a few huge manta rays swimming along on the bottom and then to the REV3 lunch and awards.
Shortly after Bree, Annie, Mickyla???and I headed into Tamarindo to go surfing and stroll around the town. We checked out the surf, small and glassy and hired some boards across the road and headed out. Annie and Miklya had never surfed so Bree showed them the basics before getting in the water.
Bree took her camera out and I had my GoPro attached to my helmet mount which I had strapped to my head and we got some good photos and pictures. I pushed Annie and Michyla onto a few waves each and they stood up every time. It was cool to see how excited they were and was a good way to end our day and to say ýes, we did go surfing in Costa Rica!’ .
Bree got us a cab back to the house. An old Hyundai sedan with only a couple of doors that handles so you could get in and out, the tint on the windows was peeling off and the smell of gas nearly killed us in the back which was made even worse as we could only wind one window down…oh and the gas light was on when she picked us up so we weren’t sure if we would end up pushing the mighty Hyundai! We all had a good laugh…probably highlighted by the intoxicating fumes that soaked our lungs for the 20min drive home.
My throat was still really sore and I was feeling extremely tired and started sneezing, eyes heavy etc. so after a shower and a bowl of cereal I hit the pillow and was out for 11hrs.
I went down to the beach in the morning before having to leave for the airport to get my last taste of Costa Rica and to check the surf. The beach was deserted, the water was glassy with an off shore wind and some waves were breaking to the north with a few surfers out catching them. I picked up my last couple of shells and headed back to shower and pack.
To keep to the nature of Costa Rica my shuttle was 15min late then we got to the gate and the drive was told he forgot to pick up four other athletes from another house so we drove back, picked them and finally headed for the airport at a relaxing 50km/hr pace. You can imagine what that was like with a van full of athletes, running late for their flights! Seeing as we had heard that the athletes taking the 4am shuttle to the airport weren’t picked up until 5.30am…we were luckyJ
The image that I think of as I type this is of a Costa Rican mother riding her bike down the street with her younger daughter (maybe 3-4yrs old) sitting in the basket on the front and her slightly older daughter (5-6) sitting on the back, all smiling…the simple way of life and a mother doing what she has to do, the best way she can. It puts a smile on my face and reminds me of my mum.