I knew some of my partners in crime( for surfing and racing ) were joining me again which made me even more excited. Bree Wee and Malaika Homo were headed south and were up for a little surfing adventure after our jobs were done racing on Sunday. Another friend of mine, Zody, had been in southern Costa Rica learning to surf the week before and had ventured up to see me and join in our post race surf and activities.
I know I seem to be talking more about the surfing than the racing but it is a place that makes the race. The locals, the course, the people around you and the feel you get from a place that can make the difference in your attitude about racing. I go to places to race that I like as I find I enjoy it and when you want to be in a job for a long time, you have to like where you work (for the most part). So I make it a priority to try to make this happen.
Surfing is my way of chilling out, having fun......kid type fun and enjoying it with others who feel the same and encouraging others to try it.
The Wednesday before, I packed my new Wilier Twinfoil TT bike, complete with Reynolds race wheels and wrapped her up like she was a wine glass as I had only been riding her (dont know why i call my bikes her and not he...i think i learnt that from my brother talking about his motorobikes and car!) for a few weeks so she is unscratched and still looks brand new so i did my best to keep it that way.
I received my new Saucony race kit the day before I left, packed my Rudy Project sunnies, helmet and my Profile skin suit (I love this suit for two reasons-it means the water is warm and it is a great, fast fit). I decided to use my Engine clear goggles even though the sun was in our eyes coming into the turn around/exit, clear is good for me in any race.
I arrived into Liberia after 9.5hrs of travel time, to share a ride with two athletes, Chris Forster and Michael Poole. It didn't occur to me until we reached our condo and the driver was having trouble getting our bags out of the van, that he had been drinking (out of a plastic water bottle!) on the drive from the airport.....I just thought he was thirsty!
The condo was just on the hill in the town of Tamarindo, about 15-20km from the race venue.
We had found a great BBQ place the night we arrived and had the best brisket taco's ever. So we went back several times during our stay.
We took a cab to the race venue so we could ride and run the course but the cab driver (the one who picked us up from the airport-now sober) didn't want to take our bikes in his van. After Chris convinced him in Spanish to include our bikes, we were able to get there, and get a ride and run in.
Race day was an early start but meant we had more of the day for recreational activities and to pack my bike and stuff back up.
I got in for a quick warm up swim, then we lined up on the beach and took off at the sound of the horn. The swim start was lined with spectators all the way into the water which was cool, people yelling out, and cheering us all on. It was a 2 loop swim and we had to exit the water, run around a buoy on the sand and head back out. I felt fairly good going out but got in the wrong position and missed the first pack and swam with 2 girls on the second loop.
I headed out onto the bike knowing to get my feet in my Sidi shoes ASAP as there is a dirt section and then the first climb within 30m of the mount line. I tried to get into a rhythm on the hills heading out of the resort but there was a bump on the way out that caused my handlebars to drop. Luckily they didn't fully loosen or I would have been in serious trouble but i still had to be careful not to put too much pressure on them. On the second lap the mobile support van came to my aid and I took the allen wrench on the fly, tightened it riding into a nice headwind, and then the van drove alongside me to get the tool back.
I had some trouble with an athlete drafting from me for a good portion of the second loop.....even when I had to slow up to tighten my handlebars! After telling her a few times it wasnt an ITU, draft legal race she suggested if we worked together we could catch them, I wondered which part of non ITU, non drafting race she didn't understand. I can't tolerate cheating of any kind so found this a little frustrating that because there were no race officials on the course, that cheating is acceptable. That is why I do non drafting races. It is your own individual effort, not a team event. It is also part of an honor system racing. Just because you are not in view of a race official, doesn't give you the right to cheat. Respect your fellow athletes and race your own race is a good way of saying it. Ok on with my story:)
The run in Costa Rica starts along a sandy trail along the beach and through a little shanty town then out into a small neighbouring community and up the hill into the hotel and around the golf course, twice. There are many locals out cheering and kids helping at the aid stations and locals out with their hoses for a little extra cool down if you need it. I didn't ever get into a real grove in the run but did the best i could with how I felt and welcomed the fresh coconut water ( yes a real coconut with a hole cut out of the top and a straw placed in it ).
I then went and jumped in the ice baths they had for us at the finish line and my friend Zody decided to join me to cool off and make sure my entire body was cooled off!