Friday, March 30, 2012

Rev3 Costa Rica

I had been looking forward to this race since last year when REV3 confirmed it would be on for a second time.The warm weather, warm ocean water, waves, a chilled local atmosphere and a fun race was in my mind.
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.

The first day we walked down to the beach in Tamarindo and went for a swim.The boys did a little extra and the currents are a little tricky along the beach and the water was so choppy i lost sight of them (in between my body surfing sets) and next time i see them they are way out but managed to make their way back to shore safely and I was happy that i got some fun body surfing waves in as well as a swim!
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!

After a quick presentation and fresh tropical fruit platter that REV3 ordered for us all, Chris and I got our gear together and rode back to Tamarindo. Luckily for us we had a tail wind for the majority of the ride and it was good to spin out the legs even if it was about 95f....I was enjoying the heat so was quite happy. We were so hungry and thirsty we went straight to a local bar/restaurant and ordered the Big Burrito and a couple of icy cold beverages (beer and water for Chris, soda water and pepsi for me). It was just what we needed.

When we got back to the condo, we packed our bikes and I went down and met Zody and Malaika at Kelly's Surf Shop and we hired a board each and headed out. The wind was a real strong off shore and somehow my board got picked up and hit me, fair smack in the middle of my nose/face and made my nose bleed! I shook it off and stayed out. It was great fun then we decided to head in and get a drink and a plate of nachos 'as big as your ass' .We ordered a half serving of these famous nachos between the 3 of us and just finished a full serving would be interesting to see! 
As we sat out on the beach chatting and eating, a band came out to play and some people got up to dance and then the sun began to set. Chris came down to join us and have a beer. It was a beautiful ending to an eventful day. I felt so fortunate to be sitting there with friends, enjoying what I am able to do and thankful to be me.....then the mozzies came out! We did miss Bree Wee as she decided to stay at her accommodation and pack for her early flight home ( we forgive you Bree! ).

The walk down to town from the condo

I had one more day to play in the sun before heading back to Northern California and it was to be spent surfing of course! I slept in and walked down to check out the surf which was small but a nice shape. So i walked over to Kelly's Surf shop and the guy there said it would be better in an hour or so with the tide changing. He said if I wanted to check out a few other surf spots to check at the surf shop across the road as they take groups out everyday. I ran over but they had already left so I trotted back to Kelly's and told them and Monica, the surf instructor there said if I wanted to go later when she finished work, I could go with her and just put in for gas. I was in!!!
I hired a board and went out for a couple of hours until she finished and caught some fun waves until Monica finished then she took myself and her friend to a couple of other local breaks. It was great to get to see some other local communities and meet some other locals too. Next time I will hire a car so I can go to these places again.
Michael left the night of the race and Chris the following night so I was by myself the last night and decided to go down to the beach and order dinner from the bar and make the most of being near the beach.
In the morning before I left, I had to do a run along the beach and luckily for me it was low tide and I could run around the points and get to beaches that had pretty much no one on them and collect a couple of shells before saying good bye to Costa Rica....until next time!

I want to THANK my sponsors for their continued support and my family and friends for keeping me going with this sport of triathlon. Along with the good people of Costa Rica...what a beautiful country.  See you at the races!