Looking back: A fun time at the L.A. Triathlon

Since I turned 40 (almost 8 years ago), I’ve made several fun trips for triathlons, bike rallies and rides, and even a bike race or two. I thought it might be fun to revisit each one in my blog.  Consider this the first in an occasional series.

It would be impossible to forget my race at the Los Angeles Triathlon, since it occurred on Sept. 9, 2001. Two days later, I was in a van full of journalists driving 24 hours to New York City. But let’s not get into that. This is supposed to be about fun!

My number and finisher's pin from the L.A. Triathlon

My number and finisher's pin from the L.A. Triathlon

Anyway, I flew in the day before and was VERY nervous about the swim in the Pacific Ocean. Swimming has never been my thing; it was just something to endure to get to the bike and run legs. And I certainly had never done almost a mile in the ocean. (It’s an Olympic distance tri.)

The swim start and finish was at Venice Beach. The good news is that we got to wear wetsuits, which helped me overcome my biggest swimming problem — buoyancy. The bad news is that my goggles broke right before the start and I had to beg the guys in the closed transition area to grab my spare pair for me. Once I hit the water, I thought I’d never make it through the surf. It took me at least five tries — dive in, get tossed back. Repeat.

Once I did, though, the swim was pretty uneventful. (No sharks!)

The 40k bike leg was awful. I felt absolutely horrible out of the water. The ride was relatively flat and passed through much of downtown Los Angeles, on roads closed to traffic. But I never got a good rhythm and was really bummed about that leg. (I was definitely not yet a cyclist in 2001.) I averaged a puny 18.1 mph.

The 10k run was magic. In those days, before my knees finally gave out, running was my sport, and I was pretty darn good at it. The run took us past Dodger Stadium, and I felt great the entire time.  (I have very fond memories of Los Angeles, in general, and for some reason the run to the stadium reminded me of the fun I had visiting Southern California in high school.) I broke 53 minutes (about an 8:32 pace), which I was OK with considering the hills and the way I felt on the first two legs. I had the 984th fastest run leg among the 2,000 or so female competitors.

My overall time was just over three hours. (Damn it.)

I had planned to go back and do the race again. But after the terror attacks, I ended up working in the Knight Ridder Washington Bureau for four months and just didn’t really have time to train over the next year. And then the knees started going.

But it was an awesome memory.

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