Marin Endurance Sprint triathlon on the beautiful coast of california

This year has been my biggest racing season yet. Four half marathons, two of which were back to back in different states, and my first attempt at a sprint triathlon on the beautiful coast of California.

Disclaimer: I received a free race entry to review this run as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

sprint triathlon, the Swim

I have an aversion to cold water. Ironic, because I voluntarily signed up for competitive swim in high school. I recall sitting on the stoop of the pool every practice convincing my mind, “just do it. Just jump in the pool. Everybody else is already in”. My mind would twirl around the thought of getting cold in the water and continue to escalate how much, I didn’t want to get in. My coach would nearly have to push me in the water. I hate cold water, and the spiteful pain it immerses you in instantly. However I loved swimming.

After the initial shock of cold, my skin would go numb. I would feel almost euphoric, like I was the best (junior varsity) swimmer to ever be! Unbeknownst to my 16 year old mind, cold water immersion increases the blood dopamine level by 250%, and dopamine is the Neurochemical that allows you to feel pleasure, satisfaction and motivation. Hence, after discovering endurance exercise, such as running a half marathon in each state, releases similar escalated levels of dopamine, I’ve always considered the challenge of completing a triathlon.

When BibRave offered a local triathlon on the beautiful coast of California, I literally jumped out of my seat for the opportunity. This was it. This was my chance to really challenge my fitness. I signed up for the Sprint triathlon. I was tempted to go straight for the Olympic Tri, however luckily I thought better to start where I belonged, as a novice. After much preparation, The day before the race I had woken up at 2 am, as I usually do, and checked my email.

“Important Update Regarding Marin Triathlon”

“Attention fellow Triathletes,

We have been informed by Marin County Parks that McNears Beach Park has failed the water quality test executed by Marin County Environmental Health Services. Your health and safety are our utmost priority and the water for our swim portion has not been deemed a safe environment for our athletes.

Therefore, the swim portion of the Marin Triathlon cannot take place on Saturday.”

“YES, I DON’T HAVE TO GET IN THAT COLD PACIFIC OCEAN!” the cold water aspect of me cheered. Of course immediately followed by the disappointment of, “This means I technically failed my first triathlon”. My 2am brain started overflowing, “Gosh, if I don’t compete in the swim portion of the Tri, should I even compete at all? I could save my energy and do a long run in preparation for my half marathon in two weeks instead”.

Marin Endurance Festival sprint Triathlon

marin sprint triathlon

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is based on the premise of having a thought, followed by an emotion, which creates an action. I weighed my options. I could have easily not participated, but what would that have taught me? The thought presented: the swim portion was cancelled. My emotion was both relief and disappointment. My action was not quitting. I got to Choose my action. I chose to try my best at a bike and run event and be thankful for the opportunity.

The Marin Endurance festival was still epic and my very first competition on a bike. The course was still challenging, and I am ready to take on the swim portion, in addition to the bike and run next year. Plus I am extremely grateful the race director did not let us swim in unsafe waters. On to the bike!

Training for the sprint triathlon in open water lake

the Bike

“It’s just like riding a bike”. The expression itself refers to how easy it is to remember how to ride a bike, even after a long time of absence. So I may have undertrained for this aspect of the event. I was fortunate enough to borrow a road bike from a friend; and my first thirty minutes on the bike in training was exhilarating! I even went so far as to say, I enjoyed riding a bike more than running. And although, yes, it was ‘just like riding a bike’, my thighs and ankles were not accustomed to the endurance cycling put on them.

The Marin Endurance triathlon is up and down hills. The very entrance of the course is a challenging upslope to get to the main road. I was not quite prepared for the competitive aspect of this race. I can’t tell you how many times I heard fellow cyclists warn me, “On your left!”. Sometimes I wanted to shout back, “I know guys, I get the point.” I was slow AF. Although I was far below par shifting gears between uphill easy gears and downhill thick gears to push forward, the race was still exhilarating. The scenery was unbeatable with the pacific ocean waves crashing softly on the shore.

The air was stagnant with humidity, yet comforting, almost sour from the ocean salt.

It reminded me constantly of baking homemade sourdough bread on Sundays. The bike course is 4 miles out and back. It seemed almost like the first 4 miles was solely downhill, so I feared the return would be mainly uphill. Oddly, the return had a fair amount of up and downs as well. On to the Run aspect of the sprint triathlon!

bike part of the sprint triathlon

the Run

The Run, this was my jive. I’m by no means a superior athlete of running. But I was pretty confident I could run a 5K in my sleep. After the smooth transition beside the ocean, I dropped my bike and tied my running shoes on. Running was familiar. All I had to do was finish at this point, a 5K. Like I said ‘I could do a 5k in my sleep’. And then my realization, Holy thighs! What a narcissist ideation that I could jump from a bike to a run without ever previously trying it before! My grandiose ideation of myself meant I could complete a 5k without ever trying the transition. silly me. I ran passed my sister after 0.1 miles of the run and recall whimpering, “ouch! this hurts!” Duh, Laura, it’s going to hurt. So I sought out to endure the 5K.

Again, the start was straight uphill to get to the road. What a cruel way to start a course, and yet Marin Endurance knew exactly what they were doing. Us athlete’s love this challenge. After that initial uphill there was a downhill along the coast. There was a soft mist caressing the left side of my face for most of the run. So much so, I couldn’t tell if it was a breeze from the ocean or actually raining. There was a small sign with a hand written ‘5k turn here’ sign on the road. There were many runners continuing beyond the sign with ease (perhaps for the olympic tri), which of course had me questioning myself,

“do I turn here, am I cheating off the course?”

Luckily I stumbled upon a man in short shorts with bright red hair for direction. He was confident. He was supporting other runners. I realized he was merely a runner, just like me, yet with confidence. He easily told me, “my watch says we’re at 1.7 miles, we’re past half way, it’s ok to turn around”. Thank you short shorts red hair man, I definitely needed that reassurance.

The water continually beat my face, only from the right side this time. This wasn’t just a pass of the ocean, it was raining from the heaven’s above. My thighs hurt, my chest hurt, my mind hurt. I saw the expressions of all those around me, we were struggling with the wind and rain beating us. At no point did I consider I couldn’t make it. My mind was humbled, gracious, appreciative. This Triathlon hurt, and that’s exactly what I had anticipated. I passed the finish line with Katrina, my sister, cheering me on. My first Triathlon, technically a Biathlon. I still felt very accomplished and cannot wait to participate in this event again next year.

Next up, Hilton Head half marathon in South Carolina next weekend. Where is your next event, (let me know in the comments) I’d love to cheer you on!

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2 COMMENTS

  1. runningtotravel | 8th Nov 21

    Congratulations! I’ve never attempted a triathlon and most likely will never. Although I can swim well enough I was never on a swim team as a kid and the thought of getting kicked in the face by other swimmers just doesn’t appeal to me. Lol.

    • werunthestates | 8th Nov 21

      Haha totally, I wasn’t too devastated that the swim was cancelled

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