Weeks leading to this past weekend, Email subject titles from the coaches for Wildflower Training Weekend were shortened to WFTW. At first glance I thought it was WTF, and boy oh boy, it really was a WTF weekend. The team took a road trip to central CA to the exact camping site for the Wildflower Triathlon, so we could get a taste of how the course will be, from the elevation, weather, and technicalities. The original plans had to be modified because of continuous rain from Friday all the way to Sunday.
I took a day off from work so I could leave with my teammates Dash and Traci to get to the campsite in time to set up. I think the only time it DIDN’T rain was the few hours the team was setting up tents for everyone else. Once they were all up, the rain just would not let up. It was tough to really meet everyone in this kind of setting because some people would stay inside their cars, or inside their tents to stay dry. There would be small circles of people crowded under umbrellas, or bunched up wearing swim & rain parkas. It took some time for everyone to get situated. Groups were scattered for dinner, and the fire pit flames were small. After dinner, the coaches gathered everyone to the only somewhat dry spot – the side of the restrooms. They went over some modified logistics due to the weather.
It was a crazy early wake up call – 6:30am. There was no alarm or anything to wake everyone up – it was the sound of the rain against the tent, and the cold, cold weather. Movement around the campsite also added to waking up. You can tell no one had a good night’s sleep, but everyone was hungry that’s for sure. It took longer than expected for everyone to get ready for the bike ride, but hey, it was raining! Once we were all situated, the coaches led us down a pretty steep hill to the lake parking lot. They went over the course another time and we were off! Did I mention it was COLD? It was especially cold if you add in the wind factor. Most of the time I had a dilemma to bike harder to heat up my body, but at the same time I went faster which made me colder. No matter what I did though, the rain just didn’t help. I made the mistake again by following some of my teammates through another turn (which we were supposed to follow the yellow lines, but didn’t have any). It resulted in going up a challenging “Beach Hill” again. By the time we were back on track, we were pretty much the back of the pack. We rode outside the property to the SAG stop / turnaround point. Cold, cold, cold! I was miserable! I was so happy when I arrive the campsite, but a 2 mile run loop was still on the schedule. Finished the run without any problems.
After the brick, we had the rest of the day to just bond and hang out. Surprisingly, I didn’t take any midday naps. It’s tough to do that in the wet and cold. The Wildflower fundraisers had the opportunity to ride “Nasty Grade”, the infamous hill of the triathlon bike course. The coaches took it out of our schedule because it was just too dangerous to bike down, so whoever rode the hill were just shuttled back down to camp. Most of the riders said it was tough, but not impossible. There is hope! Me and some teammates went looking for drinks then on the way back, we just drove the “Nasty Grade”. I agree, it didn’t look too bad, but I know it will be a whole different story on the bike, after already riding 45 miles! The rest of the day/night was nothing but good times. Funny conversations inside my friend’s SUV (trying to stay warm), people’s tents, under the tarp, and around the campfire. I really do feel a little bit closer to everyone, because you know, at practice, it’s sometimes difficult to socialize.
By Sunday, everyone’s spirits were down because of the crazy winds downpour that kept everyone awake last night. One person even had his tent collapse on him so he had to crash in someone else’s tent. Most of us just wanted to pack up and leave. We had to tear down the tents after breakfast and clean up before our scheduled 12 mile run. So many of us wanted to opt out of it, myself included. It wasn’t until coach Brad said his “Braveheart” speech that got the TEAM together and willing to run. We drove down to the same parking lot from Saturday, and luckily it wasn’t raining. The run was two loops from the Wildflower Olympic course (long course is different, but was too muddy from the rain). Parts were muddy, but all doable. There was one hill that was challenging though. I had some slight complications with my foot, probably because of using trail running shoes, which I was not used to. Because of my foot, coach advised me to stop after one loop. I was lucky I guess because shortly after, more downpour ensued. We all stayed until the last person came back, and that’s what I love about this team, we are so supportive of each other, and the cheers and smiles instantly made me forget how tough this weekend was.