||TEAM FONG: The bestest Wildflower Race Report you'll ever, EVER read.
||Half - Ironman
Posted by Beth Fong.
Before I begin this race report, I would like to acknowledge that all the times are approximate because T__ W__ Cable Co. sucks and I have had very limited internet time to check our ACTUAL splits. Besides, making them up is more fun.
So, Wildflower Long Course. Yep, maybe someday I will get around to racing it all, but not this year! Main reason is because after many, many years of dating (or 18 months of Team In Training-fueled adultery and Catholic church frowned upon living in sin, whatever), Lawrence and I finally made it legal and got married two weeks before the race, went on a rum-soaked honeymoon and REALLY enjoyed Hawaii...wink wink. Anyway due to these "distractions", we decided in advance to make this race a family affair by including his dad, the 75-year-old marathon legend, Wayne "The Waynester" Fong as our runner for a relay. Thus, the creation of Team Fong. Lawrence was to swim (ha), I would be biking (ha) and The Waynester would blaze through the run.
A few weeks before the race my coach/then-fiance decided it would be better if I did the swim portion since I am training for my first ever marathon on June 1st with Team In Training. Anyhoo, I know for a fact that the real reason for this change is that my now-husband hates to swim, has more holes in his wetsuit than swiss cheese, and wanted me to get some more open-water race start experience before that Ironman thing we are doing in November. To this date I still panic, cry, and dog paddle at every buoy. There are not enough Tim Bomba Ocean 101's in the world to fix this problem, I tell you. But, at the end of the day, he persuaded me to save my marathon-training weary legs and do the swim so he could dust off his tri bike (untouched since IM Florida in November) and be the King of the Wildflower Relay Mountain. So the new roster would be Beth "I hate Oceans, Lakes, Rivers and Streams" Fong on the swim, Lawrence "I need to dust off my untouched Orbea" Fong on the bike, and Wayne "I am 75 years old, and could kick all your butts" Fong on the
We arrive in Paso to glorious weather, make ourselves and our dog, Pennie Laine, comfy in our tent, and meet up with my new Father In Law to pick up our race packets and find that they have NO information on Team Fong. What? I rejoice privately because that means no swimming. See, upon our return from Hawaii 6 days earlier, I decided I should start training for this swim being as I had been in the pool 4 times since my half-Ironman in October. So, I hopped in, and halfway through my set got a searing earache which morphed into the worst headache I ever had. Obviously, some sort of inner ear thing was going on, possibly from the saltwater in Hawaii, and it was throwing off my equilibrium, and giving me residual pain. Plus, I had not been in my wetsuit since Malibu tri, AND since relays are the last to go, I did not know if I could make the time cut off being as my last 1.2 mile swim took me 53 minutes. And that is when I was in shape. I'm that good. Needless to say, I was a little dismayed when they found our race info and the relay was back on again, but after a quick practice swim with my husband and Luis Canales cheering me on and giving me pointers, I felt a lot better. I bought some earplugs to protect my inner ear, Lawrence peeled the 6-month old race numbers off his bike, and we were ready to roll.
Race morning dawned a bit cold and hazy, and I dawned that morning grumpy, tired, and nervous. I snapped at my husband, saying that he obviously was just using me to get out of swimming and I hope his bike broke in half on Nasty Grade as punishment. Best Newlywed Ever. My Father In Law arrived with more food (the man had like his own private Souplantation in the back of his Explorer), and I saw how excited he was to be part of Wildflower, that I cheered up and got determined to finish this silly swim thing. We hiked down the hill, and prepared to race. I got into my wetsuit and handed my dog over to Josh Greenbaum (apparently dogs that want to mark people's transition areas for them are not welcome). Lawrence tried to remember which way a bike helmet goes on, and I think the Waynester was up at the tri club tents eating burritos and schmoozing the 20-year-old TNT girls racing the next day. Team Fong was ready to roll!
9:30am is when the relays started, and it was about 3 minutes before then that I realized the relay wave was coed. Men and Women. Let me tell you, there were some BIG boys swimming. So, when the gun went off (which I didn't hear due to my new earplugs), I started to run in but then saw all these football players in wetsuits thrashing and bumping ahead of me that I took my sweet time getting in. I think I stood knee deep on the boat dock for a good minute before finally starting. Surprisingly, for the first time EVER, I only panicked a little one time, right before the first triangle. Then I just got pissed at myself and started swimming and before I knew it I saw the big orange balloon arch and swam right for it, stoked to be almost done and have conquered my fear. Small, tiny problem though. The big orange balloon arch? Wrong arch. That's the swim START arch. As I approached it, I noticed all these lavender caps around me, and my thought was "Oh, look at all the TNT newbies out here. I remember when that was me, doing my first swim and shagging around with my coach." My thought was interrupted by a slightly out of breath girl on a surfboard who informed me I was now swimming to the wrong place, was surrounded by people doing the Mountain Bike race, and needed to go back around the dock and swim to the Swim FINISH arch. Whoops. I had not heard them yelling at me because of my stupid earplugs, and I just really liked that big orange arch. Anyway, I backed it up, swam to the right arch, stripped off my wetsuit to display my LA TRI wear proudly, and literally skipped and danced up the ramp, to the tune of Natasha Beddingfields "Unwritten".
Swim Time: 23 minutes. Or maybe, just maybe, it was more like 46. Either way, it was a PR for me, so I may finally retire the arm-floaties.
Bike: When I got into transition, I found my husband hanging out, chatting with Anna Wills, who had done her swim leg of a relay in, like, 12 minutes or something. Obviously, she got out of the water right before me....yeah, right. We figured out how to get my chip off, gave it to Lawrence, and he decided to hang out for a bit more before pedaling off into the wilderness. Anna and I stopped of at the Tri Club tent (BTW, that was AWESOME to have that meeting spot right in the expo.), and I collected my dog from Josh who was now eating a burrito himself and eagerly anticipating the 1/2 marathon he would be running later that afternoon for Team Meow. Then we headed up to shower and find a spot to cheer in the cyclists. We found an awesome place where we could see all the cyclists coming in on our right, and all the runners at around mile 6 on our left. About 3.5 hours after I gave my chip to him, I saw Lawrence approaching, a bit above what I thought his expected time would be. Turns out he had a good time as well during his ride... slowing to talk to friends as he passed, enjoying the scenery, reintroducing himself to his Tri-bike. I think he even stopped for a pint somewhere. Good times. He smiled, waved, and headed down to transition where our superstar, Mr. I-Do-Three-Marathons-A-Year Fong was waiting to start the run for us. Lawrence had a great time, and put up a respectable, fun time on the bike for us.
Bike Time: 6 hours, 4 minutes. Or maybe like 3.5 hours. You pick.
Run: Lawrence passed our chip off to his dad, who was waiting in transition working his brand new LA Tri Club kit, and he took off. At this point, it was coming up on 2pm, and it was very warm out, and the sun was bright. We were a bit worried about the heat affecting him, but The Waynester had said the heat was "no problem" and it was "only 13 miles", so we had nothing to worry about. Lawrence came up and met me at the Triathletix tents at the top of the mile 7, and we waited eagerly for his dad to come. He said his dad looked strong going out, so we were ready to cheer him up the hill. The day kept getting warmer and warmer, and we watched as many people slogging up that hill, and then out of nowhere, we see a man in a LATC kit passing everyone on his right running up the hill. It was the elder Mr. Fong himself, smiling, waving to everyone as he passed, and holding a pretty nice pace. He did a "V for Victory" dance as he passed our crowd, and kept going strong. Lawrence and I packed up quickly, knowing that at the pace his dad was holding, we would have to hurry to get to the finish in time.
We got down to the finish area, where our friend Sean English was announcing. Knowing that Wildflower was the end of our honeymoon, he had been making a big production of our team all day long, and was on the lookout for The Waynester. About 20 minutes after we arrived at the finish, we see Wayne coming through the chute, still running strong, with a HUGE smile. Sean announced him as "75 years old, does 3 marathons a year and has done over 80 of them all together, running for Team Fong made up of husband, wife and father in Law...etc". It was quite a production, and the crowd went wild as Wayne crossed the finish line. We had done it, as a family, and even though we had been VERY casual about our relay, it will go down as one of my favorite races, ever. There are not many people who get to do what we did with their husband and Father In Law, and I think it is a memory I will always cherish...and a perfect way to start my life as a Fong. :) Gag. Sorry.
Run Time: Who cares? We had the WAYNESTER! I think it was around 2:50 or something. And, when we asked him if he had fun and would he want to do it next year, his response was, "No, this was easy. I'm going to do the Olympic race." So, I guess we will have to find another Fong next year. Wayne is already talking about upgrading his bike... I'm not even unpacked yet. Sigh.
Anyway, great time. Great race, great to see everyone. All of us on Team Fong had a blast, including Pennie the dog who thoroughly enjoyed marking a perimeter around the Tri Club tents and licking discarded turkey chili bowls. It was a fun ride back. :)
See you next year!