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Tuesday, March 19 , 2019, 4:36 pm | Mostly Cloudy 58º

Sports: A Noozhawk Partnership with Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table, The Lab, and American Riviera Bank

Allison Moehlis: Triathlon Provides Opportunity to Confront Fog of Mind and Nature

The sprint course (¼-mile swim, 11-mile bike, 2½-mile run) participants at the recent Goleta Beach Triathlon were swimming past the final turn as pea soup fog rolled in. Visibility was dangerously low and the long course (1-mile swim, 22-mile bike, 5-mile run), which I was completely prepared for, was to start in a half-hour.

It was entertaining to be among the other athletes trying to anticipate how the swim portion of the long course was going to unfold. The race coordinators collectively problem-solved to come up with options. The Santa Barbara Airport was contacted to see if they had a read on the fog.

It was decided to postpone the start. After all, the fog blew in amazingly quickly, maybe it would just as quickly blow over. By then, people were finishing the sprint course and the duathlon (2½-mile run, 22-mile bike, 2½-mile run) started.

The fog lay there like it was binge-watching Netflix. This doesn’t stop triathletes. The course was rerouted. Now we were to do the short course three times, which meant only having to swim three-quarters of a mile, but it also meant getting out of the water twice and running around a flag then jumping back in.

I didn’t even know that was an option, let alone have a strategy for it. I immediately knew that the biggest challenge for me was going to be swimming next to other people.

One of the perks to being last is what I refer to as the motorcade, which is the lifeguard escort as they bring in the buoys. Even under these new circumstances I was the last swimmer out of the water. The motorcade was nice enough to wait until I had rounded the buoys before collecting them, which is not always a given.

Dodging athletes who had finished their race and were using the main throughway to exit with all of their belongings, I made my way in and out of the transition area and onto the bike course.

My body felt strong and ready. I was at my comfortable 14 mph pace, taking care to fuel properly. When athletes were blazing past be without warning, I recalled the race coordinator having us all chant before the start “on your left”. People blasting past me without warning scared me at times. This “race” I didn’t get lost, despite some of the turn cones being taken down before I reached them.

The bike course was behind me and I was physically on target for the run course. It looped four times, and each time I saw fewer and fewer volunteers and was acutely aware that I would be close to last or last overall ... again.

At the time, it brought me down. I’ve been training very hard and wanted to see more progress with my speed. I felt like a square peg in a round hole in the Santa Barbara athletic community because, despite having participated in a vast amount of local events, I hardly knew anybody, and I felt like the faster athletes that day were rude to me by not having etiquette in the transition area and on the bike course.

I felt as if I was an embarrassment to my trainer because I was so slow (note, my trainer finished second overall for the sprint course). Two dear friends (fellow 6 a.m.-ers and Ironmen) graciously were staying to cheer me on, but I asked my husband who had just arrived to shoo them away because I didn’t want them to see me crying. For once, I didn’t smile for the camera.

Later that evening I started writing this article, which gave me the perspective I needed to get over it. Thank you my wonderful readers, my fellow teammates. You bring focus to my journey to the Ironman 70.3 Triathlon finish line.

The fog over the ocean lifted a lot sooner than the fog in my head that was blocking me from seeing where I belong among triathletes. I am slow, but not last because I lead with my heart and that crosses a lot sooner than my body.

I am relatively new to triathlon-ing, but not unwise because I recognize it as so much more than the finish line. I am funny, but not a joke because I always try my hardest.

I am a mom, a wife, a friend, a professional, a writer, a spinning instructor, a triathlete, a half-marathoner, a metric-century biker, an ocean swimmer, and soon I will be an Ironman 70.3.

Noozhawk contributing writer Allison Moehlis is proud to have earned many participation medals for completing half-marathons, metric century bike rides and triathlons. When she is not basking in the glow of her medal collection, she is a working mom of two bright and talented daughters and a happy wife of 17 years. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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