Fully expecting this triathlon to be roasting hot, as it usually is there in Sonoma County, CA in late July, we exulted as the heat never really came. Instead a maritime blanket covered the noble Russian River and most of the bike ride through Sonoma's gently rolling, truly endless and buff grape vineyards.
This event is logistically challenging: The race pamphlet says there is plenty of parking in Guerneville by the river, but I think that's true only if you arrive there at 5am. I joined some much more proficient triathletes in the pantheon of participants who almost missed their swim start due to taking too long finding a parking spot and trekking from that far flung place to the swim start. It was an insanely rushed last fifteen minutes.
The main challenge of the Russian River swim at this time of year is not scraping your hand on the bottom. Swimming upriver felt like being in a movie inspired by "Heart of Darkness". The overcast and dim weather gave a gloomy, soothing, mysterious feel. My favorite part was passing under a large, old, moss-encrusted, high and ornate bridge out there in the seeming wilderness.
The more expert swimmers stayed near the center of the river on the way downriver, and away from it on the way up, I suppose to leverage the current. Makes sense to me anyway.
Outta the river:
The bike was fast and rolling. The scenery of enveloping oaks and green vineyards was enough to keep you going if you got tired.
The sun did come out for the run, but was not too hot, and the finish was there to carry one through. I felt so great at this finish. I think a lot of it was having dropped a few pounds at this time of year. It felt like some of my better races in highschool and college:
Despite all this I got my PR of 6:13! Never could have come close to that without so much generous coaching and teammate help in the couple years I've been doing this. Now, just a little less cheese and fewer chickens in the diet and 2009 . . .