Fit to be Tri’d

August 15, 2007 · Print This Article

By Raja Lahti
San Diego, California

Let’s first define “FIT”: An athlete who is more than just a good or well prepared athlete. Being freakishly good. Having the ability to crush your competition into little bits. Being a Worlds athlete.

Or you can just say “Folsom International Triathlon”

Yeah. Pure Worlds here. I think the winners at nearly every age group were headed to World Championships at the end of the month..used this cute little race as a springboard for Worlds… and so the day went… very, very, quickly.

But before I get into the race and the more than spectacular selection of age group athletes that appeared.. let’s talk travel.

You know, that travel with the “extra” luggage. The luggage that makes your fellow air-travelers rubber neck and ask you if you’ve got “your mother-in-law” in there (seriously, someone did ask me that!).. Yes, the bike coffin.

This thing is so big it makes the lady with 9 suitcases on her way to a 4 day vacation in the Bahamas seem like a light packer.

And then there’s the wheel you’re carrying on with you for fear that the baggage gorillas will damage My Precious. My wheel bag is not very subtle. It’s black with big white lettering “HED CYCLING”. And yet, every trip to the airport people ask me.. “Now what is that?” It’s a wheel. “Did you just get back from the Tour day France”. Uh… no…. (have they noticed that there are no women in the race?? Or perhaps they think I’m a representative Podium Girl… uh, ok!)

And then there’s the 4 rolls of duck tape, another roll of TSA “Inspected” tape, 6 “Fragile-Handle with Care” stickers and the multiple remaining fragments of old luggage tags that clearly define this over sized black case as mine. No two cases could possibly be alike. Just head to Oversize Luggage and see when my pet box is birthed from the extra-large baggage curtains. “That one can’t possibly be mine… there’s not enough duct tape.”

So I located my patch-work-oversize-case, grab the little pull cord and walk myself over to the rental car counter. Just like a little pet, it follow me with surprising willingness. “Yes, I rented an gas guzzling, over sized SUV, for that,” and then point to the big black thing on wheels. You know, the rental car companies must just cringe when they see “that”. I recommend the Ford Escape…. it’s small enough, yet all the seats fold down and give you more than plenty of room for your beast-box. It’ll even fit in the back standing up! To boot, you can fit your bike, wheels and all fully assembled in the back when you head off to the race.

I spent the weekend with a friend of ours that we don’t get to see that often. Fellow cyclists, she and he husband are crazy tandem mountain bikers. Yup, move out of their way.. their brake fluid is boiling….. We had a fantastic girls weekend doing nothing but talking about subjects boys really don’t want to talk about, seeing movies that boys won’t see.. and admiring the soothing affects of Beljium Budder.

Ok, back to the race. Outside of Nationals, this was the most talented group of Age Group athletes I’ve ever raced with. I don’t say raced “against” because that’s a whole different ball park… The course was fun, a chilly lake swim, rolling hills with some decent climbs on the bike and an undulating run down the twisty lake bike path.

Let’s start with our own Ashley Erickson. She races for a local sponsor, Fluid, but she’s a Bella. Really freakin’ good bella at that. I wish I could swim & run like that… she crushed her age group with a 2:17 race, placed 5th overall and is off to worlds next week. Go Ashley!

I had the race of my year. I PR’d, had a decent swim (for me…), a super bike (fastest in my crazy age group and even faster than the women’s Elite bike splits too), and my best run yet. I finished in 2:24 and was delighted (Swim:27:44, Bike 1:08:58, Run 45:06). After my mechanical issues at Nationals, all I wanted was a good race. And I got it. That race would have sent me to Worlds too if I had done that at Nationals. It felt good to know I was playing with the best, and doing fine. While I did expect that time to podium, I didn’t and was 4th. The caliber of racers was incredible.

I did the math and was excited… This is my third year owning a bike and racing. From my first Olympic race to now, it’s taken me 2 years to widdle down a measly 12 minutes. The first year I improved by 4 minutes. This year I sliced off an additional 8 minutes… so next year… hopefully I can do a sub 2:20.. now that would be nice. :-)

Now my husband and I are off to Italy for our 3 week honeymoon. I can’t wait… it’s been a long, hard year so far and the thought of renting bikes in Italy and sporting the Bella gear in the Land of the Gods is all I can think about these days. Well, that of course would be second to my dreams of Gelato consumption…… um.. yum!

Happy Riding!

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