After sleeping in the worst hotel by far this trip in Hayward, name shall remain anonymous, we got up for an early breakfast before heading over to Pleasanton for the morning. I wish I could say it was because we were jaded from our experience the night before, but that would not be accurate. From a dirty room, to management that was unable to replace a light bulb, to the guest smoking inside the hotel, it was overall a less than acceptable experience. But one out of seventeen days is not bad and at least we had a bed to sleep in and place to do laundry which is far more than a lot of people, so for that I was grateful. As we rely on ratings and comments from previous customers, Scott has already forwarded his comments to hotels.com to help accurately inform future guests.
The weather was absolutely spectacular for the California State Championships. When I signed them up, it was more due to schedule and where we would be at that period of time in the trip, than anything else. Sure they would accumulate points for rankings but we can be done at most sprints available across the country. The other three races that the kids either have competed in or would compete are specific to Nationals and the athletes they would racing in Des Moines or in Westchester, Ohio laterr this summer. The added benefit for this race however, was that it allowed them the opportunity to gain more practice in a wetsuit and for Kenzi to compete in a distance that she will exclusively do next year when she ages up.
The kids were not nervous and really did not know what to expect with this race as this would be the longest open water swim in a tri race that either of them have completed which included a half mile open water swim, an 11 mile bike and a 3.1 run. They thought the water felt warm enough to swim without the protective neoprene skin, but anything has got to be warmer than swimming in the ocean in San Francisco! But rule of thumb is, if most people are wearing wetsuits, then you wear one too as it provides a layer of buoyancy and keeps you competitive with the rest of the field.
Today’s race also provided another new experience for the kids. Athletes would start in three different waves of 100 people in what is referred to as an in water or deep water start. Each race director has different set ups and even though there was a beach and the way we thought the race would start, apparently it is considered less shock on the body when wearing a wetsuit if you start in water. We are always learning. Apparently the water start was an experience. From the large catfish near the shore, apparently the size of a small child, to most of the swimmers not knowing the route of the swim, it was a little daunting. Kenzi was trying to answer questions (as if she knew) when the horn started. Not even having her googles on, they were off. Needless to say, the kids are starting to understand pack swimming or at least gaining more confidence, made their way to the front. Zach was second out of the water with a fairly large gap (30+ seconds) before the third swimmer. Kenzi was fifth or sixth out about 2 minutes behind her brother. They looked really strong! They finally seem to be getting comfortable in their wetsuits-goal accomplished.
I love this sport and I love that my kids are incredibly passionate and committed to seeing where they can go, but I am not sure I will ever get comfortable with the bike portion and today was no different. Once they transition, they are gone for the next 30 minutes (give or take) and at lightening speeds. There may be switchback turns, hills, and testosterone filled riders with full disc wheels irritated that youth are beating them, etc. The reasons are numerous and it is always heart wrenching, but today I was particularly on high alert. Sure there are volunteers helping to guide traffic, but more races than not, there is always some driver who disregards the cones or is emphatic that have to through, less concerned about racers and more concerned about their own agendas. Today was particularly unusual as a young Hispanic couple had chosen the park for their wedding ceremony about the same time as the triathlon. For those reading this, please pray that these feeling subside and that I can rest knowing confidently that God is with them. I know this in my head, but my body symptomatically does not respond with the same assurance.
Of course, my worries were completely justified. Both Zach and Kenzi diverted several cars each, as volunteers allowed them to enter the single lane road to attend the wedding. Bad planning, but people watch out! Cars and cyclists don’t mix and allowing cars to cross the line of a race was absolutely absurd. Scott and I were screaming to stop traffic and were strongly encouraging volunteers to HOLD cars. They knew they were totally in the wrong and felt terrible, but seriously use common sense. I guess there was a reason for me to be worried.
Both finished the race strong. Kenzi finished as the number one woman not only in her age group but overall. She actually was a bit surprised at the results as she did not feel she had given it her all. Never satisfied, she was already wondering where her times would be with the elite racers next year. Seriously child, enjoy the win. You did great and gained more experience. Zach did equally as well as he finished first in his age group (15-19), they waivered him in at an ITU member as a 13year old and seventh overall for the day. Great, more stuff to carry home. In fact, Scott and I have decided to put a UPS box together at the next town to send home as we have numerous things we don’t need and have more of a chance to get lost or broken.
After the race, we headed back to the hotel to load up and then we stopped across the street for an authentic Mexican lunch at a taqueria. Oh my goodness! Though I stuck to my old standby, asada (steak), they had options for braised tongue and other parts. I did indulge in the roasted chili’s and washed the extremely hot peppers down with a refreshing fresh fruit cantaloupe concoction. Yum! The drink was so good that after one large sip, Kenzi ordered one too. Once finished, we were back on the road headed to Carmel and then to Big Sur.
Carmel was as every bit as lovely as they say. The homes were as unique and charming as a Thomas Kinkade painting with colored flowers, moss laden roofs and cobble stone walkways all nestled across from the famous Pebble Beach golf course. We played on the beach and enjoyed the cool breeze as our bodies melted into the warm sand, and we took a few moments to stretch our legs. We enjoyed walking through the small town and perusing the shops and private passageways that lead to secret gardens. Carmel was recently voted one of the most romantic cities in the world and there was no doubt in my mind as to why. We ate ice cream and I enjoyed an espresso and cinnamon crisp. Okay, another place Scott and I will have to come back and visit without kids. As we exited Carmel, we saw a “wild boar” crossing sign which seemed rather odd considering such a magical experience and all began to chuckle as even the kids realized Carmel was a very upscale fancy community.
We headed along the coast and again experienced the beauty twists and turns of the California highway. This time it was sunny and I could enjoy the cliff drops at their full splendor. It was very beautiful and thrilling and we continued to make our way to Big Sur, stopping for only the most spectacular of views. Probably our favorite stop was at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, where the history and the beauty were unparalleled. We arrived late afternoon as the sun was shining its last rays against the waterfall and beach below. Each experience is more beautiful than the next and it is why I have chosen to document this journey as not to forget all that we have seen and done from the minute to the magnificent. After stopping for about 45 minutes, we decided that if we did not want to drive HWY 1 aka the Cabrillo Hwy at night, we needed to get back on the road and head towards San Simeon the home of the Hearst Castle, our next stop in the morning. But with this ever evolving trip, we had a slight change of plans. As we rounded the bend just before the sunset, elephant seals were spotted. Lots and lots of the ugly-nosed, barking blobs of mush. So of course, we had to stop by the Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery where there were hundreds of the seals snuggling in for the night, some which appeared to be vying aggressively for a desired spot. When we exited the car, we were rudely greeted by a harsh cold wind that had gone unnoticed during our travels and quickly snapped the last few photos before calling it a night.
After dinner in Cambria, we all decided to keep driving and forego Hearst Castle in the morning. There were so many things yet to see and do and based on how they priced tickets to the various areas of the castle, we opted to save money and take in other sights. We will see what tomorrow brings.