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COLLEGIATE NATS BY SIERRA MORENO

Iris Wu

I am very fortunate to be able to write the very first and very last blog post of the year and I promise I am going to do my best to make it as good as Jared’s. In case you have been living under a rock, UCSB Triathlon attended the USA Triathlon Collegiate Club National Championships this past weekend in Tuscaloosa, AL and I am here to tell you ALL about it…way more details than any of our Instagram and Facebook posts combined so stay tuned.

 

Tuesday April  24, 2018 The day that changed everything

 

Today was the day that USAT decided that no matter how much stress every team was already under, they wanted to send every team in the country into hysterics. I believe the email subject read something like “Important Race Update”. So ambiguous, yet so unalarmingly normal that anyone would have assumed that they were sending out the schedule for the weekend. So, Nick opened the email, “Unfortunately, USA Triathlon has been forced to shift all courses from a triathlon to a duathlon (run-bike-run) to ensure athlete safety”. *chaos ensues* Sarah proclaimed the first run would be a 5k meaning that in total we would have to run 15k aka 9ish miles. Many expletives were proclaimed by Sierra while Iris had a spiritual experience, realizing that there was in fact a god, and Coach Matt left his phone for an hour and came back to 57 urgent text messages from his athletes. After everyone had regained the ability to think properly, we realized that no one was running 9 miles with a bike in-between but instead the first run would be a 5k, followed by a 40k bike, and then another 5k run. The runners were happy, the swimmers were still salty but moderately glad they didn't have to run 6 miles all at once, and well, I don’t really think any cyclists were affected. 

 

Wednesday April 25, 2018 Travel Day

 

It was time to leave for LAX for a long day of travel! It’s important to note that even though Matt and John got lost once again in IV, we still left on time. I repeat, WE LEFT ON TIME!!!! So we made the drive down to LA while listening to Matt’s terror of flying build higher and higher with every mile we got closer to the airport. Upon arrival, we realized that his jokes about hoping he would end up on a no fly list were not jokes. Despite his caring presidents attempt to hold his shaking hands, he still ended up in the Dunkin' Donuts in an attempt to calm his nerves. After a long flight we finally landed in Atlanta, Georgia at around midnight local time. After a rental car fiasco, we then waited for the hotel shuttle where we could fit all but 4 of us if you don’t include Emme smashing herself in between 2 seats so the driver wouldn't see her. A small group had a final hurrah for the day at Waffle House or as Ricky called it, “Awful House”.

 

Thursday April 26, 2018 Sport Mode and Superstore

 

In celebration of finally getting the rental car situation figured out, Coach Matt practically leapt into the car in conquest of the nearest Bojangles. For those of you that don’t know, Bojangles is a chicken and biscuit fast food restaurant exclusively in the south and also a sanctuary for lost souls, lovers of fried chicken, biscuits of all kinds and sweet tea. I highly recommend making a trip to Alabama simply for Bojangles. Here’s a link to their website should you want to learn more: https://www.bojangles.com. Ricky almost threw up all the way to Alabama because Gordon got too caught up in putting the car in “sport mode” which proved to be too fast for the nice Southern drivers going at or below the speed limit, while Sarah complained about having to sit in the middle because her “hips are too big”. This eventually sparked a sing-along to Shakira’s smash hit “Hips Don’t Lie” which, for the record, Gordon knows every single line to. Coach Matt happily sung along to every country song ever made and Sierra third wheeled the entire time in the backseat but was just happy to have sweet tea that Gordon almost made her spill on multiple accounts because of said sport mode.

 

About 3 hours later we made it to our final destination of Tuscaloosa, AL!!! We picked up our bikes from the awesome dudes at TriBike transport, went on a little shakeout ride and run and then starting heading back to the hotel with a quick stop at Walmart. The lesson we learned today is not to leave a bunch of hungry, tired triathletes in a Walmart superstore or else they will come out with an abundance of unnecessary items like fishing rods and bait, whole melons, and excessive quantities of milk.

 

Friday April 27, 2018 Draft Legal Day

 

Everyone was so excited for this day as draft legal races are one of the funnest events and most of the team gets the thrill and excitement of racing without actually having to race, it’s great. It is also the day that the spirit award is won, so we loaded the cars dressed in our skittles outfits ready to cheer on our 2 favorite draft legal athletes in a rainbow of different colors. Despite coming off of her stellar performance at the Boston Marathon just 2 weeks ago, Iris Wu rose to the occasion when asked if she would do the draft legal race once it got changed to run-bike-run. And boy did she deliver! Knowing that her body was already tired, her teammates weren’t expecting her to do anything but her best, but it turns out her best is actually one of the best in the country. With the first pack being only 4 of the most elite girls, we were super happy when she ran well enough to get her a spot in the second pack, the first really big pack. The first few laps went by and Iris slowly made her way from the back into the middle, but as the pack came into the dismount line on the last lap, who was leading the pack? That’s right, our very own Iris Wu was fifth into transition, leading the second pack. She followed that with a great run time that earned her a spot in the top 25 in a race that, up until 2 days prior, she didn’t think she would be doing. Iris is our queen!!!!

 

Sean raced next in a race that we knew was going to be INSANE. These were going to be the top triathletes in the country going balls to the wall for the first mile and a half to earn their spot into the best draft pack. The first and last run were only 1.5 miles, leaving no time for pacing or strategy, just sprint. These were anything but ideal conditions for Sean who has been working his swim harder than anyone for this moment; however, he still managed to get into the first draft pack and like Iris, made his way to the front of it by the end. Unfortunately, he did not retain his lead in that last short sprint to the finish and while we were all super proud of and blown away by his performance, the face of disappointment he wore said that he felt otherwise. But honestly, that is what made what happened the next day that much better.

 

 

Saturday April 28, 2018 Classic day and the best day ever

 

The day began with the ladies. Sarah, Iris and Emme all started in Wave 1 and went off with a bang. Emme ran way faster than she probably should have on her injured leg, Sarah gave it all she had even though she was still upset that she wasn’t swimming and Iris did what she does best, run fast. Bella and Nicole showed us how lucky we are to have such promising freshman as they confidently lined up at the start line as cool as cucumbers. Kelly and Jordan started in wave 3 followed by Sierra in wave 4. Of course Iris ran fast, but she also had an insanely fast bike split that put her in the top 50. Sarah hauled on her bike and despite not having swam, had a very impressive race. Emme, oh Emme, what can I say? The day before she didn’t even know if she was going to race and then here she comes with a mega fast run and bike split. She may have hobbled in to the finish line but she made our team proud with her tenacity and will to compete for UCSB despite doctors orders. Bella had an amazing race, running and biking her way into the 4th and last scoring spot for the girls. Nicole had a really speedy bike and pushed her run while Jordan had an ultra fast run! Kelly persevered through some bike troubles and still managed to have a great race! Sierra came off the bike with a PR and proceeded to bond with a girl from Cal who listened to her woes about not being able to swim only to discover, that they were both indeed fish out of water just trying to make it to the finish line. Wow, finishing 12th out of a whopping 92 teams means it was a great day to be a Gaucho girl!! We’re so proud of all of your performances!! 

 

The para-race didn’t start too long after the girls. Ryan lined up at the start line and, as soon as the gun went off, took off pretty close to the speed of light. He was quickly faced with a steep downhill as a challenge but fearlessly took the plunge and successfully made it. With that out of the way, he was faced again with some difficult terrain that he managed to navigate through. He pushed through the bike and finished the race with a beat up hand as his racing gloves fell off but refused to let that stop him from pulling off a truly noteworthy performance. Such an inspiring guy, such an inspiring race!! (That’s one 1st place.) 

 

The guys race started about an hour after with Sean, Ricky and Gordon in the first wave. Sean and Ricky took off with speed while Gordon hung around with some swimmers mid pack, again bonding about how they would be so much better if they could just get in the dang water. It was a truly amazing feat, as it always is, to see Gordon absolutely smash on the bike but what was even better was to see him smiling out of transition and looking great going into that last run. A stark contrast from last years egg-laying incident, he managed to get a bike split so fast that the officials disqualified him because they simply did not believe that any one man could ride a bicycle that fast. When approached about it and asked if he could really ride that fast, he said with the biggest Gordo grin, “Yeah!!” So, he got the fastest bike split of the day, the fastest bike split in the history of the course and also finessed his way into the top 40. Oh and also, his slowest lap was still faster than anyone else on the course. Wowzers!! (That’s another top of the podium, because, yes, now we’re counting.)

 

Ricardo made us just as proud with his stellar performance and competitiveness out on the course. It has been amazing to watch you work so hard and to see it all pay off, even if you don’t think it has. Nick was next out of the gate and as much as he says he’s just a swimmer or a frat boy, he’s also an all around beast of a triathlete. Great runs, great bike, and definitely wins the award for making all the girls on other teams giggle and swoon as he flexed for his lone UCSB cheerleader going into transition. Jacob started the race with a CRAZY fast run causing everyone that watched him to envy his gazelle like run form as he floated through the air with ease. Blake showed us that he indeed DOES have as much athletic prowess as he said he did the day before. He may have raced so hard he needed some special care after but ya know what? That’s what triathletes at collegiate nationals do. Rick and Ray pulled off perhaps one of the cutest stunts the sport of triathlon has ever witnessed as they ran the first run together, biked together, and pretty much ran the whole second run together until Rick pulled slightly ahead at the very end. Those 2 are so sneaky fast!!! And speaking of sneaky fast, let’s talk about John Frey. He averaged sub 6 on the first run, a strong 23 mph on the bike and then another 6 average on the second run!! Only one minute behind Ricky, he snagged that last scoring spot for our boys. And since we’re talking about scoring… our boys finished 6th in the country. 6th!!! Out of 102 teams!!! Holy cow I love ya’ll!!!!

Alright, I know you’re reading this for THE story so here it is.

 

The gun went off and Sean took off from the chute with the leading pack. He wasn’t first going into T1 but was not far behind. Things drastically changed in the next 24.8 miles on the bike, when he lead the way into T2. He shot out of T2 like a bullet with the next few guys hot on his heels.  

 

Coach Matt came rushing back to the tent in a frenzy, “This race has already taken a year off of my life!!” he said as he explained to us that Sean was only seconds ahead of the guy that had outran him the day before. The announcer informed the crowd that Sean was the first one to hit the turn around on the second run, he was ahead with only 1.6 miles left in his collegiate triathlon career. Of course this is the time when the announcer decides to stop with all further updates about the situation and everything goes silent. 

 

2 minutes goes by and the girls in the tent were anxious to see their teammate round the corner or at the very least, get an update about his whereabouts. 

4 minutes: The only thing that could be heard is Nicole and Sierra’s hearts pounding and Iris whispering to herself “come on Sean, come on Sean!”

5 minutes: Sierra squeezes the life out of Iris’ hand as there is still no update. The girls talk about how badly they want this for him! This is the guy that deserves it the most, this is the guy that has worked for years for this one goal that he has his last shot at. 

6 minutes: “One of my coaches one time said that the first mile is won by the fastest guy, the second is won by the one who practiced the most and the third is won by the guy with the most heart.” -Iris 

Well, good thing Big Sean is all of those guys.

8 minutes: …

 

The moment we saw that flash of neon with UCSB along the leg round the corner was one we will never forget. It was like the world was moving in slow motion when in fact, this man was running VERY fast. One loud SEANNNNN was exclaimed by every girl in the tent right before they used every ounce of energy they had left to push through the innocent spectators and sprint to meet their teammate at the finish line. One very confused man questioned the world, “What’s happening? Why are they running, did he just win??” Heck yeah he just won. He just won our first olympic distance natty in 25 years. Coach Matt burst into tears and it was truly the most emotional moment any of us had ever witnessed. Our very own Big Seany Harry just made history. (and that’s 3)

 

 

Saturday April 28, 2018 Mixed Team Relay

 

4 hours after the excitement, UCSB Triathlon competed in it’s first ever mixed team relay, an event that literally everyone was dreading to do because they had just finished a whole race hours before. But, we were super happy with the results and it was actually such a fun event! The race started with Sarah, who despite being more tired than she has ever been, pushed herself to her max for her team. She passed the baton off to Gordon who had strong runs and caught up a ton on the bike. Iris was next and looked the least happy any of us had ever seen her. If you know Iris you know she’s a bundle of joy and when she looks the way she did in this relay, she must really be hating life. Sorry Iris!!! Our anchor was no other than John Frey. After the weekend he had had, Sean just knew that MTR was not going to be a good idea and John enthusiastically stepped up to the plate and helped us realize that putting him in was a great idea. You guys did great and lit a fire for the rest of us to help us see how cool MTR is!!!

 

Saturday April 28, 2018 Let’s party!!!

 

Prior to awards we had one last team dinner, this time Bojangles and literal gallons of sweet tea. All 20 of us crammed into a single hotel room, shared greasy chicken and there was not a frown in sight. We then made our way to awards where Blake and Emme’s car had a deep and meaningful conversation about how small words often mean the biggest things, like “God” and “yet”. Coach Matt decided to chime in with some personal experience and say how “but” is also a big one, like “I love you, but…” He instantly regretted joining into the conversation when it was followed by badgering to get Matt to tell the story about his first heartbreak but apparently that is a story that will have to wait for next Nationals. 

 

We walked into awards with heads held high and more tri luv for each other than I have ever seen before. Ryan was called onto stage first to win his first place prize and I am SURE that the rest of the schools said something related to our party school reputation based on how loud we were but we didn’t care in the slightest. It was then time for non-draft awards. The anticipation as they crept up from 10th, then 6th, then 3rd was nearly unbearable because we just really couldn’t wait to lose it. They called UCSB’s Sean Harrington for first place and it was MADNESS. Snapchat videos were in full swing, voices were lost, and thanks to our so-called rivals, Cal Poly SLO, tortillas went flying, proving that rivalries don’t exist in triathlon. Tortillas continued to fly when Gordon accepted his super cool helmet for winning the bike split, making it 3 times the Gauchos was called to the TOP of the podium that night.  

 

We dragged out the night by taking tons of pictures to memorialize every moment. As the room became scarce, we put our arms around each other for the last time and chanted the greatest and most glorious of Olé’s. So great that we made our way onto the official USAT Instagram story. We went back to the hotel and got ready for our long drive back to Atlanta to catch our early morning flight but not before Nick got a guy on the Texas team to chug a full half gallon of milk. Yes, a full half gallon. As if those there didn’t already know, UCSB had officially left its mark on Tuscaloosa. 

 

Thank you.

 

I want to end by saying we did not do this on our own. There are countless thank you’s that need to go out but I know you’re getting tired of reading. Huge thank you to our travel coordinator, Ricardo Cortes, for making this whole trip possible. It is a FACT that without you, we just simply wouldn’t have made it. Thank you to John, Sean, Gordon, and Ricky again for safely driving us all around during this trip. All four of you easily could have valued your race performance more than driving us around, but you didn’t and even if we don’t say it, we are beyond grateful. Thank you Ms. Harrington and Roscoe for your constant support throughout the whole trip. Roscoe provided some much needed pet therapy and it was so nice of you to make the journey out to support Sean and the rest of the team as well. Thank you to Iris and John for stepping up when the team needed you the most. Thank you to all the nats first timers for the hype and energy you had seeing all of this for the first time, it really made the returners remember why they are there. Thank you to all the returners for helping out the rookies and being stand up people that we can all lean on. Thanks Gordon for becoming a great leader and caring so much about your team. Thank you to Ryan, Sean, and Emme who will not be racing with us next year as they will be graduating and moving on to bigger and better things. You have each inspired us in different ways and I truly can’t wait to see where life takes you guys. Thanks to all of our sponsors, especially Specialized and Velo Pro for making sure our bikes were in top condition, Pearl Izumi for making us kits that the rest of the schools envied, and Patagonia for keeping us warm race morning! Thank you to all of the parents of our athletes who have offered unwavering support and who have raised some of the finest young men and women this world has to offer.  Most of all, thank you Coach. Words cannot explain how fortunate and blessed we are to have you. It is clear that you pour your heart and soul into this sport, this team, and into us. All of us have had coaches that only care about winning but what is so special about you is that you care so much for the betterment of the team while caring about each of us individually. You are the reason that UCSB Tri is so special. You’ve created an environment where people want to have fun and make lifelong friends while improving themselves and each other along the way. In my opinion, this is a winning recipe and we’re so grateful for that.  

 

If you’ve never been on a team like this, there is just no way you can understand why this is so special and there is just simply no way that I can describe it to you. If you’re on the team and didn’t go to nats this year, I hope that this post has inspired you to put in the work so you can go next year and all the times after that. These are the moments that make UCSB Triathlon so extraordinary. These are the times that don’t just make us friends and teammates, but family. It wasn’t just because of the 2 national championships we brought home, nor was it the 3 friends we got to scream for at the top of the podium; it wasn’t even about the top 10 finish. It was about the smiles from the abundance of PR’s, the tears and bear hugs at the finish line and the sleep deprived laughs and conversations that made it all worth it. Congratulations UCSB triathlon, we freaking did it, and the way our team is looking, we can only go up from here. I said at the end of the very first blog post that this was our year, and well, looks like I was right. 

 

TRITONMAN 2018 BY JARED KLISZEWSKI

Iris Wu

Friday, February 16th - 12:30 PM

   It had finally arrived – the weekend we had all been waiting for since we first saw those socks they gave out last year. Tritonman was finally here. And it came to an exciting start as half the team sat in the wreck cen parking lot waiting for the bike trailer to arrive, eyes glued to Ethan attempting to change a flat he got on his way. This proved to be an excellent form of entertainment, and by the time the bike trailer arrived most of the team hardly realized that they had been waiting for almost an entire hour. Except John Frey - he knew damn well how long he had waited for that bike trailer to show up. After dealing with the inevitable hassles that come with transporting thirty people, their bikes, and all their gear two hundred miles down the coast, the team finally hit the road at two in the afternoon – LA traffic prime time. Traffic had already slowed to a crawl at downtown Santa Barbara. It was going to be a long ride.

    Four hours later the team stopped for dinner at Chipotle. Traffic was brutal – not even the LA natives had seen it this bad. It was going to get worse before it got better, so everyone took their time at dinner and decided to hit the road again in an hour. Time was passed wandering through Trader Joes, discussing how one might transcend the barrier between mind and body, and arguing over how to pronounce “Dinah’s Fried Chicken” (it’s Die-Nuhs). Coach caught Jared handing out ibuprofens out of an old prescription bottle behind the van and was worried some seriously shady stuff might be going on. After dinner it was time to hurry up and wait some more. The traffic didn’t let up, and the team was forced to get more and more creative with how they would pass the time on this seemingly endless drive. Thea and Ethan watched one of the live action Scooby Doo movies until they were sure the CGI animation of Scooby dancing would give them nightmares, epic tales of Nicaraguan strip clubs were told, debates got heated over which one of the United States should be erased off the face of the earth, and Suds’s heart broke when he found out the Sierra and Blake were not in fact dating. But the hours dragged on as the van crawled across the 405 southbound.

Just as all topics of conversation had been depleted and the athletes thought they might go stir crazy, two shining red beacons of hope glimmered in the distance. It was them – the two and only – the San Onofre Nuclear Boobies*. In an unspoken language that all men are fluent in from age thirteen onward, the boys exchanged brief glances and knew it was time to release the middle school sense of humor that still held a special place in all their hearts, yelling “NIPS!” in perfect harmony. All this commotion woke Nick from a deep slumber. As pulled off his headphones and opened his sleepy eyes, he stated in pure awe, “my god those are some perky titties.” Thea, stuck in the back of the van with the boys, looked like she was ready to shoot herself.

After seven and a half hours of travel time, the team finally arrived at Nicole’s house at 9:30 PM. With a 4:30 AM wake up call looming, there wasn’t much time for fun and games, although everyone did take a few minutes to say hi to Nicole’s many fun pets. Jared, Jonathan, and Iris said a quick prayer that a freak rain storm would roll through overnight raising the pollutant levels in Mission Bay to dangerous levels thus forcing the swim to be cancelled, and everyone went to sleep.

Saturday, February 17th – 4:30 AM

    The athletes woke to the sound of every iPhone ring tone every created sounding simultaneously and a killer array of breakfast goodies, many thanks to Nicole and her family. It was still pitch dark when the vans rolled into Mission Bay for packet pickup. Much to the chagrin of athletes everywhere, there were no Tritonman socks distributed this year, although the beanies were still kind of cool. The team proceeded to unload the bike trailer and set up their transition areas. When Dane saw Jared changing into his favorite unmarked team wetsuit, he declared war. Whoever finished first would gain custody of the suit. A few minutes before the race was set to start, the team got into the water for a quick splash to warm up. Jonathan realized he had forgotten his goggles and asked Iris if she had an extra pair. Iris is usually the one to ask if you forgot anything tri related, but alas, five minutes before the race start not even she had spare pair of goggles laying around and Jonathan was forced to sprint back up to the transition area. Seeing that no freak rain storm had arrived to pollute the water, Jared and Jonathan said one more quick prayer – this time only asking not to drown.

    The gun went off and the race was on. Thea and Sierra got out fast on the swim, Gordon took off on the bike for the fastest bike split in the whole race, and Ricky and Iris finished strong with the run, earning them both spots in the top twenty-five in a very competitive field. Sarah crushed the bike for the 8th fastest bike split in the women’s race along with a sixteenth overall finish. Suds put out an impressive performance in triathlon debut, and even came out with the fastest T2 in the whole race. James put in a respectable effort, finishing the race strong after being hospitalized with the flu only two weeks earlier. The crowd went wild watching Sierra and Kelly battle in a true sprint finish in the last fifty meters of the race, and despite Jared’s gut wrenching effort on the run, Dane managed to edge him out, earning back the rights to his favorite wetsuit.

    The mood after the race was pleasant with sunny skies and warm SoCal weather. After ample sunbathing was done and exaggerated stories of race carnage were told, the team gathered for a picture and hit a local restaurant for some real Mexican food (not Chipotle). The trip home took just as long as the trip there, with traffic being unusually heavy. But the race was over, and everyone was a little more relaxed. The boys broke into commotion once again as the van passed the San Onofre Nuclear Boobies, this time in broad daylight. Close examination of the structures sparked a good deal of debate in the van. Coach Matt stated that they couldn’t be real, and Ethan said, "it never hurt a man to dream." Thea, Iris, and Sierra just rolled their eyes. The rest of the drive was passed with frequent fast food and bathroom stops. Sierra woke up to the soothing sight of Coach Matt’s face pressed up against the van window at a gas station, and Nick managed to awaken from his slumber just in time for every fast food stop. At a Micky D’s in Carpinteria, Coach Matt and Ethan were sure that Jared was occupying the stall they were waiting in line for and proceeded to throw spitballs and tell rude jokes just outside the door. Jared turned out to be outside the van in the parking lot the whole time, and a very angry old man emerged from the stall.

*The San Onofre Nuclear Boobies are two reactors within a formerly active nuclear powerplant on San Onofre State Beach. The shape placement of these two reactors in close proximity to each other lead them to indubitably resemble boobs. If you don’t believe me, google it.

 

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ZOT ZOT BY JARED KLISZEWSKI

Iris Wu

Saturday, February 10th – 12:30 PM

The weekend of the first collegiate race of the season had finally arrived, and the UCSB Tri Team was ready for it. Half an hour before scheduled departure, Gordon showed up decked head to toe in USA Triathlon gear with the towing SUV, Ricky procured the finest mom van in Santa Barbara County for the weekend, and Coach Matt rocked jeans with running shoes like only a man on the eve of his thirtieth birthday could. Jonathan, Bella, and Jared almost crashed out of the race before it started in their attempt to ride their bikes from the dorms to the wreck cen parking lot with all their race gear balanced on their handlebars but managed to make it in one piece. Once all the bikes were loaded in the trailer, it was time to hit the open road. Those in the van driven by Coach Matt quickly realized the error in appointing the only person who didn’t own a car as the driver, white knuckling their seatbelts as several hard, fast stops were blamed on the van’s “bad breaks.” After about fifteen minutes of breezing along the beautiful Pacific coast and an hour and a half crawling through LA traffic, the gang decided it was time for a bathroom break. Most everyone was glad to get out and stretch their legs for a few minutes, but Ethan was just pissed that there was nobody working the register at Carl’s Junior, robbing him of a golden opportunity to get in a pre-race double western bacon cheeseburger.

Before long, the team had arrived at the eerily utopian city that calls itself Irvine, California. Iris’s blood began to boil as the van crossed the city limits, spitting fiery insults at suburbs with streets named after prestigious east coast universities. After packet pickup the team decided it was time for dinner and headed to a local pizza joint that Dane used to work at. Coach Matt was delighted to see that his pizza did indeed arrive - a drastic improvement from the previous year. Patrick enjoyed one small sized pizza and two large pizza-sized cookies. Ricky wasn’t so pleased with the service. “Those bastards. They brought me two plates.” He said through gritted teeth as a waiter delivered a large pizza topped with two pigs worth of sausage.

After stuffing their faces, the team headed to Dane’s house to post up for the night. It took some time to find it, in part due to Ricky’s subpar navigational skills and in part because all 79,000 houses in Irvine look exactly the same. The team set up camp in the basement and the day came to a close with half the team nerding out in preparations for midterms they had on Monday while Gordon amused himself by throwing starburst at people. By 8:00 PM, most everyone had fallen into a restless sleep in anticipation for the next day’s events.

Sunday, February 11th – 4:30 AM

Alarms chirped and phones buzzed at the ass crack of dawn the next morning. It took most of the athletes a few minutes to recognize Ray as they rubbed their sleepy eyes clear – most couldn’t remember the last time they saw him without a helmet or baseball cap on and forgot about those luscious locks of silky black hair he had hiding under there. As soon as kits were on and oatmeal was eaten, it was off to the race course. The next couple of hours were spent unloading bikes, inflating tires, and setting up transition. Some of the veterans got a warmup in, while the rookies were preoccupied with figuring out how to use the bathroom in their new race kits.

Sunday, February 11th – 7:00 AM

The team was gathered on the line five minutes before the race was set to start. The nerve was there, but everyone felt ready. Coach Matt was busy curating his snapchat story, mumbling the occasional word of encouragement when the gun went off. Sean took the field out hard from the start, with Ricky, Jared and the Wattslayer gang breathing his dust. Iris took the ladies out fast while Bella and Nicole showcased their running skills on the long, sloping downhills that made up much of the 3.7 mile run course.

Transition from the run to the hilly, 12 mile bike went smoothly for most aside from the fact that many of the rookies drastically underestimated how hard it would be to locate their bike among 200 others. Sean widened his lead, while Ricky ate up the lead Wattslayer almost as fast as he had eaten that large pizza the night before. Gordon sandbagged the run but jumped up to the lead pack on the bike, setting a course record in the process. The spectators’ jaws dropped as they saw how fast the race leaders were flying down the hill on the descending portion of the four-lap bike course. “My goodness! How fast are they going?” exclaimed one lady standing near Coach Matt on the sidewalk. “I’m not sure, but the chubby kid on the red bike’s probably going around fifty,” he replied as Gordo flew down the hill at a top speed of fifty miles per hour. Iris was dancing on the pedals through the first lap of the bike course, and looked like she was ready to pull a “reverse Gordon” by the last.

The finish line was literally in sight as the athletes approached the swim leg of the reverse triathlon. Sean won the race handily, as most of the men’s field was pretty strung out by this point. The women’s race on the other hand was a nail biter. Iris got into the pool in first place with around a ten second lead on UCSD’s top girl. Things heated up as the UCSD girl flip turned her way to the front, edging Iris out with just 100 yards left. This brought up a bit of controversy since flip turns weren’t supposed to be allowed, but the refs let the SD girl have it after she said some things that probably shouldn’t be repeated here. Sticks and stones will break your bones – but words will mess you up. Lindsey and Ethan hopped in the pool and did what they do best, gliding through the water for two strong finishes.

The mood after the race was light as the nerve was finally gone and everyone could relax. The athletes feasted on free snacks and rehydrated with every flavor of kombucha. Sean was bombarded by local kids asking for his autograph, and Jonathan - GQ model of tri kits - had a post-race photoshoot for his Instagram on the pool deck. Meanwhile, Nicole staggered around the finish line confusedly asking the race officials where the other forty six miles of the run course was. After the award ceremony, the team gathered for a picture with Gordon poised on Iris’s back. “Holy crap! How is Iris carrying Gordon?!” exclaimed many. “What do you mean,” replied Gordon to what was possibly the stupidest question of all time, “have you seen Iris’s legs? They’re ripped!” All in all, it was a solid day for the Gauchos with Sean outclassing the entire men’s field, Ricky coming in second, and Iris taking second in the women’s race. Gordon, Jared, and alumni Jon Waltman also rounded out the top ten. Congratulations to Bella, Nicole, Jared, Jonathan, Ethan, and Patrick for completing their first collegiate triathlon!

The ride home was relaxed after a much needed lunch stop at Chipotle. Jonathan ate a burrito that was clearly larger than the capacity of his stomach and apologized in advance about the extra stop his van would need to make on the way home. Patrick was pronounced an honorary California-native as he ordered his first Chipotle burrito on the west coast and proceeded to complain about how expensive it was and how they had the audacity to charge extra for guac. Everyone had different ways of passing the time on the drive back. Ray passed out as soon as he got in his seat, Bella listened to music, Iris was already formulating her plan of attack for Tritonman, while Jared and Ethan engaged in some good old fashioned class warfare over who would get to buy Sean’s TT bike next year. Coach Matt occupied himself telling embarrassing stories about Ricky and Sarah to whoever would listen to him.

“Ricky was stone cold. I mean he wouldn’t say a word to me, or anyone for that matter, except for Sarah,” Coach recalled with a grin on his face. “Then he held her hand, and he was a changed man. Suddenly, he was just oozing with self-confidence. Ahh, now that’s a wedding I can’t wait for.” Ricky spent the rest of the ride home sweating bullets.

 

TRICK OR TRI 2017 by Sierra Moreno

Iris Wu

Boy oh boy what a tremendous Halloweekend we had!! For the past few years, our go to race to kick off the new school year has always been the Playa Del Rey triathlon. Unfortunately this year, that race was cancelled and for a while we seemed lost without our beloved race until Coach Matt found “Trick or Tri” in Irwindale, CA. So on Friday, a group of 11 of the finest triathletes UCSB has to offer, packed up and got ready for the long car ride out to Torrance where we would stay for the night. After 3.5 hours of sitting in bumper to bumper traffic and listening to the Beastie Boys, the Dodgers lose (tragically), and…cat podcasts??? we finally made it to our destination where a FEAST of Olive Garden awaited us. Sarah was ashamed for getting seconds, Ethan woke up with “the meat sweats” at 1 a.m., and my grandparents had a look of concern when they saw everyone’s plates but all was well. With bellies full of delicious pasta, we got a good nights rest and woke up the next morning bright and early at 4 a.m! I can guarantee that, at this exact moment, all the newbies told thought, “This is not what I signed up for.”

 

After getting to the race site, we were reunited with Coach Matt, Emme, Iris, James and most importantly…BOULDER! After getting our transition spaces ready mostly in the dark, it was a waiting game. The sun decided it was ready to come out, only to reveal the heavy fog over the lake. It began to clear up and we thought the race was going to start so we started warming up and putting on our wetsuits only for the fog to get even worse than it was before making it nearly impossible to see the buoys that were not even 100m out. All events ended up getting pushed back an hour in an attempt to wait for the fog to clear and while it cleared a bit, it didn’t clear enough for the half and olympic athletes to swim their normal distances so everyone swam a 300. At this point, the swimmers doing the olympic questioned their existence but were troopers and pushed through anyways. After the waves of the half were sent off, the men’s olympic waves were sent off which included Ryan, Gordon, Ricardo and Cole. The girls, Emme, Sarah, and myself, all went after. Then it was time for the sprint! Super excited for this race because all of our first timers were in it! So excited to see Bella, Ethan, Paige and Adrian out there discovering how great our sport really is with some of our lovely veterans, Nicole, Adriana, Iris, Ray, and James right beside them to help them out. 

 

What a crazy race our team had! Gordon was first off the bike with a HUGE lead, injury free Emme happily ran her heart out, Cole didn’t crash, and Nicole had some trouble with her shoes in transition but don’t worry Coach Matt was there to offer her support (just kidding, he just sang the jeopardy theme song.) James and Adriana did not let their nerves get the best of them and showed us what a stellar performance looks like! Our first timers weren’t too shabby either! Ethan out there completing the race in a speedo like a champ, Paige getting into the Halloween spirit with the best lion mask I’ve ever seen, and Bella and Adrian coming in with times that definitely did not show their rookie status. 

 

And what can I say…our team CLEANED UP. Gordon taking first for the Men’s Olympic distance with fierce competitor Ricardo right behind him taking second. Excited to see these two battle it out through the year! Not to be outcompeted by the boys, Emme came in to nab the first place time in the women’s Olympic distance and while not placing on the official podium, Sarah came in 5th with a tremendous race!! Iris won the women’s sprint and despite the run being on a dirt trail, Ryan won the para race and the battle within himself when finishing the race early seemed like the better option. While it was almost a full sweep of first place by UCSB, we couldn’t quite get our hands on the men’s sprint, but don’t count us out, we still took third with a snazzy time from Ray who’s going for number one next time. Our accomplishments are almost too much for one blog post as most of us made top 10 in our races. WOW. 

 

We have so many people to thank but we will start with the Trick or Tri race director, Thom Richmond, for welcoming us with open arms to his race. Everything from giving us discount codes so more athletes could afford to go to giving us a special place in transition made us feel so special and like we’ve been coming to this race for years. All of your hard work did not go unnoticed! Big thanks to my grandparents for hosting a whole flock of us and feeding us YUMMY food!! HUGE thanks to Dane for waking up with us at 4 am just to cheer us on! From helping us with bikes to screaming at us on the course, this race would not have gone the way that it did without you. Also quick thanks to our bike shop sponsor, Velo Pro, for getting our team bikes to us before the race, we LOVED them! And of course, always thank you to Coach Matt for giving us so much and more to prepare for this race and for supporting us. Whether it be through sarcastic comments or stressful moments, you’re always there for each one of us! 

 

Our work began early and the Gauchos are hungry for more wins and PR's. If reading everything that happened this weekend isn’t enough for you to figure it out…it’s going to be a GREAT season and THIS. IS. OUR. YEAR.

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Tritonman 2017!

Tim de Visser

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Our first race of the year came a month earlier than normal this year, but a solid fall quarter of training set us up perfectly. 30 people traveled down to San Diego to race Tritonman and to cheer on our teammates. Despite some car troubles, everyone made it down to Nicole's house safely. After playing with some cool chinchillas, a really plump cat, a dog in a tutu, and an adorable bird, it was time to settle in for the night.

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After a 3:45 AM wake up call, we headed over to the race site . There was some more car trouble, but with the help of Chris and Nick, all of us eventually made it. Unfortunately, one of the biggest storms in the last few years had just rolled through resulting in poor water quality and a cancelled swim. The race was changed to a duathlon with a 1.7 mile run, 13 mile bike, and a 3 mile run. Even though the winds were still howling and the bike course was so flooded that it essentially was a swim, our badass members weren't fazed. Our team killed it! Jenn got 4th in the women's collegiate race despite heavy complaints about extra running and no swim, Emme basically just stepped off a plane from Thailand and still got 12th, and Katie got 15th in her first race for the team. Sean got 3rd in the men's collegiate race even though he had to run the last 3/4 of a mile of the bike leg since he got a flat, Rod got 5th, and Gordon got the fastest bike split (surprise surprise). Ryan also completed the run portion on his normal wheel chair. It was so inspiring to see his determination to finish. And of course a huge shout out to all the people who did their first race ever! 

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All in all it was a great weekend, which was capped off by no car troubles on the way home. A huge thank you to Nicole's family for hosting our team, Jenn's parents for providing a lunch to us on the way home, and Chris, Nick, and Brendan for helping with everything to make the weekend go smoothly. Thanks to Brendan and Nicole's father for the pictures! Results can be found here.