And now that I have your attention, let me tell you about my ear infection. As a swimmer, this is unfortunately somewhat of a regular occurrence. So as soon as I felt some ear pain, I was a responsible adult and called my Ear-Nose-Throat doctor…and was told the next available appointment is in four weeks. Oh boy. I put on an optimistic face and kept up with my workouts, since Aquathlon nationals was coming up on October 8. Maybe it would just sort itself out on its own. That lasted about a day before I checked myself into urgent care. The last time I was in urgent care for an ear infection was last August (months that start with vowels = bad luck?), and the doctor had given me painful wax flushes that just made things worse and required prescription pain relievers. So needless to say, I was not eager to return. This time, however, it was much quicker: “I can’t really tell with this equipment but let’s guess it’s an ear infection. Here’s a prescription for antibiotics… but there is last-minute availability with the ENT specialist; would you like that?” Umm sure. So I returned a few hours later, to have the ENT declare it’s actually a fungal infection and the antibiotics would be useless. Oh great. But the real question: could I swim on Saturday? “Well, I don’t recommend it…but know that you probably will anyway. So just try to keep it dry otherwise.” Way to tell it like it is, doc.
A few days later, I boarded a place to San Francisco. If I were to make a list of awesome, incredible, must-do experiences, flying with an ear infection would not be there. After managing to miss not one, but three trains (that only leave hourly!), I finally made it into the city and visited my brother’s posh office. If you know how to do all the technology things (and can explain them better than this), try to get a job for Meraki.
An added bonus of having a race in Santa Cruz: seeing my brother and sister in law in San Francisco, plus my parents visiting from Santa Barbara (clearly, I need to live in a city starting with S, sheesh). My brother and sister in law are expecting a baby in a few months, so my mom and I helped them out by suggesting truly terrible names. Katiesthebestte? Tobinka? Or maybe something topical, like Pantsuit?
My parents had signed up for a house swap in Santa Cruz, so we were able to spread out at a lovely Victorian just a mile from the race start — for free. Highly recommend. While the forum at Slowtwitch was freaking out about the 59 degree water temperature, the city was experiencing a heat wave of sorts – 80s and no humidity. I’ll take it! (Well, maybe not for the run, and THIS IS CALLED FORESHADOWING.)
So after all this buildup, what can I say about the race? I was very glad it was over quickly, though perhaps not quickly enough. I had a great swim around the pier (no buoys needed!) and loved seeing the sea lions staring at us at eye level from just a few feet away. I exited the swim and quickly realized that while my wetsuit had done a stellar job of keeping my body warm, my hands and feet were useless popsicles. But no worries, the air was quite hot at this time. Hot + cold + immediate hill + ear infection dizzies = a rather unpleasant run. At one point, I looked at my watch and noticed that my heart rate was zone 4 but my pace was slower than a run I had done in zone 1 a few days prior. Sigh. But not all races can be winners, so I just focused on what I could do at that moment. I wound up finishing 5th in my age group, which was enough to qualify for worlds–I shall have a chance at redemption!
Usually, I have to hurry back to the airport shortly after a race, so it was nice to have a few days in Santa Cruz to hang out with my family. We went for hikes, visited one of my favorite breweries, and my ear didn’t even fall off. Success! As always, thank you so much to my coach, team LUNA Chix, and Rose PT for keeping me healthy (the ear infection is totally outside their control).