Wildflower Triathlon (Long Course) - May, 2003

Finish: 1008 out of 1833 

Pre-race Strategy

Being my first triathlon, it is difficult to really have a good strategy for the race. All the information I have is from others that have raced the event in the past. My goal for the race is to finish in the top half of my age group, which is not an easy goal due to my lack of running in the beginning of this year. The course layout looks like it is pretty hilly for the run. I have only done one open water swim, so if I can finish in the top 3/4 of my group, I will be happy. I plan to make up most of my time on the bike leg since that is my strength (if you could call it that). Then go for the run and hold off as many people as possible.

The swim is pretty straight forward, around bouys out in a lake. Hopefully I can follow some people and only have to sight every 20 strokes instead of every 6-7. Of course the primary goal is to come out of the swim alive with my goggles still on my face. Although I am not exactly sure what to expect, I have heard the swim is pretty brutal sometimes. That is the reason why I plan to start in the back.

On the bike there is a decent hill starting right off, that is about 1/2 mile long. Being it is only a 56 mile ride I would normally just power up it, but I have a half marathon right after the bike, so I will take it easy and spin up it. I then have about 20 miles or so of flat ground to eat and drink to prepare for the climb. Staying hydrated and having enough food in my stomach for the final climb is important. If I make a mistake in this part of the race I will be paying for it on the run. The final climb I will be just cruising up them with a mix of standing and sitting to not stress my calves to much. Plus when I stand up I can drop my heart rate and maintian the same speeds. I will be concentrating on staying focused and keep from going to fast up the hills.

On the run it is supposed to be 60/40 trails/paved. Lucky for me I have been training (if that is what you call it) on trails near my office. Plus it is very hilly so all the hills I have been running up and down will help. I researched as much as I could on how to climb and descend during the run and we will see how it all works out during the race. During the run I will unlikely be eating much, other than a power gel here and there, so I will just hope I ate enough on the bike leg to keep myself going.

See you at the race.

Race Report

The race was tons of fun, although my finish was really bad. The weekend was fun even though it rained for the first half, but that did not dampen the spirits of the Cal Poly folks out there cheering us on. Saturday night I arrived around 6pm looking for the Sac Tri Club. Not finding them right away I decided I would just follow the mass of cars and be a lemming. I ended up parking and riding a shuttle bus to the main festival area. The registration tent was there, so I registered and check my timing chip. I got back on the bus (since it was raining) and went back to my truck. Then I decided I need to find my club since it was going to get dark soon. I drove around a couple of the camp sites looking for them and did not see anyone I know (all two people from the club). I knew someone from online was going to be in the Redondo Vista area, so I decided to go through there to see if I could find them. Then I realized that was were my club was supposed to be also :). Driving into that area I saw one of the guys I swam with the week prior, he told me kind of where everyone was at, but I was still a bit unsure of how to get around, so I convinced him to get in my truck and show me. He directed me to the area that our club had setup and introduced me to the club President (which I have had email conversations with). With a couple other people they found a spot for me to setup my tent. I ended up between two RVs to try and keep the wind from blowing me around in my little tent. I got everything situated and pretty much went to bed after eating a bit. It sure rained hard during the night and I could not get to sleep until around 2:30AM.

The next morning I woke up around 6AM to get ready for the race and it was raining pretty hard. Then it stopped for about 15 minutes, then it started again. That is pretty much how the whole day went until the evening. I felt okay for the morning, I ate a couple bagels, a banana, apple and had some orange juice. Then I started to get my stuff ready. I pretty much had everything in my backpack already to go. I just attached my race numbers and through my front wheel on my bike. I had Shawn (President of STC) help me put my wetsuit on my back and give me a coupld garbage bags to keep things dry in the transition area. Then I rode down with everything and everyone. At Wildflower there is only one road into where the transition area is, so they do not allow cars down it the day of the race. I started off cruising along with the rest of the folks that were racing and then saw someone with there timing chip on there ankle. So I had to go bad and get mine and put it on, which was no fun since it was starting to rain now. I got down to the transition area and noticed the long line for the port-o-potties. Not sure about everyone else, but the first part of the race was in the lake and in cold water. I just planned to warm myself up at the beginning of the race (if you know what I mean). I got to the transition area and started to get things organized, again, it started to rain. I had two bags, one for my bike stuff and one for my run stuff. As I was getting things just right, one of the volunteers came up to put my numbers on me. A nice big magic marker on my thighs, calf, arms and hands with my number. She seems to really be enjoying writting on all these guys with hard bodies, she just kept smiling the whole time.

I sucked down a Power Gel and headed over to the beginning of the swim with the other guys in purple caps. The Men Pro went frist, then the Women Pro, both of those waves are pretty darn fast. They cover 1.22 miles in ~25 minutes. After them is the under 24 guys and the fast 25-29 guys. Then my wave gets to go, but before we go we get to go in the water (which is very cold) and warm up. I swam out and back a bit to try and get used to the cold, but it did not help. Before the wave started, they wished me a happy birthday since it was my B-Day :) The horn goes off and all the crazy swimmers jump into the water splashing away. I stood there for a second until most of the crazies got in front of me and then I started out. It took me about an 1/8 mile before I was warm enough to actually put my head down in the water and start really swimming. The pack was pretty far ahead of me, but since I had not swam with anyone before, I had not idea if I could catch them or be caught by the pack starting in the next wave (5 minutes behind me). I swam and sighted here and there just looking for the mass of people in front of me. About halfway through the swim I could the back half of the pack and just hung back there for a bit following them. That turned out to be a bad choice since everyone missed one of the bouys and everyone had to turn back and go around it. Going around the bouy I was on the inside and there were a lot of poeple around me, splashing, kicking and trying to swim. I started to kick to keep people off my back and I slowly let myself drift towards the back of the pack. Not being to sure of my swimming I did not want to get hurt or push to hard and get tired. I just hung off the back for awhile until the fast swimmers from the wave behind me caught up. For some reason some guy did not notice the vast amount of water to both sides of me and decided he wanted to go over me. I personally thought it was rude, so I started kicking a bit when he touched me feet a few times. Then when his hand touched my thigh I had, had enough, I kicked hard and fierce until I hit something hard. That was people much the end of him bothering me. If I was in the middle of the pack and there was no where for him to go, I would have been more understanding, but there was a lot of room for him to go around me. At the end of the swim I stood up in the water and then unzipped my wetsuit as I started to run out of the water up the boat ramp to T1. I was out of the water and my suit was halfway done already, unlike the other folks I ran past as they struggled to get their suits unzipped. I passed about three people running up the ramp and then went to my bike.

Overall Position after the swim: 1127

In the transition I had a little problem getting my suit off since I had only worn it once. I could not get my darn feet out of it and had to sit down and pull it off. I finally got it off as I watched others get there bikes and head out onto the bike. I then put on my socks and leg warmers (it was quite chilly out) and put my shoes on. Then on went the jersey, except I forgot to put my undershirt on. So I took back off my jersery and doing so caused all my goodies to fall out of my pockets. I then put on the undershirt and put back on my jersey and had to pick up my stuff off the ground and stuff back in my pockets. Since it was cold and rainy I wanted to make sure I was warm since I truedly hate the cold. Finally I am all ready and grab my bike and head out of the transition.

Overall Position after T1: 1258

On the bike there were about 5 people ahead of me as we started. The bike course started out going along the first mile or so of the run course on a narrow paved walking trail. When I had a chance I would pass a guy in front of me as I could. Going out we hit Beach hill which was no fun for me. I love to climb, but I do not like to do it when I am cold and not warmed up at all. I found my low gear (39/27) and started pedalling up it. Slowly but surely I would pass everyone in the group that had left T1 when I did. Riding out of the park the road had some small rollers which were nothing that even need shifting to be able to climb. I moved along and saw another group of riders and kind of road with them. Since you cannot draft, I just road behind at the legal distance just to have some people around. I was feeling really good, my legs felt great and I had not been breathing hard at all after that first climb. After about 3 minutes of this a guy from the wave after me goes flying past and I wondered how fast he was going since he really flew past me. I looked down at my cycle computer and notcied that I was only doing around 18mph. I then decided that this was a bit to slow for this flat ground and I picked up the pace. At the first aid station I picked up my planned water and drank a bit and put it in my cage for later. Although it was so cold I was not found of moving I did not eat at this point. It was raining pretty hard and I was soaking wet, plus there was a slight headwind blowing making life a bit more difficult. The rollers continued and I continued to pass people, along with getting passed by faster riders that were in older age groups. As I would pass some people I would chat with them about there bikes and such and tris in general. It was amazing to see some of these bikes that these guys spent so much money on. Of course I would compliment then on there nice ride and wish them luck as I went on by them. Most were quite impressed I was doing this race as my first tri, but so far it was not to bad at all. I snapped off some pictures as I road, taking pics of the scenary and some of the people I chatted with. There were a lot of people on the side of the road urinating and a lot of people with flat tires from the rain washing junk onto the road. At about mile 25 the sun started to come out and that was nice, but there was a good headwind to keep us from getting to warm. I just continued to ride along chatting with people as I came up to them and downing some gels. At mile 35 there was a metal bridge that required a dismount for safety reasons, so Icame up to it and got off and walked briskly across. My fast walking was easy since I am racing my commuter bike which I use MTB shoes on. No cleats hitting the bridge for me, just a nice walk across. I passed two people going across the bridge and cheering as I went by. Not to sportsmans like, but everyone got a chuckle out of it. At the end of the bridge a guy was playing with his shoe, it appears he broke his cleat going across the bridge (most likely a Look cleat). I hopped on my bike and kept on going. Nasty grade was just a few miles up the road so I took it easy. The roads were starting to dry up from the sunshine, but it was still not warm. I hit some major traffic around mile 37 or 38 and was having to pass people three wide because they would not move over. As I went past one guy he served towards me and caused me to ride onto the yellow line. It just so happens that a race marshall was coming by and saw what happened. The marshall stared right at me and I was not happy. Come to find out later that the marshall was looking past me to the other guy. He was penalized for blocking and I was not penalized for crossing the yellow line since it was his fault (good job Widlflower Marshalls). Soon after an aid station was up ahead just beforeNasty grade comes along. My plan was to grab water and have a good amount before climbing then ditch the water to prevent any extra weight during the climb. The people at the aid station were pretty smart, except that they only filled the bottles with a few ounces of water. That was not enough for me and it made climbing the hill a bit more uncomfortable. Getting to the base of Nasty Grade you can see all the riders strung out up the hill. 90% of them where standing and struggling to go up the hill in there 39/23, but luckily for me I knew this was not some tiny hill and I had a 39/27. I just sat down in the aerobars and climbed along. I passed maybe three or so people during the entire climb and had about two strong older age groupers pass me at the top of it. I actually had to stand up to let some blood flow down in my private area since I had been sitting for so long. After the hill there was some flat land to ride along before you decend back down, but I seemed to have a problem, my speed had dropped to about 12MPH and people I passed on the climb took there position back. I could not figure out what was going on, I just had nothing left, which was odd, I was taking it easy for the entire ride. Then my stomach started to rumble. I then realized I had not ate anything since breakfast and was very hungy. I pulled out a powerbar and downed that, which helped pretty much immediately. I started getting energy back and picked up the pace and of course the rain started again. Then the downhill started and I was shifting into my fastest gear. I tucked into the aerobars and went on down the hill. I periodically checked behind me to make sure no one was flying up behind me so I could use all the road. Doing over 40MPH in the aerobars and 60mm dish wheels with windy conditions is a tad un-nerving. Luckly I made it down the descent without any major problems, unlike some unfortunate others that did not finish the bike leg. Going back into the park I passed a few more people and decended down Lynch hill as I tried to get my shoes off. I managed to get one shoe unbuckled, but not the other one. I just decided to keep both shoes on until I got into T2. Since you cannot ride you bike in the transistion area, you have to dismount before the timing area. Commuting pretty much everyday to work has giving me some skills that I noticed many others do not have when it comes to dismounting. I road up to the line I unclipped both feet and got on the brakes as I threw my right leg over the bike to get ready to dismount. As I slowed quickly I watched my speed as it hit 14mph I put my right foot down and then hopped off the pedals and ran into the transition area. It was quite a beautiful move for anyone watching.

Overall Position after the bike: 294

In the transition area I took off my shoes and leg warmers. Then the jersey and stuff. I know since my injury earlier this year that my running times would be horrible, so I dawned my wife beater shirt (with appropriate stains), my cheesy cowbay hat (with tag hanging off the back) and my cutoff shorts. Of course any serious triathlete has a number belt to speed up the tranistion, so I had one too. Although mine was a lenght of rope that also doubled as a belt for my cuttoff jeans. On the way out of the transistion I remembered to grab my camera for some more memories. I ran out of the transistion grabbing a Power Gell on the way out.

Overall Position after T2: 323

Onto the run I felt pretty good and knowing that they changed the course to all pavement I was happy to know I would finish with two shoes on my feet. We did two loops from the lake up around the campsites and back down to the lake. Most people say that running after the bike is difficult, but I had no problem at all. Most likely it was from not riding full out on the bike. I ran up the stairs and proceeded to run a good pace. How fast was that pace, I have no idea, I forgot my watch back in my tent. I ran for about two miles until it hit, major stomach pains. That lack of eating is now catching up with me. I walked bent over for another mile or so until I saw Mike Plumb who I had met the night before. I told him the night before I would see him in the early part of the run, I was right. His goal was a 4:45, so he had some fast running to do. I ran with him for about a 1/4 mile up this long hill (Beach Hill). Then I could not take the pain anymore and started to walk again. I walked for a bit and then I saw Jason Lewiss of STC, so I ran with him a bit and chatted. He encouraged me to eat as much as I could to feel better. I walked shortly after talking with him. At each aid station I would grab food and water and down it to try and feel better. During the bike I remember passing a guy just wearing a speedo, he also just wore a speedo for the swim leg too. Crazy man, but I started talking with him on the run. Nice guy, Steven, that was having a so-so day. He had left his cycling clothes back in his tent and had to bike the whole leg in just a speedo. Remember, I was wearing shoe covers, leg warmers, arm warmers, undershirt and had wanted to have full fingered gloves on too. We ran for a bit and walked for a bit. Then I decided I could run a bit more so I took off running. I came up to a guy named Nadim who was having some IT Band problems. He would walk for 10 minutes and then run for 10 minutes and repeated that for the whole run. I stayed with him for a bit and walked and ran with him. He really encouraged me to eat as much as I could to feel better. He grabbed food for me and convinced me to eat more. As I did I would feel a little bit better as the race progressed. After about an hour or so with him Steven came running past me and I took off to catch him. Again we chatted and ran/walked together. Shortly after Nadim came running up on us and Steven and I matched pace with him and we all began talking and running. We were having a lot of fun and I snapped a couple pics of them (check for the last few pics for them). Shortly afterwards we all split off. Steven ran ahead and I walked with Nadim for a bit until I could run. Walking up the hill I saw a nice woman that was 26 (our ages are put on our calves) running up the hill on her first loop. I ran up next to her and started chatting with here. She was very nice and was quite impressed that I picked this race as my first. We chatted for awhile and agreed to meet after the race and hang out. I then walked for a bit more and saw Steven as I went up to the turn around to finish off the last 3 miles. He had about a minute on me (at my current pace) and since he started in the wave before me, I was not worried. I would suck it up and run here and there, but nothing to fast. The last 1.5 miles is downhill and I ran down that. On the way down this 7% grade I came up to someone in my age group. The race then moved to strategic thing to make sure more people did not finsih ahead of me. I waited until we were in the finish shoot before I went past him. I went past him and ran down the shoot. Boy was that finish shoot long, I ran forever trying to get to the finish line and was sure happy when I reached it. I ended up putting 17 seconds on him to gain one position :)

Overall Finishing Position: 1008 (111th in my age group)

After the race I ate at least 4 bananas and 2 oranges. I drank a bit of water and tried to walk around a bit. The race was over and my stomach was beginning to feel better. A few people from my club congratulated me on a good first race and I was happy to be done. Next year you will be sure to see me take at least 50 minutes off my time from this year.

Swim Time - 00:38:40
Swim Trans - 00:07:01
Bike Time - 03:14:48
Bike Trans - 00:04:43
Run Time - 02:19:35
Swim Rank - 1127
Swim Min/Km - 00:21:28
Bike Rank - 237
Bike MPH - 16.9
Run Rank - 1514

Run Min/Mile - 00:10:54

Final Time - 06:24:47


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