Sunday, September 28, 2014

Tiki Swim 2014

Tiki Swim is the first stand-alone swim event I have ever done.  The last two years I did Superfrog the day of Tiki.  So many people said they loved it last year; and since I am doing IMAZ, Superfrog did not fit on the schedule this year. 

My friends were right, it is a fun event.  Starting south of the pier in Oceanside, swimming well past the pier before turning south and heading toward the harbor.

Arriving early on a pleasant Sunday morning, 64 degrees outside with just a hint of a nip to the air, some clouds, with enough clear to see some stars as the promise of daybreak looms to the east.  The water looked pretty calm.  Two, maybe three footers without much power.  Should be pretty easy to get out, and then swim. 

Chatting with Sugarmagnolia, Leo, and Leah before the swim we suddenly noticed the surf had picked up and had some bite.  It was about 15 minutes before go time, daylight was upon us and it seems it woke the ocean up.  Crash.  The two to three footers were now three to five, and with punch.

We got in to get wet and a feel for the water.  I went out just past the first set, and rode a fast, fun wave back in. Like sitting on water with jet propulsion.  Then the short march south to the start.

A few announcements, Blah, blah, blah. (Imagine the Peanuts parents) and then the siren.  GO TIME!

Into the water, no need to run in, I get to where it is time to swim, and a strong wave is coming.  I duck, a bit late and smash, the water crashes into me.  I ducked just enough to not go backwards, but I popped up with my goggles around my neck.  Luckily my eyes were still where they belonged.  I fixed the goggles and started swimming.  A few more to duck, but forward progress was being made.  I was looking forward to getting past the swells so I could get into a swim grove.

And past the swells I got.  But I was getting rocked like a 12 foot aluminum boat in stormy seas.  The chop was well past the swell line.  I’d be in this chop for the duration.  All one could do was swim and make forward progress.

The number of swimmers was good, there were others out there, but it never felt too crowded.  I caught a few, but had no problem passing, usually plenty of room.  Maybe I had that room since I was constantly way wide of the buoy line.  I knew I was adding distance to this one.  Isn’t 2.4 miles far enough?  Everytime I made my way back to the buoy line, I was back wide again.  The chop was pushing me.  At one point I wondered if I could just drift to Catalina Island

Did I mention it was choppy?  I could not figure out what was wrong with me, when suddenly I realized I was nauseated.  I have never had that swimming before.  I figured it out, it was the tumultuous waters.  I found myself wishing I had some ginger or Bonine.

There was a triangle buoy out where the 1.2 mile swimmers would merge onto the 2.4 mile course.  I wanted to hug that buoy.  I snuck a look at my watch and was right at 50 minutes here.  This is over half way, but I wasn’t sure how much over, trying to do math while swimming in a washing machine is a challenge.  I figured I was about 30 minutes out, which would put me at 1:20.  That was my time at IMCdA in a choppy but much calmer lake.  This felt harder; maybe I have more than that to go?

Is that a yellow buoy?  The yellow buoys signal the harbor, but I am still getting chopped.  The mouth of the harbor was still rolling, but calmer waters were ahead.  Must keep swimming.  One-two-three BREATH.  One-two-three BREATH/SIGHT.  Repeat.

Hmm.  That feels easier.  Now I am in the harbor.  Not only is there no more chop, but I felt like the current was with me.  Like turning a corner on your bike, and out of a head/cross wind into a tail wind.  Ahhhh.  Except now my arms were tired.  I was ready to be done.

Now I am in a swimming groove.  The arms are tired, but I am swimming!  CRASH.  Right into a guy.  Who decided to stop.  Right in the middle of the water.  Hope I didn't hurt him, as I hammered the poor guy with my right hand.  I assume he was a newer swimmer, but cap color he was doing the shorter course.

To my left is another swimmer.  We are matching stroke for stroke.  Everytime I breathed to my left, we were exactly the same.  This seemed to go on for several minutes.  It was probably 8-10 cycles.  Then he went about ¾ of a length ahead of me, and started to come in front of me.  Okay, I’ll trade with you.  I was thinking, yeah, see, now I’m back ahead.  Hey, where is he going?  Oh, that is the turn into the boat ramp.  Steve, wake up, you are there!

Yes, and like that, my arms dragged the cement, letting me know it was time to stand up.  Well that and the volunteer telling me get up, you are there!

Up the ramp, across the timing mat.  Stop the Garmin.

Go get my timing chip off, my medal and hat, and look for my friends.

The swag:

A couple of minutes later, Leo popped out of the water.  Then I saw Leah.  After getting out of my wetsuit, and feeling more comfortable, I went to the finish line just in time to see Sugarmagnolia come out. 

It's all over:

Photo courtesy of Sugarmagnolia

Everyone was talking about how tough it was.  The chop was relentless.  Which only means we were all even more proud of getting through the day.  A 2.4 mile swim.  Hey!  Where is my bike, it is now time to ride, right?  Oh wait, I just swam, and don’t have to bike now?   That feels weird.  Seven weeks from today, I’ll get to do that in Tempe, AZ.

Garmin time 1:23:04

Blue Seventy Wetsuit

Tyr Rx goggles

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Solana Beach Sprint Triathlon, 2014

I haven’t done a sprint triathlon since 2011.  After missing Oceanside with a broken foot, I was itching to race.  Solana holds a special place to me.  I did the duathlon back in 2009; it was my first multi-sport event.  I did the triathlon in 2011, it was my second triathlon. 

Since coming back from the broken foot, my swimming has been pretty good.  The bike, not where I want it, but training is back in full force.  Running is behind.  And since running is by far my weakest of the three, the running is not good right now.

This race isn’t about crushing it, or a PR.  I was itching to put a bib on, and use it as a test.  Test one, was an epic failure.  And I wasn’t even at transition yet.

I arrived and was in the parking area at the Solana transit station.  I saw my friend Andrea, said hi, parked, and opened the van.  When I opened the back gate, I looked at a big empty spot where my bike should be.  My mouth agape, heart in throat.  Yes, I left the house without my bike.  Really?  Are you kidding me?  The bike is my favorite part of the day.  How the heck did I forget my bike?  Luckily at o-dark thirty; traffic is light and I was home in less than 15 minutes.  Got the bike, back to Solana.  The only issue was I lost my good parking place, and was on the street in a residential area, a good deal further away.  Perhaps the next zip code.

Still got to transition with plenty of time.  Set up, got body marked, used the bathroom.  The first triathlon of the day, if you will.

The 40-49 year old men were the second to last wave of the day.  An 8:20 start.  Many would be done by the time we started.  As locals know, our water temperature is very warm for us.  70-72 degrees.  I’ve been ocean swimming without a wetsuit for the last month.  I decided for a 400 meter swim, to forgo the wetsuit here too.  One of the nice things about this race is a wide open area for swim warm up.  And something to do watching wave after wave go off. 

Finally it is time.  This race exposes my biggest swim weakness.  Not the swimming, but the entry from the beach.  It feels like my feet sink deep into the sand, and pulling them back up with 20 pound weights on them, then enter the shallow water, splash, stumble, splash, shin deep, swim time?  Forearms drag the sandy bottom, back up, three or four more strides, dive, now I can swim.  Most of the wave is ahead of me.  This means I’m catching them throughout the swim and in more traffic than I need to be.  “On your left!”  doesn’t work in the water.   I really prefer water starts.  This swim is short, and out of the water, back onto the sand for the slog to the ramp.  Up the ramp, over the hill and through the woods to T1.  Well, that is what it seems like.  T1 is a long way from the ocean.  In fact, I bet the run from the beach to T1 is longer than the swim itself.  After that marathon run, okay, a wee bit of an exaggeration, my bike.  Shoes on.  Helmet on.  Sunglasses on.  Here we go!

Treating this as a bike test.  In other words, GO!  Breathing was high, heart rate up.  Tried to get that to settle a bit, then aero, and hit it.  I love the hum of the 85 mm deep section rim as I get into a rhythm tucked into the aero position.  There were sections where I felt strong, but for the most part I felt so-so, and not as fast as I think I should be.  The result confirmed this.  Bike time was 27:00.  A 20 MPH average.  I’ve held that at Superfrog for the entire 56 miles; twice.  Well, my fitness isn’t where I want it, and my bike fit feels off.  This is why we test, now to take action.

Run time.  I had no expectations here.  Just getting my runs back up, and was hoping to run three 10:00 miles, without feeling like I killed it.  At about ¾ of a mile, I was right on with pacing, and felt good.  Then, ouch.  The back of my knee hurt.  I took a few walk steps.  Honestly the walk was worse than running, so run I did.  It was painful at times, and at times I felt okay.  But it slowed me down.  I didn’t care, I was just concerned with the level of the injury.  After all, my goal is IMAZ, not this race.

Should I pull up and DNF?  I’d probably have to walk back, so might as well finish.  And running feels better than walking, so, keep going.  The last ½ mile I actually felt much better and finished strong.  It was pretty cool as I entered the finish area a big rolling thunder hit.  Yes, I came “thundering” down the finish.  My friend Andrea was there, I did a running high five,   I crossed the line, gave up the timing chip and got my medal.  Then, I could hardly walk.  Reality time.  What is wrong?  I stopped at “medical” and got an ice bag.  Limped to the food area, and ate.  Ducked under the tent at Operation Greyhound as it started to pour, and, hey greyhounds are really cool.  Met Jake and Carter the two greyhounds they had there.  And watched an actual thunderstorm.  At the beach, in San Diego, in the summer.  A first for me in the 17 years I’ve lived here.

Overall, not a great performance by me, but accomplished a big effort training day.  Went to the orthopedic doctor on Monday.  No tears!  I have patellar arthritis, and my patella does not track properly.  Already cleared to swim, bike, and elliptical.  Just need some rest for running, and before I resume, will have my foot/gait analyzed and make any changes I need to with orthotic/shoes.

Had a bike fit on Tuesday with Nestor at Studeo DNA.  The bike feels good in the trainer.  We'll give it a good road test on Saturday and Sunday.  

Credit to the volunteers, good enthusiasm from them, and my friends Ted and SugarMagnolia who were swim buddies for those that needed them.  Andrea had a PR, so very good race for her!


 race issued swim cap
 TYR Rx goggles.

Specialized Transition
Williams 58/85 wheels
Giro Aero helmet
Mid-compact crank set 52-36 with 11-28 cassette

Nike Voomero 8 shoes

DeSoto 400 mile bib shorts
TCSD tri top

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

San Diego Century, 2014

Three weeks before the Oceanside 70.3 I broke my foot.  Six weeks later the doctor cleared me for activities, but I had to ease into running. 

Okay, but I was cleared to bike, so resume I did!

That takes us to the San Diego Century.  105 miles and 6100 feet of climbing, so says the event information page.

My friend, Sugarmagnolia, was doing it.  It was her first century.  Her previous longest bike ride?  80 miles three weeks ago as part of her preparation.

When I met her, she biked only because she wanted to do triathlons, and biking was part of it.  She hated hills like nobody ever hated hills before.  I suggested repeats once.  I can’t print the response I got, but the PG version is why would anyone do that?

But I think the bike has grown on her.  Not unlike running has grown on me.  So, she signed up for the century.  And as it worked out, I agreed to ride with her and encourage her along the route for the day.

At the start I also met her friends D&G.  It was their first century too. 

The early morning was promising with cool temperatures, and cloud cover.  Even a hint of fog as we rolled out of Encinitas and into the rolling hills toward inland Carlsbad, Vista, San Marcos, and Escondido.  I was happy to see the mile 18 aid station.  I guess I pre-hydrated properly!  Sugar was doing great, and in good spirits.  You can see her ride report here.

< Churning up Paseo Delicious near El Montvideo>

Cruising along we flew down Del Dios Highway and hit the mile 30 aid station.  Topped off the bottles.  We were still under overcast skies and delightful temperatures.  The bikes were mechanically sound, and we all felt good, as we exited the aid station and headed up the “Three Witches”  I took Sugar on this climb as part of a route about a year and a half ago.  We stopped at every one of the mini-peaks and she yelled at me.  How much has she improved?  We hit Camino Del Sur, and she is laughing at the once vaunted and scary witches.  The witch is dead, long live the witch.

Camino Del Sur meanders into Camino Del Norte and its endless rollers.  Up, down, up, down.  So nice of the route to soften up the legs before the climb up Scripps Poway Parkway (SPP).

Cruising down Pomerado we hit the mile 43 aid station.  This would be Sugar’s favorite of the day as her family met her there.  After that, it was up SPP.  Fine time for the skies to clear, the sun to come out in full force, so bright you had to squint with sun glasses.  Fine time for the temperature to go up 20 degrees.  Yes, fine indeed, as we began the ~2 mile ascent.  Sweat dripping off me and pelting the top tube of my blue Roubaix as if a rain shower had begun.  Carnage all over the hill as I lost count of the number of people walking up.  It was well over a dozen.  I looked over my shoulder and could see the once flatlander, chugging up the hill with a determined look.  She reached the summit not long after I did, with just one question.  Why did it have to get so BLEEPING hot?  I had no answer, but Hwy 67 beckoned our attention, so off to Ramona we go. 

67 is mostly uphill to Mt Woodson.  Sugar, are we at the top yet?  Me, no.  Sugar, why not?  How much longer?  How soon to the lunch stop?  Me- about 9 miles.  Sugar: BLEEP!  Sugar: Will they have soda.  A soda sounds good.  Me: I don’t remember, but a lot of rides do at the lunch stop.

Finally Mt. Woodson, and the descent into the Ramona valley.  Sugar made the observation that if we descended into Ramona we would be climbing back out of it.  I confirmed she was right.  BLEEP!!

We get to the aid station at mile 63.  Mediocre (at best) sandwiches.  No soda. (BLEEP) and….they were out of sports drink. That is inexcusable!  The poor volunteers looked dumbfounded as to why they were not supplied with enough sports drink.  How does an event in its EIGHTH YEAR not have the planning to have enough sports drink at its furthest point from the start, and the point where virtually all the 105 mile riders would need and want refills?  I wonder if these people ever participated in an event?  How does that happen?  Oh, and by the way, since we are paying to ride, break down and get bottled water.  San Diego tap water tastes like crap.   In short, a big thank you to the volunteers, they were great.  And a grade of D to the ride organizers for under-supplied, poor aid stations.

Out of the aid station I told Sugar I knew there was a little grocery store on 67 about 5-6 miles away, so we stopped there, got some proper food,  sports drink, and a soda.  Ahhhh. 

Fueled up for the climb out of the Ramona valley.  Then the fun descent down 67.  Just before SPP I had a first for me.  While in my seven plus years as a cyclist I have had the occasional driver yell at me, I never had one yell F**K YOU out of a truck window, going the opposite way on a highway.  Stay classy lady. 

Down SPP: WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE.  9% grade downhill!!  (I did control the downhill speed, my max was just 42 MPH)

We hit the mile 83 stop, picked Sugar’s friend D back up (my friend too, now) and the three of us headed for the finish.  Of course, five miles later I had the obligatory puncture.  I told them to go, I would catch up, but they didn’t leave until I was putting the wheel back on.  They took a breather!  There were some struggles, especially on the uphills, but as the finish got closer and closer spirits were picking up.  Soon enough I pointed to the college and the Finish banner.  Hugs and tears, and celebration.  My friend is now a century rider.  Through the good, bad, and ugly of the day, props to her for adhering to rule #5 when needed.  And kudos, not finding a flat boring course, but tackling the purple monster and well over 6,100 feet of gain.  My Garmin showed 6,188.  Hers showed over 8,000!  Either way, it is a hilly and challenging route.


Specialized Roubaix Expert
50/34 crankset
11-28 cassette
Continental 4000S tires
Williams SX30 wheels

Sun Rype fruit bars
Sports drink
Coke Zero

Peanut M&Ms 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

My (non) IM 70.3 California Oceanside Race Report

I would love to start this blog by telling you how I got to transition in the morning; set up, and headed out for a swim. 

I would love to write about a chilly but strong swim, and exiting with or near a PR swim, cruising through transition and onto the bike. 

I would love to write about a better bike than last year, which was pretty good by my standards, another cruise through transition and onto the run course 

And I would love to be gleeful as to a new PR run, showing all the extra emphasis I had put into my running was paying off. 

But, none of this happened.  In fact, I didn’t even start the race.  You see three weeks ago, as I headed out for my peak 12 mile run I had some bad luck. 

Just 500 yards or so in, my left foot landed on a rock and rolled.  I stumbled but maintained my balance.   After a couple of minutes I tried to run.  I went between ¼ and 1/3 of a mile.  Just when I thought I got lucky, a sharp shooting pain in my foot.  Of course I tried again and got about 6 strides before it happened again. 

By the time I got home, I had what looked like half a tennis ball on the top of my left foot. 

After a trip to the orthopedist, I was diagnosed with a non-displaced fracture of the cuboid bone.  You can see the x-rays here. 

So it’s an air-cast, and crutches.  The doctor cleared me to swim with a pull buoy and no walls, but that is about it. 

However, I still came out to the race.  You see I had more invested in this race than just myself. 

My friend Sugarmagnolia asked me to help her with her training.  So I became “coach.”  Now she has done several triathlons, and one 70.3 (Superfrog), but never with a defined training plan. 

So I created the skeleton of her plan, and sent her each week’s workouts one to two weeks out, so I could adjust the workouts based on progress, results, and her life needs.  She has a really busy life, see her blog. 

I also had another friend racing, Andrea, doing her first 70.3.  She prepared herself for the race, but I did give her an outline of a training plan.  And I met with her almost every Sunday morning for open water swims, or on rare occasion when we had rain, we swam at the pool. 

I can’t begin to tell you how much I wanted these two to have a great day, how much I wanted them to succeed.  How hard I was rooting for them. 

I met up with Sugar’s family, we saw her come in off the bike.  We applauded, yelled, and cheered.  Of course, I went into coach mode.  Make it a FAST transition.  Don’t get a manicure, GO!  (She did good, and before I knew it we saw her coming back out on the run) 

We saw her again around the half way mark of the run.  She said she didn’t want to do another loop.  I can’t print what I yelled out this time.; but most of you have heard the expression HTFU.  Magnify that!  Then, we saw her again.  Finishing.  Smiling.  Success! 

All the while I was using athlete tracker.  Andrea had gone through mile 26.4 on the bike strong.  But I was concerned as I didn’t see her come off the bike, and tracker didn’t show her in indicating I missed her.  And how does one miss a hot pink helmet? 

Right around the time Sugar was half way through the run, I got a text from Andrea that she pulled out at mile 45 of the bike with issues including dizziness that would have made riding 11 miles a risk.  She was in good spirits and came down and rooted for Sugar with us. 

Overall, I am very proud of both of them.  Knowing not just the training and effort that went into this, but all that was going on in their lives during the training and all the life challenges, they did great.  Their names are linked to their blogs.  Both will do race recaps as well, and they are good writers, so check them out!  I have a new respect for those that coach many athletes.  You really become invested in your athletes.  You feel their pain, anguish, and rejoice in their success.  It is harder than racing, because you have ZERO control on race day. 

Thank you Sugar, and Andrea for allowing me to assist you in this journey.  You guys are awesome. 

As for me, cheering is stressful and hard.  I really would rather be racing.  Hopeful that the foot gets better and I am on the start line at IMAZ in November.  With maybe a short one or two locally in the summer so I can toe the line and get the race juices flowing.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

IMAZ - Volunteer Duties

Ironman Arizona.  No, I did not race.  I volunteered.  Run Aid station six, which on a two loop course meant we were right around mile 6.5 and 19.5. 

No, I didn’t do this out of the goodness of my heart.  I did it for one reason, to get priority registration into IMAZ 2014.  However, having raced four half-iron distance races, and one full I understand how important volunteers are. 

My shift was 7:00-11:00 PM, however, I went to the Ironman village about 2:00, saw the winner cross the finish, and a whole bunch of age-groupers come off the bike and head out on the run. 

I headed over to my station about 3:30 and jumped in.  Early on was a mix of the fast kids going through mile 20 and mid-packers hitting mile 6.  As time went on, the mid-packers cycled through to mile 20, and back-packers were coming through mile 6.  Finally the groups thinned out and it was back of the packers coming through at mile 20.  

I love watching these people come through.  They are usually walking, you can see the pain and agony of 134 miles done.  They are pulling every ounce of what they have to go the final 6.6.  We call out what we have, and they are glazed over.  They want something they just don’t know what.  We try to encourage, and motivate.  And I hope they make it, hope they hear Mike Riley call their name.  Hope they have the memories of being an Ironman.  Most will make it.  Some will not.   Seeing the broom wagon creep behind runners gives the eerie feeling of the grim reaper stalking.  I hope they try again. 

Highlights from my perspective:  Seeing the challenged athletes come through with pain, anguish, and a smile.  Chasing the athlete down about 1/3 of a mile that wanted vasoline, but we didn’t have it right at the table.  She was really surprised!  Cheering on my fellow Tri Clubbers!  

Lowlights: I didn’t see one of my open water swim mates, Shawn, who went on to a great finish; and one person drop an F-bomb when he was handed coke and wanted broth.  Note- he asked for Coke, and dude, lighten up.  

Observations:  When I started this stuff, I was told when you enter an aid station, know what you want, seek the person that has it, make eye contact and point.  I do this, and get what I need 99% of the time.  I was surprised how many people come in with no idea what they want, and look like they need a menu.   Steve's suggestion, don't be shy.  Call out clearly what you want.  The volunteer that has it should respond and hold it out.  The volunteers want to get you what you need, and want to help you. 

A serious observation:  I saw several people come through that looked overwhelmed and undertrained for the event.  An Ironman is a BIG event.  I encourage all triathletes that want to reach for an Ironman to do it, but please, take the preperation seriously.  You don't have to be super lean (but leaner helps) you don't have to be fast, but you can't be slow at all three sports, and you have 17 hours.  In my humble opinion you should think you can honestly do it in 15.5 before signing up.  This gives you 1.5 hours for "bad stuff" to happen and you will still make it. 

The aid station I was at is affiliated with the Blazemanfoundation for ALS.  If you are not familiar with this story, please see it here. 

I got registered for the event next year, so Ironman number two is 363 days away.  Here we GO! 
By the way, working an aid station is almost as tiring as racing.  I need a nap.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Superfrog 70.3, 2013

My final race of the year, Superfrog 70.3.  The original half-iron distance race, in its 35th year.   See the fabulous history of this race here.
The race is about 30 minutes from my house at 5:00 AM traffic, so no overnight travel needed.  I pull into the parking lot at 5:30, and relax in the van for a bit.  It will not take long to set up transition, and my wave starts at 7:25.  I figured better to stay off my feet for a few minutes. 

Getting restless, I head over to transition.  I start unpacking my tri-bag.  $*&^t!  That gets a look from a lady setting up her transition.  I realized I left my bottles in the fridge at home.  Which included my 700 calorie bottle of Carbo Pro.  Okay, they do hand-ups on the bike so I can get water and electrolytes.  Checking my bag I see I have two Honey Stinger Waffles, and two packets of Salty Caramel Gu.  Almost enough calories.  I should be okay.  Still annoyed with myself, and I give myself the dumb-ass of the day award. 

The lady that heard me came over and gave me an extra gel too, that got my calories even closer to what I needed.  They would just come in a different form. Thank you, that gel came in handy.

Transition is set up, take care of business, and wait.  About 6:30 I put my wetsuit on.  I wander down to the ocean and look at the waves.  So much better than last year.  We had regular sets of six footers last year.  And while the forecast said one to two, they were about two to four.  I go in to get wet and warm up a bit.  The water feels warm, has to be over 65, which is good for this time of year.   

As I get out the elites/pros/and relays start.  25 minutes to go.  15 minutes to go.  5 minutes to go.  The sun is up, and it is already clear and bright.  The inbound portion of the swim could be tough to site.  I have smoke goggles, but it is bright! 

30 seconds.  GO!  I trot into the water.  When it gets to my shins I start to swim.  Had a few swells to duck, but no issues, and I am past the break.  Now I start catching other swimmers.  Most folks run in faster than me, but I typically swim a bit above the top half of my age group.  Felt like I got to the turn buoy pretty quick.  The first loop was uneventful, I hit the shore; but wait there’s more.  This is a two lap swim.  A 200 yard run down the beach and back in again.  This time the waves seemed a bit bigger.  Got through, but the last one stopped my progress for a second.  Again the swim was pretty tame by triathlon standards, a couple of spots of crowding, a couple of bumps, but for the first time in a while I didn’t get mauled at some point.    It was bright, and sighting was a challenge coming in, but not awful. 

Out of the water, and up the beach in the soft, deep sand, slightly uphill.  Across the timing mat; hit the lap timer on the Garmin.  39:38. Into transition. 

Wetsuit off, cycling shoes on, helmet on, get bike and go.  Out of transition in 2:37. 

The bike course is flat.  If you know San Diego and you want a flat ride, you go to Coronado.  It is the only place to ride with virtually no climbing.  Per Garmin 269 feet of gain over 56 miles.  It doesn’t get any flatter. 

It was breezy, the flags were flapping.  Going north you could feel the resistance.  Going south you could feel some help.  Each of the four laps this feeling increased.  Still without any real climbs speed was pretty consistent.  I tried to control the effort to keeping the lactic acid clear, if I started to feel it, I went one gear easier and upped the cadence.  The crowds along the bike course were about half of what they were last year.  A certain Texan with a few (now expunged) cycling titles raced last year. 

I played tag with a few out there.  I was trying hard to sustain a steady effort, but with the winds, if you got behind a group you would start to go faster as you were protected.  Even tri-legal drafting, staying four bike lengths behind, you get the benefit especially into the wind.  This is a good way to save a bit of energy. 

Final lap ends, into transition and off the bike (2:48:12).  Bike racked, shoes off, helmet off, socks on, running shoes on, hat on, and out of transition. (3:16).   

The run.  Oh the run.  5.5 miles is on the beach.  Roughly 3 out and 2.5 back.  The middle 7.6 is on groomed trail and pavement.  The good news is the tide was out, this meant we could run on the firmer section of the beach; and only had soft sand to and from the water’s edge, and the far turn-around where the force us onto the soft sand for a bit. 

This was a strange run.  I felt pretty good going out.  I was planning on pushing a bit when I got to the pavement section.  The weird part is I feel like I hit a wall about mile 5.  I really struggled especially miles 7-9.  8-9 was my slowest of the day.  When I got back to the beach, I was running better.  As it typical I was getting passed left and right.  When you swim and bike mid-pack and run back of the pack, you get passed.  A lot.  I actually did pass a few on the final stretch coming in.  One last trudge up the soft sand to the road, and about a 300 yard dash to the finish line.  The announcer welcomes me back in.  Not quite, okay, not nearly as cool as having Mike Riley tell me I am an IRONMAN three months ago, but always nice to hear your name blasted out.  Just like that, it was over. (2:40:02 on the run).  Total time 6:13:55.  This was my fourth 70.3  I have improved in time with each one.  6:52 in Austin, 2011.  6:39 last year at Superfrog.  6:25 at Oceanside earlier this year.  Next year at Oceanside the goal is sub-six.  I have the plan.  Let’s see if we can get it done! 

A really cool medal this year, a bit of ice cream, a cookie, a freshly grilled hot dog and a Dr. Pepper.  Feeling better after that, off to transition to pack-up. 

As I was getting my stuff together I heard the announcer welcome Irina in.  We just met a few weeks ago on a swim, it was her first 70.3 so I went over to say congratulations, met her husband, and went back to pack up.  I needed to get to my phone! 

What is so important about my phone?  We have a small group that does swims on Sunday morning.  Most of us were racing today in different events.   

I see some results from others, and am pleased that Sugarmagnolia did Tiki Swim, her first 2.4 mile open water.  Others had not checked in yet, but everyone did finish their events.  Speedy Ted did Tiki as well, and Andrea did the Tahoe Trifecta (3 days, 3 half marathons)!  My legs ache just thinking about that. 

Overall it was a good way to finish the 2013 race season.  I am happy with my results, and proud of my friends for conquering their events. 

Next on the schedule: California 70.3 Oceanside., well next is a trip to Arizona to volunteer for IMAZ.  And we all know what that means! 

Gear Used: 

Swim:  Blue Seventy Fusion Wetsuit, Tyr Rx smoke goggles, race issued swim cap 

Bike: Specialized Transition Comp, 52-36 mid-compact crankset, 11-28 cassette, Williams 58-85 carbon clinchers. 

Run: Hoka One One Bondi B 

Nutrition: Honey Stinger waffles, Gu (not the planned nutrition, see above) 

You can follow me on Twitter @stevecycles200

Monday, August 12, 2013

Chula Vista Challenge, 2013

The Chula Vista Challenge was my third race this year of four on my calendar.  Superfrog awaits to finish out my year.  This is an Olympic distance triathlon, also making it the shortest event of my year.  Please do not mistake short for easy.  There is a reason the Challenge is in the title of this race! 

The logistics of this race are different than many in that you have two transition areas separated by about 12 miles the way the crow flies.  This requires preparing your T2 bag with running shoes and other necessities the day before and leaving it at race check in.  Since it is recommended you park near the finish and take a shuttle to the start, you also need to leave your bike at T1 the day before.  In short, you pretty much set up the day before. 

I took care of all of this on Saturday including my usual Saturday shake out ride.  Felt good on the bike during the Saturday ride and forced myself to take it easy and limit the ride to under 40 minutes.  This made me happy since my legs felt so dead on Thursday I skipped my planned ride.  I also felt very tired, and since it was race week decided extra rest was okay.  

Sunday morning!  A 3:40 AM wake up.  Why do we do this?  Not that big of a deal, really since I get up at that time twice a week for my swim workouts.   

I make sure I have my swim gear and my nutrition and drive off to B2BE fitness, which is near the finish line, a race sponsor, and where the shuttles will take us to the start.  Nice coach buses to take us over. 

Head into transition and take care of the usual business.  Walk through swim out into T1, and bike out.  Take a look at the bay and wow, the tide is OUT.  It looks as if you could walk to the first turn. 

I put on my wetsuit and headed out to get into the water for a bit of a warm up.  The looks were not deceiving, the tide was out.  The entry was also rocky with small pebbles, then mushy.  I mentally mark the area where I can start swimming, and take a short practice swim.  That felt really good, and I am ready. 

I look around as our wave queued up and realize the wave seems small.  In fact, the race itself seems like a small race for a triathlon in San Diego.   

Elites go off first, I was in wave 5, but the time went quickly.  Soon the siren sounded and we were running/trotting into the water.  Running over the pebbles/rocks was actually easier than walking over them so I was in, got to the area I marked in my mind as get down and swim, and I was off.  I passed a bunch of wave mates right of way that out ran me, and I was off feeling good in the water.  By the first turn I passed someone from the wave in front of me.  The waves were three minutes apart.  Another 200-300 meters out I was passing a bunch of previous wavers and even some from the wave before that.  I knew there were a couple of really fast guys that were gone, but I didn’t see any other white caps.  Am I really swimming this well?  Just keep going.  Out of the water, the timing mat is up near the entrance to T2, so I had a run of about 200 yards to the mat through the pebbles, up the beach which meant a big step up where there was some serious beach erosion, and into T1.   

Official swim time 28:23, a Personal Best for the distance, including the run!  And 6th out of 19 in my AG.  Actual swim time was about 27:00.   In just my third year of swimming I am thrilled with where my swimming is.  I would attribute the most recent improvement to two things, one I discovered how to improve my roll three weeks ago in the pool.  This was one of the benefits of a post Ironman easy swims where I was focusing on form.  The other is we have a small group that is doing open water swims on Sunday mornings.  This has helped my sighting and open water awareness.  Looking at the Garmin data, the swim track actually looks straight, not like a drunken bee that many of my previous race swims look like.  Thanks to the swim group’s main participants: Andrea, Speedy Ted, and  Sugarmagnolia

Into transition I go.  I have made the argument that a mid-packer doesn’t need to worry about flying out of transition.  Seconds matter if you are competing for a podium, etc.  That being said, looking back, my T1 times have been too slow.  I made a conscious effort in set up to get through T1 better.  Including no socks for the bike.  Boom!  2:24  to get out of T1.  Off on the bike.  Often my best event, certainly my favorite, as my journey into triathlon began with cycling. 

When I start the bike in a tri, I generally stay on the bull horns until I get my breathing regulated and my pedal strokes in synch.  Then I go aero and get into my race at race effort.  Right of way on this ride my legs felt heavy and had a hard time getting going. 

I felt like I was putting out 40K race effort, but getting IM pacing results.  Another reason why I need a power meter.  If anyone at Garmin is reading this, I would be happy to give you a mid-packers perspective on the Vector  Contact me and I'll let you know where to send it.  Anyway, the ride felt like a struggle throughout most of it, even the first 10 miles which is mostly flat, fast, and easy.  The last 14 which is mostly uphill and accounts for most of the 1,200 feet of elevation gain was rough.  In a rarity I was happy the bike was done.  1:25:01.  For reference I expected to be just under 1:20.  11th out of 19 in my AG for the bike. 

Transition 2 is one of the cool experiences of the Chula Vista Challenge.  They handle T2 the same way Ironman does.  A volunteer takes your bike and racks it for you while they grab your run bag.  You get to sit on an actual chair and put your shoes on!   Another 2:24 transition and off on the hilly run course.  400 feet of elevation gain over 6.2 miles.  And we are not talking about gentle inclines.  No, these are harsh spikes up.  Those of you that read my race reports know that the run is my weakest event.  Generally I am right in the middle of my age group for the swim and bike, but the bottom 10-15 percent on the run.  I am working on it.  The strategy for this race was to go with a 1:30 run to :30 walk, and when the hills hit, to modify it to walk the steepest parts. 

This run went well by my standards, and I really enjoy running through the Olympic Training Center.  To think of the athletes that train there, and here I am running through their training grounds.  Soon enough it was up the stairs, yes stairs just after mile 5 and I was out of the OTC and headed for the finish.  1:09:01 a 12 minute improvement from last year, but still 18th of 19 in my AG.  The splits were pretty even from 10:53 to 11:30, the 11:30 being the hilliest mile. 
The bling!

**Update** I had already written the bike section and took a break as I finished the blog.  I went over to my bike to take off the race wheels and I think I discovered part, if not all of my bike issues.  The legs may have felt a bit heavy, but it is not their fault.  No, my front brake was rubbing ever so slightly on the wheel.  No enough to be obvious, but taking it around the parking lot for a spin, then adjusting it and going again made a noticable difference.  Not sure what I could have done, as I checked the bike over in transition before heading to the swim and the front wheel spun fine.  It wasn't a lot, but definitley could have cost me 1-1.5 MPH.  Grrrrrrrrrrr.

Huge thank you to the volunteers of this well run event.  Which brings me to why this event does not seem to draw as well as others.  Is it the challenge portion?  Yes this is more challenging than a typical Olympic Distance event.  But it is a well run event and provides a good race experience.  I would highly recommend you put it on your calendar. 

Equipment nerd like me?  Here is what I used: 

Swim: X-terra Vortex sleeveless wetsuit, Aqua Sphere Rx goggles 

Bike: Specialized Transition, 52x36 mid-compact crank set, 11-28 cassette, Williams 58-85 wheels, X-Lab Torpedo and rear carrier 

Run: Saucony Triumph 9 shoes 

Nutrition: Carbo Pro, water 

Upcoming Races:  Superfrog 70.3 September 29.  California 70.3 Oceanside 2014.  And I am volunteering for IM Arizona in November.  And ya’ll know what that means!