This will be a two for one blog since I “raced” the Tri Club San Diego’s April race last week, and completed the Hemet Double Century yesterday.
This was scheduled to be my first triathlon. I did a duathlon before, but I hadn’t yet done a tri. Friday night it rained, hard at times, so on Saturday morning it was decided we would have a duathlon since the water was unsafe. I don’t think anyone was complaining, since it was 43 degrees. It would have been interesting to get out of the water and on the bike nice and wet in those temperatures.
The first run was two miles, a single loop on the north end of Fiesta Island. I was going nice and fast, well, at least for me. Most of the field was ahead of me. I came through and was really happy with my time, but no chance to celebrate, I’ve gotta get my helmet and bike shoes on. Out of transition on my Transition. I got into a nice rhythm on the bike, and before long was passing other riders with some consistency. Lap 5, off the bike, into transition, and back on the run course for two loops, or four miles. I’m really feeling pretty good, monitoring my time, even though some of the folks I passed on the bike are passing me. Then just before the first loop I feel a strain in my left hamstring. The same one that gave me grief the end of last year into this year. I eased up, walked a few strides, stretched it, and started to walk. I considered stopping since I was at the start/finish, but decided to try to keep going. I started with a jog, and slowly increased my pace. I was able to pick it back up, but not to where it was. Still, I finished the run in, what for me was a good 4 mile time.
So what where the results? First run 16:39, (36th out of 45) T1: 1:56 (42nd out of 45) Bike: 36:51 (9th out of 45) T2 1:55 (39th) Second run: 39:40 (42nd) Final 1:37:01 (36th)
Even though my running has improved greatly, it still has a long way to go. My transition times were terrible, but since it’s only the second time I’ve done this, I know I can get better there. I made a couple of rookie mistakes, and I have to work on how I’ll deal with my running shoes since I wear an orthotic. Pretty happy with the bike split, especially since I had more to give, but held back for the final run. Even if the result was not competitive for the field, it is the first time I held under a 10 minute pace for anything greater than 3 miles.
A week later is the Hemet Double Century. One of the “easier” doubles in the Triple Crown series based on climbing, only the lowland Grand Tour has less elevation gain. However Hemet has its own challenges, including the one climb over Sage Road and it’s a more urban route than many with several stop signs and lights.
I woke up at 2:30 AM to make the 70 mile drive from San Diego. I found a place to park, got my bike and gear ready and went to the check in. I pinned my bib number on my jersey, and was about to head out. Hemet has an open start window of 4-6 am, and a volunteer records your check out and check in times. Near the check out area, they had put up a memorial poster board for Jim Swarzman. Jim was killed last week by a hit and run driver while doing the San Diego Randos 600K brevet. There was a lot of talk throughout the day by riders that new Jim, remembering miles they shared. I knew Jim a little bit, not as well as many. I think Jim would have been pleased to see the ultra cycling community getting out and doing a double century, doing what he loved. I can’t think of a better way to remember someone.
The last two doubles I’ve done have had rain, and chilly to cold temperatures. This day promised to be different. The overnight low was about 55. That’s warmer than it ever got in Solvang! The forecast high was 94! It slowly warmed up through the morning, I felt good at the start, and was maintaining a good pace. The legs felt strong, and there was a fluidity to the ride. I felt like I hadn’t been out for long, and I was on the parkway heading back to Hemet for the completion of the first loop of 105 miles. This was the first time I remember thinking, its getting warm. I checked in, had a quick sandwich, and chatted for a few minutes with my friend Keith, who was at lunch the same time, only because he started an hour later. Keith is really fast. I headed out, knowing the toughest part of the day lay ahead.
Wow! In the twenty minutes I took for lunch, the temperature must have gone up 10 degrees. About 8 miles into the second loop, we turn onto Sage Rd. You’re on Sage Rd for 6.5 miles. It would be appropriate if it were for 6.66 since this road is the devil! 4 plus of those miles are the climb. Here is what is strange about Sage Rd; the climb starts mundane 3-5 percent, a false flat, 4-6 percent, a false flat, but when Sage is at 6 percent is feels like other climbs at 8. Then Sage gets you, with some 9-11-and 13 percent spikes. Add to that, my Garmin is showing its 111 degrees! Not long, but enough to put some bit into the legs. For those that do California Triple Crown Doubles, Sage wouldn’t come close to making the top ten in hardest climbs. I don’t know if it is because it is on a ride with minimal climbing overall, or if it’s the condition of the road (poor) or what, but it seems harder than the profile it leaves. Anyway, finally over Sage, a modest downhill until we turn on Benton, then a nice downhill, but be careful! Lots of sand on the road, especially to the right hand side, you don’t want to wipe out cornering at 40 MPH! Benton then smacks you in the face with a long roller that hits double digits.
We roll into the Temecula valley wine country, a rolling road to our next aid station at a winery! But, water and Cytomax, no wine for the bottles. Just as well, I don’t think wine would be good for hydrating in the heat.
Heading out toward Lake Elsinore for the second time today, and I’m rolling with another rider. I know he’s stronger than I, but he hangs back and we chat for a bit, but mostly just ride. He pulls off saying he needs some fluids, I agree as my bottles are about empty and we have 11 miles until the next stop. Funny, Keith was riding with another guy, I can’t remember his name, but they had passed us, then Keith came on me again, he and his riding partner were out of water and stopped in the same shopping center we did. They went to Ralph’s, we went into Starbucks. I think with the conditions, we could have used a water stop in that area. I’m sure we weren’t the only four that needed more fluids.
Finally to the Lake Elsinore stop. I needed some time here to cool my core down, and to try and get some food in me. I wasn’t eating as much as I usually do, or need to on a double, nothing tasted right in the heat. I nibbled, but mostly just had an extra Cytomax.
Only 18 miles to the last aid station, refuel, and head out for the finish. One wee bit of a climb, we came up to some road construction which confused me, because I thought the road was closed, but they were just warning you that it was closed up ahead, which is where we turned. After the turn we finally got a bit of a tailwind, and no more climbs! Time to rock and roll! Antelope to Keller to Menifee to Domienigoni! I got this! 23-28 MPH, hammering and feeling pretty good. How, why? I don’t know, I’ll take it. Where is Domienigoni? Menifee just ended? I know I didn’t miss it. Two other riders come up. I shrugged and we headed back. I was pulling out my phone to look at a map when they asked a local. It seems Newport, which we passed about a mile ago becomes Domienigoni. I was really mad for a few minutes. I was feeling good, hammering, and that took some of the wind out of my sails. I picked it up again for a little bit, but ran out of steam with about 4, maybe 5 miles to go. I came in doing intervals, not intentionally, but I pushed when I could, but couldn’t sustain it anymore, so I had to recover in between.
Overall it was a fun day, a good ride, and it was nice not to get rained on, or be shivering. I’m pretty pleased with how I handled the heat. Considering it has been chilly, and even last summer was cool, the biggest issue I had was post Sage Road, to Lake Elsinore. I was slower here, and struggled here, but was pleased with getting a second wind.
Thanks to Jim Watrous and his volunteers for putting on a good ride for us. The volunteers had a bunch of enthusiasm and kept us going.
On deck: May 1st – Koz Spring Sprint Triathlon, Mission Bay.
Thanks for reading, I check for comments, so feel free to leave one if you have a question.