Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Orange County International Triathlon

It looks like I will finally get to race a triathlon this year.  After having both Superseal and a TCSD club race cancelled due to bizarre bad weather in San Diego; the forecast for May 20th was about as good as it could get for a race. 

The weekend started on Saturday morning.  My wife works for a company that makes products for defense applications.  Because of this, we had tickets to see the commissioning of the U.S.S. San Diego.  A great experience. 

The ceremony ended about 11:30, and I headed north to Orange County.  On the way I stopped at the San Onofre campground to get a shake out ride in.  that being done, I went to packet pick up. 

Minor disappointment, I paid $10 extra for a technical T, and they didn’t have my size.  I got a size smaller, and they “gave" me the regular T as well.  How do you not have the right size when people declare well in advance? 

Transition one and Transition two are separate for this race.  They had us do a shoe drop at T2 on Saturday.  I went over and took care of that, headed to my room and relaxed. 

Race morning was about perfect weather wise.  I set up T1, walked over to the lake and studied the course, and exit.  Back to T1, chatted with a couple of guys, took care of pre race business, and got my wetsuit on.  Time to head to the lake. 

I was in the fourth wave; I got in the lake and warmed up for the swim.  Felt good, and I was ready! 

The horn ripped through the morning quiet and we were off!  Swimming, swimming, swimming.  Swimming some more.  I felt okay; but I didn’t feel fast.  Not too concerned, I felt slow in the water at Austin, and had a good swim.  This swim felt like it was taking forever.  Finally the turn for home, out of the water, and I hit the Garmin.  36 minutes.  Ugh!  I was expecting 32, and thought I could push 30 with a great swim.  Oh well, no worries, now its bike time! 

Had a good transition for me.  I normally have something happen that slows me down, but I was out in about 3 minutes.  On the bike and riding. 

I pre-rode the bike course twice about a month ago.  I knew it was hilly and what to expect.  One of the notes I made was the turn from Marguerite on to El Toro.  Marguerite is going downhill, then El Toro is a pop up hill.  I knew to be in the small ring as I turned so I didn’t burn any matches, and I thought if you tried to slam it into the small under load you could drop a chain.  I made the turn nice and smooth, and sure enough, off to the right not one, but two riders with chains off.  Recon works! 

If you have ever ridden in Orange County you know it is probably hilly, This is in the Mission Viejo/Lake Forrest area, and Santiago Canyon.  Up, up and up, then a kick-butt downhill.   Turn around and head back up.  Up some more.  Up a bit more.  Then downhill the last two miles and into T2.

Hit the lap timer on Garmin, very happy with the bike!  Rack it, change shoes, helmet off, hat on, fuel belt on.  Quick trip into the port-o-potty, over the timing mat, and away we go!

The final leg of the triathlon.  The run.  10 kilometers.  6.2 miles.  Starts on the bikeway, slight downhill for 2 plus miles.  Running harder than a training run, but not all-out.  I heard there are some nasty hills.  We turn, and there they are.  Up, double digit gradient, off-road.  Not hard trail off-road, but a mushy mulch mix.  Ugh.  And when the road went up I got a pain behind the back of my left knee and into the hamstring.  So for the rest of the race, the hills were walked.  This killed my time, as there were many hills.  And the buggers were steep, too.  Always a bit demoralizing to see people you passed on the bike glide by on the run.  But we push on.  Back on pavement, only to see a huge hill.  Almost three-quarters of a mile long.  The sun is out in full force, the temperature is now pushing 80.  This is the hardest part of the day.  Finally the summit.  Then a turn back into the woods and some off-road.  Pavement again, now near the finish.  An out and back on Marguerite, also hilly, but the final descent, turn into Lake Mission Viejo, the finishing shoot and boom, it was over.

For those that emphasize the geek in Tri-Geek!
Swim Gear:
Xterra sleeveless wetsuit
Aquasphere Rx Googles
Bike Gear:
Specialized Transition Comp
Williams 58/85 Carbon Clinchers
53/39 Crankset; 11-28 Cassette
Giro aero helmet
Run Gear:
Brooks Adrenaline shoes

The good:  Averaging over 18MPH on a big leg that had more than 1,800 feet in elevation gain. 

The okay: The swim.  Not at expected pace, but not a bad swim, came out feeling strong. 

The ugly: The run.  Had plenty left after the bike.  The quads and principal running muscles felt great.  But the pain behind the knee forced me to keep it easy and walk the hills.  Would love to see what I could have done without pain on a flatter run course. 

Overall I am happy with my first race of the year.  I improved my transitions, and felt like I paced correctly throughout. 

Three beefs with the race.  1. When I picked up my packet, they didn’t have my size technical tee.  Only an issue since I paid an extra $10 to get the tech tee.  2. No medal or anything else for finishers.  Not acceptable for a $160 race.  3. Timing splits did not include transitions.  Are you kidding?  They had the timing mats.  This makes no sense - according the the fb page, they are expecting them to put the transition time up.  If they do, remove one beef.  

Huge thank you to all the volunteers.  Looked like Tri-La-Vie handled most, if not all the volunteering duties.  Especially on the run course, with lots of turns, and reminders to watch as we came off high curbs.  Also thank you to the residents of Orange County for tolerating the road closures and especially those that came out to cheer us on!

Splits:  Swim 36:03, Bike 1:19:21, run 1:10:42  Total including transitions: 3:13:27 

Next up: Rock and Roll half marathon


  1. Thanks for the info and congratulations. What do you think happened on the run with your hamstring? Too steep of a hill too soon in the run? I have been thinking of a tri myself and hooefully when I get my new orthotics and am injury free I will start. Not really a great swimmer but working on it.

  2. RSF - I think the hamstring is okay, I think it was sore, not injured. I am concerned with the behind the knee pain. I think it is seperate from the hamstring even though they are close. The behind the knee I can still feel, and I'm not sure of the cause, I can only speculate I hit a hill too hard?