Monday, August 13, 2012

The Chula Vista Challenge

The Chula Vista Challenge.  I signed up for this race as a dress rehearsal for Superfrog on September 30.  Before we get into the swim/bike/run stuff, let’s set the stage. 

This is an Olympic distance triathlon.  Point to point, meaning two different transition areas.  The swim would be in the bay,   the bike goes from the bay inland to Otay Lakes for the run. 

This made pre race packet pick-up a bit of work.  You had to have your T2 bag ready to go.  For me, it was shoes, hat, and fuel.  Then off to T1 to leave your bike.  Before leaving it, I took my pre-race shake out ride.  A final check, make sure I didn’t pick something up in the tires, and some lube on the chain.  Rack the bike.  Props number one to the race organizers.  They use the racks that you stick a wheel in, so much better than the over hang racks. 

Early to bed, early to rise, the triathlon starts just after sunrise!  Which means, a 3:30 AM wake up to get ready, eat, and head to the finish area, so we can catch a shuttle to the start?  More props to the race.  Nice coach buses for the shuttles.  

Arrival at the race start.  Into transition where I set up my spot.  Turn over the helmet, straps open, do-rag in place.  Cycling shoes opened up, and ready.  Take care of business, get body-marked, more business, and look at the path for bike-out.  Study the swim course, okay ready.  30 minutes till start.  Jump in the water for a warm-up.  The water is warm, feels good, swim out about 100 meters or so, and back arms are loose.  15 minutes. 

Wave one off.  I’m in wave five.  They go at three minute intervals.  It doesn’t take long.

Men 45-49 in the hot pink swim caps.  The siren sounds and we head into the water.  My plan, go out hard.  Yes, you read that right, go out hard.  As you know I signed up for my first full Ironman next year.  Everything I am reading, is the first 200 meters are an absolute frenzy.  I thought, I need to start practicing for that now.  The swimmer to my left thought it a good idea to hold my left arm down for three strokes until I could shake free, then I took off.   The fastest of our group was out ahead, but I felt like I was swimming well.  Before the first turn buoy I passed three swimmers from the previous wave, along the long parallel stretch I passed several more, and even passed a few from the third wave.  Turn for home and the swim is done!  Out of the water, run up the hill, and just before enter the transition area is the timing mat.  Even with the minute or so it took from water to the mat; my swim time was 29:22.  A PR for 1500 meters for me!  Better, I accomplished what I wanted to with this swim.  I went out aggressively and hard, then settled in, and had a good swim.  Now to the bike, my favorite! 

I’ve learned when I start the bike leg, to ride on the bullhorns for the first two or three minutes.  For readers not sure what I mean by that, the bullhorns are the outer bars on an aero bike, as opposed to being tucked and in the aero bars.  I do this until I feel my breathing is regulated and I’m ready to tuck and go.  Normally it takes two to three minutes.  It seemed to take 10 this day.  Not sure why, I wasn’t out of breath coming out of the water, and even if I was 4 minutes in transition would have brought that down.  I just had a hard time getting settled.  Finally somewhere on Main Street I settled in, went aero and cranked it up to race pace.  Main Street.  Time for a digression from the normal race blog of I rode, I climbed, I descended, etc. 

I have nicknamed the bike portion of this race the Monopoly Course.  Playing the role of Mediterranean and Baltic Avenue is Chula Vista’s Main and Broadway.  And as the course progresses it is just like taking a tour around a Monopoly Board.  Eventually we make the final turn on Woods, which with its gated homes, note I said gated homes, not communities, Woods starts as Boardwalk!   

After Woods you cross Otay Lakes Road into Salt Creek Park which is T2.  The best part of the race is T2.  Again, props to the race.  Hit the dismount line, off the bike, and a volunteer takes your bike, they well out your bib number, (66 in my case) and bam!  Another volunteer has your T2 bag as you sit in a chair and put your running shoes on. 

On the way out of transition I hit a water station, took a couple of salt tablets and doused my head to cool my core.  It is HOT out here. 

At this point the race turned ugly for me.  Within two minutes I was gasping for air, even though I went out “easy.”  No way I should be struggling like this.  I run bricks off of 75 mile rides, where I finish with a hard interval to simulate race day.  I can only think the heat and humidity were taking full effect.  In short, the run turned into a walk/jog/slog that took me from having a really good day for me, to a not so good result.  But that is not to say I didn’t like the run course.  In fact, I loved it.  Oh, it was hard, almost 500 feet of elevation gain in 6.2 miles is one tough run course, but on nice trails, and right through the Olympic Training Center.  What great inspiration.  Running by the fields for field hockey, the soccer pitch, softball fields, a BMX jump right over the trail, and of course, the track and field area.  Just think of the athletes that trained there.   

Finally the finish!  Again, some chairs to sit on, get some water both in me and on me.  Done and dusted.  Great swim, solid bike, lousy run.  But a really good event.  Huge props to Pulse Endurance Sports and Mike Drury for putting on a great event. 

Mike, I have two suggestions.  One, since we do not have T2 access on race day, I did not leave a fuel belt with fluids; I figured they would be way to warm.  On a hot day, please add a couple of additional aid stations, and I would have loved to have the cold wet sponges like they have at Ironman events.   

Big thanks to all the volunteers.  Hope my transition neighbor who was doing his first triathlon had a good event.

Gear Used:

Swim – Xterra sleeveless wetsuit and Speedo Rx goggles 

Bike – Specialized Transition with Williams 58-85 wheels, 53-39 crank set, and 11-28 cassette. 

Run – Asics Nimbus 

Kit – Tri Club San Diego 

Next event is my A race for the year, Superfrog, a half-iron distance race on Coronado, CA.


  1. stellar as usual! You always inspire me. That heat was brutal. I've never done a tri with 2 transition areas and now I see how that can be problematic on hot days. Great job!

  2. It was a nice race, will do it again next year. Nice write up, thanks for taking the time.

  3. Hello Steve,
    Just a quick message to ask if you would be interested in a 'mutual' following on twitter. I am currently following you now and am awaiting for your follow-back. (#FYI I do RT's for all #Triathletes #Cyclists #UltraRunners & #Marathoners who follow me on Twitter and have something important they want mentioned...)

    All the very best for the rest of 2012 and beyond Steve. Look forward to hearing from you...