Monday, October 1, 2012


My second season of triathlons is now complete.  In the two years I have done triathlons, none had the buzz going into the event that this one did.  It started about three weeks ago, when a certain triathlete turned cyclist turned triathlete sent a tweet that said “This looks like fun.”  According to Superfrog, once Lance Armstrong committed to racing, they received an additional 200 entries.  People at work were asking me if I knew about the race Lance was doing.  Me, “Yes, I’m racing.”  Usually met with a blank face and shock.  People outside the sport do not realize we get to race the same day, the same course as the pros.

Photo courtesy of Sugarmagnolia 70.

This race would be my second 70.3 I felt like I had built a good training program, and followed it well.  The Chula Vista Challenge showed me I had improved my swimming, and showed I had some nutritional issues, problems dealing with heat.  With a much hotter than normal year for San Diego, I embraced training in the heat and made some changes to my nutrition.  In the final six weeks, I was pleased with my nutrition, and finally starting to see some improvement in my running. 

Tuesday before race day, I took the bike out; mostly to make sure the race wheels were rolling okay, as they require a bit of a brake adjustment, and I’m not much of a wrench.  After the ride, I did a one mile brick run.  As the run ended I felt a twinge in my left calf.  Really?  Five days before the race?  I scrapped my Wednesday short run, and treated the calf twice a day.  I’m not going to kid you; I was worried it would act up early in the run causing a DNF.  KT Tape to the rescue, hope, and pray. 

Race day, it is finally here.  What a glorious morning.  Pull into the parking lot, and I was treated to a bright full moon, the water looked like glass.  I had my TCSD top on, with DeSoto 400 mile bib shorts.  I love these, as the way the chamois sits; I can get on the rivet for a long time.  I drew a pink ribbon on my #458 bib and wrote Angi on it, for my wife who has battled breast cancer this past year.  And while her last scan was clear, and the treatment is done, she is still recovering.  What she has done this year makes her the real endurance athlete.  That has to be harder than the hardest Ironman.  Hang in there wifey!   KT Tape on the left calf.  I head over to transition.  They had reserved spots in transition with our name and bib number.  I like this, no thinking, just set-up.  Bonus, I was right on bike in/out.  The Lance buzz was in full effect.  Hearing little groups chat, 90 percent were talking about Lance in one way or another.  Guy near my spot had the best line.  He hoped there was some guy named Lance that came in last.  Then everyone could say they beat Lance!  Putting the final touches on my transition area I noticed everyone looking over.  It was Lance, surrounded by his entourage headed to his spot. Other people carrying his stuff.  Hey what happened to athletes only in transition?  My friend Sugarmagnolia 70 from dailymile went over and took a photo of Lance getting ready.  This was her first 70.3, and we had practiced ocean entry and exits five or six times during training. 

Getting close to the time for the pros/elites to start.  Time for me to put on my wet suit. After a stirring rendition of the national anthem, the elites went off, and I went into the water to warm up.  Whoa!  The waves are bigger than I thought.  I swim out past the first set, entry could be a challenge.  And the water feels pretty cold, too. 

About five minutes before the start I saw Sugarmagnolia again, along with Leah from dailymile as well.  Have a good race, and line up.  That was a fast five minutes, boom, go.  Swim, swim, big swell, duck, swim hard, good.  Swim BOOM!  I missed that one and got knocked back.  Regroup, go, and mis-timed another one that wound up being a draw, no progress, but not knocked back.  Finally past the rough stuff and swimming. Make the turn, settle in, and go.  Make the turn heading back to shore and yikes!  My goggles had fogged a bit, and the sun made it impossible to site.  Tried to follow other swimmers, but I’m sure my path was that of a drunken bee.  Hit the shore, and we get to do it again.  This is a two-lap swim!  Took the goggles off and rinsed them quick; then made the walk/jog down to the start and into the water again.  This time, I cruised right through the waves, in fact I remember thinking where are they?  I was right passed the big ones, and headed toward the first turn.  With the sun higher, and the goggles clear, I had no issues coming in either.  Out of the swim and into T1. 

Smooth transition and we are off on the bike.  Ahhh.  Best part of the day.  Get aero, smooth pedal.  I don’t have a power meter, and I’m not a big fan of heart rate since there is a lag in response, so I’ve been training by feel.  For “race pace” over a half-iron course, my objective is to keep the lactic acid clear.  For comparison in a 20 kilometer time trial with no need to run after, I go as hard as I can, and when I’m done the legs are on fire.  Here, you need to be able to run a half-marathon once off the bike.  I focus on a good pedal stroke and if I start to feel the lactic acid creep in, I go into an easier gear and spin it out.  The bike course is about as flat as you can get in Southern California.  Garmin said 371 feet of gain over 56 miles.  Most of that on the small bridge we went over eight times.  As the ride went on the breeze picked up, making for a bit of a headwind going north.  By the third and fourth lap, you could really feel it.  With a four lap course, you get a rhythm of what to expect and when.  What about that Lance guy?  Glad you asked.  At one point, heading south the motorcycles pass me, so I know the leaders should be right behind.  I look down, and see I am going 23.5 MPH.  Then WOOSH!  A Trek Speed Concept with a shirtless dude in a Speedo goes by me like I am standing still.   

The crowds on the bike course were as big as I’ve ever seen in a triathlon.  I wonder why?  The bridge I mentioned was well populated with lots of cameras.  Hard to believe that many people wanted my picture. 

I came into T2, racked the bike and started to get ready for the run.  I heard w Who Hoo go Steve, but had no idea where it came from or if it was for me?  If it was, thank you, I looked around and didn’t recognize anyone.  I felt like if my calf held up I could have a decent run.  Last year when I did the Austin70.3 I came in with severe cramping in my quads.  I felt pretty good getting off the bike here. 

Another smooth transition, I did duck into the port-o-potty before hitting the run course. 

The run course.  Soft sand to the beach, then firm sand for over two miles before pavement/groomed trails, two laps of that, then the final three miles on soft sand/packed sand. 

Here is the plan.  3 minutes of run, 1 minute walk.  A bit of bad luck for all runners at this point, the tide was in, meaning the firm area was mostly under water.  Putting us on the boarder area of firm/soft sand.  The legs would pay for this.

I was able to keep to my plan for almost six miles, then I took it to 2.5/1.5.  After the two laps of trails and pavement we hit the sand again.  Only it wasn’t straight to the beach, we had to go out further on the soft stuff!  Everyone was walking through here, what a slog!  Whatever I had left was crushed through this section.  Every step your feet sink in, it takes tremendous effort just to lift your foot and move it forward.  Finally back to the beach.  The good news, the tide was back out, and we could stay on the firm sand. 

I settled into walking fast at this point.  After getting a bit recovered I went to a one minute run, one minute walk.  This is the best I could do at this point, and finishing the one minute run was a bit taxing, but we did it. 

What about the calf, you ask?  It started balking and feeling really tight by mile two, but it was more of a real stiff bark, not a sharp pain, so I was able to ignore it and go.   

Finally the finish line is in sight.  My second 70.3 in the books.  And a really cool medal. 

So how was Superfrog?  Love assigned transition space, love that proceeds go to wounded seals and families.  Love the tie-in to Livestrong.  The swim was rough, but with a race created by Navy Seals, it is appropriate.  The bike course was boring, four laps on the Silver Strand, but fun to be able to go that fast.  The run course was brutal, again fitting since it was created by seals, but oh so hard.  But the best and biggest props goes to the volunteers.  Very enthusiastic, good job on the hand-ups on the bike course, and great enthusiasm on the run.  Well done! 

One compliant:  Virtually no post race food.  Mediocre oranges, and over-ripe bananas, water, and Cytomax.  I was famished and in need of food.  But I wanted to stay and watch Sugarmagnolia finish.  After sitting for a bit on a bench and in my transition spot, I had to leave; I had the shakes, and needed food.  Proud of my friend for her first 70.3. 

Equipment nerd?  Here is what I used.  Note, I am not sponsored, and this is not an endorsement, just what I use: 

Swim: Xterra Vortex sleeveless wet suit, Speedo smoke goggles.

Bike: Specialized Transition, 53/39 crankset, 11-28 cassette, Williams 58-85 wheel combo, Rudy Project helmet, Shimano Tri shoes

Run: Asics Nimbus 

2012 Tri season is now over.  Next up:  March 30 – Oceanside 70.3, then June 24 IMCDA. 

Well, next up, is a month of do what I want, no formal training.  Then November we begin training for my first full ironman.  Lots of base miles coming soon!

Thanks for reading.  You can follow me an Twitter, I am @stevecycles200


  1. of course all those people were there to sugar, dork! way to go, steve! so proud of you and all you doing. and as always, i love you keep angi in the forefront of your mind and heart. y'all are an amazing couple. CdA...woot woot!