I raced the Nautica Malibu Olympic Distance Triathlon on Saturday. I had a great time doing it, but had some frustrations too. Here’s a bit of a recap:
SWIM: First off, it was a beautiful warm foggy morning. The ocean was glassy, with the exception of a perfectly formed beach break about 100 feet offshore. When the gun went off, it was a bit of a run to water’s edge (more than I’m used to) and couldn’t decide how hard I should hit it — I didn’t want to spike my HR too much before the first stroke. But competitiveness got the better of me, and I was off. But once I started swimming, I eased up into a very manageable rhythm and at about 100 meters in, I was tucked in second, with only one other guy on my flank, everyone else in our wake. The leader rounded the first buoy just ahead of me and I decided to let him go; I promised myself I wouldn’t overdo it on the swim. Soon I was all alone in second with nothing but clear open water. This can make things difficult, as there is nobody to draft off or follow — you have to continually lift your head to make sure you are on track, which can be depleting and interrupt your rhythm. But after about 1/2 mile I started catching the slower swimmers from the previous wave and realized I was about 10 meters too far off shore. I kept tacking in, crawling all over the other swimmers, but for some reason I remained in this position. Anyway, no matter. But then my wetsuit started to collect water in my arms — just enough in each arm to feel like I had 5 lb weights on each wrist. This no doubt slowed me considerably and began to unnecessarily fatigue my shoulders. I’m telling you, I hate wetsuits. True, they can make you faster and I like the bouyancy in my legs, which I generally just drag behind me with little to no kick. But I think I need a sleeveless one — I can’t stand not being able to feel the water with my arms — which is the key to an efficient stroke for me. Anyway, I still finished in a decent 20:40 — second in my age group and 4th fastest amateur swim overall (one of the guys who beat me was only 17 years old!) . Its just annoying when I know I could have gone an 18:00+ without the wetsuit mishap, which would have put me right with the times the top male pros were posting. My ego wanted that, but I guess it will have to wait for another day.
T1: Terrible. After 2 weeks of absolutely brutal training, my expectations for this race were pretty low. My goal was to race smart and controlled. To be relaxed in T1, allow my HR to drop to a reasonable level and start the bike slow and build. But I clocked 3:02 in T1, which is frankly embarrassing. I easily lost another minute here for no reason whatsoever.
BIKE: Again, I promised to start slow and build. Despite my slow T1, my HR was still racing out of transition — somewhere around 160+, so I coasted the first half mile, barely pedaling. I expected my HR to drop, but it was taking a long time! Still I eased off and waited. But this was only 40K, so I didn’t want to wait too long. When it got down to about 150, I started an easy pedaling rhythm. Soon my HR normalized around 148 and I started to feel OK. But I started getting frustrated when around 8K I started getting passed by guys on top end tri bikes and disc wheels. I’m a decent cyclist, but I’m still riding my road bike with an average training wheelset. I hate the fact that I am giving up precious time due to equipment. Oh well. I stuck with the plan. Frankly, I really didn’t even start to feel warmed up until just before the halfway mark. A tribute to all the very long Z2 rides I have been doing, which includes absolutely ZERO speedwork. No top end. Anyway, started to increase my push at about 25K and finally began passing some people who had passed me earlier, including a cat and mouse game with one guy that went on for miles. At about 30K, I felt my bike start to sway a bit in the rear and realized that my rear tire was quickly losing air. A FLAT! But it wasn’t quite flat all the way, so I pushed on, deciding to take it as far as I could. With about 5K left, the tire was toast. Totally flat. But what was I supposed to do? I just couldn’t bring myself to stop and change the tire with less than 3 miles left, so I leaned my weight far forward, trying to take weight off the back wheel and pedaled on. But I had to slow down significantly to avoid fishtailing. So I was getting passed. Alot. I gently cruised to the end, barely pedaling, hoping I didn’t irreparably damage my Ksyrium ES. What a disaster. But I still clocked a semi-respectable 1:08 for the 40K, which gave me a 21.6 mph average. Not bad, considering…..
T2: My third disaster. Again, I lollygagged. How did I spend 2:07 here when everyone else seemed to be between 1:05 – 1:10? I need some work here. Another precious minute down the tubes.
RUN: Again, my plan was to build the run. And this time I did it, and did it well. I felt great in my Newtons. Flying in fact. Surprisingly comfortable at a 160+ HR. I built into it ever so slightly and just felt superb, passing alot of guys who passed me on the bike. I didn’t feel any residual fatigue from the bike and no energy dropoff, finishing strong and I believe negative splitting the course for a time of 40:55 for a 6:35 / mile pace. Would have been about 10-15 seconds faster, but we were diverted to the sand for a 200 meter slow jog to avoid a helicopter taking off to airlift what I believe was a competitor who crashed on the bike. Don’t know any more than this, but I hope he / she is OK. In any event, the run made my day.
TOTAL TIME: 2:15:43. 38th overall (out of about 500), but only 17th in my 40-44 age group, which I suppose is an indication of how competitive my age group is. Pretty decent, especially since I have done zero speed work of any kind in any discipline for the last six months. In fact, I almost never run faster than 8:00 / mile pace, so was quite surprised I could throw down a fairly easy 6:35 pace after the bike. But not great, considering I know I could have gone at least 2:09 without the wetsuit and tire issues and a little energy in the transitions. But like my coach says, these races are basically a completely different sport from what I’m training for. Sort of like a marathoner trying to run the 400 meters. When I think about it this way, I suppose I should be pleased with my result.
On Sunday, I went back down to the race to watch the start of the Sprint. There were 10 times the number of people, including a zillion spectators there to catch a glimpse of JLo and Matthew McConnaughey. I watched Chris McCormack (Macca), Ironman supreme through T1 (way ahead of everyone), then (I admit) I hung around to watch McConnaughey (Movie Macca) start his bike leg before heading out on my 90 minute Z2 training run. I ran up PCH on the return portion of the bike course (conscious of staying out of everyone’s way) and gave Macca a “hang loose” when he passed (he waved back) and Movie Macca a “Hook ‘Em Horns” when he passed in his LiveStrong kit (no doubt a gift from Lance himself) (he gave me a shout out back). Felt great on this run and no soreness or fatigue from the previous day’s race. When I finished I found some friends and chatted before heading into the VIP Brunch (courtesy of my buddy Arno Kroner at Disney), where I felt like an important poseur, sitting at the table next to the one where Movie Macca, his wife & baby, JLo and Mark Anthony were heavy in convo. Papparazzi flushbulbs everywhere — Felicity Huffman, William Macy, Bob Iger…..it was quite a scene. For a triathlon. Weird. But I admit it. It was fun.
Now heading back into another heavy rotation of training. Ultraman looming……The light at the end of the tunnel approaching fast….