Folsom Lake Long Course Race Report

Folsom Lake Long Course Triathlon Race Report – DNF

 

Pre-Race

The race was located in Sacramento, so, Claire and I traveled via the I-5 in the Prius all the way there. We left on Friday after I got off work. It took a bit longer to get all the final preparations ready for the trip, which led to a late start of around 3PM. This meant that we ended up arriving to Sacramento at around midnight, with the last 80 miles of the drive being a total nightmare from being so tired.

The next day, Saturday, we went to pick up the packet and pay for the registration for the race. This was the first time I had traveled so far without having previously registered, fortunately, there were no issues.  Then we scouted out where the beginning of the race would be, a task harder than one might think.

It was nice to be able to spend some time with the family. The night before, Molly,  made a wonderful dinner and was able to load-up on my carbohydrates. I had been reading a lot of information on-line about getting nutrition right, eating before 6PM was one of the recommendations that made most sense to me, so that is what I did.

Race Day

I rose very early at around 3 AM to make sure I would have time to digest my breakfast. I tried to keep it as simple as possible, ate 2 bags of instant oatmeal with honey and a banana. It might seem like very little, however, it made me feel great for the race.

We left bright and early for the race start and managed to be one of the first cars to enter the parking lot. I got all my stuff ready and headed on over to transition. The transition area was long and narrow, luckily I was able to find a nice secluded spot in one of the corners. I set up my equipment and then proceeded to go for a warm-up swim.

At this point, Pinkman, my dog, was going nuts from all the commotion and for the first time he wanted to jump in a body of water.

The Swim – 38:00

I soon found out it was a deep-water start, my very first one. Admittedly, I went way too hard at the beginning of the swim and decided to attack from the get-go, something that I was certainly not trained to do. Within a few minutes I began to realize my mistake as I was gasping for air and unable to keep a good rhythm. Looking back, I was overconfident in my abilities; this was a theme that would run throughout the entirety of the race, leading to my eventual voluntary withdrawal .

After I was finally unable to continue, I stopped in my tracks and simply floated for a few seconds, trying to lower my heart rate and breathing. A few seconds later, I continued at a more relaxed pace and would eventually, towards the end, would manage to find a good rhythm.

Note for Next Time: Be as relaxed as possible during the swim, try to find fast feet to draft behind, do not get over-enthused. CONSERVE ENERGY!

T1 00:03:15

I made sure to be careful during this transition, so as to not forget anything, leading to a slower than possible transition.

The Bike 3:16:26

The bike leg started off nicely, with rolling hills, leading up to increasingly bigger hills. At this point I was very thankful that I had decided to get a bigger 12-30 cassette and compact crankset. I had all my nutrition on board, which included: 2 Bonk Breakers, each having about 245 calories, I believe; a flask filled with GU, about 6 or 7 gel packets worth; salt capsules, with magnesium, sodium and other important electrolytes; 2 bottles of water.

I wanted to switch around my nutrition a bit to try and avoid my GI distress problems I had while racing at Wildflower. So, instead of using the Hammer Perpeteum with pancake batter consistency, I opted for gels, a very important mistake, I believe.

In hindsight I was pushing way too hard on the bike, as I wanted to make the best time possible. I definitely tried to avoid chasing after people, however there the competitive nature of the race made me lose sight of how my body was responding. I did not take advantage of the Gatorade offered at the aid-station, only the water, this caused many problems, I began cramping about half-way through the bike leg.

It started out as a small twitch, slowly ebbing and flowing based on my electrolyte in-take, until reaching full-tilt at around mile 40 of the bike.

At this point, one of the worst possible scenarios played out: I dropped my only water bottle!

This was a terrible mistake and made me fall back on my nutrition schedule, I was very thirsty and unable to do anything about it as we were riding through the middle of nowhere. Luckily, I only had to endure this for about 30 minutes, however, the damage was done, I would not be able to climb back out of that hole and I didn’t even know it yet.

Finally, I saw an aid-station and made sure to grab 2 bottles of Gatorade and immediately down two salt capsules. My legs were on fire at this point, burning with each push of the pedal. It would alternate between one leg and the other, even having to clip-out on one side to keep my leg straight while the other one pedaled along in order to avoid intense cramping. Within about 15 minutes, I could feel the salt capsules start to take effect; it was like ice-cold water on red hot coals.

As my legs began to ‘cool-down’ a little I tried to push the pace a bit, sharp cramping pain would explode in my quadriceps causing me to slow down to a very slow pace. The last 10 miles were grueling, flat landed and hot.  Nevertheless, I made it to the end of the bike leg in one piece.

T2 00:5:17

It was quite a relief to lay me sight on T2, I approached trying to convince myself that I was still able to go strong. I tried to down as many fluids as possible without making me feel bloated. The cramping was subsiding at this point.

The Run 00:00:00 DNF

I was able to complete the first lap of the run, by the end of which my legs simply seized-up and it was almost impossible to even continue walking at this point, at least without causing damage or injuries, in my opinion.

At first I was able to run for maybe the first mile, at about a pace of 9:00 min/mi, slowly passing people and seeing the rest of the race that were doing shorter distances of sprint and Olympic. Then as I started on my second mile, it turned into more of a run for 2 minutes, walk for 30 seconds. Slowly but surely, the little energy I had left began to fade, fast.

The trail consisted of rolling hills the entire time, going all the way out to about 3.5 miles until the turn-around.  I managed to finally start heading on my way back, confident that I could continue with the run/walk combo. Then, as I approached the 5thmile it became impossible to keep running, all I could muster was a walk. Needless to say, soon thereafter I could no longer even walk and would have to stop in a futile attempt to stretch my legs and stop the pain.

By the time I arrived at the turn around point, which was only 3 feet away from my transition area, I could no longer find the energy to continue. Sadly, this would be my first DNF.

Post-Race Reflections

Even though it was technically a DNF, I feel that I learned a tremendous amount from this race. It was what I consider to be a training race, exactly for that purpose. I gained valuable insight into my nutrition, pacing and became more comfortable with the 70.3 format. I am eager to keep training and look forward to July 12, 2014 when I will be doing Vineman 70.3, hopefully for a PR.

 

Vineman 2014 Race Report

 Vineman 2014 Race Report

 

Getting to the Santa Rosa area was quite a task, it involved many hours of driving solo across California. I picked out a camp ground on hipcamp.com called Bullfrog Pond Campground as it was very close to the start of the race, approximately 5 miles. 

I must say, it was one of the nicest campground I have ever been to, located deep in the redwood forest, the views were unbeatable.  

The drive up was so long and I ended up leaving so late from LA that I decided it would be prudent to stop at a conveniently located RV-park called Santa Nella RV Park. Luckily, I had the Thule Roof Rack box and placed all my camping gear inside, except for my air mattress, sleeping-bag and pillows. There was wifi, outlets and the bathrooms were very nice, with heated air, clean toilets/showers and even a padlock. 

Sierra Exif JPEG  

After I woke up in the morning, I headed on out to the open highway, once again. Eventually, after driving for many hours, I decide to stop and get some provisions. As I was doing this, I stumbled upon YogaWorks Larkspur by total coincidence. I figured it was just a good of a time as any other to take a yoga class. I looked for the hardest one available, as I wanted to sweat and get my workout on. It was a YogaWorks Flow 2/3, however, it ended up feeling more like a 1/2 as the teacher went pretty slow and explained the poses quite a bit, as opposed to your typical vinyassa class at YogaWorks Montana Ave where you get drenched right away. 

After the yoga class, I headed out on the highway once more. I arrived by around 2 PM and set up camp. The road to the actual campsite was very windy, narrow and ascended very quickly, leaving you off at the top of a mountain. There were hiking trails all around. People were slowly trickling in. 

For some reason, I thought that the packet pick-up could be done on Friday so I drove the 40 miles total to and from Windsor High School, only to find out that they were still setting up for tomorrow, when the actual packet pick-up would occur. This was a bit disappointing, however, it was cool to see all the action unfolding for the next day. 

After a good nights sleep at the campground, I arose, ate breakfast, and headed out to packet pick-up. There was a mandatory meeting attended by all athletes before being able to actually pick-up the race packet. I learned that the race sold-out in approximately 3 minutes this year. That meant that all the people in attendance were pretty hard-core triathletes, planning over 6-months in advance, having $350 to put down before all the available slots were taken. 

IMG_0233

Pre-Race

The format of the race started rather differently that most as 29 and under age groupers would go last, instead of first. This meant that there was about 2 hours from the beginning of the swim to the start of my wave. I must say it was quite a different experience, it allowed me to gain a new perspective, watching all the athletes head out on to the course. It also meant that, if fast enough, we would pass a huge field of athletes. 

It was rather nippy in the morning, although the water was clearly warmer than the air as it was very steamy. I kept walking around, trying to stay warm and take pictures of all the action. I was able to watch the pros run by as the exited the water, something I have never had the privilege of doing before. It was very inspiring to see them, hopefully one day, with enough hard work, I too will reach the pro rank. 

Swim – 00:36:09

I had a really good swim. Before I started, I told myself that I should not start really hard and crazy like I have in the past, this causes me to lose my breath/rhythm very quickly, forcing me to stop, losing time. Instead, I told myself to think of it as a normal Wednesday morning session with Tower 26. This was a very beneficial state-of-mind to put myself in, remaining calm during these types of things is one of the ways to go fastest.

It was a very interesting swim, most of the course was anywhere from 3-7 feet deep, which meant that any time you got tired, all you had to do was stand up, catch your breath and keep on truckin’ (or swimming).  It felt like the exact opposite of swimming in the ocean, totally safe at all times, in control and, especially, no great white sharks! This was especially relevant since there had been an unfortunate, freak accident, shark-attack the week before off the Manhattan Beach Pier.  

It was a deep water start, so all the 29 and under, green capped athletes, myself included, walked into the water and waited for the gun to go off. I felt pretty calm and relaxed at this point, ready for the long day that lay ahead.

T1 00:05:24

T1 was muddy and rather chaotic. Since my wave started last, a whole 2 hours from the start of the race, we were able to see T1 being deconstructed as we ran towards our bikes. We had to put all our belongings into the provided plastic bags so that they could be transported back to T2 at Windsor High School, 15 miles away. I took my time to make sure I had placed everything in its right place, which lead to my slower transition time. However, since this was such a long race, relatively speaking, I decided that the extra time spent in T2 would be well worth it. Hopefully, in the future I will be faster.

Bike – 3:31:36

In order to make sure there weren’t any surprises, I had driven the bike course the day before. This allowed me to have a much better perspective on what was to come, gauging my energy efforts accordingly.

The beginning of the bike starts out with a rather steep hill, which I walked, calmly. After this, I hoped on my bike and tried to maintain the easiest cadence/energy output I could muster. I intended to try and conserve energy, leaving as much as possible for the last 6 miles of the run, at which point I wanted to try and put it all down on the line. This idea worked fantastically. I originally predicted that there would be a lot of suffering coming in on the ride, especially at around mile 39. However, this did not happen, in fact, I felt very good at that point, it was hard to believe.

My outstanding performance can be partly attributed to my correct intake of nutrition. During my previous 70.3, a few weeks prior, in Folsom, I had bungled my nutrition in spectacular fashion. I had relied too heavily on plain water, didn’t use Perpeteum and even dropped a water bottle at one point, rendering my parched for quite a few miles, a fatal flaw in triathlon. This meant that by the time I arrived at the last 10 miles of the bike, my legs were shutting down, cramping and I just kept digging myself deeper and deeper into a hole of pure misery.

Nutrition

3 Roctane Salt Caps w/ Ginger Root (soothes stomach, supposedly) right after the swim

Electrolyte fluids throughout

Small amounts of water every 10 minutes

3 bite-sized Bonk Breakers

5 oz of Perpeteum, 1 squeeze/swig every 30 minutes

2 Salt Stick Caps every 20-30 minutes

With this particular combination, I was able to continue like the Energizer bunny, it was incredible, especially since I do not really go for such a long time during my training rides, not to mention use all the nutrition that I consumed. I only felt my lower back hurt during the ride, stretching probably would’ve helped with this.

 At no point did I feel even a slight cramp, my legs were in great condition, I do not think I have ever felt this good after riding for that long. I kept thinking to myself that I was excited and looking forward to the run, something that is very unusual for me. I knew that I had to have the right mentality, otherwise I would be toast.

The bike course was spectacular, the entire ride consisted of smooth rolling hills, with very few pot holes, many sections of just recently paved highway, two small climbs, surrounded by mile after mile of vineyards and mostly covered by the shade of trees along the road. I felt like was moving pretty quickly, it seemed as if every time I glanced at my Garmin, it said I was riding at around 20mph.

As I was approaching the end of the bike course, I gained a race buddy. I didn’t get a chance to catch his name, he seemed like a pretty cool guy. I saw this dude start to cramp up on the last 2 miles of the bike, all I could think to myself was what a tough time he was going to have if he was already cramping up then. He cheered me on as I passed him. We ended up running out of transition at about the same time.IMG_0217

 

T2 – xx:xx:xx

As I was arriving to T2 I unbuckled my shoes, perfectly, placing my foot on top of the cycling shoe, this allowed me to hop-off with ease and made for an overall faster transition.

I frantically started looking for my running gear, it wasn’t were I remembered putting it. I started to panic, neverhtless, there it was, I found it. I racked my bike up and proceeded to sit down, giving me a better position to change. I switched my thin, black cycling socks for my new compression socks. As I was doing this, I had to take off my timing chip, a critical mistake. As I did that, I thought to myself “man, I should be careful or I’m going to forget my chip,” however, I was so concentrated with the race that this thought didn’t even matter, I bolted out of T2 ready for action, sadly, leaving my timing chip behind. The crazy thing is: I didn’t even realize until half-way through the run, when the timing mats weren’t making those funky robot noises as I ran over them, leading me to stop in my tracks, cursing at the realization of what I had just done.

Run – xx:xx:xx

This was by far my best performance at the half-ironman distance. I was so ready to run, all my training boiled down to this moment. I thought to myself that it was not that hard as I had just run/walked all the way from my house to the Venice pier (16 miles). I felt like I was flying, the mile markers/aid stations were just coming one after the other. During my previous races, I have tended to feel pretty demoralized at the start of the run, like a giant mountain that I have to climb. That makes for a painful run. Not this time, I think my compression socks really helped me, my calves were feeling extraordinary, no pain, no cramping, just pure glory. At this point, I passed my race buddy, again he cheered me on.

Since this was such a new experience for me, it felt rather odd, it was quite hard to know how much longer this type of thing could go on for. Would I simply crash within a few miles? Or would I be able to endeavor, pushing hard the whole way? Only time could tell at that point.

Before I knew it, I reached the “La Crema” winery, I could see it standing tall in the distance, amongst the vineyards. This was an interesting loop, it felt rather disconcerting, however, because I didn’t realize just how long that loop was, my Garmin read 8 miles, but we just kept running and running, I thought we surely had to turn around soon. Sure enough, the turnaround came and it was at this point I noticed something funny about the timing mats. Why weren’t they making that freaky noise when I was running over them? I stopped for a second, looked down, and let out a giant groan of angst/expletives as I realized my T2 thoughts were correct, I left my timing chip on the grass.

As can be imagined, this was a terrible blow to my psyche, instead of simply focusing on racing hard, a stream of thoughts flooded my head, creating doubt, uncertainty and despair. After a few seconds, I gained my composure, and simply said, “F#$k it!” and continued running. Even though I had somewhat convinced myself that they would fix-it somehow, either via photos or writing down who was at the finish line, however, in the end I was wrong, I simply didn’t get a time and pretty much got DQ’d. It always amazes me the things that you learn and have to plan for races like this, especially since they are so few and far in between. You have to travel to the race, participate and then contemplate on all the things that could’ve been improved. I must say, this was almost as bad as the time I missed the 4th lap of the bike at Pacific Groove’s Olympic distance race in September 2013. On the bright side, I’ll be extra careful and make sure this type of thing doesn’t happen again. 

I pushed as hard as I could without over-doing it, and, admittedly, had to do a bit of a mini-walk after running for a while, never more than 10 seconds before running as hard as I could.

In hindsight, altering my running speed so much, from around 8:30 to 7:30 to  walking @ 15:00 min/mi for a few seconds, really caused me to fatigue unnecessarily. In the future I will try to maintain a more modest, stable run pace in order to maximize my energy. At least now I know that I can actually make it this far without even the slightest cramp, something that had proved impossible for me before. Travelling

IMG_0223

Post-Race

I was so happy to have finished, nevertheless, terribly demoralized from having left my chip. I was in such good shape by the end that I could’ve easily kept going. This is good news for my very first upcoming Ironman at Lake Tahoe in September. 

Right after, I walked around thinking of what the best thing to do about my timing chip was. At this point, I realized that eating the food the organizers of Vineman provided would probably be the best thing to do. As I ate, I felt the life coming back to me.

I learned a great amount from this race and it was one of my best performances so far. I can’t wait to do the race again next year. Hopefully I will have the opportunity to sign-up on time as the race sells-out SOO quickly every year.

Wildflower 2014 Long Course

Wildflower 2014 Race Report

Pre-Race

I got to the Lake San Antonio campsite almost an entire week before the race on Saturday. I was able to enjoy the campground, relax, read and do a little reconnaissance of the course. On Wednesday, April 30 I was able to go for a nice ride around the entire bike course, totaling 56 miles by the end of the ride. Unfortunately, this time I only took two water bottles and forgot to include any cash, so I was considerably dehydrated and barely made it back to the campsite. I must say, it was a very good lesson, it taught me a lot about the importance of hydration, especially when you’re in the middle of nowhere, i.e. Central California. I did not want to be too tired or sore before the race, so it made sure to take it easy and go at a calm pace.

On Friday, the day before the race, I went out for a short bike ride, about 12 miles, and managed to see reigning champion Jesse Thomas heading out for a ride. It was very exciting for me, one day I want to be just like Jesse

.IMG_0104

Race

The race was a bit different than most years this time around. The lake was so low that they had to move the swim to an entire different location, a whole two miles from where it usually starts. This meant that we had to run back to the bikes, about two miles, and these were discounted from the run later on in the course. 

I was the about the only person in my age group that did not wear a wetsuit, went old school, figured it would be so hot during the day anyways that it was really not necessary. I am glad I went with that decision as the water temperature was very nice. 

Swim – 00:37:15 – Pace: 00:01:57 / 100m

I managed to get a nice rhythm in the swim but would start to lose my breath, forcing me to stop and catch it again before I could keep swimming. I kept trying to draft behind a swimmer of my same, or similar ability but this proved impossible, only managing to keep behind people for a few strokes before they would either take off or go to slow. Eventually I looked at my Garmin as I was coming out of the water and I read a time of about 37 minutes. At this point I was feeling pretty strong, no cramping, ready to take on the next several hours of raw endurance. 

Run1 – 00:21:31 – Pace 00:09:42

The first run went by pretty quickly, although I was definitely trying to keep my pace to around 8:30/mile or so as to avoid getting to tired before the bike. Everyone was passing me, but I figured it would be much better to conserve energy. The run went through the old lake bed and the GPS would confirm this later as we were running on water according to the Garmin. 

T1A – 00:05:28

I took my time during the transition to the bike as I had to get on all my gear. I made sure to apply sun screen and my bolero to avoid getting scorched under the sun. In hind-sight this was a great idea, I saw several other athletes with major sun burns. 

Bike – 03:46:31 – Pace:14.8MPH

I set off for the famous long bike course, it was an exhilarating moment as I knew there was still a tremendous amount of work ahead of me. As soon as I hit the very first turn, some dude was trying to get by me when there was absolutely no room to squeeze by, yelling “on your left, ON YOUR LEFFFTT ARRRGHH!” which caught me off-guard and since there was no room it really annoyed me. 

Shortly after, the real work began, a nasty grade style incline all the way to the top of Lynch hill where the campsites were. One guy was looking like he was really struggling, and I thought to myself that if he was struggling this soon in to the race, he was in for a LONG day, if he managed to finish at all. 

I decided to really take my time and not push myself since the course would be so long, hard and hilly. This worked out greatly, I ended up underestimating my abilities as I still felt pretty strong in my legs towards the end of the race. 

The first few miles out of the camp grounds were very hilly, over and over again, having to grind slowly while a slew of riders just kept passing me by. I kept thinking how crazy strong and/or stupid these guys were for expending so much energy. 

I just kept trudging along and maintaining my own pace as slowly, but surely my bladder began to fill up to capacity, making it very uncomfortable to pedal. Luckily for me, there were plenty of port-o-potties along the bike course, approximately every 10 miles or so. I would end up making about 5 port-o-potty stops as the same situation would present itself multiple times. It didn’t matter how hard I tried to pee on the bike, I could not do it for the life of me. I’ve learned that this is a skill unto its own, that must be practiced if one is to become good at relieving themselves while riding a time trial, or any bike for that matter. I probably lost a few minutes each time I stopped, I think. 

I had to remember to keep taking my nutrition, which included salt pills, and my Hammer Perpeteum made into a paste that I tucked into a little bottle holder on my stem. I was amazed at how well these two products work with each other. I would constantly get hungry and would just take a swig of my paste, it has calories, so, it helped with that. 

Run – 02:32:32 – Pace: 00:11:38 min/mile

The run went pretty well, however, I had to walk a good portion of i as it was extremely steep and I was feeling pretty tired. The first few miles went by rather quickly, I hit one aid-station after the other. The Cal Poly volunteers were going wild, cheering everyone on.

At this point the day was starting to get very hot, luckily I had my bolero on so my arms were covered. The course was a bit different that years prior since we already ran before getting on the bike. 

I was wearing my Hoka One-One shoes and they felt great. I saw a few other people doing the same thing. Unfortunately, they got really dirty with all the dirt trails we had to go through. The views of the former Lake San Antonio were breathtaking, I was pacing myself enough to be able to enjoy the views. At around mile 5 I had to make a dash to the port-o-potty and find relief. I realized I probably hadn’t dialed in my nutrition quite right the night before and was suffering for it on the run. 

At this point my feet really started to hurt, partly because my cycling cleats were secured way too tight during the ride. I felt tired, hungry and ready to get to the finish line. I tried to keep up my pace but it proved very difficult. As I approached mile 9 or so, a group of Cal Poly volunteers pulled up their shirts and flashed me and a few other guys with their bare breasts — considered a yearly tradition — this made us pick up the pace just a bit. 

I had a vague idea of what the run course would look like, this was an important mistake. After running mile after mile, we started to head back through the park’s main gate, a sure sign that we were close to the finish line. However, this was a bit disillusioning since there was still a considerable portion left of the run, we still had to traverse the camp sites, do a few loops and then finally head down the infamous Lynch hill. Lynch Hill is a special hill, it is extremely steep and has many sharp, dangerous turns. By the time I arrived I couldn’t wait to reach the finish line, I was reaching the end of my limit.

IMG_0106

Conclusion

I had an amazing time at Wildflower this year. There was several important differences that I made from the year before that allowed me to have a much better experience this time around. Last year, I had just injured my shoulder a few days before the race while riding around Lake Tahoe. It was terrible, I was diagnosed with Bursitis and given some anti-inflammatory, this didn’t help much and I needed some good old rest. However, I had been waiting for this event for so long that I didn’t even consider skipping the race. Even though it was just the Olympic distance it not only hindered my performance but it also did further damage to my shoulder. 

This time around it was my second ever half-ironman triathlon and I was considerably intimidated by the entire thing. However, keeping a cool mind, riding the course a few days before and training very hard allowed me to exceed my expectations. I went the entirety of the course without cramping, something that was previously unheard of for me. It was the first taste of what the distance has to offer.

I particularly learned that there is a tremendous difference between short/medium (sprint/olympic) and longer course racing. While the former relies way more heavily on raw power and not so much on nutrition, the latter requires a much more even-keeled mindset. I was able to get a preview of what the rest of my half-ironman and beyond races would feel like. 

Goleta Beach Triathlon 2014 – Long Course

Goleta Beach Triathlon Race Report

Pre- Race

I had been looking forward to racing at Goleta Beach for quite a while, a friend of mine, Aaron, had contacted me via text during Wildflower weekend to see if I had signed-up yet because prices were going up. Unfortunately, in the end, Aaron was not able to attend.

I drove up with my mom on Saturday afternoon. It was a quick drive up PCH then 101, we stayed at the Motel 6 in Carpinteria as we didn’t make reservations until the last minute. It was a nice motel. We went to a Tapas bar before heading over to have dinner. I found a  great place while studying at UCSB, it is called Olio e  Limone, a super swanky Italian restaurant right off of State St. Did a little hob-knobing with the local Santa Barbarians and went straight to bed. 

Race Morning

I woke up at 1:28am, unable to sleep, the air-conditioning had been turned off and it was way too hot in there. I was so excited for the race that I couldn’t fall back asleep the entire night. I read blogs of other triathletes, in the darkness, as well as slow-motion videos of a dude throwing-up milk, which I found hilarious. I tried to contain my laughter in bed.

We arrived to the event at about 5:30am and my wave didn’t start until 8:00am so that gave me plenty of time to chill. It was extremely foggy that morning, you could barely see the giant yellow buoys in the distance, this caused the race to be delayed a few minutes. I felt very relaxed and confident, I knew it would be a great race.

IMG_0275

Swim – 25:56 ~1:28/100yds

I had a really good swim. All the training sessions with Tower 26 have really began to come to fruition and allowed me to be a faster swimmer than ever before. As the swim started a few guys jetted out and never looked back, leaving me with everyone else, vying for position towards the front. As we approached the first turn buoy there were a few people ahead of me. This allowed me to get behind their feet, drafting, saving energy. Before I knew it, I was in the front of this giant pack of men, to the point where I turned around to make sure I was not off-course. It was a very unusual feeling for me. I was pushing as hard as I could while still maintaining a calm demeanor. At one point the pace was too intense,  nevertheless, I managed to keep my cool and return to a more comfortable pace.

Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 5.29.04 PM

I can’t believe what an improvement I have made from last year where I did the same swim in 33:24. 

Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 5.30.34 PM

T1 – 00:02:39

I was out of breath by the time I reached the timing mat. I ran as fast as I could over to my bike and wiped my dirty feet with the towel I had. I opted not to use socks with my road shoes, it was totally fine. 

I forgot to hit the lap button on my Garmin until I was a few miles out on the bike course, this messed up my times with the GPS. 

IMG_0258

Bike – 01:10:39 – 18.7 MPH

The bike leg went OK, I don’t think I did enough training on the bike, it felt as if my full potential could not be reached. I wanted to go faster but my legs simply wouldn’t let me. At one point I got totally “chicked” by a UCLA bruin #407, Kelly Kosmo, she passed me by as if I was standing still, even though I was pushing as hard as I could. I tried to keep-up at one point, to no avail, leaving me in the dust within minutes. She later lapped me on the run. It was very inspiring, hopefully one day I will be that fast. 

The bike course was very familiar as it was where I first started training for triathlons back in November of 2012. There were many pot holes along the road, however, many of them have been fixed since I last rode on it. There were many sharp, blind, dangerous turns on the course which slowed the pace down quite a bit. There were no aid stations during this part, I had to carry my own water, which I was expecting, so it wasn’t so bad. I had two bottles, each one with a GU salt tablet, creating electrolyte enhanced water, just what I needed to avoid cramping. 

I began to realize what a huge difference there is with the longer distance races as there is hardly any time to even drink as you are pushing as hard as you can the entire way. Whereas, with the longer distances, they require a more steady flow of energy throughout, allowing the feeding process to be more calm. 

Also, another thing worth mentioning was that the bike course was a narrow two-way course, so passing other riders was a rather perilous affair, risking a head-on collision every time. 

T2 00:02:21

I un-buckled my bike shoes as I was approaching T2, it was the culmination of many attempts at doing T2 in races. Flawless. Hoped off/racked my bike, but m  Brooks Pure Cadence 2 shoes on and ran out of T2 as fast as possible. 

Had to brush my feet clean a bit, obviously, could’ve been faster but I was satisfied with what I did at the moment. 

Run – 5 miles – 00:38:40 – 00:07:44 min/mi

The run course was spectacular, very short and comfortable. You could see the entirety of the course from the beginning, this allowed you to see how the competition was doing. I could see people catching up to me and then passing me with little or no problem. My legs felt great at this point, when I would look at my watch I kept thinking that I was going too fast as I usually can’t run much faster than 8:00 minute/mi on my training runs. However, in retrospect, I could’ve pushed the pace much more. 

I hadn’t paid much attention to the map details prior to the start of the race, so, I wasn’t exactly sure how long the run distance was, only that it was 4 laps. This threw me off a bit, I could’ve pushed harder.

I felt very relaxed the entire run, making sure to thank the volunteers as I passed them. Towards the end, though, I felt more focused and ran past without even looking.mnm

Finish 

At the end of the 4th lap of the run I asked one of the volunteers what to do next, he gave me directions and I ran to the finish line. My legs were beginning to show slight signs of cramping as I had forgotten my race belt at home, I didn’t have my salt pills. 

I felt an overwhelming sense of joy at what I had just accomplished, I knew I could push so much harder and would do that much better in the future. There was still adrenaline racing through my veins and I couldn’t really eat for about 30 minutes, at which point I gained a ravenous appetite. I smelled gnarly. Luckily, the Motel 6 room had a 12 pm check-out, this left me a whole hour to shower and get ready for the drive back

IMG_0253

Alcatraz Challenge 2014

Alcatraz Challenge Race Report

Race Date: 05/18/2014

Pre-Race

I had to drive 400 mi to San Francisco, leaving on Saturday morning, spending one night at a 1 star motel and then driving back to be at my 6AM shift on Monday morning. It was quite a journey, especially since I was totally alone.

Staying in San Francisco, in the Tenderloin district was very disturbing, there were addicts and hustlers everywhere you looked. I managed to find a parking lot structure that had 24 hour parking for $20.  The only problem was that they closed from 2AM to 6AM and I had to be at the ferry at 5AM. This meant that I had to try and sleep from about 9PM on Saturday until around 130AM Sunday, gather my things and leave my roach motel, get to my car and then try to find a place to park closer to the ferry. Also, I had to wait from 2AM until 5AM, or about 3 hours in a city that I was not acquainted with at all. Luckily, I found a nice, secluded spot in the Presidio to park and try to get some shut-eye.

Ferry Ride

The ferry ride was quite exciting, being able to travel around the bay with a bunch of like-minded athletes that were all about to jump out into the freezing cold water with me. It took quite a while to finally get out to Alcatraz, however, I waited patiently until it was time to jump in the water.

We were given brief instructions on what to sight on while traversing the bay. Firstly, we had to sight on Fort Mason, then the Yacht Club and finally the green copper dome of the Palace of Fine Arts. They only gave us a 5-minute window to jump off the ferry, so It all happened very quickly. Before you knew it, we were all out.

Swim – 00:45:33 – Pace: 00:01:53 / mile

 As soon as I hit the water it was a pure adrenaline surge, the waves were huge, toppling over my head, leaving me gasping for air. Everyone started swimming away, seemingly undisturbed by the difficult swimming conditions.

At first it was hard for me to get a good rhythm going, as soon as I would try and gasp for air a wave would collapse on my head and make me stop. This happened several times, until, finally, I started to develop a tactic for breathing. I would have to time my breathing so that I would come out of the water at the crest of the second wave, meaning that I would have to stay underwater for 2 more seconds than usual.

All of the sighting objects seemed so far away, this coupled with how hard it was for me to even get a good stroke cadence made it seem like I would be out there for a very long time. Nevertheless, I kept pushing, hard, eventually realizing that I was making good progress. Although I noticed that I had deviated off course a bit, my fellow athletes were already on shore, running towards the end of the swim.

Transition – 00:02:54

I ran on the sand until I reached the pavement of T1. Tried to be as fast as possible, get my running shoes on, my glasses and get out of dodge as soon as possible.

Run – 01:02:47 – Pace: 00:08:58

I felt strong during the run, I originally thought it was only 6 miles, so, I may have pushed a little too hard considering it was actually 7 miles. The run started out on a gravel trail, then lead to a set of stairs  all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge. It was one of the most breath-taking vistas I had every had the opportunity to traverse. I first glance, one might not notice the curvature of the bridge, however, it definitely becomes noticeable as you try and run as fast as possible across it.

Folsom Lake Long Course 2014

Folsom Lake Long Course Triathlon Race Report – DNF

 Race Date: 06/08/2014

Pre-Race

The race was located in Sacramento, so, Claire and I traveled via the I-5 in the Prius all the way there. We left on Friday after I got off work. It took a bit longer to get all the final preparations ready for the trip, which led to a late start of around 3PM. This meant that we ended up arriving to Sacramento at around midnight, with the last 80 miles of the drive being a total nightmare from being so tired.

The next day, Saturday, we went to pick up the packet and pay for the registration for the race. This was the first time I had traveled so far without having previously registered, fortunately, there were no issues.  Then we scouted out where the beginning of the race would be, a task harder than one might think.

It was nice to be able to spend some time with the family. The night before, I had a wonderful dinner and was able to load-up on my carbohydrates. I had been reading a lot of information on-line about getting nutrition right, eating before 6PM was one of the recommendations that made most sense to me, so that is what I did.

Race Day

I rose very early at around 3 AM to make sure I would have time to digest my breakfast. I tried to keep it as simple as possible, ate 2 bags of instant oatmeal with honey and a banana. It might seem like very little, however, it made me feel great for the race.

We left bright and early for the race start and managed to be one of the first cars to enter the parking lot. I got all my stuff ready and headed on over to transition. The transition area was long and narrow, luckily I was able to find a nice secluded spot in one of the corners. I set up my equipment and then proceeded to go for a warm-up swim.

At this point, Pinkman, my dog, was going nuts from all the commotion and for the first time he wanted to jump in a body of water.

The Swim 38:00

I soon found out it was a deep-water start, my very first one. Admittedly, I went way too hard at the beginning of the swim and decided to attack from the get-go, something that I was certainly not trained to do. Within a few minutes I began to realize my mistake as I was gasping for air and unable to keep a good rhythm. Looking back, I was overconfident in my abilities; this was a theme that would run throughout the entirety of the race, leading to my eventual voluntary withdrawal .

After I was finally unable to continue, I stopped in my tracks and simply floated for a few seconds, trying to lower my heart rate and breathing. A few seconds later, I continued at a more relaxed pace and would eventually, towards the end, would manage to find a good rhythm.

Note for Next Time: Be as relaxed as possible during the swim, try to find fast feet to draft behind, do not get over-enthused. CONSERVE ENERGY!

T1 00:03:15

I made sure to be careful during this transition, so as to not forget anything, leading to a slower than possible transition.

The Bike 3:16:26

The bike leg started off nicely, with rolling hills, leading up to increasingly bigger hills. At this point I was very thankful that I had decided to get a bigger 12-30 cassette and compact crankset. I had all my nutrition on board, which included: 2 Bonk Breakers, each having about 245 calories, I believe; a flask filled with GU, about 6 or 7 gel packets worth; salt capsules, with magnesium, sodium and other important electrolytes; 2 bottles of water.

I wanted to switch around my nutrition a bit to try and avoid my GI distress problems I had while racing at Wildflower. So, instead of using the Hammer Perpeteum with pancake batter consistency, I opted for gels, a very important mistake, I believe.

In hindsight I was pushing way too hard on the bike, as I wanted to make the best time possible. I definitely tried to avoid chasing after people, however there the competitive nature of the race made me lose sight of how my body was responding. I did not take advantage of the Gatorade offered at the aid-station, only the water, this caused there to be spikes in my electrolyte in-take as I ingested the salt capsules about once an hour. Due to this, I began cramping about half-way through the bike leg.

It started out as a small twitch, slowly ebbing and flowing based on my electrolyte in-take, until reaching full-tilt at around mile 40 of the bike. At this point, one of the worst possible scenarios played out: I dropped my only water bottle! This was a terrible mistake and made me fall back on my nutrition schedule, I was very thirsty and unable to do anything about it as we were riding through the middle of nowhere. Luckily, I only had to endure this for about 30 minutes, however, the damage was done, I would not be able to climb back out of that hole and I didn’t even know it yet.

Finally, I saw an aid-station and made sure to grab 2 bottles of Gatorade and immediately down two salt capsules. My legs were on fire at this point, burning with each push of the pedal. It would alternate between one leg and the other, even having to clip-out on one side to keep my leg straight while the other one pedaled along in order to avoid intense cramping. Within about 15 minutes, I could feel the salt capsules start to take effect; it was like ice-cold water on red hot coals.

As my legs began to ‘cool-down’ a little I tried to push the pace a bit, sharp cramping pain would explode in my quadriceps causing me to slow down to a very slow pace. The last 10 miles were grueling, flat landed and hot.  Nevertheless, I made it to the end of the bike leg in one piece.

T2 00:5:17

It was quite a relief to lay me sight on T2, I approached trying to convince myself that I was still able to go strong. I tried to down as many fluids as possible without making me feel bloated. The cramping was subsiding at this point.

The Run 00:00:00 DNF

I was able to complete the first lap of the run, by the end of which my legs simply seized-up and it was almost impossible to even continue walking at this point, at least without causing damage or injuries in my opinion.

At first I was able to run for maybe the first mile, at about a pace of 9:00 min/mi, slowly passing people and seeing the rest of the race that were doing shorter distances of sprint and Olympic. Then as I started on my second mile, it turned into more of a run for 2 minutes, walk for 30 seconds. Slowly but surely, the little energy I had left began to fade, fast.

The trail consisted of rolling hills the entire time, going all the way out to about 3.5 miles until the turn-around.  I managed to finally start heading on my way back, confident that I could continue with the run/walk combo. Then, as I approached the 5thmile it became impossible to keep running, all I could muster was a walk. Needless to say, soon thereafter I could no longer even walk and would have to stop in a futile attempt to stretch my legs and stop the pain.

By the time I arrived at the turn around point, which was only 3 feet away from my transition area, I could no longer find the energy to continue. Sadly, this would be my first DNF.

Post-Race Reflections

Even though it was technically a DNF, I feel that I learned a tremendous amount from this race. It was what I consider to be a training race, exactly for that purpose. I gained valuable insight into my nutrition, pacing and became more comfortable with the 70.3 format. I am eager to keep training and look forward to July 12, 2014 when I will be doing Vineman 70.3.

Kendra’s Race 2014

Kendra’s Race 2014 Race Report

Pre-Race

I have been very excited for this race to come up, as it not only marks the first anniversary of my second race ever — I’ve come such a far ways since — but it also allowed me to go back to my alma mater: UCSB.

I was lucky enough to be accompanied by Claire and the ride up to Santa Barbara was quick and beautiful. Although, there was a bit of trouble trying to find a place to stay, we eventually settled for Super 8 in Goleta, it was perfect located for the race, a mere 2 miles from the start.

We decided to get some food, as this would be crucial for having the right nutrition for race day. So, we went to Whole Foods, where they have a wonderful selection of healthy foods and got almond milk, pre-mixed granola, fruit, yogurt and several other healthy things. After that was done, there was thing left to do: FREEBIRDS! This is a must when visiting Isla Vista, a true classic. Once we finished stuffing our faces with the famous Quesarito —  if a quesadilla and a burrito had a kid, this is what it would look like  — we retreated back to the motel and called it a night.

Race Day

Luckily, it was a very straight shot to get to the transition zone and the parking was accessible and reasonably priced ($4 for all day), so, that was done quickly and without issues.

This has to be probably the most uncoordinated, on-the-fly race I have ever attended; no chiming tips, one end of the transition area was wide open, nobody who was working knew of a place to get water (instead saying there was some in the dorms but they weren’t open, so, yeah)

Eventually, we all headed down to the sea, right by campus point/ UCSB Lagoon and waited for the swim waves to start. I was in the second wave with the non-collegiate males, aka Open M/F, it started at 8:05.

Race Start

As the race started we all ran into the water and jumped in, doing small dolphin dives to get out to open water faster. I managed to remain very calm throughout the entire swim, constantly reminding myself that the calmer I remained, the better I would be able to swim as I could control my breathing and technique without having to stop and rest/ gasp for air.

Swim

I could really feel the improvement in my technique, strength and stamina from all the pool sessions I have been going to lately. As opposed to the usual, “I just want this swim to be over/get me out of here already!” feeling, this time it was very enjoyable and rewarding.

Furthermore, another awesome thing I managed to do during the swim was draft consistently and efficiently. I really noticed the difference of trying to swim alone as opposed to following in someones foot stroke. I knew I was doing it correctly because I could consistently see the guys bubbles in front of me but I wouldn’t be going too fast as to touch his feet.

Coming out of the water, we all had to walk in the water for about 100 feet as it was only waist deep. Then there was the dreaded stairs up to the transition area, which left me feeling out of breath, more so than the entire swim.

T1

Transition was a breeze as I have been getting much better at this, with the tri-shoes already clipped in and dangling from rubber bands, so, I was able to zip through without much issue.

Bike

The bike leg was so much fun. I was able to really put the hammer down. This is where I first started training for triathlon, back in November 2012, when I pulled the trigger on my Scott Plasma 2, so, I was very well acquainted with the course. When combined with the short format of the race, there was simply no holding back, I kept passing rider after rider in their collegiate tri suits, never allowing myself to go beyond my capabilities while still pushing as hard as possible.

There were a few people who stuck with me on the majority of the bike ride, but there was one guy who I remember particularly well. He was riding a Quintana Roo bike and his fitness level was very similar to mine. I can’t remember his number. We would consistently pass each other, however, I ultimately held the advantage of knowing the course particularly well, thus knowing when to really go hard.

As we eventually made our way back onto the UCSB campus, via the windy bike bath, I took my feet out of tri shoes and hopped off gloriously right before T2

T2

T2 was good, nice grass on the feet. Took me a second to put on my socks, however the quick laces on the HOKA ONE ONE saved me some time. Zipped out of transition, ready to rock the run course — a little too ready perhaps, I left with my helmet still firmly attached to my head. 

Run

The run course was marvelous, it was a run around the UCSB lagoon, an area I had many training sessions in previously. The guy who was on the bike with me was running close by and eventually passed me at about mile 1 and held the lead until the dirt trails, through the brushes of the lagoon, at which point I laid the hammer down again, and brought it home, sailing in at a time of around 1:4?:??

Post-Race Reflections

I thoroughly enjoyed participating in this event, it brought back nostalgic memories and was a great tune-up for Wildflower. I am definitely looking forward to returning next year.