Wildflower Triathlon - Long Course - TriathlonLong Course

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Lake San Antonio, California
United States
75F / 24C
Total Time = 6h 02m 3s
Overall Rank = 643/1966
Age Group = M40-44
Age Group Rank = 97/278
Pre-race routine:

When I signed up for Wildflower last year I was really amped up for it. I did the Olympic Distance in 2007 and knew it would be a tough course but I was really looking forward to it anyway. This is my second Half Ironman Distance event and had a pretty good idea of what I was in for.

Then of course I qualified for a spot at Ironman Lake Placid in July and the meaning of Wildflower suddenly became a bit muddled. At one point, I was considering a DNS mostly because I did not want to loose 3 weeks of training for my big race in July. Of course I have actually been training for Lake Placid consistently since late last year and I was much better off doing the race.

So, my altered approach to the race was to taper a bit for it, set some reasonable tuneup race based goals, and try not to kill myself out there so I could abbreviate the recovery time. I really did not want to take a full 7 days off.

I finally settled on some training and pace based goals for the race:

1). Solidify my Nutrition Plan

My nutrition plan for Ironman California was a bit thin. I did the race on Gel and water and it got a bit dodgy toward the end of the run. I was very reluctant to drink anything but water due to past experiences with gatorade and running. I also stopped eating the last 30 minutes of the bike to prepare for the run.

For Wildlflower, my plan was to use the same schedule (every 30 minutes) for Gel, but add a couple of Clif Bars for the bike and to eat right up until I entered transition. Then go on Survival Fluids for the run but to take in Gatorade as well as water. They were serving Gatorade Endurance which does not have HFCS which seems to be what angers my tummy on the run.

2). Set a Pace Plan and Follow it (And Don't Worry about Actual Finish Time So Much)

My pace plan was to plan for ~35 minute swim, add 15 minutes to my IMCal bike time (2:48 + 15:00 = 3:18) and to add 30 minutes to my Half Marathon PR. (1:35 + 30:00 = 2:05). The bike course is hilly and the run course is ~60% technical trail running with plenty of hills. I also hoped to run a negative split on the run owing to the fact that the last 4 miles are all on the road.

That suggested my finish time should be about 45 minutes slower than IMCal 70.3. (5:19 + 45:00 = 6:04)

3). Have Fun :)

Well, this is Wildflower. Central Coastal California is beautiful especially this time of year and this course pretty exciting to race and to watch. It can be hot, but it was not expected to be terribly hot on race day.
Event warmup:

I camped for the weekend at the lake and all I needed to do was gather my stuff and ride about a mile from camp to the transition area. We all had to be in transition by 7:15 since they were closing the TA once the race started.

I got up, made some coffee, toasted a bagel with peanut butter and cooked a bowl of oatmeal. Tummy felt good and I had actually made it up to my race weight just in time for the race. (Taper is good for putting on a few lbs)

Rode down to transition and spotted Chris right away. We chatted for a bit and Paul managed to find me. (Met Chris at PacShore and both Paul and Chris also did IMcal 70.3) Walked around the transition to see if I could find my cousin who was also doing this race. Also looked for Donato (Enginerd), DickDime and Jeff (jbjboc). Without bib numbers it was tough to find folks. (Rack Spots were assigned so with Bib Numbers it would have been a breeze)

Lucky for me that my rack was pretty close to the bike entrance/exit so I would not be clomping too far in my shoes. (I don't do Flying Dismounts yet) I am sure my hamstrings would be happy about this. I felt like I ran the better part of a mile at IMCal in my bike shoes.

Got to the ramp and chatted with Paul and then we went out for a quick warmup swim just as the previous wave went off.

  • 35m 50s
  • 2112 yards
  • 01m 42s / 100 yards

Swim started off great. Not much of a run as a few steps down the ramp and into the water and off we go. I get into a very comfortable groove right away and only get kicked once. (Knocked my goggles loose) Once rounding the 1st bouy I pretty much have all the space I need. I start passing a lot of folks in my wave and get into a very open spot about half way out.

As we round the next bouy heading into the turnaround, I am noticing more and more folks from the earlier wave that I am passing. As we round the next bouy and start heading back, I am still feeling really good and amd still passing lots of folks and not certain why. They don't look like they are struggling, I am guessing they just went out too fast and are now gassed.

About half way back I am starting to notice a few folks from a couple of waves up and I learn later, even a few folks wearing the same color beanie as me are from a way earlier wave. Still feeling really strong out here.

I line up with the finish and try not to charge in too fast. (Need to keep the HR low) Out of the water, suit is peeled down, Hat and goggles are off and away I go. It was then that I realize that my watch has stopped about 10 seconds into the swim :(

My wetsuit must have bound up and clicked the stop button on the watch. So I have only a vague idea of my Elapsed time at this point. Not really much of a worry since time is not a big goal for this race.

What would you do differently?:

Nothing really. I am very satisfied with my swim time given the conditions.
Transition 1
  • 02m 39s

I get on the right isle and run down and spot Chris who had an excellent swim and is already out of the water. (He is about ready to ride at this point) Damn, he is a fish :)

Suit is off, shoes and helmet are on and I am off not far behind Chris. Still feeling very good at this point and HR is clicking along at a reasonable rate.

What would you do differently?:

Nothing really.

I was able to stay calm and keep my HR down throughout.
  • 3h 09m 38s
  • 56 miles
  • 17.72 mile/hr

First mile or two are pretty flat along the water and my focus is just to get into an easy groove and stay calm at this point. There is a pretty steep hill coming up and I know this is not going to be easy. I approach the hill with some momentum and get into a nice seated rhythm and climb away.

My bailout gear is a 39x21 and I am passing a lot of folks who are spinning. They will surely see me again as I am working pretty hard to maintain my momentum. As I get close to the top I start shifting down and stand up to sprint for the top to carry some speed over the crest. This was much tougher last year with a 42x21 ratio and I almost died on this climb.

The next about 20 miles out the park and down Interlake road are pretty familar and I quickly fall into a nice groove with the rollers. Not setting any speed records here but my goal is to go easy over this section of the course. (Am really having a blast)

At about mile 19 just before the turn onto Jolon road, the wind starts to pick up and this could really start to hurt. Then we make the turn and the wind is now coming from the rear quarter. (Whew, glad I am here when the wind starts to pick up) Average speed up to this point is ~16 MPH.

Now I am in the biggest gear I can push and maintain an good pace. I am flying along and for the next 16 miles, really making up a lot of time. I know I will not be doing a sub-3 Bike split, but it is looking like I am a bit ahead of my pace goal. (That is OK for now)

As we make the turn by Hwy 101 and start to head back to the lake, I throttle back just a bit as we are all starting to get hammered with a stiff cross wind. I notice it most on the downhill. My back end got a bit squirrely a few times but was able to avoid Death Wobble. Seems like shifting on the downhill is causing my tires to slip a bit.

I don't have aero wheels so I am not as affected as others are and am really taking crosswind in stride.

At about mile 39, I really sit up. I know what is coming and I need to prepare for it. I take my scheduled nutrition on board and plenty of extra water and get my mind settled for a long grind to the top. I notice that there at least a few folks doing the same thing as me and are taking it easy. Many more are really mashing and I know I will be seeing them again very soon. (Average Speed up to this point is a little above 18 MPH)

Then Nasty Grade is here. I am able to carry a bit of momentum up the 1st pitch and am able to fall into a nice comfortable gear ratio for the climb to the top. I am a bit suprised to be still seated after a couple of miles especially given that I am not yet in my bailout gear. (39x19) I will surely be needing it soon enough.

I am still feeling really good and pacing up the hill mostly with the folks that also sat up. The mashers are road kill at this point. As I look around, I get the sudden realization that we are nearing the top of the hill. Then I can hear the Energizer Bunny up ahead banging away on a huge base drum and I start hooting and hollaring :)

One of the guys I have been pacing with reminds me politely that there is a bit more of a climb around the corner. (I Know this and am mentally prepared for it) Then we are around the corner and up the hill and I am feeling great.

About this time, I look down and see the road in the leetle road in the valley below with all the leetle people on leetle bikes riding along and I am so happy to be here and not there.

The last charge into the finish is mostly an opportunity to make up some time lost on the grade. Huge downhill and more wobble but I am really charging. As we get back into the park I notice that there are peeps already at mile 6 of the run and this is a bit demoralizing for me. (Am I DFL or something, How did they already get back and get running) Then I remember that my wave was 55 minutes after the start.

As we head up to the crest of Lynch hill heading down to transition and am really pushing the pace again. Lots of cheering folks here and they seem to be responding to my appearent bursts of speed.

Then I am down the hill and heading for the dismount line. Not sure at this point what my ET is for the race, but I am back to almost 18 MPH over the bike course and I am very stoked.
What would you do differently?:


Pacing was right where I wanted it to be and came in a bit faster than expected mostly because the hills were not as bad as advertised.
Transition 2
  • 02m 12s

Head into the TA and head down the wrong isle. When I get to where my spot is, I just rack my bike and crawl under. Luckily, none of my rack mates are back yet :)

Helmet off, Shoes off, Shoes, Hat, Race Bet and Water Bottle are on.

Note: I know from last year that there is not much on course support for the run so I decided to carry my fuel belt. Although it is not nearly as hot as previous years, I am still concerned about staying hydrated.

What would you do differently?:

Trace route back to my bike from the bike entrace. (I guess I didn't do this well enough because I ended up on the wrong row)

It was all good mostly because the racks were still empty.
  • 2h 11m 44s
  • 13.1 miles
  • 10m 04s  min/mile

Out of T1 and across the boat ramp and up the stairs. I know from last year not to charge these stairs. I did that last year and it took me a long time to recover. This year I take it easy and quickly find a good groove on the run. See the Papparazzi and do a few airplanes for the camera to stretch the arms and shoulders out.

Along the lake the trail is bumpy but paved at this point. Then around to Harris Creek and I am still feeling really good. Nice smooth stride and thinking at this point, I want to try and run the whole course.

As head through the campground, we go into a dual track trail tha continues around the inlet of Harris creek. Still feeling OK and then I see the second place overall female run alongside and we chat for a bit. She is looking strong but seems concerned she is going to blow up soon.

We get to a point where the trail narrows to single track and it gets very technical. I have to slow to negotiate some of the slopes and tight turns. Shorten my stride and increase turnover. (Just Like Jim2 Suggests) Then we are at the famed clothing optional water stop and it comes and goes all too quickly.

More trail and then we are climbing away from the water and the going is really tough. My hammies and glutes are starting to fatigue and this hill really hurts. Lots of folks are walking but I am determined to run it out.

I know this is clearly my weakness here. I chose not to divert training time to technical trail running owing to the fact that this is not an "A" Race and now is time to pay dearly for this decision. We are starting to pound the hills and I although I am still running, it really hurts, and my HR is through the roof. I cannot keep this up forever.

My pace is very slow at this point. I started the run with an easy 7:45 MPM Pace and am now down to something like 10:00 MPM and getting slower by the minute.

At about mile 6, I hit the water stop and drink as much gatorade as I can and am dumping cups of water on my quads to cool them down. Unfortunately, it is not my quads that are fatiguing, it is my hammies and glutes. They are going to lock up on my at some point if I am not careful.

Then Mercifully, we come through the Redondo Vista Campground and I take the opportunity to hit the Loo. When I sit down, my Hammies totally cramp up on my and I am in total pain. Luckily it subsides when I stand up again. I pull it together and get back out on the trail.

It is looking like I off my planned pace and this really hurts. I continue to take in lots of survival fluids at the stops and also another gel just in case a bonk is coming. Then we are in my campground and am starting to feel a bit better. Still running really slow but I have not walked yet. Pace is almost a 12:00 MPM at this point for the run.

Then we are back out on the road and I am a very happy man. Now I can give my hammies a rest, let my quads do some work and start really running. As we head down this longish hill called "The Pit" I know what is coming and plan for it. I use the downhill to rest up and regain my running form.

At the bottom of the hill, we make the turn and head right back up again and I find a good pace and start my kick for the finish. Up the hill I go and passing lots of folks, Many of whom I saw passing me way back on the trails. This is my revenge :)

I get to the top of the pit and know there is only one more short hill and then it is a big mile long decent to the finish. Time to give it all I have. I charge the hill and am totally gassed at the top of Lynch but I know from last year that I can recover on the downhill for the final finish line charge.

I am falling down this hill with big strides and trying not to overwork the quads. Trying to glide down the hill and not stomp. As we get to the bottom I try to translate the speed from the hill into forward momentum on the flats and am able to find a nice kick through the stands and across the finish line but I am totally spent. I feel like I usually do after a 10k. (IE, Ready to Puke)

What would you do differently?:

If this were an "A" Race, I would have done way more race specific training and properly prepared for technical trail running.
Post race
Warm down:

Ice cold hand towel for my head and an icy bottle of water with a few chewy powerbars and I try to start the recovery process. Feeling pretty bad at this point mostly from dehydration and really wishing I had a space blanket. (starting to get cold) I am able to find a chair and sit down for a while and rehydrate.

After about 20 minutes, I am mostly recovered and ready to walk around. My cousin isn't due in for another 2 hours and so I decide to wander over and get some food and a massage :)

Because my Stopwatch was not working, was going off of actual clock time. I know I would be very close to a 6 hour finish and was secretly wishing for a sub-6 although I suspected that I had just missed it.


Did not get the final results until I got home on Sunday afternoon and as I suspected, I did not make Sub-6 but came very close. My bike split was a bit faster than I had planned and my run was a bit slower than planned but not by anything significant.

Best of all, my nutrition plan is solid. Gel every 30 minutes, 1 Clif Bar every hour, (Bites every 15 minutes or so) and plenty of water and Gatorade endurance. And Eat right up to Transition on the bike. Then Switch to Survival Fluids and Gel as needed on the run. (Including Gatorade Endurance)

I never felt close to a bonk during the race and think this will be a good plan for IMLP in July.

My swim split was slower than I had expected. I felt really good out there and was passing tons of folks. I have been training quite a bit in the ocean and I guess I just did not notice the wind without big waves. It did seem to have an effect since my swim time was almost 2 minute slower than at IMCal in March. (Chris, I was 34 Minutes on the swim at Oceanside)

I made up a lot of time in the middle downwind portion of the course and also after the summit. My Average speed at the bottom of the hill was ~18 MPH and it was 17.7 MPH at the finish. Did not loose hardly any time on the grade at all.

I ended up with a huge negative split on the run and made up a ton of time once I got back onto the asphalt. Those trails really kicked my butt. (As expected given that I chose not to train for trails)

All and all I think this was a very successful race. I met all of my goals and this sets me up very nicely for Lake Placid in July. I had a blast doing the race and feel like it was totally the right decision not to skip it.

I plan on returning but not next year. I am hoping to get a slot for Ironman Coeur d'Alene 2008 and this race will just take too much out of my training. I will be using Ironman California as a Tuneup in 2008. Of course it is also way too close to another race that I really would like to run in 2008 but that I still have to qualify for :)

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Lack of Race Specific Training for the run. I could probably have gone at least a full 15 minutes faster if I were properly trained for the run.

Event comments:

This is Wildflower. The real draw is the venue for the race and the actual race itself. TriCal seems to have slipped a bit this year with some of hte organization possibly because of the loss of Jamba Juice $$$.

I will surely be back for another bite at the apple and next time, this will be an "A" Race :)

Profile Album

Last updated: 2006-11-13 12:00 AM
00:35:50 | 2112 yards | 01m 42s / 100yards
Age Group: 72/278
Overall: 503/1966
Performance: Good
Suit: 2XU C2 Full
Course: "L" Shaped out and back on a fresh water lake with a boat ramp start.
Start type: Run Plus: Waves
Water temp: 65F / 18C Current: Low
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting: Good
Waves: Navigation: Average
Rounding: Good
Time: 02:39
Performance: Average
Cap removal: Average Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: Yes
Getting up to speed: Good
03:09:38 | 56 miles | 17.72 mile/hr
Age Group: 88/278
Overall: 581/1966
Performance: Good
Wind: Some with gusts
Course: Moderately hilly simgle loop with 1 ~350 Ft climb right out of transition and another big climb starting at about 41 and continuing to about mile 45. Rest of the course has plenty of rollers and a few technical downhills all on country roads.
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence:
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good Hills: Good
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
Time: 02:12
Overall: Good
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike Good
Racking bike Average
Shoe and helmet removal Good
02:11:44 | 13.1 miles | 10m 04s  min/mile
Age Group: 141/278
Overall: 974/1966
Performance: Below average
Course: Single loop with a mixture of asphalt, dual track and single track trails with some moderately technical up and down hills. Road section includes one good up hill and one very big downhill at the finish. Trails represent ~60% of the course.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %2%
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 3
Physical exertion [1-5] 3
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Below average
Race evaluation [1-5] 4