Wildflower Triathlon - Long Course - Triathlon1/2 Ironman

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Lake San Antonio, California
United States
80F / 27C
Total Time = 7h 04m 48s
Overall Rank = 1419/1966
Age Group = M40-44
Age Group Rank = 221/278
Pre-race routine:

Here, in my typical long and windy fashion, is my WF report........

The Why
I had always heard about this mythical race to the north..... "Wildflower." This super tough race, even the Olympic was hard, but the long course.... well, death march were the words used to describe the run. Nasty Grade was the bike climb. Beach Hill... a bitch. the heat...

Last year I came up with some friends and swam the leg for a long course relay team. Seeing my friends come in, felt like I had missed out on the "fun." So, I immediately went home and signed up for California 70.3. No way, no how, did I ever figure I could do the WF half, though. But somewhere in there, somehow, I also got registered for WF long course. I don't exactly remember doing it, but there my name was, on the participants list. I must have been drunk.

In preparation, I had done several tough training rides with Mike, either gnarly climbs in the Santa Monica mountains, or PV trail runs, and he'd say "if you can do that, you can do Wildflower." Yeah, well, I didn't exactly enjoy that, and I wasn't doing the bike and run on the same day, in the heat.

5 weeks earlier, I finished California, and the first thought in my head after finishing that was "wtf was I thinking signing up for the long course????" I basically blew up on mile 8 of the run at California and limped in, about a 1/2 hour over my goal time. An inauspicious way to come into a MUCH harder course.

I was beginning to have serious doubts I could complete it. I had been doing lots of hill training, both on the bike and the run, but only having heard course descriptions, I made the WF mountains and climbs HUGE in my head. And I was still tired from California.

Still, that doesn't answer the why. The only answer I have is I must like punishment. Coming up to the race, I didn't freak out or have taper madness like California, not that I wasn't respecting the distance. I guess having done it once took at least some of the mystique away. And frankly, I was ready to just experience what WF had to offer. I did have a time goal (7 hours) but was going to do my best to not worry about the time. But as race day got closer......

Getting There

My wife and I left LA about 5:30 am Friday, pulled into Paso Robles about 10, looking for the market for supplies. Well, the market right off the road to WF was no longer there, and we learned from a local that there were no markets on the "west" side of town. Sheesh.. small towns, so, got directions, got lost, and an hour and a half later, with milk, OJ, bagels and beer in tow (our assignment), we were on our way.

We were camping with a group of about 20, right on the road below LA Tri club. We had a little compound in the Redondo Vista loop staked out with chairs, cones, the works. "Camping" here, as I learned last year, isn't "finding a camp site." It's finding a bare spot on the ground and throwing your tent there. Not called the Woodstock of triathlon for nothing. Set up the tent, blow up the air mattress, head down to the expo.

Down at the expo three of us tried the Endless Pool video demo, and got our strokes taped. What an eye opener. My stroke sucks.

After the check in, we went to the swim course. My wife was doing the swim leg of a relay, so she wanted to see the course, transition, etc. We got in the water and swam to the first buoy and back, sans wetsuits. It's amazing how much less buoyancy we have in that environment. My wife got a little freaked, she felt just the first buoy was far. She's been training for about 12 weeks for this, she was nervous she wouldn't make the 1:05 cutoff. Actually, she thought it was 1:05 cutoff. Why? I told her. I was wrong..... I learned the week of the race that it was actually 1:00, but I never corrected myself. What was the point? It would only stress her out.

Back up the m***** f****** of a dirt trail to Redondo Vista camp. At about 5 we went for a short spin, test the gears, see some of the course. We went around one loop of hte campground, then out and down to the pit, where we stopped to look at a bit of the run. Thaat the ride back up from the pit wore me out wasn't helping. My last several workouts consisting of 2 mile runs, or 20 mile bikes, or 2K swims, were just killing me. I wasn't overly confident, to say the least.

Prepare the bike, prepare bottles, eat dinner, blah blah blah. Camping isn't the most comfortable way to do a tri, it's fun, but a bed is nicer. Didn't help that I have one of those mummy sleeping bags that make you feel like your legs have been zip tied together. I didn't sleep well at all that night, and started, for the first time, to get really worried about the course. There was also a good bit of wind durng the night flapping the rain fly around. Didn't help my nerves to know we'd be dealing with tougher conditions.

The people next to us were sorta kinda part of our group, but were racing the Oly on Sunday. So they stayed up talking.. a lot... Friday night. Sheesh, have you ever heard more inane conversations than tri geeks talking about bento boxes, whether to tape or zip tie gels to the top tube, what brand of gels, which rear bottel seat holders and are they actually aero... etc etc etc. I asked my wife, "do we sound this bad when we're talking about tri stuff?" She said "do you want an honest answer?"

Got up at 4, stumbled to the bathroom, and then the car to drink a can of ensure that I had forgotten to take out the night before.

Woke up about 6, b'fast of bagel w/ peanut butter, gatorade, and coffee. Around 7, packed everything up and Bob, Mike and I rode down to Transition, worrying that I'd forget something and have to go back up the m****** f**** dirt trail. Didn't help when Bob said "got your chip?" shit........ Of course I did, but now I had to stop and check. Thanks Bob.
Event warmup:

Found my rack, about 100 yards from the bike exit, about 10 miles from the swim in/run out. There was WaterDog/Tim 5 bikes away. PGoldberger was a few bikes down on the other side. Setting up my stuff, I hear a voice, "you're in my spot." Without looking up, "no, I'm 1451, and it's on this side." "No man, that's my spot...." I look up, it's my friend Dave with a shit eating grin. I didn't know he was going to be here, nice to see another friendly face.

Went down to find Wendy's rack and make sure she knew where to run in and meet her teammates. We watched the pros go out, and a couple age groups, so she could see the scrum. I just told her to line up in the back and follow everyone in. I was starting to get nervous. I had to pee. Went to the line. Too long. Went to my rack to bodyglide. Left to get bodymarked, forgetting the bodyglide. Oh boy, my head's in about 40 different places.

I noticed the wind was causing the flags to flap around pretty actively. It would be an issue.

About 8:30 I donned the striking "Neon Pink" (couldn't just be "pink"??) swim cap and headed for the start. I still had to pee. I had been hydrating for 3 days. It was showing. All of a sudden it was 8:45, and my wave was 10 minutes away. I wound through later waves, found Bob, and as soon as the prior wave went off goot in the water and tested the wetsuit warming system. Still works. Swam a few strokes out, swam a few strokes back.

Saw Jeff/jbjboc trying to cheat by starting in the water :) The announcer called everyone back behind the timing mat. Bob had said "If I was fast I'd line up right along the dock on the right, sprint to the end, veer a touch right and head for the first buoy." I'm kinda fast, not super, but sounds good to me. Started all the way right, one row back........ Before I knew it, horn was sounding
  • 33m 39s
  • 2112 yards
  • 01m 35s / 100 yards

I jumped into the water and, though I started about one row back, I was quickly in clear water. I breath right, so all I saw was the dock to my right. Last year, I started far left so saw all the commotion. This year was weird, like it was just me swimming. I knew Jamie Silber from LA Tri was just ahead of me, plus a couple other guys, but I honestly didn't see any other "Neon Pink" caps around. It was kind of nice.....

Broke free from the dock, and just followed the 4-5 pink caps in front. I couldn't ee the buoy from the glare, nor could I see the tress on the ridgeline I had lined up pre swim with Bob. Just go on faith and follow the caps.

About 200 yards in, passed a guy in a dark blue cap, breaststroking, with a snorkel. The wave ahead of us was white caps. Long day ahead of you, dude.

Hit the first buoy, I think i was 4th maybe. I believe Silber was 1st. I was doing some decent drafting as we turned right. I couldn't see the buoys anyway, just the "Neon Pink" cap ahead of me. Last year I swam too far right, aiming for the wrong turn buoy. Afraid of doing this again, and swimming naturally left anyway, I started veering out to the outside, and I lost my draft. That was actually OK, we were coming through earlier waves, and it was just asa easy to swim around them than through them.

I had counted the buoys pre swim, so I knew it was turn, quick buoy 1, then 2 round buoys then the cone turn buoy. I just swam buoy to buoy. The conditions actually made this a tough swim. The wind picked up the chop just enough that siting was difficult. I had to stop to breast stroke at one point to get my bearings. I began to get worried about Wendy making her swim. Man, can't worry about that now (actually, didn't make sense to worry about it ever, but welcome to my world).

By the time we hit the turn right to come home, we were all mixed in with white, yellow, green, blue caps. Who knew where who was. I again swam a little too far left, not as much of a problem on the return leg. Eventually picked out the big double buoy at the end of the fuel dock. THAT is the puppy you want to hit. You want to splash the people on the dock. If you follow the course buoys on the right, you're just swimming further.

Hit those babies right on, passed the buoy and immediately turned left for home. I could see a bunch of people following the right hand buoys, I was passing them fast. It's a little misleading, as you can see the finish balloon arch, but it's still a good 200 yards away, not time to sprint. But ah, last chance to pee. I eased off a bit, did my biznass and got on with it.
What would you do differently?:

Pretty much everyone I've talked to or seen on the 'net has recorded about a 2-3 minute slower swim time than expected. I was about 3 minutes exactly off last year's time. the choppy windy conditions made it more like an ocean swim than a lake swim.

I was fairly happy with my performance. Siting could be better, but really, people went sub 6 hours with swims that were almost 20 minutes longer than mine. The swim is not where I need help, people.
Transition 1
  • 03m 42s

Hit the deck, jumped up, and.... walked. I really wasn't racing this. I wanted to get to my bike with my HR somewhere south of zone 5. At California I hit the bike with a 165 HR. And I had a long way to walk, practically right to the bike exit. So I walked. And jogged a bit, but I took my sweet time..... HR registered 142 at the bike. good times

Turns out, I maybe could have broken 7 hours if I husteld my ass through transition, but still is iffy. I wanted to make sure I had everything

Got to my rack, started taking off the suit. Looked up at Tim, looking for his bike to my right. "Tim, you're over here." whoops :) Sat down, dried feet, socks, bike shoes, glasses, helmet, through T1, clip in, out the chute.
What would you do differently?:

If I wanted to really race it, run.
  • 3h 39m 24s
  • 56 miles
  • 15.31 mile/hr

Riding through the chute that I'd be running through (hopefully) in about 6 hours was strange. The course follows Shoreline Road along the, well, shore... for a couple miles. I had read reports that it's bad pavement, twisty, curvy, just a prep for Bitch, I mean Beach, hill. Coming up to the hill, you can see riders coming back, and the pitch of the hill. Not too bad.

My goal was to get the HR down in the 130s on jsut water, then start eating once the HR was in order. I'm a grinder going uphill. Not a spinner. Unless you count 50 rpm as spinning. Then I'm a spinner. Got passed by a bunch, just settle into my 27 and move on up. Passed a couple people myself, including a guy that was already getting off to walk. Another long day. Soon enough, Tim/WaterDog comes past. He's a spinner.

Up to San Antonio Road, time to get the HR in order. Decline the offer of the guy in the cow suit for a hose spray down, tell him I'll catch him on the next leg. But wait, another little hill. OK, a downhill, now time to get the HR in--- wait. another hill. damnit. Long downhill after the park gates, HR down. Climb back up to Interlake Road. HR up. Well, this should be fun. The first 6 miles of the bike are the second hardest of the ride. Only topped by the last 15 miles.

Don't remember much from Interlake to Jolon, except that there were a few ups and downs, not particularly hard, but enough to keep your attention. The wind was up, and basically a headwind. About 3 miles from the Jolon turn (and hence a tailwind?), I shut it down and just spun. Others did too, no use in wasting gas fighting a headwind when it's going to be over soon.

Sure enough, right turn on Jolon and we get... a cross wind. Sometimes a tail wind. it was weird. Mike warned that a tailwind would make Nasty Grade an oven, but oh well. This was the best spot, 20+ miles of more or less tailwind. I got my HR way down here, and had 10 miles plus of a 20mph + average. I've never averaged 20+ over a significant distance before, so that was good. My Garmin lapped every 5 miles, so I knew more or less my split/speed.

On Jolon, there are no portapotties. There were a lot of bushes. On a tailwind, you really don't wanna stop to pee. I had to go. getting worse. Painful now. OK, forget waiting for the next aid station or the run. Glance behind, let er rip. Ahhhhhh.... Suddenly a girl comes swooping around me. Whoops. she looked further back than that. That's what you get for riding so fast. Luckily, the quartering wind blew it all to the right, off the course.

But I had made a decision to race without time. I set the Garmin to show HR, distance and cadence. That's it. It beeped every 15 minutes for food, but after the 3d or 4th beep I lost track. A couple times I was tempted to look at the time, especially near the end, but what was the point? I was still going to ride by HR and cadence anyway.

I knew Nasty started aroud mile 40 or 41. I felt great at the bottom. We hit an incline. I wanted to ask the guys around me, "is this the infamous nasty grade???" It wasn't bad at all. We hit an aid station, and turned right. OK, this pitches up a bit, but nothing I haven't seen before. Grind for a 3/4 mile, past the dude holding the blow up doll (I said "man, that is one ugly chick" as I passed). I actually passed 4 or 5 people going up Nasty. This was different. I was getting passed so much I should give lessons. I was really good at it.

Past the Energizer bunny bangin' the drum (I could explain, but you just gotta go do wildflower to get it). I knew there was a false summit at the top, but the rest of the climb wasn't bad, just a little hump. From here to the finish is the same road you drive in on, so I knew there was a little bit of work left. Once we hit the big sweeping, scary-in-crosswinds-right hand turn, I yelped a bit in delight. I knew we were almost home.

At the bottom of the descent, a lot of riders sort of packed together, and it seemed that most were dialing it back a bit and simply getting ready for the run.

My bike nutrition - I had 3 bottles of Infinit that I tried to finish on the hour. Two gels, miles 20 and 40. I picked up another just in case gel. Apple cinammon. blech. I also go a fresh bottle of water at every aid station. But they were only 1/2 full so it wasn't that helpful. I wasn't finishing them anyway. There were a LOT of aid stations-- 7, according to the map. California only had 3. Well stocked, great volunteers. I also took one salt tab every hour or so, to start the build up for the run and stave off cramps I got in California.

Into the park, saw guys running at the 6 mile mark on the trail along the road. Oh man, i waish I was there right now. Not cuz I love to run, but I'd be halfway done with it...... Through the gates, down Lynch (passing some runners who were finishing... ugh), into Transition. Still didn't see my time, but saw the race clock at 5:11, miscalculated and thought my race time was 4:06. It was really 4:16. Doh. Thought sub 7 was in the grasp. That is, until I got into T2 apparently......
What would you do differently?:

Improve the power to weight ratio. What else is there????
Transition 2
  • 04m 47s

5 minutes??????? I got off my bike and, for the first time, my right knee cap was killing me. Actually, just below it. It was hard to walk. Uh oh.....

Reset the Garmin. Got to my rack, shoes off. Garmin off and on my wrist. Sat down, tried to reorganize the disorganization. Socks off. Dried feet, new socks. Hadn't ever changed socks in T2 before, but had them so why not. Not to mention the right one was full of pee. Well, not really full, but definitely damp. Hat on, gels in pocket, run off..... number belt... damn. Back 200 yards to get number belt. Switch Garmin to run. Stop by the gatorade table, grab a drink. Read War & Peace. Watch the Star Wars trilogy. Get a mani-pedi. Some other stuff I am sure I just don't remember. Off to the run
What would you do differently?:

Be more organized. If I was racing it, run.
  • 2h 43m 16s
  • 13.1 miles
  • 12m 28s  min/mile

I ran out T2 and into the wild. Up some steps, along the same road that the bike started on. I was doubting at this point whether I could finish. I was pretty tired, and 13 miles seeemed sooo long. It was then when I realized I had forgotten my salt tablets in the Bento Box. Great, they were primarily for the run, carried on the bike just in case, and I forget them on the run. Luckily, they were handing out Power Gels with 4x sodium, so I think that helped.

I was taking it a mile at a time. Right out of T2, about a 1/2 mile in, I saw Wendy.
"How'd you do??"
"I MADE IT!!!!!" I ran over, gave her a big bug and kiss, and went on my way. Just knowing that she made it made my run a lot easier, I wa just so proud. I began to well up a little as I ran off. This was her first exposure to actually participating in a tri, and I knew it was hard for her. As I ran on, I thought that it is only by pushing ourselves and taking a chance that we will fail that allows us to succeed. With that thought, I began the run.

The plan was to walk all the hills and all the aid stations, cup to cup. There were more hills in this first section than I expected, but I walked them still. I saw others doing the same. I saw guys in my AG walking the flats, cramping up. During the whole run I would see guys in my AG at or around my pace. I never see this. The WF run is not discriminatory. It'll bite good and bad runners on the a$$.

After leaving the shoreline, the trail heads up up and up. Then down a bit, then around a corner. I could hear yelling and whooping. Cna't be that near the finish, can we? All of a sudden, naked guy. Uh oh. Wait, naked girls.... 3 of them. Or topless, at least. Site for sore eyes.

Soon enough, it was me at the mile 6 marker, and it was them coming in on the bike. Not many, but some. I would not have wanted to be them. B this point, and for quite a while, I could monitor the prior age groups as they passed. 50 year olds, 20 year old girls, then the 30s, then 40s..... then Relays. I am almost as good at getting passed on the run as I am on the bike.

I was taking g'ade at every station, and downing a gel at about every other one. I didn't want to repeat my California mile 8 meltdown. I was nervous coming up to it, but the run throught the campgrounds was just what I needed when I needed it. At mile 7, though, i felt rubbing in my shoe at the outside of my left ankle. Just about mile 8, I stopped, slipped off the shoe, and saw a blood stain. Ah.. Well, that will make it interesting. I kept going, it wasn't going to stop me, and I just ran through the pain. Oddly enough, by mile 11 it was fairly numb.

Made it to the Pit. Ran down the hill. Just after the turnaround, saw Bob. Crap, now I am going to be looking over my shoulder. I wanted to beat him. Looking over my shoulder as I walked up the Pit, came to a woman who started walking next to me. "OK, we're going to walk to the sign, then we're going to run." I started running. "Can I tell you a dirty joke?" "OK" "How does a cub scout become a boy scout?" "how?" "He has to eat a brownie. You're on your own." But, we were at the top of the hill.

One more flat section, had the guy in the cow suit give me a spritz.... a bit of a rise... no bob.... then the blessed glorious turn right down Lynch Hill. As I ran down, Eric came by in the Tri Lab van - "go CHRIS!!!!!!" To the bottom, around the corner, saw the chute, saw Wendy, stopped to give her a kiss. Someone said "Now THAT's how you do it!!" Couple fist pumps. Looed up, saw 7:59 and counting. At least I can come in below 8 on the race clock. Still means 7:04, but that's OK. One year ago I was sitting in the stands wondering whether I could ever do something like this. I amazed myself.......
What would you do differently?:

maybe push a bit harder. afraid of the course.
Post race
Warm down:

Ran through the finish and got my medal and one small drink of water. A little disappointed, last year's medal was much better. Wasn't much food, but I wasn't that hungry. I actually felt pretty good.

Go to the aid station and get the blister covered up. Find Mike in the corwd, wait for Bob, get a group picture, Go stand in the water and promptly have the band aid fall off. Go to transition, race recap with Tim, gather my belongings and trudge up the m***** f***** dirt trail. Buy ice. Drink Pacifico.

Unfortunately, the naked co-ed run didn't come right by our camp this year, but abut 400 yds away. It was a bigger group, but they still need to work on the boy/girl ratio.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

weight, endurance, speed... what else is there?

Event comments:

Wildflower. This is my second year, first time racing, and I just love it. People say "aw you shoulda seen it in 1996," but everyone says stuff like that about everything. I had a blast, and can't wait to do it again.

Honestly, I didn't find the course THAT tough. Yes, it was hard, as a tri. Maybe I built it up to be this monster. Maybe because I was pacing myself, it wasn't all that hard. I guess if I went 5:30 I'd be dead afterwards, but I just really enjoyed the course and the experience. I don't think I could go 5:30 there, that's not my place in life, so I might as well enjoy it. But I also climbed a lot of hills in my shoes and on my bike in prep for it. Who knows? It's just one of those things that, as a triathlete, I think you just gotta experience.

Profile Album

Last updated: 2006-12-15 12:00 AM
00:33:39 | 2112 yards | 01m 35s / 100yards
Age Group: 42/278
Overall: 288/1966
Performance: Average
Suit: XTerra Ventilator
Course: About 300 yards to first buoy, turn right, out about 700 yards, right 50 yards, in 700 yards, left 200 yards
Start type: Wade Plus:
Water temp: 65F / 18C Current: Low
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Below average
Breathing: Average Drafting: Below average
Waves: Navigation: Below average
Rounding: Good
Time: 03:42
Performance: Below average
Cap removal: Below average Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
03:39:24 | 56 miles | 15.31 mile/hr
Age Group: 0/278
Overall: 1367/1966
Performance: Below average
Wind: Strong
Course: One large loop around Lake San Antonio
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence:
Turns: Cornering: Average
Gear changes: Good Hills: Good
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
Time: 04:47
Overall: Bad
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
02:43:16 | 13.1 miles | 12m 28s  min/mile
Age Group: 0/278
Overall: 1679/1966
Performance: Below average
Course: Up, down, up, down, flat, down, down, up, up, up, up, up, down, up, up, up, flat, sort of up, flat, down, up, steep down. Something like that
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? Yes
Course challenge
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 5