Nautica Malibu Triathlon - TriathlonSprint

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Malibu, California
United States
Michael Epstein Sports Productions (MESP)
63F / 17C
Total Time = 1h 54m 34s
Overall Rank = 463/1416
Age Group = M45-49
Age Group Rank = 51/110
Pre-race routine:

WARNING: Some content may be unsuitable for those who don't like whining. (Just sayin'.)

This was effectively a "DNF-Mechanical" on the bike where I crossed my fingers, rolled the dice, and chugged in on a busted wheel so I could at least do the run. So this isn't a race report I'm excited to write. Having said that...


This race last year was the first-ever tri for both myself and my wife, Liz. It's a major focus for my wife's team at Disney and I was getting to compete with the team this year, even though I don't work for the company (just married into it, so to speak). I was undertrained due to calf and Achilles injuries and a trip to Africa where I wasn't able to train, but I felt healthy going in and both of us were excited to see how far we'd come over one year of competition.

Malibu is one of the largest sprints in North America--with relay competitors, there are over 3000 people in the event--and we learned last year that it pays to suck it up and arrive as soon as the parking lot opens (4:30am this year). That meant getting up at 3:00am and making the 35 min. drive to Zuma Beach.

We arrived, got good spots on our assigned racks in the Disney Tri Team bloc (over 300 Disney team members compete in this race, the majority on relays).

At one point there was an explosion of flashes from down at the celebrity corral/media pen...figured it had to be either Jennifer Lopez or Matthew McConnaghey, both of whom were doing the race for the first time. Wandered down to was McConnaghey. (For the record, he did really well...finished 5th in the celebrity division, but his time was way more than solid for an age grouper, top 10% of the field OA...clearly a good athlete. J-Lo...not so much...she was BOMOP for women.)

Went over to pre-race briefing (with McConnaghey following close behind us...damn stalker!), passing Macca by the pro/elite corral and wishing him good luck (to a very friendly "Cheers, mate" in response), then down to the swim start. Watched the elite wave and the celebrity wave start...saw Macca go out on route to his win (no surprise...he was the only significant pro starter this year, the others having all moved to the Oly on Saturday).
Event warmup:

My lingering calf and Achilles strains seemed mostly of course I tweaked my calf in a different spot while humping gear to the car. So I spent a bit of time stretching and massaging the new cramp. *sigh*

After watching the start, got in and swam for awhile...much, much, warmer water than last year (3-4 degrees...definitely noticeable).

Self-seeded in about the 3rd row of my wave of 110+...there's the we go...

  • 16m 22s
  • 880 yards
  • 01m 52s / 100 yards

This went well start to finish, although I honestly hoped for sub-16 min (including the run to TA) and just missed it. Good navigation throughout. Was able to pick up pace for 2nd half...came up on final buoy faster than I'd imagined I would. Very little contact throughout, esp. after turn at first buoy.

Caught back of previous wave (Clydes) before the halfway point and the wave before that (W 50+) before the last buoy. Almost no breakers to contend with on the way in.

Other than goggles leaking a tiny bit at the start and the guy who obviously seeded himself upfront and inside...and preceded to breaststroke out to the first buoy (slowly, I might add), I had no real issues. This was a good swim. Real change from last year which was a suffer fest...took almost 1:30 off my time.
What would you do differently?:

Nothing really. Might have gone harder sooner after the turn, but it's easy to say that in hindsight.
Transition 1
  • 04m 24s

Someday I'll get my T1 under 4 minutes. Someday. Decided to put on my Garmin 205 here, even though I was only using it for the run (I like to keep T2 as short as I can). Putting on socks is really the biggest issue here, but I just don't like riding in my orthotics without them.
What would you do differently?:

Not wear socks. I may experiment with not drying my feet after rinsing them in my next tri.

I did take 1 1/2 minutes off of last year's T1, so that's something...
  • 1h 03m 8s
  • 18 miles
  • 17.11 mile/hr

The less said about this nightmare the better. I was really doing well the first 5 miles...took the first hill (past Trancas) in the big ring the whole way...didn't even go near my middle ring until the 2nd half of the last uphill on the outbound segment. But around 5.5 miles I became aware of a shimmy in my bike. Eventually it felt bad enough that I looked to see if I'd flatted. Nope. Thought maybe I had a loose skewer or something, but it wasn't bad enough to stop.

By the turnaround at Leo Carillo, it was bad enough that I couldn't let loose on the big downhill for fear of not making the turn into the park. And after the big climb following the turnaround, even though I was passing people and still was over 19 mph avg, I knew I had big problems. The shimmy in the rear wheel was so bad, I had to stop. Checked the rear skewer and thought it seemed loose...tightened and continued. No good. Stopped again for more thorough appraisal. Broken spoke. Crap.

At that point, I was about six miles from the finish. The bike was clearly not safe at high speed, but I just didn't want to A) DNF but, more importantly, B) have to freakin' walk back. So I rode the damn thing, with the wheel (and the handling) getting sloppier by the minute. Took the big downhill to Trancas that should have been 30+ mph at 20.1 max. And the last 3 miles of flats were just humble pie as I struggled to stay above 14 mph without blowing up my legs for the run or crashing while absolutely everyone passed me.

Based on avg speed at the time I finally had to stop, avg speed the last five miles, my times on two training rides on this course last month, and the time spent stopped (1:10), I can say, conservatively, I lost 7-8 minutes to the broken wheel. Probably dropped me from top 250 O/A to 463. And then there's the cost of repair or replacement.

Okay...done whining now...
What would you do differently?:

Well, I wish I knew when/why the spoke broke. The Alex rims I have don't have a great reputation. After the race, I noticed some serious sidewall damage to the tire...good chance the two were related. So it could have been the really bad pavement at the exit from Zuma onto PCH...or it could have been from my last training ride where I slipped into a gap betw. a storm sewer grate and the pavement. Didn't notice any damage when I pulled over then, but I didn't check that carefully.

Moral of the story, though: Check condition of bike more carefully when doing final lube and tire pump pre-race.
Transition 2
  • 01m 56s

Goal was 1:30...came close. Long TA runs in and out.
What would you do differently?:

Not much. Struggled a little with my left running shoe because my calf cramp started to twinge. Other than that, this went fine...esp. given my mental state after the torture of limping in on the broken wheel...
  • 28m 42s
  • 4 miles
  • 07m 11s  min/mile

Okay...this is why I stuck it out on a broken bike I should have walked home.

I'd commented to Liz when we saw the wave starts that I was probably going to be saying a lot of "On your left" with M45-49 starting right behind the F50+ and the Clydes (no offense, but I'm faster than most athletes in those divisions). Guess I jinxed myself there, since most of them passed me back while my bike was F.U.ed. So the run was all about "Excuse me...coming by...". Passed God knows how many people...nobody passed me at all the whole run. Hoped to crack sub-7:00/mile pace, but didn't quite make it. Happy to be sub-29:00 for the run, though.

Main motivation was to salvage some pride by beating last year's total time...coming out of T2, I knew I had to smoke the run to do that (having lost almost 5 minutes from last year on the bike leg). Pulled it off with a strong finish. Timing company didn't provide O/A placements for the individual segments this year, but for the run I just had do the counting to figure it out: Finished 120 out of 1416 O/A for the run.
What would you do differently?:

Well, I'm not crazy about running with desperation in general, but the whole beat-last-year-in-spite-of-the-bike-breakdown thing certainly motivated me. But I didn't hydrate enough on the bike, frankly. Had the day been hotter, I'd have probably been fried on the run, but I was lucky with the cool temps and overcast.
Post race
Warm down:

Found Liz at finish...she'd smoked this race...took 13 minutes off last year. Is ready to pull the trigger on not only her first marathon, but also her first HIM next summer.

Unlike last year, there was food left at the fundraisers' brunch, so I ate too much.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Broken wheel. Otherwise I had a great race:

2008 vs 2007
S 16:22.8 - 17:41 (-1:18)
T1 4:24.7 - 5:53 (-1:28)
B 1:03:08.4 - 58:24 (+4:44)...but was on track for ~56:00
T2 1:56.0 - 3:01 (-1:05)
R 28:42.9 - 31:09 (-2:26)

Event comments:

People complain about the celebrity presence here, but I barely notice it...maybe it comes from having spent many years as an assistant director in the film/TV industry. I honestly appreciate both the attention to fitness that their participation brings and their willingness to get out on the course with both the elites and age groupers in an event like this.

This is one of the largest and longest sprints in North will rarely see a triathlon of this scale outside of the Ironman and IM 70.3 series, frankly. So it is a chance to experience some of that scale without having to prepare for those distances. But it is also a long enough race to be challenging on a course accessible to beginners.

Profile Album

Last updated: 2008-03-03 12:00 AM
00:16:22 | 880 yards | 01m 52s / 100yards
Age Group: 33/110
Overall: 390/1416
Performance: Good
Exit from water = 15:24 = 1:45/100 yds. Run to transition = 00:58
Suit: Xterra Vortex 2
Course: Run in from beach. Out to right turn at buoy, north paralleling beach, then right turn to shore. Long run to transition on sand (then carpet in TA, which is also potentially a long run depending on rack position among 3000 athletes).
Start type: Run Plus: Waves
Water temp: 63F / 17C Current: Low
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Good
Breathing: Average Drafting:
Waves: Navigation: Good
Rounding: Good
Time: 04:24
Performance: Average
Cap removal: Average Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed:
01:03:08 | 18 miles | 17.11 mile/hr
Age Group: 83/110
Overall: 858/1416
Performance: Bad
Wind: Little
Course: 18 miles out-and-back on Pacific Coast Hwy. Rolling terrain throughout. Speedbumps in first (and last) 1.25 miles...some terrible pavement at exit from state beach.
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence:
Turns: Cornering:
Gear changes: Good Hills: Good
Race pace: Drinks: Not enough
Time: 01:56
Overall: Good
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike Good
Racking bike Good
Shoe and helmet removal Average
00:28:42 | 04 miles | 07m 11s  min/mile
Age Group: 11/110
Overall: 120/1416
Performance: Good
Distance per Garmin 205 = 4.06 miles Pace per Garmin = 7:04/mile
Course: Flat run along concrete walkway along beach. Transition through sand/grass and driveway out onto Westward for 1.4 miles out and back on road. Finish along beach walkway.
Keeping cool Average Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Average
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? No
Course challenge
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 4