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The Day at the Beach Triathlon - TriathlonSprint

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Hermosa Beach, California
United States
Michael Epstein Sports Productions
Total Time = 57m 32s
Overall Rank = 22/705
Age Group = Male 55-59
Age Group Rank = 1/12
Event warmup:

Stretching and then about a 200 yard jog on the beach, then about 200 yards of swimming. Then more stretching.
  • 07m 5s
  • 440 yards
  • 01m 37s / 100 yards

I made a good dash down the beach and into the water, but was already well behind a few, who had sprinted like crazy, by the time I hit the first smallish wave. With the unusually mild surf, and the calm glassy conditions beyond, I was off my feet and swimming fast in no time. My wave was the usual mix of 50 & over males, mountain bikers and 2 classifications of Clydesdales. In other words, the leftovers.

As we all began to swim and jockey for position, I found myself side by side with a guy who was going my same pace. I was breathing to the left, he to the right. There we were, face-to-face, maybe 2 feet apart. Someone was also just to my right, squeezing me between the two. Half way to the first buoy, the guy on the right dropped back. The smooth water conditions made it easy to sight, and I was dead on track to reach the buoy just to its left for a tight, fast turn. If the guy on my left stayed even with me, he was going to have to make an extra wide turn, and he knew it. He made several attempts to surge ahead of me, but always came right back. Once he realized he couldn't pass me, he tried to ease over and push me out of his intended path. The point of contact happened fast. He had surged a little ahead, moved over, entered my personal space, and got clipped (in the head?) real good by my descending left arm stroke. That appeared to take the spunk out of him as he slowly receded back out of my view. Now I was almost at the first buoy and there was no one on my left. With a couple of stokes breathing on my right I could see no one on that side either. I seemed to be in the lead. I reached the buoy, turned right and accelerated out of the turn.

Again, the flat-water surface made sighting a cinch and it was easy to spot the second buoy. And there was no one in front of me. I focused on keeping my form long and flat in the water, with a fast stroke tempo. I reached the second buoy and made an easy, un-hindered turn. Sighting the beach, I easily targeted the exit point and confirmed again, no orange caps from my wave, and only a few of the slowest blue capped stragglers from the previous wave between the beach and me.

Coming out of the water, I clicked a 6:40 split. I looked up the chute and saw no one. As I ran through, people cheered for me and told me I was the first one in my wave. It felt good to hear, but a beach devoid of competitors was a new experience, and a little surreal. I cleared the berm (which apparently was near where the official swim time split was taken), and spotted a lone blue-cap-guy halfway down, walking leisurely toward the Strand. I looked back and saw my competition coming through the shallows and took off running. My official swim time was 7:05.8. A good time, but with a more competitive field I could have cut 20 or more seconds off that.
What would you do differently?:

Swim even faster.
Transition 1
  • 02m 40s

I had arrived too late that morning to get a spot on my assigned rack, so I'd leaned my bike up against the trash bins next to it. I reached my improvised set-up and put my clear lenses and helmet on while I tried to pull my feet out of my wetsuit, but as usual it got stuck on my feet. I bent down to pry it over my heels, then quickly pulled my shoes on, grabbed my bike and ran for the exit, wondering if anyone in my AG had passed me in the transition.
What would you do differently?:

Same as above, but faster.
  • 25m 43s
  • 10 miles
  • 23.33 mile/hr

I came out of T1, made a nice running bike mount, and headed up the hill to the 3 lap loop. With the swim so short (1/4 mile) and the time between waves so long (6 minutes), most of the previous wave was already well onto the bike course, so the ride up Pier Ave was pretty deserted. I did start catching up with some riders once on the loop part of the course, but with 3 laps you never really know what lap the people you are passing are on.

Anyway, as luck would have it, it just didn't seem as crowded as previous years (did this thing sell out or not?), so I was able to get up some pretty good speed, especially on some of those slight downhill stretches. My bike computer registered a max speed of 29.3 mph. Not sure where that happened as I tried to keep my eyes focused on the road and the slower riders, who mostly stayed to the right. I did spot a lot of 25 to 26 mph readings when I did check.

There was at least one bad crash. Saw the ambulance, and a guy strapped onto a gurney as I came around that sharp turn from 2nd St onto Valley on my first lap. From the brief glimpse I got I couldn't tell if he was conscious or not.

The bike part of the tri was fairly uneventful, with only one instance of real competition. There was a guy I passed near the end of my second lap who passed me back a few minutes later. We traded off passing each other for most of the third lap, making comments like, "I'm back", or "If you were in my AG I'd have to kick you off that bike".

I guess the pleasant surprise was the less crowded course and the exhilaration of being able to ride so fast along Valley and Ardmore. My 25:42.7 split was good for third fastest in my AG.

What would you do differently?:

I think I could have gone faster in several places, but I'm so used to having to slow down for the heavy bike traffic and the newbies cruising along on the left, that I kept loosing my focus on keeping my pedaling speed up. Even though crowding was far less a problem than in the previous years since the change from a 2-lap to the current 3-lap course, I wasn't adapting to the more open road was well as I could have.
Transition 2
  • 01m 35s

I made a clean dismount, ran my bike into the transition area and headed down the lane between the racks toward my impromptu spot. Unfortunately there was a guy walking his bike two people ahead of me. As we caught up to him he was oblivious to the traffic jam he was creating in the narrow lane. I took the initiative to advise in a voice loud enough for him to hear, "If you want to walk, at least move over". Which he did. Too bad the guy between us wasn't running nearly fast enough for my taste, but at least he was trying. I arrived at my spot, leaned my bike against the trash bins, did my seemingly fast shoe change, grabbed my number belt and ran for the exit.
What would you do differently?:

Everything I had control of, I need to be able to do faster. Unfortunately, the space-challenged area this tri uses for its transitions makes for some real bottlenecks. Probably cost me 20 or more seconds.
  • 20m 28s
  • 3 miles
  • 06m 49s  min/mile

The run started with the usual after-effects of a fast bike effort, poorly performing legs and a feeling of moving in slow motion. Less than a half mile into it though, and I was feeling like a runner. The cool overcast morning gave me expectations of a fast run time on this almost completely flat course.

As I picked up the pace, I began to think about my race position in my AG, 55-59. I was hoping I was still in the lead. I was even thinking I could be ahead of everyone in the 50-54 AG too. I knew I'd been first out of the water, and the few people who passed me on the bike were from much younger age groups. So the only question left was, who might have passed me in the transitions?

When I approached the mile mark, I passed a guy with 52 on his calf. Well, I knew he didn't catch me on the bike, so it must have been in T2. Who else? The mile split was 7:05. Now I was at least a little worried, and really started pushing the pace. It was encouraging to be moving through the runners ahead of me, and passing dozens of them. As I approached within a couple hundred yards of the turn-around point, I saw an older guy coming toward me. He looked to be a good candidate for my AG. Oddly, he wasn't moving all that fast. As we passed, I turned my head to look at the age marking on his calf,... 57. What? How did that guy get past me? It was a real Bermuda-Triangle-moment while I tried to rationalize how he could be so far ahead of me. He must have caught me in T2 like the last guy. Maybe he blasted a killer bike split. But he was running so slow, he didn't look like he could do a killer bike split. Or maybe "slow" was all that he had left after a killer bike split. But to be that far ahead of me he would have had to pass me in T1, because I know he didn’t pass me on the bike. Well, whatever the case, I had about 1.6 miles to catch him and make the debate I was having with myself moot.

I made the turn-around, and accelerated back up to race pace. I could see him up ahead and was able to tell that I was steadily gaining on him. I passed him well before the 2 mile mark about 20 or 30 yards before the stairs. I re-checked his age markings, and sure enough that was a 57 on his calf. At the pace he was going, he must have exited T2 at least 2 minutes before me. Maybe 3.

I was now focused on the possibility of other unknown competitors ahead of me. I passed the 2 mile mark with a 6:47 mile split, and made up my mind to hold that tempo as long as I could. Even though I was continuing to pass lots of slower runners, I was really feeling the effects of this fast paced race. I was pretty sure I was slowing down. It was a long last mile. With a half mile to go I re-doubled my efforts, but couldn't tell if I was really going any faster. It did seem that I wasn't moving past the other runners quite so easily anymore. As the finish chute came into focus, I hadn't passed anyone else in my AG or the 50-54 AG since Mr 57, and no one at all had passed me on the run portion of the race. I kicked in the last 150 yards with an all-out effort, hoping no one was gaining on me.

My last mile was 6:36, for a run time of 20:28, and a race time of 57:32. It was a happy moment indeed as I'd just PR'ed by almost 2 minutes from my 2007 race. Once the preliminary results were up, I was happy to confirm that I did win my AG after all. Plus, I beat all those young punks in the 50-54 AG to boot!
What would you do differently?:

Post race note:

After the results were in, I recognized the name of the 57 year old that I passed late in the race. He has been turning in fast bike times for years. He had the best bike time in our AG at the Redondo Tri too. His 24:23 was 1:20 faster than me. But the odd thing is, if you add up both of our splits you find that he exited T2 at 37:29, and I exited at 37:03, 26 seconds ahead of him. So how did he get so far ahead of me? The easiest explanation would be that his split times are wrong. Mine are fine as they coincide with my own watch's splits.

Official splits can be wrong. Last year they had my T2 and Run times wrong. It was some unexplained glitch that took part of my T2 time and added it to my run time. The 2008 results still show me as blazing through T2 in 46 seconds, the fastest T2 of the race, with the truncated extra 1:12 mysteriously grafted onto my run time, with both the official and unofficial T2 + Run times totaling up and coming out exactly the same at 23:06. Now, how does that happen?

So does Mr 57 have bad official splits? They would have to be really bad to put him behind me at the start of the run, when he had to be at least a few minutes ahead of me. Then, consider that his official splits for swim, bike, run, and both transitions are very much like those of his other races this year and last. So it is highly unlikely that his splits are that far off. As you can probably tell, this discrepancy was really bothering me… Definitely proof that the Bermuda Triangle has a branch office in Hermosa Beach.

Post race
Warm down:

Didn't do a formal warm-down, just walked around gasping for air for a while, and later did some stretching.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

My main limiter was being able to keep mentally focused on going fast all the time in a sprint triathlon.

Although I had a PR by 1:59, if you compare this race with my previous PR in 2007 you find that most of the improvement came from faster transitions. My swim (adjusted swim-to-T1 time) was 11 seconds slower, the bike was 14 seconds faster, and the run was 8 seconds slower. My T1 was 1:09 faster, and my T2 was 55 seconds faster. Yes, working on transitions has benefited my finish time. And I can still do better.

Event comments:

I like this event, and I like that it is local and very competitive for me. Some years it's a little too competitive. But then when I think about it, that's what I'm really looking for most in a race, and it certainly keeps me coming back.

Frankly, I prefer a longer swim course, a less frantic/crowded bike course (go back to the 2 lap version!), and if the run course is just a straight out & back, then the turn around point should be in the (EXACT!!!) same place every year, to say nothing about year 17. Come on Epstein, you could do a little better on the course design. What's that you say? It's a beginner-oriented race? Really? Oh, well never mind then.

Profile Album

Last updated: 2009-10-12 12:00 AM
00:07:05 | 440 yards | 01m 37s / 100yards
Age Group: 1/12
Overall: 29/705
Performance: Good
Suit: xterra Vortex 2
Course: Swim 100 meters out, 200 meters north, 100 meters back to the shore, and then run about 200 meters across the beach to the transition area on Pier Plaza.
Start type: Run Plus: Waves
Water temp: 67F / 19C Current: Low
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting:
Waves: Bad Navigation: Average
Rounding: Good
Time: 02:40
Performance: Average
Cap removal: Average Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Yes Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: Yes
Getting up to speed:
00:25:43 | 10 miles | 23.33 mile/hr
Age Group: 3/12
Overall: 36/705
Performance: Good
Wind: None
Course: From T1 up a short, but noticeable, hill on Pier Ave to the 3 lap rectangular loop comprised of a left turn to go north on Valley, right for a few seconds on Gould, right and south on Ardmore for the longest stretch of the course, then right again on for a short ride downhill on 2nd Street, then a final right to go north on Valley passing Pier to start the next lap. On the last lap, you turn left on Pier and go back down the hill to T2.
Road: Rough Dry Cadence:
Turns: Average Cornering: Average
Gear changes: Good Hills:
Race pace: Hard Drinks: Just right
Time: 01:35
Overall: Average
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike Good
Running with bike Average
Racking bike Average
Shoe and helmet removal Good
00:20:28 | 03 miles | 06m 49s  min/mile
Age Group: 1/12
Overall: 39/705
Performance: Good
Course: Head north from the Pier Plaza transition area for a simple out & back course on the Strand. No getting lost here. And you can't beat the ocean view, if you aren't too wrecked by then to look to the side and see it.
Keeping cool Good Drinking
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Average
Race evaluation [1-5] 4

2009-10-17 8:17 PM

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Redondo Beach, CA
Subject: The Day at the Beach Triathlon

2010-08-19 5:24 PM
in reply to: #2465034

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Subject: RE: The Day at the Beach Triathlon
So, I am a little late    Great report Doug.  Funny about the run turnaround, I've done it 2 or 3 times and every time it's in a different spot.  Keeps you on your toes, I guess.     Has to be one of the longest win streaks in local tris, I'd guess....
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