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Wildflower Triathlon - Long Course - Triathlon1/2 Ironman

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Lake San Antonio, California
United States
Total Time = 5h 40m 59s
Overall Rank = 313/1860
Age Group = M40-44
Age Group Rank = 52/268
Pre-race routine:

This was my third Wildflower (2007 and 2009) and the second year I ended up doing the Wildflower double - the long course on saturday and then olympic on Sunday. I didn't initially plan to do this, but GN our president of our tri club with whom I did the double last year, convinced me to do it once again with him. We were going to be Team Double Trouble, but he ended up with walking pneumonia and couldn't race. In any case, I was already signed up for both so I was going to do both.

On Friday, DW and I headed down to Lake San Antonio at about 1pm. DW graciously drove the whole way and we made good time and even with a stop along the way, we arrived before 5pm. THe prepaid parking with the express gate seemed to keep the entrance line to a minimum, which seems better than in past years. The park didn't seem quite as crowded as I remembered it, although I also remember thinking the same thing last year (maybe it was just super crowded in 2007 when I did Wildflower for the first time). Weather was nice and warm, which was wonderful and a little contrast to the overcast slightly damp conditions a year ago.

We made our way to where the GGTC had secured our camping area in Redonda Vista H. We were greeted by JB and we parked and set up our tent a bit away from the rest of the group since DW had a cough and was worried about disturbing all the other racers.

We took the trek down to the expo area and registration. I picked up both my race packets. I went over to the line to get body marked since I had the time, but in hindsight, this was a mistake since there was only one person doing the marking and he wasn't particularly fast.

I went over to the booth to ask about what kind of gatorade bottles were going to be given out i.e. regular refillable water bottles or the prepackaged skinny gatorade bottles that might fall out of a rear mounted bottle holder. The person didn't know so I knew I have to tweak my water bottle setup and put one on the downtube just in case.

We trudged back up the hill to our camp site. I set up my bike by putting my race wheels (Zipp 999 wheelset) on (which I haven't used since my crash at Vineman in August last year), new brake pads, and set up the water bottle cages. Everything seems ready, so I store my bike back in the trunk of my car. Then we started on dinner, which was going to be reheating some pasta I had purchased and cooked earlier that morning from our local pasta shop. Of course, i was missing a piece from our camping stove, so that meant no reheating and no hot water for coffee in the morning :(

The food was fine though and DW and I just relaxed and sat outside and just enjoyed being outside in the sun, which was beginning to set and get cooler. Soon enough, it was time to get to bed, but not before putting my timing chip strap on my ankle, and I was soundly asleep soon afterward.

In the morning, the sunlight starts to light up the tent at about 6am and it wakes me up before my alarms go off. First order of business is to get into the inevitable bathroom line with my own TP in hand since there have been times in the past when the TP had run out. The line is mercifully short, so I take care of business and head back to the tent. Since I don't have coffee and the only source of caffeine are my GUs, I have a couple GUs (ack. GUs are definitely not "food") along with a breakfast bar.

I finishing dressing and double checking my equipment. I pull out my bike, pump the tires. We had a little trouble getting the front tire pumped up, but it was at least 90, so good enough.

It's about 7:15, race starts at 8:00 and my wave (11) is at 8:50am. I kiss DW and I bike over to the transition area. It's already very crowded. I find my transition area and do most of my setup and then I head to the line for the bathrooms. The line is pretty long, but it moves pretty quickly. They sing the national anthem and soon the first waves are off. I'm back at my transition area and I just hang out for a bit. I watch the first swimmers come back into transition and start off on the bike.

I put on my wetsuit and head over to the start area. I get there about 5 minutes before my wave (the wave just before us just left) and we get to enter the water briefly before our wave starts. Water was colder than I thought it would be, but definitely warmer than when I was here for wildflower training weekend with my tri club about 6 weeks earlier. We're asked to exit the water and get behind the start line. I position myself to the outside, midway back or so. Soon, it's time to go.
Event warmup:

  • 39m 17s
  • 1931 meters
  • 02m 02s / 100 meters

The horn goes off. It's a few quick steps to get to the water. A few more steps wading and then I'm in. It's crowded. I make my way past a couple swimmers. In the first 10m, someone hit the side of my Barracuda prescription goggles where the latch is located and they came off my face. I rolled on to my back and reattached them. I keep swimming out towards the first buoy. It's still crowded and I take an incidental hit to my jaw from someone. Okay, one of the rougher starts I've been in.

For the first half of the swim. I felt okay. Not great, but not bad. The water was a bit choppier than usual (from the wind?) so I had to adjust my stroke and breathing a little. I was also zig zagging a bit which was annoying. Never caught a draft off of anyone. I didn't really feel warmed up until the second half, but I was still zig zagging and having to make frequent course corrections. Soon enough, I pass the last round orange buoy and make the turn toward shore towards the balloon gate that marks the swim exit. Soon enough, I'm at the swim exit.
Transition 1
  • 03m 39s

I unzip my wetsuit and pull it down to my waist. I'm jogging slowly, but I feel very slow. DW is there cheering me one.

My goggles are prescription and my cap is under those, so I have to wear them all the way back to my transition area. The concrete on the boat ramp and in transition are pretty rough on my uncalloused feet. My rack position is at the far end of transition from the swim exit, but close to the bike in/out.

I can see that in my rack, I'm one of the later ones finishing the swim. My wetsuit still gets stuck on my ankles like always even though I put in a cutout on the back of the ankles this time, but it did seem a little easier to get it off my ankles.

I put on my helmet, sunglasses, race belt and grab some gus and a bar. In retrospect, bringing the belt wasn't advantageous and I should have just left in transition for the run (can fix that for my race tomorrow).

I grab my bike and head out the bike out exit. I can see the race clock and I know I'm at about 42 minutes so I know I had a really crappy swim (as it would turn out, this was probably my worst swim performance in any race and nearly 5 minutes slower than last year).
  • 3h 01m 58s
  • 56 miles
  • 18.46 mile/hr

Right out of the bike, DW is there and cheers me on which always feels great.

I've ridden this course maybe half a dozen times now so I know it pretty well. I've learned to respect the hills and to race my race and not get wrapped up with what anybody else is doing. Even so, I've found that I tend to be able to start out faster than most right after the swim perhaps because it takes others longer to warm up(?). I pass several folks in the first mile along the shoreline before we get to the climb. I'm not being aggressive, but just biding my time.

We hit Beach Hill the first climb early into the ride. I'm not hammering at all and trying to be relaxed. I'm passing a few people and I can see they are working very hard already just to do this first climb. Of course, there are also the really fast guys who are just cranking up the hill. I'm feeling pretty good about this first hill and it's over the top and a short downhill until a right hand turn onto San Antonio Road. More rolling hills, more chance to pass people and to be passed. Then it's a right turn onto Interlake.

There is a are a few sections of flat interspersed with the rolling hills. There's also a bit of a headwind, esp. at the downhill stretch before where the olympic bike course turnsaround. I catch up to the guy who was racked right next to me in transition. I chit chat briefly with him.

There are quite a few people just blatantly drafting (a pack of cyclists). That's a bit discouraging to see. I get caught up in the "race" and pass one guy on a downhill stretch (I have the aero advantage), but he'll later pass me decisively. It's a good reminder to stick to my race.

After I turn right onto Jolon Road at about mile 20, I decide to take a Gu. This stretch is flatter for a bit, then some rolling hills and then flattish for a bit. In past years, it seemed like there was a tailwind here and it was a chance to really haul ass, but it feels like more headwind or maybe I'm just slower, but I feel pretty good still.

More blatant drafting along this stretch, including a couple guys I had passed before.

It's another right turn onto Nacimiento Lake Rd. Along this stretch, my fellow rack neighbor passes me. I just hang behind him, trying to keep a legal 3 bike lengths back. Still windy. We make the left hand turn at about mile 43 which signifies the start of Nasty Grade. I'm pretty small and light so I outclimb my rack mate right away, but I do chat with him briefly again. A lot of folks struggling here on Nasty Grade and there are a few others who are impressively fast on their way up.

On the side of the road, there's the guy in the red speedo with the blow up doll, but otherwise this stretch is empty of spectators. At the fake summit, the energizer bunny is there, which is always fun to see. It's a right turn onto interlake for another short climb. A nice view up here up on the ridgeline between the lakes (san antonio and nacimiento).

Then it's a right curve and it's the downhill, which is pretty scary. With my aero wheelset, I'm definitely going faster than I remember doing this during training. It's also scarier since I'm coming up on others who are slower and I decide to pass which is scary at 40+ mph when you don't know if the other person has any idea you are coming up behind them.

Ever since my crash last year, I've been a little gunshy and try to race conservatively - my brain tells me that 30 seconds here and there don't matter, but the reptilian part of my brain sometimes takes over in the moment and if I can go faster than someone else, I pass them. On the final curve of this downhill stretch, there is an ambulance and other emergency vehicles here. I don't know if that is to be available if there is a problem or if they just cleared someone out who already crashed. I don't want to think too much about it and I'm through this stretch safely.

The next 9 miles or so to the end are still all rolling hills. I'm feeling pretty good by the time I get back onto San Antonio Rd for the final return segment. I'm feeling decent still just going my pace. There are some speedy women from the early waves of women who started behind me who are passing. My rack mate catches up to me and we hang together and chat it up through the rest of the ride in. DW is here along this last bit cheering me on.

I let my rack mate lead on lynch and I'm okay just hanging behind him and he's hanging behind other folks since we don't feel the need to make a dangerous pass at this point (elites and other fast folks are finishing up there run on the right of the road). We roll to bike in and dismount at the line.
Transition 2
  • 01m 22s

I follow my rack mate the short distance from the bike in to our spaces. I transition very quickly (day glo yellow visor and two more gus) and take off and he seems to be taking a little longer.
  • 1h 54m 43s
  • 13.1 miles
  • 08m 46s  min/mile

The stairs right out of transition are not fun, but at least it's short. Then it's the stretch along the shoreline. My legs feel post-bike leaden, but I'm moving faster than most, but getting totally smoked by quite a few. Historically, my run, esp. on a hilly course was my strength (being a trail and ultra runner helps!).

The first couple times I've run this course, I've ducked into the bushes on the side to pee, but I know where the big line of porta potties are so I wait for that. Ah, what a relief.

At about mile 1, we have our short little climb before an aid station. My legs are still leaden and I know that realistically it takes me 5 miles until I'm really loosened up so my strides are still very short.

Then we have the first real hill. Still tight, so it's slow going, but faster than quite a few. Up and over. Then it's down to the left to head on the trails along the lake. This race can be very hot, but it's still been cool enough for me. The runners seem pretty well stretched out along this section so I don't see very many to pass or be passed by.

At about mile 4, it's right turn away from the lake and upward a bit. A lot of people walking here. I generally doing a small jog with small steps that's faster than walking, but keeps me from blowing up. When it gets to steep to do that comfortable, I walk.

The mile 5 aid station used to be the one with coeds in various states of undress, but not this time around (nor last year). There's another uphill stretch and I'm surprised to see DW here cheering me on with a sign and taking a picture (came out blurry).

Now it's a short steep downhill and then a flat run in the meadow. This is a pleasant stretch. I'm feeling pretty good and going as fast as my legs can take me. The route heads towards the park entrance and then up briefly and down into Redondo Vista. It's back up a hill and to the right...past the TNT enclave...and right by where my tri club is camped out. A group of my team mates start cheering and a I get a bit of a rush from it and feel energized.

By mile 9, it's onto the road where I head up before going down into "the pit." I'm feeling good and am running very relaxed. At the bottom is the turnaround and it's back up from whence I came. I'm still feeling good and am running back up. Many are walking and I'm passing a lot of people at this point (and being passed by a few as well). I'm passing a few in my AG, some in their 30s, and some in their 20s. Up, up, up. Somewhere near the top of this hill, I see my rack mate who's just starting the segment down into the pit so I'm a good 2 miles ahead of him. Sweet.

After the top, it's down, flatish for a bit, and then up the last hill. From here, it's the run down Lynch. I'm pretty efficient downhill runner, although I hate it because of all the pounding that I'm taking and knowing the toll it will take on me for tomorrow. I pass quite a few on this stretch and I decide to crank it up for the finish. I'm on the carpet and I round the last corner for the 200m straightaway to the finish. I pick up into a sprint and finish strongly.
Post race
Warm down:

Immediately after finishing, I'm given a wet towel on my neck and shoulders, my finisher's medal, and stop to have my chip removed. I turn around to look at the race clock. Subtracting out my 50 minute staggered start, I finished in about 5:40...14 minutes slower than last year. I'm disappointed even though I felt the conditions were probably tougher, but I doubt myself just a bit knowing that I've had some setbacks in my training ever since my bike crash last year (but as it would turn out, my AG and OA rankings were almost exactly the same as last year).

I head to the post-race food and drink. i'm standing around and DW calls my name and I go over and she kisses me and congratulates me.

I know I have my race tomorrow so I don't want to hang around at the race too long. We head down to transition and pack up and schlep back up the dirt hill to get back to the campground. There are folks still racing so I cheer them on as I can.

Back in camp, i soon take a shower to wash up, eat a little more, and wash up. We opted for the catered dinner with the tri club which was barbeque. It's probably good for recovery, but probably not optimal for pre-race. But it sure was tasty...BBQ chicken, ribs, tri tip. I had seconds on it all.

Stay tuned for part 2, my wildflower Olympic RR HERE.

Last updated: 2010-03-15 12:00 AM
00:39:17 | 1931 meters | 02m 02s / 100meters
Age Group: 0/268
Overall: 878/1860
Course: The 1.2 mile swim course will begin at the Lynch Ramp. There will be approximately 18 wave starts with Professional Men, Professional Women, Age Group Men, Age Group Women, and Relay Teams. Swimmers will swim in a clockwise direction on a rectangular course. The course will have sailboats with bright objects attached to their masts as the corners, and there will be course marker buoys every 100 yards along with lifeguards on kayaks lining the course. The swimmers will exit the water, go up the ramp, through the timing area and into the transition area.
Start type: Run Plus: Waves
Water temp: 64F / 18C Current: Medium
200M Perf. Remainder:
Breathing: Drafting:
Waves: Navigation:
Time: 03:39
Cap removal: Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
03:01:58 | 56 miles | 18.46 mile/hr
Age Group: 0/268
Overall: 366/1860
Course: The bike course is hilly for a tri with rolling hills in the first 15-20 miles, a steep climb called Nasty Grade at about mile 42, and then rolling hills to the finish.
Road:   Cadence:
Turns: Cornering:
Gear changes: Hills:
Race pace: Drinks:
Time: 01:22
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
01:54:43 | 13.1 miles | 08m 46s  min/mile
Age Group: 0/268
Overall: 318/1860
Course: The run is 40% road and 60% trail running with it’s share of hills.
Keeping cool Drinking
Post race
Weight change: %
Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5]
Good race?
Course challenge
Events on-time?
Lots of volunteers?
Plenty of drinks?
Post race activities:
Race evaluation [1-5]

2010-05-10 9:25 AM

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Subject: Wildflower Triathlon - Long Course
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