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Triathlon at Pacific Grove - Olympic Course - TriathlonOlympic

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Pacific Grove, California
United States
Tri-California Events
58F / 14C
Total Time = 2h 54m 42s
Overall Rank = 181/562
Age Group = 50-54
Age Group Rank = 14/51
Pre-race routine:

Pacific Grove was my first Olympic distance Tri, so had the normal distance step-up jitters. Got up at 6:00 and fueled with a cinnamon raisin bagel with peanut butter. Biked down to Lover's Point at 6:30 and set up transition area. Pacific Grove is known for it's overcast conditions this time of year, but much to everyone's surprise, we had blue skies and bright sunshine. Watched the first wave take off to get the blood pumping, then back to transition to get the wetsuit on, down 3 Clif Shot Blox with 8 oz water.
Event warmup:

10 minutes in the water just before start to acclimate to the 58 degree water. Water temp and air temp were the same, and it continues to amaze me how much colder the water feels during the first, er, refreshing gulp of water down the front of the wetsuit - followed by about 10 seconds of not breathing.
  • 35m 30s
  • 1640 yards
  • 02m 10s / 100 yards

Not having swum for 40 years,getting back into the water a few months ago was a challenge. I've done a couple of sprints in the Tri for Fun series locally and came out of the water exhausted. Took a few lessons from a local Tri Coach and worked on improving efficiency not really worrying about speed.

Spent about 10 minutes in the water before the start acclimating and getting in about 150 yards of swim in the limited warm up area. As we are lining up for our wave start in comes the rescue boat onto the beach with two swimmers, one of which had to be dragged out of the boat up onto the beach. Hmmm, nice mental image to start a race with. But no time to dwell on it as that is when the horn sounded and into the water I went. My goal for the swim was to swim MY race, not get caught up the the testosterone/adrenaline fueled start and pace myself so that I'd finish without feeling already worn out. So I held back a bit starting in the last quarter of the wave on the outside. Still was in a bit of a washing machine but sighted a lot early on to find open water.

Right away you get into the kelp. With all the people around you it isn't possible to find open channels in the kelp; I was just looking for open pockets in the people. Ended up moving more outside yet which had an unforseen consequence. Although it was high tide, there are still submerged rocks close to shore. The organizers do a pretty good job of stationing guys on surfboards/kayaks over these rocks to warn you away - most of the time. Well, I look up and see I'm swimming directly at one of the surfboards and he's motioning me to my left. I lift a hand in gratitude and go that way, directly onto a rock. Not a small one and only about 1 foot beneath the surface. Took about 5 strokes/pulls/scrapes to get over it and then onto the swim proper. By that point things had begun to thin out and I took the pre-race orientation advice to sight often not just for the buoys, but as importantly for the channels between the kelp. That advice was awesome as the difference in effort/speed in the kelp and open water is BIG.

Rounded the first buoy with a crowd and with a complimentary kick in the face. Easy swim across to the second buoy and made the turn all by myself there. On the way to the beach I did manage to get into some heavy kelp I didn't see coming and it slowed me and also contributed to my first big gulp of salt water. Soon enough, however, I was feeling the sand with my fingers, up and out of the water a little unsteadily, a quick run around the anchor and back into the water - all by myself. I'd tucked my timing chip up under my wetsuit, but it slipped out during the brief run. No biggie . . .

The next lap was a bit surreal as for the entire time I was swimming alone. You know how when you are on the freeway going about 75 and all of a sudden there is nobody in front of your and nobody behind you for a quarter mile you get a bit uneasy and start looking for the Highway Patrol in that is causing everyone behind you to slow down? Yeah, that was the feeling I had. Where was everyone? Sighting I could see a lot of people 100+ yards ahead of me, but nobody was passing me any more. I had the water all to myself and it dawned on me that my pacing strategy was paying off. During the first lap I passed a lot of people after the initial couple of hundred yards of frenzied swimming, and since then was not getting passed - neat! So I had the buoys all to myself at the turns and celebrated by smacking them as I went by.

I mentioned the timing chip had slipped down below my wetsuit. I thought, "No problem, no crowd to pull it off." What I didn't take into account was the kelp. About 100 yards out I feel this tug on my ankle and look back and there's nobody behind me. Reach down and find kelp has snagged on my ankle strap. I free myself and swim on through more kelp into open water and find I'm trailing a long piece of kelp that has broken off and is stuck where the velcro lifts on the strap. Free myself again and feel that the strap feels looser. Uh oh, now that thought is in my mind, the kelp is going to strip off the chip before I get out of the water. Needless to say I was very aware of this for the rest of the swim and perhaps lifted my left ankle a little higher when going over the patches of kelp :-)

Coming into the beach I was feeling pretty good. Spirits were high due to a plan well executed and physically I still felt like I had gas in the tank. I also had more salt water in the tank than I wanted, something that would come to haunt me later. Swam up pretty shallow and stood up to make my exit and just as suddenly was back down in the water. Wow, didn't expect that. Got up again and unceremoniously staggered for a few steps before going down again. Got up a bit more slowly and allowed the blood to get back into the brain before I tried taking any more steps and went from a slow walk to a slow jog up the concrete steps to T1.

What I didn't realize was that during my encounter with the submerged rock I had managed to cut up the heel of my hand pretty good. The cold water had reduced feeling enough I didn't have a clue, but after the race (yup, didn't notice it on the bike or run either) I looked down at a swollen up, bloody mess or, as I prefer to think of it, a badge of honor from my first Oly!
What would you do differently?:

I liked the results of the pacing, but now need to work on increasing my tempo there. I'd also sight even more as it is so important in this particular race
Transition 1
  • 03m 43s

I was still woozy as I got to my bike. I'd gotten the wetsuit top half off on the jog over and proceeded to strip off the bottom. I found that balancing on 1 foot while woozy was a challenge, so slowed it down and got out without too much drama. Got helmet and shoes on quickly and jogged the bike to the bike out, shaking off residual dizziness during that trot.
  • 1h 19m 53s
  • 24.85 miles
  • 18.66 mile/hr

I expected to have a slow start after the unsteady swim finish but as soon as my butt hit the saddle it was all systems go - and I did. Too fast as I stated above but it felt great. I had planned for most of my fueling to take place on the bike and chose to go with the Shot Blox. I bought a bento box and the plan was to have 3 blox at the start, 3 midway through, and 3 in the last leg, making sure to fully consume the 24 oz bottle of Nuun/water during the ride. A couple of things conspired to make that a total fail. First, I neglected to open the blox packages before the ride. Plan was to have the blox loose in the bento so I could easily get to them. So, discovered this, uttered the obligatory curses, and tried to get the plastic package open with my teeth which was a lot harder than I expected. Got it open and had a block and urp, it didn't go down so good. Chased it with the Nuun/water with the same result. I think that I had swallowed enough salt water that it was causing pretty significant nausea. Great. Turns out that the error of not opening the packages was a non-issue as I could not eat or drink anything else on the ride - which did not bode well for the run.

This was my first bike race with laps and found it to be a good learning experience. I paid attention to the no-draft rules, and there were a lot of officials on the course to enforce it. Passed a lot of people and got passed by a lot fewer, mostly really good riders from previous waves in their later laps.
What would you do differently?:

Go into the race with a pace strategy and double check fuel stores before the swim.
Transition 2
  • 02m 35s

Almost missed the dismount area and rode too far in. Oops. Was able to stop just in time. Clunked on in to T2 in my bike shoes (not ready to work on the shoe removal while riding just yet) and made an OK change from bike kit to running gear.
What would you do differently?:

Not much.
  • 53m 1s
  • 6.21 miles
  • 08m 32s  min/mile

Normal slow start when getting the flexibility back into the legs. After first half mile felt pretty good, had the breeze at my back, deep blue ocean to my left and a smooth trail to run on. Made the first turn and onto the city streets. Now it was wind in my face and rolling hills. Hmm, maybe not such a walk in the park now. Started the second lap and felt great again. Remember the movie "Groundhog Day"? Got to the aid station and grabbed a water. Took a sip and Nope, couldn't do it. Settled with pouring the water over my head a couple of times each lap as the sun was now getting a bit warm. I was very much aware I had basically had NO hydration or nutrition since before the swim and was just waiting for the cramping to start or to just run out of steam. Focused on breathing and keeping a high cadence and made it around the next lap. Coming to the finish line there was a nice crowd that you could hear before you could see. With about 200 yards to go I saw a runner about 50 yards ahead of me and decide I'm going to take him, forgetting about the hydration/nutrition issue. I kicked it and managed to get him about 10 yards from the finish. I had enough momentum I sailed passed the medal hander-outer and chip stripper and they had to chase me down! Woohoo!! My goal was to finish in under 3 hours and I managed to hit 2:54:42. To say I was happy would be a mild understatement.
What would you do differently?:

I was happy with the execution of the run with the circumstances. I was actually carrying a bottle of Nuun/water but could not drink any of it, but know that if I had been able to hydrate I would have been able to turn in a better performance. I was surprised to see that lap 1 was only about 20 seconds faster than laps 2 and 3; I thought I'd fizzle more as the run progressed.
Post race
Warm down:

Walk for 20 minutes as I cruised the food area. As soon as the run was done I was able to eat/drink. Immediatly put down a chocolate milk, an energy bar and a sourdough roll. Followed up with a bottle of water I slowly sipped over the next 10 minutes.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Too much salt water during the swim prevented proper nutrition/hydration that had to limit bike/run performance. Didn't put together a solid bike strategy.

Event comments:

Will do this one again.

Last updated: 2012-09-09 12:00 AM
00:35:30 | 1640 yards | 02m 10s / 100yards
Age Group: 20/51
Overall: 270/562
Performance: Good
Pace of 2:22/100M, while not fast compares to my (limited)swim training where I swam 2:00/100Y. On-line calculators say the yard to meter conversion would yield a 2:14 expectation, and add in the kelp, so this is acceptable
Suit: Blue Seventy Reaction
Course: Two laps of a triangular course with an out of the water run around an old anchor on the beach. PG is famous as the "Kelp Crawl" for good reason as you can spend as much as or more time in the kelp as in open water. Go here for a picture that shows the course:
Start type: Run Plus: Waves
Water temp: 58F / 14C Current: Low
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting: Below average
Waves: Navigation: Average
Rounding: Good
Time: 03:43
Performance: Average
Cap removal: Average Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Yes Run with bike: No
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed: Average
01:19:53 | 24.85 miles | 18.66 mile/hr
Age Group: 17/51
Overall: 182/562
Performance: Below average
Started out too fast on the bike. I failed to give as much thought to the bike strategy as I did to the swim strategy, and the timing mats failed to give me lap data for the last two laps, but from the first two, I can see I had the adrenaline pumping. Lap 1 was 22.25 mph and lap 2 was 18.9 mph. Overall was 18.6 mph so you can see what laps 3 & 4 were like.
Wind: Little
Course: Course was 4 laps on the 2 lane closed road that lines Monterey Bay. Stunning scenery if you aren't racing, a decent surface for riding. A few rollers but mostly flat.
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence: 90+
Turns: Good Cornering:
Gear changes: Average Hills: Average
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Not enough
Time: 02:35
Overall: Average
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike Average
Racking bike Good
Shoe and helmet removal Average
00:53:01 | 06.21 miles | 08m 32s  min/mile
Age Group: 14/51
Overall: 221/562
Performance: Good
Course: 3 laps down a coastal bike/pedestrian paved trail and back on city streets. Outbound on the trail is fairly flat with a slight net downhill, the return is a series of rolling hills.
Keeping cool Average Drinking Not enough
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 3
Physical exertion [1-5] 2
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 5

2012-09-09 9:33 AM

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Subject: Triathlon at Pacific Grove - Olympic Course
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