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Bonelli Olympic Distance Triathlon - TriathlonOlympic

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San Dimas, California
United States
Total Time = 2h 38m 27s
Overall Rank = 27/185
Age Group = Male 50-54
Age Group Rank = 1/8
Pre-race routine:

This is the first time I have done a triathlon and not trained on the course prior to race day. Normally I just do local events, and even though the Bonelli triathlons don't require an over-nighter, San Dimas is just too far away for me to have planned a workout there over the last couple weeks when I was considering doing it. Actually, I didn't finalize my decision by registering until the Monday before the race. I'd been making good progress on recovering from my running injuries, especially in the last three weeks. I've had some really good training runs and bricks since mid-September, so I felt I could do the 10K final leg justice. Still, I always like to know the course somewhat, and have that psychological advantage over it. Oh, well. This was my last chance to do an Olympic distance tri this season, so I decided to make the commitment.
Event warmup:

My biggest mistake of the day was getting a late start on the drive out there Sunday morning. I arrived to find the directions to the staging area were wrong, and having to get re-directed cost me even more time. Did a quick packet pick-up, then set up my transition on one of the last rack spots available, pulled on my wetsuit and jogged to the swim start, arriving just before the 8:00 am start time. If the race had actually stated on time I would have had no warm up, which is bad news for my slow-to-get-started body. Thinking that the delay would be short, I waded into the water for a short 30 to 40 yard swim. I came ashore and did some stretching before a further delay was announced and so I headed back into the water for another short swim, just hoping to loosen up enough to get a good start. Meanwhile, a couple of the local water fowl were starting to get annoyed at all the people disturbing their lake and tried to chase them out. A third delay then gave me a final opportunity to return to my warm-up, one last time.
  • 24m 9s
  • 1640 yards
  • 01m 28s / 100 yards

I was in Wave 2 of 3 waves. The start was easy enough; no surf crashing on the shore, or big swells trying to push you back toward the beach. But the bottom was pretty rocky, so I waded out a few yards then dove in and started swimming. Oddly, even though this is a small event with less than 200 people, the swim start was just as crazy as ever. I tried to get a fast start, but lots of people got ahead of me and I was boxed in somewhere in the middle with some guy kicking furiously in my face. So I swam over him. It took almost to the first buoy to get away from people that kept bumping into me from the side. I had planned to go out fast and draft behind someone, since it had worked so well in the Pier-to-Pier race in August. By now I was toward the front of the "pack", if you can call it that, as we were spread out laterally about thirty yards apart. Apparently some had veered left and some right. For once it wasn't me as I seemed to be only a little off course for hitting the second buoy and a left turn that angled us toward the finish line on the north shore, well east of the start. I made that turn and did a few strokes with my head high above the water to sight the next buoy and realized I was now ahead of everyone in my wave. So much for drafting. From that point on I was focused on keeping a strong pace and maintaining good form. Soon I was passing people from the first wave pretty regularly. As I approached the last hundred yards or so of the swim course, I realized I was just cruising along, so I picked up the pace for a faster finish. Again, no surf to deal with on the exit in this lake, but I kind of like catching a wave at the end of a swim and getting pushed up onto the beach. So I swam in until it was real shallow, stood up and ran out of the water and onward to T1. My self-timed split out of the water was 24:09, and then I took another split as I crossed the mat into T1, 36 seconds. So 24:45 for the unofficial swim split vs the 24:44 for the official split. Close enough for me. The official results also confirmed I was first in my wave out of the water, with the 6th fastest swim split of the day. Nice. And I was still very fresh thanks to the moderate overall pace.
What would you do differently?:

Get a better warm-up. Arrive early enough to get in about 10 minutes of stretching and a 2 to 300 yard continuous swim.
Transition 1
  • 03m 11s

T1 was my usual slow performance, especially getting the wetsuit off. I'll swear it seems to take longer every time I do it. Self-timed T1 split was 3:11. Terrible.
What would you do differently?:

Do the same things, but much faster.
  • 1h 21m 24s
  • 24.85 miles
  • 18.32 mile/hr

Having little idea of how the bike course was going to go, I figured that the first lap would probably be my slowest as I got a feel for the hills. I did get off to a good start as I did a nice running mount and was pedaling past a couple others right away. The first part, which loops around the small airport to the east, was virtually flat, but very windy. I was expecting three good uphill stretches as the course worked its way around the lake, and got them. By the third hill I was out of the saddle trying to keep some speed as I approached the top. The down hills were just steep enough and long enough to get up a fast decent. Later I would find a 42.4 mph max speed on my bike computer. With just over 26 minutes for the first lap I was optimistic of having a good bike leg. The second lap seemed to go by faster, but it turned out to be about a minute slower. By the third lap I was really wearing down. I was feeling the hills more than I cared to, and the heat didn't help. I dropped another minute, for a 28 minute lap, and was real happy to see the small crowd gathered at the turn-off point to the transition area. My self-timed bike split was 1:21:24. So my T1 + Bike split + T2 times = 1:27:24. Oddly, this was eight seconds slower than the official split posted on the website, 1:27:16. I'll gladly take the faster time! My bike split was good for 3rd fastest in my AG and 68th over all.
What would you do differently?:

I'm not sure what I could have done differently that would have made a difference. However, I felt that I should have gone faster.
Transition 2
  • 02m 49s

T2 was another slow process with a few errors thrown in to boot. First off, since I was late in arriving and rushing around trying to get to the starting line, I didn't count the rows of racks so I'd know where I left my stuff. Coming out of the water it was easy to find my bright red Scott road bike, which is not like any other bike there. Easy to find. But as I came into T2, I realized I still didn't know where my stuff was, but spotted my towel and my inside-out wetsuit pretty soon. So I racked my bike pulled off my helmet, glasses, gloves, shoes, then reached for my running shoes only to discover they weren't my shoes. They were similar, but definitely not mine. This wasn't my stuff. I was at the wrong rack. The towel was just like the ones I got from the Redondo and the Hermosa Beach Triathlons two years ago. Anyway, I stuffed everything into my helmet, grabbed my bike and ran down a few more racks to find my real spot. Once my running shoes were on, I was off and running. My self-timed T2 was 2:49.
What would you do differently?:

Always know where you left your stuff in the transition area.
  • 46m 18s
  • 6.21 miles
  • 07m 28s  min/mile

I started the run with the usual lack of decent leg muscle coordination, and almost no idea of what the course was going to be like, other than it was a hilly one loop circuit around the lake. I very much enjoyed the run through the heavy lakeside undergrowth, trees, bushes, etc., in the first stretch. It was nice to get some extended shade and cool off. It reminded me more of a cross-country course than the typical road-run-type venue of most triathlons I've been in. As the dirt path turned into an asphalt roadway, the course made a fairly flat, out and back dog-leg just south of the small airport, before continuing around the lake. By now the weather had really warmed up and the clear, bright sunny sky indicated there would be no relief from it. As the course made its way along the lake, I tried to keep a good pace, but the kind of fatigue that you just know isn't going to go away had set in. I re-focused myself from pushing the pace to concentrating on my form. Keep the knees low, don't over-stride. Keep the foot-strike at mid-sole or forward, and don't start doing a heel-strike. Keep each foot on the ground for a split second longer as it passes behind you to get better core rotation and forward propulsion from the hip flexors. Maintain a slight forward lean, but with a perfectly straight bodyline from the trailing foot to the forehead, without bending at the waist. Etc., etc... I found that I needed to slow up into the water stations and walk while I drank down most of a cup of water, pouring the rest over my head. I had the feeling that my body was absorbing the water before it even got to my stomach. Every small bit of shade that I ran through was welcomed. Gaining on other runners is usually at least a small psychological boost, but passing them in their completely wilted state made me worry that this could be me any minute now. Getting passed by stronger runners who didn't seem wilted at all didn't help. Running along the road over the dam was like being an ant under a magnifying glass, why didn't I wear a hat? But I had other questions crowding my mind, like how much further until the finish line? Am I going to make it? Time to re-focus again and get back to concentrating on running form. But as I came to the next water station I had to ask, "How Far?" The guy said he had no idea. At the next water station the guy said one mile. The next water station guy said 1 1/2 miles. What? These guys are just guessing. Next water station was back to one mile, as the course turned right, went off the road and onto a trail. Before long I was running closer to the lakeside and then onto the cement walkway. Someone said 300 yards to go, as I passed a runner who responded with, "That's still too far". Took the words right out of my mouth. Should I believe it this time? Then, coming around a bend I thought I could see the finish area up ahead. Yes that was it! Finely I was on the last straightaway, maybe 75 yards to go, time to see what's left. I sprinted as hard and fast as I could and kind of surprised myself that I did accelerate by a noticeable amount. Crossed the finish line, stopped my watch, and walked on wobbly legs as voices asked for my bib number tag. I'm pretty sure I tore it off by myself and gave it to someone, then struggled to remove my timing chip. But all I was thinking of was where to find some water. I looked around. I was all by myself. Where did everybody go? Even more importantly, where's the water?

My self-timed run split was 46:18. Wow, That's way too fast. I couldn't have been going better than 8:30 per mile pace. Pre-race I was hoping to break 48 minutes, but after a couple miles I re-adjusted my goal to 52 minutes. By the end I was hoping for 55 and would have been happy with 58. I really couldn't tell how fast I was going, but that 46:18 seemed to confirm what I'd heard, that the run course was short by at least a quarter mile. When I finally found where the water was, I heard someone commenting that the swim and bike courses were a little long. So I said that I thought the run course was more than a little short. He told me it wasn't all that short, as his Garmin Forerunner had given him a distance of just over 6 miles. Well, even at 6 miles, a 46:18 means 7:43 per mile pace. I can't believe I was running that fast over those hills in that kind of heat. No way. Then when the official results were posted on the website on Wednesday, I found that my run split was listed as 43:01! That's 7:10 pace. Absolutely no way. Well, I've seen wacky times/splits at other triathlons, and I'm not sure what happened here, but I'm going to have to decline that generous 2:35:01 official time in favor of my 2:38:27 self-timed one. But on the bright side, regardless of time, overcoming my suffering translated into a first place AG finish and a 27th place finish over all. The run itself was the fastest time in my AG, and 31st over all. Very satisfying indeed.

What would you do differently?:

Wear a hat. Maybe drink more while still on the bike. Do more training in the kind of weather the race will be in.
Post race
Warm down:

Just walked around, with a little stretching for about 40 minutes, eating PBJ sandwiches and drinking lots of water.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

The hills were a limiting factor, to some degree, especially on the bike. But the heat was the killer on the run.

Event comments:

This was a good, low-key, fairly informal event, in a nice country-like setting. If only we had a nice big, undeveloped piece of open land like this near the beach in the South Bay...

Last updated: 2007-10-04 12:00 AM
00:24:09 | 1640 yards | 01m 28s / 100yards
Age Group: 1/8
Overall: 6/185
Performance: Average
Suit: xterra VectorPro 2
Course: 1,500 meter swim in Puddingstone Reservoir. From the shore west of the finish area, straight out to a buoy, then a greater than 90 degree left turn to angle back toward the shore, finishing well east of the starting point.
Start type: Wade Plus:
Water temp: 78F / 26C Current: Low
200M Perf. Below average Remainder: Average
Breathing: Good Drafting: Bad
Waves: Navigation: Good
Rounding: Good
Time: 03:11
Performance: Bad
Cap removal: Below average Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Yes Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: Yes
Getting up to speed: Good
01:21:24 | 24.85 miles | 18.32 mile/hr
Age Group: 3/8
Overall: 68/185
Performance: Average
Wind: Some
Course: 3 laps around the park, with 3 extended uphill inclines per lap. Although generally a good road surface, one hill was really bad, cracked asphalt most of the way up.
Road:  Dry Cadence:
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good Hills: Average
Race pace: Hard Drinks: Just right
Time: 02:49
Overall: Bad
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike Good
Running with bike Good
Racking bike Good
Shoe and helmet removal Average
00:46:18 | 06.21 miles | 07m 28s  min/mile
Age Group: 1/8
Overall: 31/185
Performance: Average
Course: One hilly lap around the lake, with an out and back dog-leg seemly tacked onto the early part of the course, perhaps to get the distance up closer to 10K.
Keeping cool Bad Drinking Not enough
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 5
Physical exertion [1-5] 5
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? No
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Below average
Race evaluation [1-5] 3

2007-10-04 9:02 PM

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Redondo Beach, CA
Subject: Bonelli Olympic Distance Triathlon

2007-10-04 10:39 PM
in reply to: #992732

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Melon Presser
Subject: RE: Bonelli Olympic Distance Triathlon

Very, very nice job on the tri--congrats on the #1 div--and a beautifully detailed race report! I wish I had met you ... although I think I may have hit you with my Mickey Mouse balloon while we were in the packet pickup line.

Those are some really amazing times, considering that it really was hot at the end of the bike and on the run.

2007-10-05 12:06 AM
in reply to: #992732

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Subject: RE: Bonelli Olympic Distance Triathlon
Wow. What an awesome job! Congratulations on winning your AG too!

My Garmin said the run course was just under 6 miles too (5.9something), but I assumed they'd moved the makeshift finish line a little closer just to have mercy on us at the end .
2007-10-05 5:01 PM
in reply to: #992732

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Subject: RE: Bonelli Olympic Distance Triathlon
Great job, but come on, man, you really gotta work on that bike to get it up to your swim and run standards.  3d??? 
2007-10-13 1:45 PM
in reply to: #994259

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Redondo Beach, CA
Subject: RE: Bonelli Olympic Distance Triathlon

ChrisM - 2007-10-05 3:01 PM Great job, but come on, man, you really gotta work on that bike to get it up to your swim and run standards.  3d??? 

Yeah, I'm pretty disappointed in my bike performance. Although I think I'm in better bike shape than this race indicates, it is definitely my weak point. Perhaps as I've put my focus on quality run training over the past month, I've dropped some bike fitness. The rides have been shorter & less intense, but only since late August. Well, whatever the case, I do need a lot of work on the bike.


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