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Catalina Triathlon - TriathlonSprint

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Avalon, California
United States
72F / 22C
Total Time = 2h 44m 34s
Overall Rank = 520/521
Age Group = Athena
Age Group Rank = 11/11
Pre-race routine:

This was my first "destination race". No, I didn't fly to some far off land with my bike in a box. But, it did involve a boat ride and night in a hotel, so it was a destination in my book! So technically my pre-race routine started the day before.

I had to take Friday off work and took a morning boat over to the island. My husband and kids stayed home. We would have had to pull the kids out of school, my husband would have had to call in sick, and we'd have had to pay three additional boat fares for what was little more than a 24 hour trip. So I went alone. I was still super excited about the race and the trip. I love Avalon and can easily amuse myself in such a fun place.

I arrived to a fairly quiet island, though it would begin to get more and more crowded each hour as new boats came dropping off more triathletes. I checked in to the Hermosa Hotel. There were two other triathletes checking in at the same time and the guy at the desk laughed about he never felt he had to give triathletes the "no smoking or loud partying" shpeal. Too funny! Turns out, everyone I saw at our hotel was doing the race. It made for a great environment. I ran to the Vons next door to stock up on Gatorade, bagels, bananas...the usual pre-race fare. Glad I did because the place was PACKED with athletes later!

I then rented a golf cart so that I could go ride the bike course. That was a BLAST! My husband and I did this once years ago, but I didn't drive. I headed up the canyon toward the Wrigley Memorial and was glad to see that although this was a steady climb, it was never steep. I thought for sure I could do this without getting off the bike (very wishful thinking as you will later find out.) I then drove up the scenic drive high above Avalon and around the casino. I had a ball!

When I got back I went over to Busy Bee for lunch, and then did a little shopping. I got changed and headed out on my bike to ride the run course. About a mile and a half in, it got so steep that I had to get off the bike! Holy crap! It was a lot steeper than the bike course. I walked my bike a bit then realized that this was hardly staying off my legs, so I headed back to the hotel. After a quick change I walked to the El Encanto Marketplace for the expo and race talk. They explained the course and cautioned us that if we heard sirens, we HAD to stop and get off our bikes. The bike course goes past the Fire Station and last year there was a medical emergency and the ambulance couldn't get through because the agro cyclists would stop for it. Nice. So we were told that we'd be disqualified if we didn't. I got my goody bag, shirt, and other stuff then did some souvenir shopping for my kids. As I walked back by Vons I heard two workers there joking about how with all of us in town, they were going to run out of health food. Funny.

I had spent too much time on my feet, so I rested a while. I also took a chance and taped my arch. I had read how to do it. My heel spur was hurting and I was amazed at how the pain went away when it was taped. Amazing. I then walked around. It was a gorgeous night. Tons of people were out...most were triathletes and their families. It was so cool that most people doing the race were already in town. Avalon is such a small town that everyone around me was talking about the race. It was such a great pre-race atmosphere. I picked up some tacos at "Topless Tacos" (love the name) had dinner and went to bed by 10.

I slept like a log. I couldn't believe that on a race night I got 8 sound hours of sleep! Woo hoo! Plus, I love, love, loved sleeping in until 6 on a race day. Usually I have to get up at 4. This whole 9:30 start time thing rocks! I did my usual pre-race routine of getting ready, eating and pumping the tires, but I did it in a hotel room. I did make a stupid mistake. I had pumped my tires at home with the floor pump the day before, and then brought one of those hand pumps that goes on the bike to top it off. I had never used it, but my husband had and assured me it worked. I need to beat the saying into my head of "nothing new on race day". Stupid me. I checked my tire pressure and it said 82 psi. I like it between 85 and 90. 82 is close and I should have just let it go...but I didn't. I tried without success to use the pump, and the process of doing so dropped the pressure in my back tire to 70 psi. Oh crap! I went out in the hall and suddenly all the triathletes that I had seen out here every fricking time I walked out were gone. I figured someone at the race would have a pump, so I didn't worry.

I got to the transition area but had to line up on the pier to wait for it to open. I got set up quickly and was unsuccessful in finding a pump. One nice guy offered to help but his pump had a presta valve. Bummer. I bring him up because he'll resurface again later in this report. As I walked down the street I saw a sea lion swimming near where our swim was to start. Yay...a sea lion for good luck! :)

I headed back to my hotel to stretch and check out. I called my husband and he reassured me that 70 psi is fine for the back tire. Cool. I went back to transition and made sure I knew where all the entrances and exits were. I was in a great location. I was close to swim in and right next to the bike in/out.

I stretched some more then hung out and talked to a really nice guy from my hotel that I had met the day before. As it got near nine, I got into my swim gear and headed over to warm up.
Event warmup:

I got in the water and for a brief second thought it was cold, but was quickly sidetracked by the rocky bottom. Can you say OUCH? It was hard to walk across. Apparently I have sensitive feet. So I walked out deeper...ow...ow...ow...ow...damn it's cold...ow...ow...ow. I couldn't believe how clear the water was. I've been snorkeling in Lover's Cove but didn't realize the water near the pier was so clear. At first it freaked me out. It makes potential ocean creatures more visible. I have the idea that if I can't see them, they don't exist. If it's clear, I may see something I don't want to.

I warmed up a bit. The tape I had used to tape my arch quickly came off in the water. Damn. So much for that. At one point a huge school of kelp bass swam by. How freaking cool. At this point I stopped a ways out in the water and looked back at Avalon: the pier, Crescent Ave., the Casino and the hills. I realized what a beautiful day it was and what a great locale this was. I was in a great mood and couldn't wait to race. I got out and waited for the race to start.
  • 15m 19s
  • 875 yards
  • 01m 45s / 100 yards

The gun went off and I carefully ran into the water. again. Damn. Everyone, myself included, swam as quickly as possible. There was the usual scrum at the beginning, but it didn't much let up. I can't believe how many times I had to stop and wait a second because someone's feet were in my face. Annoying. It was cool because I breathe to the right, which is where the pier was. The pier was lined with cheering spectators.

The end of the pier came fast. Now we had to swim out to the first red buoy. I had been told that the buoys were 100 yards apart. Wrong. I was aiming toward the buoy when the field of swimmers suddenly was a lot less. I was so basking in the open water that I failed to notice that it was because I was aiming toward the wrong to two very close buoys. Damn. I corrected my course and was back in the scrum. Great.

The water was still clear, but too deep to see the bottom. I looked down and saw a flash below. Oh god. That is not the eye of a sea creature looking up at me, oh no it isn’t. Then I sped up. Found out later they were little silvery fish. My bad.

We got to the first buoy and there was a bit of a traffic jam getting around it. It was nice to have an obvious halfway point. I did a quick watch check to see that I was on pace for a good swim. Woo hoo! At this point I was catching up to a lot of the red cap guys from the wave ahead of us. The waves only went off 3 minutes apart which further crowded this sardine-like course. Since we had the pier on one side of us and moored boats on the other, the field of swimmers was tighter than other races.

I was keeping a good clip, but still stopping occasionally for slower red caps and wayward purple ones (my wave). When I got to the end of the swim it was back to the rock running. Ow. Also, the sand was soft under water and my feet would sink in it. The cool thing is that out of the water was barely 10 feet of packed sand to run across! Woo hoo! No crazy molasses runs/walks like my other races! I was up the stairs fast, smiled for the Brightroom lady, hoped that I'd finally have an unfugly picture, and then ran to my stall.
What would you do differently?:

I was a little lax on the sighting. Usually I'm really good. Otherwise, I did things right. I got a PB of 1:42 per 100. Woo hoo!
Transition 1
  • 04m 58s

I felt a lot dizzier than usual this time, so I was slow at first just trying to get my bearings. Also, this transition area was in the sand, so EVERYTHING was sand coated and hard to get on. I struggled with my wetsuit, but everything went on quickly. I grabbed my bike and ran to the mount line.
What would you do differently?:

Really, I think given the sand and dizziness, I did okay. I'm not sure what I could have done better.
  • 1h 21m 38s
  • 10 miles
  • 7.35 mile/hr

I headed up Catalina St. and got some fluids. I made a right on Beacon. I took the left at Sumner and went through five corners onto Avalon Canyon Road. This was where the climb that I was dreading began. I had told myself that I would do my best and if I had to be it. I was doing okay when I heard a guy yell and felt the horns of his handlebars hit my left butt cheek. What the hell??? His tire grazed mine and I thought...oh god, he's going to take me down. He wasn't slowing down and I could still feel the handlebars so I told him to get the hell off me. He would not drop back. He tried to pass me and almost lost his balance and swerved into me. What the hell??? I had nowhere to go, since there was a curb to my immediate right. He said "sorry, rookie error". Is ramming your handlebars up someone's ass really a rookie error? That's a new one.

I rode for a while...about halfway up or so, before my muscles were really aching and I was winded. There was a little pull out, so I pulled over and stopped. I waited there a few minutes to give my muscles a break and catch my breath. Then I got back on and headed up. It was surreal because those of us climbing were slow, but those descending on the other side were flying. There were a few mean guys that are obviously angry at the fact that they could possibly allow anyone remotely slow in THEIR race. But, for every jerk, there are dozens of wonderful, great people.

A little while later I had to hop off and rest again. I was nowhere near the top and started to doubt I could do this. I thought about heading back down the hill and taking a DNF. However, as promised, I did not get discouraged. I got back on and rode a little farther. When I had to get off a third time, I decided that it was stupid to stand still. I might as well rest while walking the bike. At least I was then moving forward.

The rest of the climb was a series of riding and walking. When I was walking a lot of people cheered me on. I just kept way or another. I heard some cyclists yelling that there was an accident at the turn around. As I got closer I saw blood on the ground and was sad to see that super-nice presta-valve guy from the morning was sitting at the side of the road with a very bloody knee. What a disappointment. I felt bad for him.

I finally got to the turnaround and there were several teenaged volunteers that were cheering in a very patronizing way. I hate that. I walked around the bend, and got on for the downhill part. The downhill was scary. It was steep, narrow and had a lot of turns. I was afraid to open up and go fast, so I feathered the brakes the whole way and never went over 20 mph. It did feel nice to actually be on the bike though.

I got to Tremont quickly and hung a left on Descanso. This was a tricky part. I was on the right. I spent the whole race on the right. In fact, I would like to legally change my name to "On Your Left" so that I can convince myself that all those people were cheering me on! :) However, now I had to get to the left because those on the right were heading back to transition. That was tough cutting across traffic, but I did.

I made the loop and was heading back up the hill. Crap. But, I was still staying positive and reasoned that if I could climb it once, I could climb it two more times, even if it meant climbing it alone because I was DFL.

I had to get off the bike sooner and more often. Damn. At least the course wasn't as crowded and the people on it were less obnoxious. Again, every time I walked I had a ton of people cheering me on. It was nice to feel that support. One Athena told me she'd see me at the finish and buy me a beer. I realized that this would be a long bike course for me, so I made sure to drink and get in gels to keep my energy up. I got to the top, ignored the idiot kid volunteers, and headed back down. I went a little faster this time, since I knew what to expect.

As I made the turn to head up for lap three there wasn't much of anyone heading up with me. In fact, lots of runners were heading in toward the finish at that time. Ugh. I began the climb. When I passed the Brightroom photographers I cheered and said "Woo hoo! Dead fucking last", to which they said "No you're not, the little girl hasn't finished lap 2 yet". There was a cute little 10 year old girl doing the race with her dad. Great, how could I be excited about being ahead of a child? Oh well.

I continued my ride/walk routine and passed the annoying teen volunteers who were now playing football on the race course. Nice. I rounded the top and was not far behind two other women. As I descended I saw another 3 women behind me and the little girl. I even passed the ONLY person of the ride and relished yelling “On Your Left!” Woo hoo! I wasn't doing as bad as I thought. I went a lot faster this time with a wide open road. I finally headed back up Catalina, dismounted the bike and ran into transition.
What would you do differently?:

Well, the biggest problem here was my lack of hill training. That being said, I am so proud of myself. I really worked on keeping a positive attitude and having fun. I had really focused on that this week much more than focusing on racing logistics. I never got down on myself and despite how difficult and painful it was, I just kept going and finished the bike ride. My mantra became "just keep going" and I kept repeating that in my head. One way or another, I was determined to finish those three loops and I did.
Transition 2
  • 04m 9s

As I was running into transition I couldn't believe it. There were tons of people everywhere cheering for me. I was the only one running through at that point. Because I had walked so much of the bike, most everyone had seen me walking and were so supportive of the fact that I had finished it. I felt great and loved the support. Of course, it made me realize that 90% of the athletes were done with the race and I still had 3 miles to run. Oh well. No worries!

I got changed quickly and as I was running out of transition, decided to run right into the bathroom. I knew the run could take a while with my injured foot and didn't think there were too many pit stops along the way. I went before crossing the mat so that it would be part of my T2 time and not my run time. Ha!
What would you do differently?:

Nothing really, except not have to pee...though that really isn't in my realm of control.
  • 58m 29s
  • 3.1 miles
  • 18m 52s  min/mile

As I started running out of T2 one of the volunteers yelled for people to clear the way for me. As they did, I once again got tons of cheers. As I ran the entire length of Crescent people were cheering me left and right. I loved it. I'll have to be this slow more often, if not for the large cheering section! :)

When I got near El Encanto Marketplace there was a volunteer cheering like crazy. She was really sweet. I ran past the Tuna club and out toward the casino. There were several runners returning from the climb and going past me. I then ran past Descanso which was beautiful. I was surprised to see that my foot felt great and I was running at a safe, but steady clip.

Right after Descanso is where the road got crazy steep. I downshifted to walking. I passed the ade station and there was a group of tourists that were just hiking up the road and the volunteers offered them Gatorade. I jokingly (well, sort of) teased the volunteers and told them not to give it all away that I'd be wanting some on the way back. As I hiked from the ade station up the hill, the tourist group was walking with me. They were a blast. They were asking me questions about the race and joking around with me. It was a real morale booster.

As I got near the top I saw cool Hawaiian-shirt guy. He was another wonderfully friendly back-of-the-packer. We yelled encouragement at each other and vowed to see each other at the finish. I then saw a sign for the 1 mile marker. I thought that the ade station was the one mile marker. Damn. Oh well.

At this point, my Polar HRM was all goofy. I could get it to tell me my HR, but not keep time. It had been jacked up since the end of my bike ride, so I don't know my split for anything after T1. Great.

I rounded the top of the peak, took a look at the spectacular "top of the world" type view, and began running the downhill. Earlier I had been passed by the other four women who I had beaten out of the bike. As I descended and got near the ade station I saw the little girl and her dad. They were still quite a bit behind me, which was good. I still wasn't DFL.

Somewhere around mile 2 my stomach started feeling sick and stayed sick throughout the race. At least I only had a mile to go. I ran past the casino and was heading back into town. I was still getting cheers from people passing on bike or by golf cart. I ran through the circle and up the street toward Metropole. As I was running there was an open air trolley at the curb waiting for me. As I passed there were a bunch of teenage girls on the trolley that smiled when they saw me. As I ran by I yelled "high fives on the trolley" and they all stuck their hands out the window and high-fived me. Too cool!

As I turned right on Metropole, a volunteer told me I was doing a great job and started running alongside me. He wanted to make sure that I knew where to go on this part of the course. After he knew that I understood the way he wished me good luck and stopped running. I ran past my hotel and up the street. Then the street got really steep. I didn't see that one coming. I knew that mile 2 up above Descanso was steep but hadn't heard about Metropole being that way.

I started the downhill on Tremont. There were two women not that far ahead of me, which was nice. I looked back occasionally to see if the 10 year old was going to overtake me and cause me to be DFL in this race. No sign of her. I felt bad. I was torn between wanting to try my best and beat her and let her beat me so that she didn't have to be last. Then, I reasoned that she is a competitor too. I wouldn't let someone in their 80's or a person in a wheelchair pass me out of pity, so I wouldn't let her pass either.

I finally made the left onto Sumner. I could see the finish line...but it was still pretty far away. I was keeping a nice clip but was not overdoing it. I was afraid of reinjuring my foot and didn't want to. At one point I casually looked back and...OH CRAP...the little girl was gaining on me. I had to sprint. I couldn't believe I was taking on a sweet, little cherubic girl...but at that point she was another competitor and the one thing that stood between me and the awful designation of DFL. In trying to beat her I was running so hard that everything below my knees began to ache. Oh great. I'll feel this tomorrow. I watched over my shoulder every so often and although she was still gaining on me, I did it...I hit the finish mat, heard lots of cheers, got lots of high fives, and threw my hands in the air because I had finished this very difficult race, and narrowly escaped being DFL by about 10 seconds! Wow!
What would you do differently?:

Ultimately it was a good run. I only walked the uphills, and not even all of them. Given that I had a recent injury and lost a ton of energy on the bike, I think I did alright!
Post race
Warm down:

I crossed the finish line so late that the awards ceremony was already going on. This means I had gone at least 2 and a half hours. But I didn't care about the time, just the finish. I walked over and grabbed my Endurox and started walking toward the Catalina Flyer dock to cool down. I forced myself to drink some water and Endurox, even though my stomach felt really sick. I stopped at a park and stretched really well, then walked back to transition.

I then went and got in the water. It was FREEZING, but seemed like a good alternative to my usual ice bath. I figured it would help swelling and sore muscles. It also cleaned me off a bit and cooled me off completely.

After I got into warm, dry clothes and went out to lunch. I had a wonderful lunch at Armstrong's Seafood, looking out at the water. I then got a mocha and drank it by the beach until it was time to take the boat back. What an amazing trip!

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Ultimately, I realize now that this was not an Athena-friendly race. The level was way over my head, but I was determined and never let myself get down about it. I finished the race, against the odds, and had a lot of fun in the process. My lack of experience was a limiting factor for this race. I have heard people say that the Catalina Triathlon is the most difficult of the Southern California sprint triathlons and I can see why. However, I am so proud of myself for completing it. A year ago I couldn't have done any one of the three parts, much less all three, back to back. So despite the problems I had, I accomplished a lot. This was the biggest physical challenge of my 33 year life and I feel like it was my positive attitude that got me through to the finish line, and even got me a personal best on the swim.

Event comments:

This was a phenomenal race. I love the location. I love the small town feel of all the racers being in town together. The scenery was gorgeous. The water was clear and amazing. This was a technically difficult course, but some courses are, and that's okay. It was my fault that I wasn't ready for this course. It had nothing to do with the course being bad. I plan to train on hills, get more fit, and return for a strong follow up next year. 52 weeks from now, I plan to kick some island athena ass!

Profile Album

Last updated: 2007-04-03 12:00 AM
00:15:19 | 875 yards | 01m 45s / 100yards
Age Group: 4/11
Overall: 292/521
Performance: Good
Suit: Zoot Two Sleeveless
Course: Out a quarter mile past the pier and boats, then back.
Start type: Wade Plus:
Water temp: 60F / 16C Current: Low
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting: Average
Waves: Navigation: Average
Rounding: Below average
Time: 04:58
Performance: Average
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Yes Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed: Below average
01:21:38 | 10 miles | 7.35 mile/hr
Age Group: 11/11
Overall: 519/521
Performance: Bad
Wind: None
Course: 3 laps with a climb on the first half, and downhill on the second
Road: Rough Dry Cadence:
Turns: Below average Cornering: Below average
Gear changes: Average Hills: Bad
Race pace: Too hard Drinks: Not enough
Time: 04:09
Overall: Average
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike Good
Racking bike Below average
Shoe and helmet removal Good
00:58:29 | 03.1 miles | 18m 52s  min/mile
Age Group: 11/11
Overall: 520/521
Performance: Average
Course: Flat run past casino and Descanso, super steep run up to a peak, descent back into town, another ascent up Metropole, a loop around, then finish on Sumner
Keeping cool Average Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 5
Physical exertion [1-5] 5
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Too hard
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? No
Post race activities: Below average
Race evaluation [1-5] 5

2007-11-03 9:37 PM

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Long Beach, CA
Subject: Catalina Triathlon

2007-11-04 5:40 PM
in reply to: #1036746

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Subject: RE: Catalina Triathlon
Congratulations on doing it, and finishing it!!

I mean, you were out there, when you could have made excuses...

I'm so proud of you - your attitude for the whole race was awesome, great've accomplished so much
2007-11-05 12:02 AM
in reply to: #1036746

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So Cal.
Subject: RE: Catalina Triathlon

Hey Sealion Girl,

Fantastic attitude.  Way to stick to it and finish.  Congratulations.  It is a techically difficult course.

I did not see you, but I did see cool Hawaiian shirt guy as identified by your description.  I hope to see you there next year.

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