Sunday, March 7, 2010

Desert Sprint Triathlon

Me at home wearing my swim cap while having fond memories of my "epic" swim earlier today. Remember when U2 put out "Achtung Baby" and The Edge started wearing a skull cap to hide his baldness? Maybe this could be my new look. P.S. Check out my wife's cute little cactus...

My first triathlon of the 2010 season is in the books. Overall, it was a great time. I drove out last night in the rain with fellow BT'er Bob Foyle (Bob, I hope it's OK to mention you by name given our discussion about online privacy issues). We pulled into the hotel around 8:30 and went to get a bite to eat. We ended up at the Firehouse Pub across the parking lot from the hotel and both ordered the Firehouse Burger. The Firehouse Burger is a burger topped with pastrami, Swiss cheese and thousand island dressing. I had some initial concerns about the complications it could cause in the morning if I was up against a massive line at the porta-johns and a looming wave start time. But when the food came out it looked and tasted so incredible I made the tactical decision that it was fine to roll the dice.

After eating, we went back to the hotel. Concerned about the weather, we tuned in the weather channel and got the forecast for every region in the world except the Coachella Valley. I gave up and switched over to ESPN. They where showing Big East conference NCAA basketball coverage. Sorry if this offends anyone, but the Big East is a big snore, so I amused myself by filling water bottles with a mixture of water and Gatorade Fierce grape flavor and went to bed.

The alarm went off at 5:30, and we where out the door by 5:45. We got to the race site by 6:15. Outside of having to park fairly far away from the transition area, everything went fine. The weather was holding. My gamble paid off with the burger - the porta-john lines where short. In a quest for contiuned good karma with respect to this very important aspect of race prep, I left the roll of toilet paper I lifted from the hotel behind, figuring someone would be very thankful later. Sometimes you've got to pay it forward.

So with the pre-race checklist complete, I zipped up my wet suit and head down to the lake for a warm up.

There was no way that the water was 65 degrees as advertised. No chance at all. Maybe 60, probably 59. But I managed to get used to it, and I got in 100 yards or so of warm-up. The warm up felt relatively smooth and good. I was hoping for smooth and good because as I've mentioned perhaps a million times over the course of the 40 or so posts that make up this blog that I am a terrible swimmer.

Despite my warm-up my race swim was awful. However, from this day forward I am done complaining about my swimming. I'm sick of writing about it and you are undoubtedly sick of reading about it. The highlight of the swim (if you can call it that) was when another guy, somewhere around the first buoy, asked me to help get his wetsuit zipper adjusted. I guess it was binding his neck something fierce. I was more than happy to help, and then blew by him - but I blew by him like an ant that blows by another ant in the middle of the Mojave desert. It just didn't matter. I spent the rest of the swim wondering how the hell I am going to pull off an Olympic distance in June. My 500 meter swim was 16 minutes and some change. Ouch.

Things got better on the bike. It was a 14 mile course, and unlike other sprint bike courses I've ridden, it was one big loop and not a smaller loop repeated 2 or 3 times. I loved it. At about mile 8 I passed a a bunch of guys standing on a harvesting machine on break from working a field. It felt for a second like I was riding through the French countryside. Then we hit a grove of palm trees and a guy riding nearby said "Wow this is like riding in Hawaii!!". So there you go, a pair of dream cycling vacation fantasies while riding into a headwind. Anything to keep your mind off the wind, I guess. I ended up averaging 18.5 mph over the course and it felt like a race. I was hoping for an average of 20 mph, but the wind slowed me down a bit. All in all, it was a very good ride.

I can't complain much about the run either. I was hoping for 7:30 miles, but managed 7:37. The loose gravel trail that made up the first half mile may have what kept me from my goal, but whatever. And it's about a 1 3/4 minute per mile improvement since last July, so the reason I can't complain because there is nothing to complain about. Like the bike, the course was one loop instead of an out and back, so bonus points for the one time scenery.

Bib number 1267 crossed the finish line in 1 hour 32 minutes.

Then it was back to the hotel to check out. On the drive from the race to the hotel, my quads seized up like never before, and I was limping around as I got my things together, but they are feeling OK now. I fear it might be my new $150 bike saddle that I spent a bunch of time researching and fitting for. Because when I was on the came-with-the-bike $19.99 saddle I had no such issues. Awesome.

Now I said I wasn't going to COMPLAIN about swimming anymore. But I am going to talk about it. It's become obvious (to the extent that something can be obvious about something I know very little about), that I will have to train like I race. The fact that I can knock these race distances off in a pool (at least passably well), but am hopeless in the open water must mean that I have to relearn swimming in open water. It might be the lack of the lane lines, or the loss of some sort of subconscious comfort in repetitive 25 yard segments, or something like that. So relearn is what I'll have to do.

I've just signed up for a local race in Newport Beach in about a months time. It includes a half mile swim. On the ride back, Bob and I committed to some open water swim training together. So the road continues and I'm going to keep working at it.


Jennifer said...

Great race report, pretty funny too. I know what you mean about swimming, I swim just fine and actually love to swim, but I am more like a slow polar bear than fast fish. Happy to be lumbering the water but not getting anywhere fast. Keep at it, it has to get better! Your times at the bike and run are real nice, I am jealous!

Karen said...

Love the little cactus :)
you can do the half mile swim - absolutely! Do the practices with your friend, it just gets easier... If only you could simulate the kicking from fellow racers and overall battering at the start!

Exgf said...

Love your race report :) I can't wait until my first sprint of the season! I'm a little late - last year I started in April but with surgery in December it's put me back


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