Nothing like a fun triathlon weekend!
I arrived a little after 1 on Friday afternoon, and by the time I got my bearings the pro womens race just about to start. If you have never seen a pro ITU race up close and personal, I strongly recommend it. It is one thing to be in awe on TV, it is a whole other world when these amazing athletes are buzzing by just inches from you. I spent the better half of the afternoon with the CVMM crew that came down for the race. We ended the day at Tony Roma’s for a nice pre-race carb dinner.
After dinner I headed back to my hotel room to get the Xenith T2 ready for my race on Saturday morning. I started off by installing my new badass HED decals. (Thanks again Win for making it happen on such short notice) I also had to put a tire and tube on my Jet 4 front wheel, and get my pressures right because the bikes had to be checked in the night before. This is where things started to get interesting! Just as everything appeared to be perfect and “race ready”, I hear BOOM! The tube on my front wheel blew while just sitting there. Certainly more of a sound that I would expect to hear from Army training and not my tri bike. The front wheel had a brand new Continental GP4000s on it, and for anyone that has worked with that tire you know that it is a pain to get off when it is brand new like that. After numerous tries, I finally got half the tire off and changed the tube. All good, or as I thought, I loaded the bike onto my roof rack, and off to transition for bike check we went. Somehow between loading and unloading the bike the chain had managed to fall off and get wedged in the concealed rear brakes. Super awesome, NOT! especially considering I had to fudge my front brakes a little to make the Jet 4 fit up front, and my front brakes would not be 100% on race day. With the help from a couple of other triathletes, we got the chain unjammed and I was able to rack my bike. I am not used to my perseverance being tested so early in a race.
Race morning was pretty lazy, the olympic race started a little after 6 which was 2 and a half hours before my race, so as I heard everyone leaving their hotel rooms I woke up and laid in bed for a little while. It was pretty nice having that much downtime to relax, eat, and prepare for the race. Around 7:30 my roommate Stephanie and I walked over to transition which was able a half mile from the hotel. She was a little nervous since it was her first sprint, she ended up winning our age group!
My wave started at 8:45, I put on my Blueseventy Axis and headed down to the water around 8:30 to warm up a little. The water temp was pretty decent, and from swimming the afternoon prior I was already aware of the kelp and seaweed that was pretty thick in the shallow areas. After being in for about 10 minutes, I got out and headed to the start line.
The gun went off and we all charged down the sand and into the water. Like at most races you run until it is about knee high and dive in. Unfortunately, that approach didn’t work here. The ocean bottom strangely got a little more shallow so I had to stand back up and try it again. A few seconds later I was finally in deep enough water that I was able to swim without any problem, until a couple hundred meters later, I was flat! My arms were tired, and I was completely out of breath which has never happened in a race before, and my arms rarely feel that heavy after a Coach Reno drill sergeant session let alone only a couple hundred meters into a race. I stuck with swimming freestyle the entire time but was never able to get into any sort of rhythm. It was definitely not the swim that I had hoped for since I have been doing a lot of swim training, and I was ecstatic for the swim to be over and to get out of the water.
T1 went smooth. It was nice getting out of the water and not having frozen feet, nor a very long run in the sand. I put on my number belt, shades, and helmet, then started trotting to the end of transition. As I was mounting, Kevin Koresky from Tri Lounge stopped me real quick for a picture, since I was the only Team RWB athlete out there. I then got right back into race mode, mounted, and took off. So much for “nothing new on race day”. I had observed in the past that I ride better in my Specialized S-Work Road Shoes, rather than Specialized Trivent Expert shoes, and the pros wear them so I figured I would give it a shot. What I didn’t realize, was how important it was that the pros removed the tongue from the road shoes. Oops, so I had to make a quick stop on the side of the road to get them on. The bike course was fairly simply for the next 4-5, until we can upon “the hill”. Everyone I had talked to over the couple days prior had mentioned that it was a rather hilly course, they weren’t kidding! By far the most difficult sprint course that I have ever ridden. The only nice this about the major hills in the middle of the course was that you have some serious fun on the descents that followed. This was my first ride with the Hed Jet Disc, and Hed Jet 4 in front. I was happy with their performance, but I don’t think that this was the best course for their maiden voyage. The bike portion of the race certainly took longer than I expected, but I felt pretty good at the end. I rode into T2 with my feet on my shoes, and ready for the run.
My run started out relatively well, with a decent pace and turnover. I figured that I would ride the wave as long as I could because running is definitely my weakest discipline, and typically becomes a bit of a suckfest during most races. About half way through the run I lost the majority of my power, and started getting my usual side cramp. Tried a few different things to make it go away, but nothing helped out much. My run for the second half was more of an exaggerated walk than anything else. I saw Andrew MacNaughton with a little over a quarter mile to go. As usual he reminded me that there is “No Walking in Racing!”, so I dug deep and finished strong. Running on the blue carpet into the finishing chute was pretty awesome. I was presented with my finishers medal, and headed over to the athlete area. I stuck around for a few minutes and cheered some folks on along with some other LATC members. After 15-20 minutes, I headed back to transition for pick up all my gear so that I could head back to my hotel to get ready for the mens pro race.
Other than racing, and having a relaxing weekend, one of my major premises for racing in San Diego was so that I could hopefully catch up with Macca. I had won one of his racing kits last year, and was determined to get it autographed so that I could add it next to Jordan Rapp’s on the “Wall of Fame” in my office. I had mentioned that to Andrew MacNaughton on Friday, and said that we would have no problem making that happen as long as we could catch Macca before the swim start. It was like magic, we were hanging out at the race venue in front of the Specialized booth, and Macca appeared out of no where. Andrew immediately went and asked if we had a moment to sign the kit, and he was glad to. He also didn’t mind taking a couple quick pix before he got back to his pre race routine. Little did we know, as Macca was signing the kit, a photographer from Triathlete magazine took a picture of us, and it ended up on their front page the next day. At this point I was high on cloud nine, and after watching the women’s race the day before, and racing earlier that morning, the men’s performance was just that much better. Johnathan Brownlee put on a hell of a show making a 10k run look like a 400 yard dash.
On Saturday night LA Tri Club had a gathering at one of the local bars. It was definitely a fun evening. I am still not sure how I managed to stay up until almost 2am after racing that morning.
Sunday morning Carol Ro and I met up for a swim on the other side of the bay. After cleaning up we grab a quick bit at one of the restaurants on site at the Dana. Since I had quite a bit of time before having to be at my Aunt’s for Mother’s Day dinner, I decided to swing by Sea World for a few hours which was a great way to end my adventure.