Thursday, June 16, 2005

Race Breakdown -- TRI #2 (Redondo Beach)

By breakdown, I mean a point-by-point description of how the race went, NOT that I broke down, at any point...

Quite the contrary, actually, though I DID have to adjust to the fact that there were hundreds of people in attendance (not the paltry 150 or so at San Dimas) and it seemed like 90 percent of them were badass swimmers. The good part, and the fun part, was that there were about 10 people from Triathlon Camp there--some competing, some watching: Eric, Joe, Diane and Kirk Anglin, Jim, Jason and a couple others competed; Peter, Joanna, Kirsten and a few others were there to cheer us on. It felt like a huge event, not the brief sprint that it actually was: lots of information tents, a real podium, race volunteers for days...


Once we got around to starting (there were some snafus around the buoy placement), it was, again, quite the land-grab for swimming space, but everyone was sportsmanlike: a few gentle whacks given and taken here and there, but none intentional. The swim was made much easier by the presence of lots of people around me: not only did I have wakes to swim in for drafting purposes, but I had the benefit of seeing people all around me heading in the same direction. I felt like one of an enormous school of migrating fish. The swim was long but manageable: easy to navigate and not too tiring: the wetsuit helped, I think, with buoyancy and hydrodynamics. Three buoys to swim around...




Getting back onshore was, as usual, a challenge: my legs didn't want to work right, and the run up to the transition area required a sprint up a set of stairs (bolstered by fans' cheering, god bless them, including Heidi and Kate and a few other friends), then a jog over the parking lot and to my bike. Robert Keating from TriLab told me I was 24 back, which seemed a looong way back (I was still hoping to match my 8th place San Dimas finish, but in a field of 600 fish, I was dreaming. Still, he seemed elated to be telling me, so he must have been reasonably happy about it). T1 was smooth, though looking at my time it could have been faster; I trotted out and started the bike course, knowing it was a short 6 miles, all out.

Passed a couple of guys on the 2 lap course--caught probably a dozen or so on my second lap who were just starting their first. I passed Eric, who had started with me, on the second loop--he didn't look happy, and didn't respond when I said words of encouragement to him. At one point one of those born-in-the saddle types zipped by me too, but I don't remember too many others getting past me. Overall, bike felt pretty smooth, though I lost a little time wondering where my turnoff was for the end of the course.

Transitioning into the run was quick and easy--choked down some water and bolted out, encouraged again by Heidi and Kate on the way in and out. At one point I also saw Melanie Haro, which was a surprise: I didn't expect to see them, or any other pals there so early! But I settled into a good running pace, passed a couple of folks early on, and then was passed by an Asian speed demon who I initially thought I could catch (hah!). As happened in San Dimas, I lost focus for a little while in the middle: the run is lonely and isolated, and you wonder, as tired as you suddenly are, why you're doing this, what's the point, etc. But I fought through it, knowing that EVERYONE would be feeling that way and THIS was where the wheat got separated from the chaff, the finishers from the real competitors. I soldiered on, with no clue as to my pace (I opted not to wear a watch), pushing for a speed that was just this side of agonizing.


Remembering the race director's instructions that "when you see a hill that you don't want to go up, you're almost there," I burst with speed upon seeing that monstrous hill, and passed a couple of last guys who were keeping their pace even. Managed a sprint out at the finishline. Somehow the race felt more effortful than San Dimas--requiring more mental toughness, even though the time spent racing (50:51) was SHORTER than in San Dimas.


Final results had me in 19th place among the men, 21st place overall (yes, okay, two Amazon women beat me. Amazing athletes, my hats off to 'em.) I was 4th among the 30-34 year olds. Not sodding bad, given the huge field. Looking at my final stat breakdowns, my swim was 16:41, on the slow side overall (around 25th fastest); my bike was average 17:27 (around 19th overall), and my run was on the FAST side: 13:31, meaning I was running 6:45 miles. Pretty good--better than San Dimas, where I ran over 7 minute miles for the 3 mile race.


Andrew, Heidi and Kate

Anyway--I'm proud of the results. Again, my second triathlon and scored in the top few percentiles. I would like to move up--who wouldn't--and I'd like to do longer races and see what that's like. A whole new challenge.

May do one called the Arrowhead tri in August. For now I'm resting. Will pick up workouts on Friday (tomorrow).



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