Herbalife Los Angeles Triathlon Olympic 2012 recap

Got up at 3:45am, ate a PB&J sandwich with some coffee and banana. Caught a shuttle to the beach from the Staples center. Setup in the dark, took a dump (twice!). Before the start, ran 1/4 mile on the beach, and then swam out about 150 yards and back. The waves were getting gnarly - as in the sign of the things to come.

The waves picked up right before the swim was about to get started. The pros went into some serious chop, and some of them were struggling. My wave got held back by a minute or 2 because massive 8 footers had started hitting right before we were about to go in.

I managed to navigate the surf really well (thanks coach Clay) - I was ahead by 30 yards or so from the nearest blue cap when I was rounding the first bouy. Then the chop REALLY picked up and the rest of the swim was like through a washing machine. I've decided not to waste energy fighting currents here and there - I stopped kicking and swam the rest of the way at an easy pace. Caught a wave on the way back and it dragged me though the final 30-40 yards - nice! Still, logged my worse time in an Olympic event - 36:11. I guess I decided to play it conservatively, and to spend my energy on the bike/run. Was not sure how it will feel scaling Bunker Hill twice - that was in the back of my mind too. Overall, I could have shaved off 5-6 mins off the swim time, but oh well.

Transition was not clearly marked and coming in from the swim, I could not see the rack markers, as they were facing away from me. The wet suit took a little bit of time to fit into the T1 bag. Lesson learned here - bring a bigger bag next time, to more easily fit the wet suit.

Onto the bike - and it sure was a memorable course, definitely a trip to ride the streets of LA with no traffic.  A little bit too chaotic in the downtown area, with the locals insisting on ignoring the road closures and crossing the streets at will. I found the course to be a bit of a bore towards the beginning of the second loop. It'd help to have a hill or 2 to climb and descend to shake things up. I passed a lot of people, and got passed by maybe 4 or 5 peepz clearly looking very fit. Lots of people riding roadies and other odds and ends.

Entering the T2, the racks were labeled in the most confusing way possible (high numbers upfront, breaking at 1000 and restarting the low numbers). I overshot my rack and had to ran back to my T2 bag. 20 seconds lost easily.  For this race, your T2 bag needs to be a backpack or something like that with a large zipper. This way it cam be easily opened and shoes/hat/etc can be accessed. Lesson learned, it was a dumb idea to use a shopping bag that had to be untied. Futzing with the knots and safety pins cost me another 30 seconds.

Now for the real challenge! Two loops covering Bunker Hill - that's my type of a run. You climb 1.2 miles, then shoot straight down the hill, then repeat for a screaming descent to the finish line. I loved the run. Passed a ton of people and got passed by a few insanely fast runners. Respect! It was getting hot during the second loop, and people were slowing down quie a bit. Water stations were plentiful, I was impressed by the volunteers and their eagerness to help. All in all, the hills were not as bad as I thought. I could have pressed harder. The run course was probably short, in the retrospect. Overall time - 2:38:13.

After the finish, walked around, got a cold towel, grabbed the T1 bag and walked back to the T2 area to get the bike.

Postmortem - the swim was too conservative. I should have swam my normal pace. The bike can be pushed harder too. The first descent down Bunker Hill could have been done a little more aggressively. Overall - a good race, a little pricey but well run and overall a good value for anyone in the LA area. A tough field too - Hunter Kemper did not even medal!

San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon 2012 recap

This was my first marathon, and I had only 3 weeks to train specifically for it. I had built a pretty good base though, and the run is my strongest discipline. However, on my first attempt at a long run I hurt my right foot, and had to train on the track for the rest of the 2 weeks to let it heal.

However, the foot healed up and I was showing a pretty steady improvement on the track. I felt that I can probably maintain 8:30 min/mile without any issues. Then my team mate/co-worker Dave challenged me to beat his old 3:39 time from 12 years ago. I looked it up and felt that I could do that. My strategy was simple - find a 3:40 pacer, run the pace until mile 23, then hammer out 7:30 min miles til the end of the race.

Carb loaded the previous night - pasta torpedo and 2 beers! Got up at 4am, showered, ate a PB&J sandwich and a banana. Stretched and was out of the door to catch a ride to the shuttle area. Walked a little more before the gun went off, stretched, took some photos and joined my corral.

The race started and I ran somewhat slower for the first 2 miles to get the legs going. Then I sped up and started looking for the 3:40 pacer. Caught him at mile 4 and ran behind him. Then we started climbing the freeway, and at mile 8 or so I really needed to go potty. I was running in a super compact group, and for some reason I got squeamish about peeing on the run. Saw an open portapotty and jumped in. When I got out, I had to again speed up to catch my pacer. Caught him at mile 11. From there, the group started to fall apart, and by mile 18 it was just 5 of us running with him. My body felt great, with just some minor twinges in the right hammy. However, I kept taking a GU every 5 miles, and 2 Endurolytes every 5 miles starting from mile 12.5. I also drank at every station - both water and gatorade, so I was plenty hydrated.

Now at mile 19 I started doing calculations in my head, and it really started to look like we would be coming in at more like 3:45. I asked the pacer, and he confirmed that we would be looking at 3:46 or so. I was really pissed. I had to 7 miles to go, and now had to hammer out 7:25 miles to hit my goal. Nothing to do, but get at it at that point.

By now, we were running the bike/rollerskate path, and I actually ran 7:19 miles until we hit Fiesta island. For some reason, from there I could only squeeze out 8:00 min/mile run, and by the end of the island I was closer to 8:10. I was thoroughly disgusted with myself. Coming off the island, I sped up again and saw my cousin yelling at me to sprint to the finish. However, by then it was too late and I was just trying not to let it creep into the 3:43 territory.

I should have ran my own pace! 3:40 pace was too easy, and I should have aborted the plan, and run 8:15 miles from mile 10. It was totally doable, and with any kind of marathon experience I would have adjusted accordingly. Oh well - next time! Walked around, ate free grub, drank water and G2, enjoyed the eye candy around me. Met my cousin, changed out of my sweaty/stinky clothes and went back to the hotel. Hit an In'N'Out on the way back - it was nice!

Lack of experience showed. I think that I can break 3:30 next time, and perhaps even push further.

Wildflower 70.3 2012 recap

Got up, ate a PB&J sandwich and a Clif bar with a double espresso. Rolled on a foam roller and was out of the door. Was one of the first few to get into the transition area. Setup, stretched and ran a little bit around the area. It got really crowded quickly, and so I sat down and enjoyed the glorious morning.

I actually improved from my last 1/2 IM swim last year. I wanted to swim my pace but try to draft more consistently. I could not find anyone to draft off for the first 2/3s of the swim - I passed the slow swimmers, and then caught some from the previous wave only to get passed by fast swimmers from the following wave. They were too fast for me to draft off. Finally, with about 700 yards to go, I caught someone from my wave who started good, but slowed down to my speed. The rest of the swim was a breeze. I was disappointed when I saw me going over the 41 min mark, as I was hoping for a 39 min swim time. I guess that I gave up too much time early on trying to stick to the back of the wave. Still a good 1 min improvement from last year.

I spent a little bit more time in t1 for 2 reasons - I had to pee bad coming out of the water (peed while changing but still took time:)), and I wanted to re-apply sunscreen as the sun was already getting hot. The exit of T1 got crowded when I got there and I had to let a couple of folks out. I should make sure to pee in the water before exiting, doh!

Gotta say that coming out of the water the first hill really f..cks with your heart rate. I believe that it set me back in terms of pace for the next 10 miles or so. I recovered after we got out to the Interlake road. The wind really picked up there and it alternated between headwind and crosswind with appreciable gusts. Then 2 mishaps occurred.

I wanted to refill my Gatorade section of the aero bottle and overfilled it. The smaller bottle popped out on the next downhill and flew out. I had to turn and pick it up/set it back up. That took a good chunk of time. After that the course got boring as we rode the back roads. The rest of the course was uneventful, the hills were fairly mild, except for a scene of a nasty crash near mile 50 or so. Some poor dude went down hard and the ambulances were streaming in. The last downhill was super steep and I really rode the breaks down to the lake. Lesson learned about the way aero bottles work. I also am now thinking that the cadence was a little bit low - perhaps I could benefit from a compact crankset as opposed to 53/39 upfront? Bike time 3:25.

In T2,  re-applied sunscreen a bit, and was trying to find a clif bar, but one of the folks who racked next to me pushed under a towel. I had to grab gu drops to go, which I did not plan on. Is there a brand of sunscreen that's not nasty smelling, can be sprayed on, won't eat through the swimsuit and will stay effective for 5hrs+? Google search does not reveal much. Open to suggestions here.

Coming off the bike, I felt great and immediately started hammering 8:10 miles. All was well until I hit the nasty grade and suddenly 2 things happened. My heart rate shot up to 210, and my right calf started to literally pulsate. I was half way up, and had to stop, pee, and walk the next mile and a half. The HR went back to 160, and the calf felt ok. By that time I was thoroughly cooked, as it always happened when allow yourself to walk. Best I could was 9:30 miles, and the last hill after the loop I had to walk a bit too. I ran down to the lake, but the calf started to protest again, and I had to throttle it back.

I underestimated the impact of Nasty grade. I did a few bricks, but I did not do any combo bike climb/hill runs. That was a costly mistake - I was really trying to keep it under 6 hrs (yes, mentally I was subtracting the flat/bottle incident from my bike time:)). Oh well, lesson learned - I will be back next year, and will know how to train. Run time 2:10. Ouch.

After the finish, sat down, drank Gatorade and water and ate munchies/fruit. Thought about race, felt that for training you need to do combo climbing bricks to be successful on this course. It helps to know the course too - I read/discussed it, but you must ran it to appreciate the challenging landscape.

Overall - a great race. Everyone was super nice, and volunteers were exceptional. The only thing I wished for was for the setup when leaving the race site to be different. I get the fact that we were encouraged to to stay at the festival area and the organizers not want to let the tired peepz walk the beach hill back while the runners are still coming in. However, making us wait 45 mins for the bus to come and take us a mile up the hill is just dumb. I could have walked/rode the hill in 1/3 of the time. Please consider opening the back trails to those of us who do not want to drink $10 wine glasses after the race.

Desert International Olympic Triathlon 2012 recap

Got up, ate my PB&J sandwich, had some coffee and a banana and headed out. Got to the event parking, grabbed my gear and setup in the transition area. Stretched, ran for 2-3 mins, stretched a bit more. Went into the water and swam for a few mins.

As usual, swimming is my weakest discipline. I actually felt pretty good during the swim, but when I got passed by quite a few women from the wave behind me I knew that I did not clear 22 mins as I hoped. As you can tell, not a fan of swimming. It shows :) Swim time 26:09.

I got completely shafted with the bike rack position. I had to run through the entire transition to the exit - prolly a good 0.15 mile.  This was my race on my newly purchased bike, with deep dish wheels and tubular tires. I did not ride with the tubulars that much, and I kinda got overexcited with inflating them to 140 psi. Cornering was tricky to say the least. This course happened to have a sh..tload of cornering. So I had to slow down. On the other hand, I only got passed by 6 riders, all but 1 with a disk wheel. The road was a little rough, and the no-drafting thing was enforced sparingly. On the way back, I got blocked by a group that was 5 deep and 3 wide. And then on the last hill I somehow dropped the chain. That cost me 2 mins. This was a second hand bike, and perhaps the chain needs to be changed. I think that I will probably stick with the clinchers from now on. Tubulars make me nervous :) Bike time 1:06.

I've decided to take it easy on the run, since I did quite a few running events this winter and the left knee was starting to get a chrono flare up again. Wanted to keep under 7:30, but not push it. I did just that for 5 miles. Somehow managed to get shoelaces come untied after the 2st mile, so there goes 30 seconds of time. Then after the last mile I started acting like  an alcoholic that in attempts to quit drinking starts taking little sips - and just downs the remaining half a glass. The knee was getting a little tender from crappy surfaces. Drinking stations were set up at mile 1 and mile 2.7 of the run. Not entirely logical, but it was enough for me. Some people really suffered as they would have benefited from drinking every mile. Needed to rest the knew before the slew of events in April and May. Run time 44:22.

In the finisher section, stretched, ate some grub, drank a bottle of water, and then went and dipped in the lake in lieu of ice bath. That was awesome! Chatted with some folks and headed to the transition area. Packed my stuff and back to the car.

Overall -  I liked the race  - a nice chill event, unexpectedly competitive. I will be back next year, and this time I ain't running no 7:30 miles :)