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!

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