Nautica Malibu Olympic Triathlon 2017 recap

I have done the Sunday edition of the race 6 times, in fact it was my introduction to triathlon and, for a long time, in many ways a measuring stick of my fitness in a given year. All 6 times I raced it as a part of the tri team at work. But I really grew tired of the shitshow that the bike course had become over time... it's no fun to race when you have to primarily focus on being taken out by a random cyclist who's not comfortable riding along cars on narrow shoulders. The changes in the team did not help either. But I love the Malibu course, and so I have decided to sign up for the Saturday Olympic distance race despite the obscene cost of it.

As it turned out, it was my last triathlon of 2017. After I came back to tri training in the summer of 2017, I felt like I had never probably recovered from the San Diego marathon. Never having specifically trained for an Olympic course, to be successful I had to concentrate on the swim fitness, and also shift the focus of the bike workouts to some short but very intense intervals. It was a tough slog for me, but by the beginning of September I saw a good size gains in my FTP, and I definitely was swimming better than ever, thanks to the time spent on the masters team.

My plan for the race was to swim as aggressively as possible for the first 1k, then bring it home with a steady kick to get the legs going, ride at roughly 82% of the FTP, and then run with the HR not higher than 180 bpm. I felt pretty comfortable than this should get me off the bike perhaps in the 6-7th position in the age group, and if I could hold a 6:15-6:20 pace I'd probably have a shot at winning it. The swim was a bit of a wild card here, as I did not want to overswim my fitness and jeopardize the bike leg.

One nice thing about the Saturday race is that it is a cinch to get to. Tons of parking, easy bike racking and full 5 minutes between the swim waves, not to mention that I was in wave 4! Woot! Got up at 3:00am, had the usual fare of two slices of bread with peanut butter and 2 bananas, a cup of coffee, stretched and rolled and was out of the door at 3:50am. The drive took about an hour. By 5:20am I was checked in, had everything setup

and got bodymarked. Had a half of Clif bar, stopped by the portajohn a couple of times and was at the beach by 6:30am. Found a good Samaritan who zipped up my Huub wetsuit for me, and took a quick dip in the ocean. No real wave action, but the water was plenty cold - about 63 degrees or so. That was fine by me, as I feel comfortable in anything above 58. There was a sighting of dolphins, I jogged for 3 minutes to activate the core and then I had a GU packet, and then it was time to go get it done.

My wave went off at 7:15. There was a lot of pushing and shoving until we turned right at the first marker, and after that it was a smooth sailing... well, swimming. I concentrated on making sure that I stayed in the mid pack of the wave and that I swam in as straight of a line as possible. I did good on both counts - came out of the water with a bunch of people in my wave swim caps, and did not zig zag much - based on my Garmin file. Good visibility that day helped a lot - unlike the last year's race, we had no fog and the chop was minimal. Swim time ended up being 26:43, though my watch showed 25:47 - I must have taken some time to run to T1.

The T1 was quick and soon I was on my way to the bike start. The temps were in the mid 60s and the wind was pretty mild. Unfortunately, the first mile or so was very crowded and I could not do much (or even get on the aerobars), especially with the tunnel under the PCH being flooded and everyone riding a narrow improvised bridge over the water. Once I got to the open space, it was just the matter of putting my head down and hammering. The leg out was into the wind as usual, and it took a bit of work to find some a steady rhythm. But I was feeling pretty strong and basically was passing people the entire time until we got to the single lane zone right past Neptune's Net. A bit more of restrained riding there but soon we were at the turn around. On the way back it really felt good to have wind in my back and I was going about 23-24 mph the entire time except for the climb out of Leo Carillo. Got to the dismount with a lot of energy, but was feeling a little bit dehydrated despite having at least 20 oz of the Gatorade mix. The bike time was 1:06:01, about 30 seconds slower than I had hoped but I was definitely still in the hunt.

The T2 was pretty quick - but this time I decided to put on socks since I was going to run in Hoka Claytons that I just had not put a lot of miles on yet. Spent about 30 seconds extra there. Still kicking myself for that.

Onto the run! It was definitely a slightly harder course than the 4 mile Sunday version. A few more u-turns and a bit more concrete sidewalk running. But unlike the Classic distance, I had lots of open space and spent little time running around slower racers. I was maintaining the tempo I had planned for and quickly passed 2 of my m40-44 competitors in the first 1.5 miles. After that things definitely got harder and I started looking at the Garmin every chance I got. On the positive side of things, I was not seeing any more of the m40-44 or actually of much of anyone at all until maybe around the 4.5 mile mark where I ran into a large group hanging with some female pros. The last mile was definitely a trying experience as I started to feel a bit of a fade setting in. The pace dropped some to 6:21 min/mile... yet the finish line was close. I thought that I saw another m40-44 racer right near the finish line with maybe 0.15 mile to go - but I was not sure. But yes - he was there... I thought about doing one more surge to overtake him, but alas that was my moment of weakness. I was just not too sure if he was in my age group, and (lame!) decided to take my chance. Sure enough - I finished 12 seconds behind the second place. Damn it, putting on socks was not such a smart decision! 39:22 was the run time, and I missed out on the 2nd place by a tiny margin. The overall time was 02:16:31.

Had a bagel with cream cheese, a banana, some water and a shot of fancy coffee drink that some company was giving away at the finish line. Hung around a bit, got my medal and went back to the car to drive home and get some much needed SLEEP! But the sleep never materialized, and instead I spent a bunch of time watching NFL games in the company of my dogs.

All in all, I think that this was a successful race. I swam ok, bike pretty hard (19th fastest non-pro), and had the 6th fastest non-pro running split. I might accept an invite to go to Cleveland nationals next year since I think that this was a strong enough showing.

Now - onto the NYC marathon!

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