Sunday, March 29, 2009

SUCCESS: UCSB Triathlon Race Report (UPDATED)

So here I am, 30 years of age today.  And here I am, a triathlete!

Yesterday my mom, wife and I made the drive up to my hometown of Santa Barbara.  After feeding at my local favorite "The Natural Cafe" we headed back to my mom's house (and my childhood house!) to wind down and celebrate "Earth Hour."  I must admit I used the laptop on battery power during this time!  I took a shower and shaved them legs!  (This time with a razor instead of the electric.)  Might as well have the full experience of triathlon.  :)  I was off to bed by 10pm and ready to close off the decade that was my 20s.

5:45 AM.  I awoke with delight.  Had a little coffee, ate some flaxseed almond bars from TJs and got ready to go.  Short drive to UCSB, I maxed out the tire pressure, hopped on the bike and rode to the transition area.  We were there by about 6:30.  The transition area was nearly full!  Luckily I found an open spot and set up.  A quick trip to the bathroom and very light jog later and it was already time to get into my wetsuit.

The prologue.  We hiked down to campus point, where the race would begin.  The rocky path killed my feet!  But upon arriving to the sand I had one of those moments.  Bliss.  I feel well trained and totally ready to go.  But I'm also HELLA nervous!  I decided to get into the water to try and acclimate.  After dunking and swimming just a bit I realized I was getting the dreaded "ice cream headache," despite my neoprene cap (and swim cap over it!)  My mom, Julia (and Henry) reassured me that all would be well.  I hoped they'd be right, as swimming with your head out of water for 1.5k is NOT fun.  The college folks headed out at 8:00 - we'd have a half hour to wait until 8:30.

The swim.  Time flew by and before you knew it we were off!  I decided I'd try and swim somewhat aggressively.  I've had some friends suggest I lay back on the swim to avoid getting kicked in the face, etc.  But I wanted the full experience!  I didn't want to go all out, but I'm a fairly strong swimmer and knew I could at least be mid-pack.  Getting into the water is a bit of an art - and I was, ahem, not too graceful!  As I was starting out a huge wave crested and blew back a dozen off us - pretty epic!  The ocean was not at all calm.  Not quite the roughest I've swam in, but very, very close.  The addition of all of the people around you makes for quite the experience.  It was very hard to find a lane and very difficult to get into any sort of groove.  And very EASY to get off course - as I did half a dozen times.  There were four buoys to go around and on each approach we would all uncomfortably bunch up like crazy.  I felt arms, etc on my feet several times, almost ripped a guys goggles off with my hand (sorry!) and even got a few feet to my hands a couple times.  Talk about the full experience.  The course took us quite far out and through several kelp beds!  I got wrapped up a ton, which was no big deal but funny.  It was a little tough spotting the buoys with the swells - often times they were hidden by the breaks.  I probably ended up swimming closer to 2k with all of the drifting and swimming off track!  I finally approached the beach and swam nearly all the way in. 

T1.  I hopped onto the beach and quickly realized I had absolutely no feeling in my feet.  It was as if I had local anesthetic!  Eerily, it reminded me of how they felt on top of the mountain when my cousin and I got stranded.  I ran up the beach, up the 3 flights of stairs to the transition area.  It was bizarre - the path was rocky and I knew I should be experiencing pain in my feet, but I felt nothing.  I got to my bike, put my socks and shoes on (still feeling nothing) grabbed my helmet and glasses and before I knew it I was off on the bike.  Clipping in was a huge challenge as I couldn't feel my feet!

The bike.  I was really trying to push it on the bike portion.  It's where I've put most of my training since it's so new to me - it's also the longest portion timewise (hopefully!) so it makes sense to go for it.  The course took us along the bike path in my favorite town - it's just gorgeous.  I tried to go into "aero position" as much as possible but am still not completely comfortable on them during turns, etc.  I was trying to push my tempo the whole way - I ended up passing a lot more than being passed - that felt a little bizarre since I'm not so used to that - especially on the bike!  I got to Cathedral Oaks road, a road I'm pretty familiar with and put it into a high gear.  I must have been cruising around 21 mph or so for a few miles straight - but I had no idea what was in store for me next.  We took a right up Fairview Ave and there was a nicely sized hill in front of me.  No biggy.  Let's just chug away!  Probably 8-9mph, maybe 10 - and still passing people!  After about 5 minutes of climbing (seemed longer!) we hit a nice downhill, in which I hauled ass.  Then we took a sharp left and would go up 

"Holiday Hill," a very steep - but fairly short - hill.  I approached with optimism, but not more than 20 seconds in my chain derailed while shifting to the lower gear.  I tried to force it back in by shifting up (sometimes works) but I was about to fall!  I clipped out, yelled "sh*t" and put it on the gear with my hand.  Now the hard part - clipping back in on a very steep grade!  It took me a good 30 seconds to get back in, meanwhile all the riders that I had passed were now passing me!  Dow!  I was angry and killed that hill, hopping out of my seat and absolutely attacking!  I crested and proceed to fly down the downhill.  I was happy with my turns, going way wide then cutting in.  Next we'd nearly pass by my mom's house, descend into a little valley, and climb out.  I was starting to feel it (especially in my back!)  But I knew I only had 5-6 miles to go.  I kept my bike computer on speed and time, as to motivate me to try to get back to transition sub 1:20.  I charged as fast as I could those last miles, by my favorite place (Ellwood) and through UCSB.  The wind really picked up towards the end - and for the last 2-3 miles it was definitely working against me.  What to do though?  I still wanted to try and make my split goal!  I had seen Julia and my mom out of the water and was hoping to get a little cheering at T2, but I couldn't find them amongst the crowd as I approached.  The time on my bike computer upon getting back into T2 and racking my bike?  1:20:XX.  Wow - that's accurate training, eh?

T2. Racked the bike.  Sat on the ground to take off my bike shoes, slipped on my Asics - and oh yeah, remembered to take off my helmet and replace it with my hat!  Took a last swig of Cytomax and I was off.

The run.  Legs are always ridiculously wobbly at the start of a run after bike.  No new news there.  I was shocked my Garmin had me running at 7:5x pace though!  That seemed a little quicker than I felt.  About a half mile in we hit a steep dirt path - maybe 50 feet long, but there was no way anybody could run it - it was literally a quick hike and had an angle of at least 50 degrees.  Then was a nice flat section of trail before we hit the second aide station where I inhaled more water and looked ahead to see a few flights of steps!  Ugh.  I made it up...and still felt marginally ok.  About a half mile later I completely and utterly bonked.  I had pretty much nothing left to give this race.  What to do?  Walk?  Go slower?  Forgo my time goal and just try to enjoy the course (slowly?)  I just walked a few steps, inhaled my new favorite nutrition (Honeystinger Gel) and started to run again.  I was at a pretty slow 10 minute pace for a bit.  I was nearly to the end of the first loop.  As I ran (or "jogged") by the finish area, lamenting that I wasn't there already, I saw the read out on the clock - 2:50ish.  But that clock was 30 minutes ahead of me, since the age groupers took off at 8:30, not 8:00 as the collegiates did!  I had this in the bag as long as I didn't collapse!  5k in in 40ish minutes?  I wasn't THAT gone!  Just goes to show you the mind/body correlation.  I was definitely still hurting, so I didn't push it too hard too early, but I knew I could pretty "easily" work my way to the finish line time goal in hand.  It was just a matter of how hard to push.  The loop seemed to drag on, I remember at one time hearing the clock tower ring on the hour and I knew it was just 11am - I had plenty of time to make it across the line.  A mile to go I passed an aide station dying of thirst.  It was getting hot out there!  I had zipped down my stylish tri top!  There was no water (and no volunteer!) to be had!   Oh well.  I cruised on, ignoring the hot, lightheaded feeling knowing that I'd soon be at the end of the race.  About a quarter mile out there's a pretty decent hill.  I gave it all I had.  There was my smiley mom snapping pictures!  She ran with me a bit before I "dropped" her.  I was hoping she'd keep up!  I rounded the corner and saw the line.  Smiles all the way - even more when I saw my babe for a wife Julia standing there her camera.  I crossed the finish line screaming bloody joy, I collapsed (gracefully and willingly) onto the grass and enjoyed the fact that I was 30 years old.  I had finished my first (and not last!) triathlon. 


The Splits.

Swim: 32:15 (includes the run out of the water, jaunt up the stairs and run into transition)

T1: 2:36

Bike: 1:20:07

T2: 1:25

Run: 55:05 (5k split, 27:21)

Total: 2:51:25

The feeling.  I braved the waves, the cold, the hills, the wind, the heat.  Multisport is truly unique and I've learned so much the last few months.  I pretty stoked how it all came out.  I nailed my splits just as planned - despite bonking.  My final time: 2:51:28.  I'm 30 today with shaved legs, a smiley face and the satisfaction of making it through my very first tri.  Now it's time to eat and drink like there's no tomorrow!  Thanks for reading.  :)


Friday, March 27, 2009

I'm Ready!

Less than 36 hours to go before my big day - turning 30 and ringing it in with my first tri - the UCSB Triathlon!  Thought I'd take a moment to jot down my goals for the big day...

• First and foremost = have fun and finish
• The time goals:

Swim = roughly 30 minutes...I can do 1.5k in less in ideal conditions, but this is freezing open water with tons of swimmers around me for the first time

T1 = swim->bike...shouldn't take too long, right?  I'm hoping for under 4 minutes, depending on how far I have to run to get to my bike...let's say 5 to be safe...

Bike = 40k...I'm hoping ideally I can go sub 1:20.  This requires around an 18.5 mph average...I think I'm capable of that - but this is the biggest question mark for me.  I'm pretty sure I can finish in under 1:30, so that's my "B" goal...

T2 = bike->run....again shouldn't be a big deal, let's say 3 minutes!

Run = 10k...on a good running day I might be able to break 50 minutes (around 8 min/mile pace,) but after the run I'm thinking around 54 minutes...let's say 55.

That brings me in at 2:55.  Breaking 3 hours (which I'm told is a respectable time) would definitely be huge in my book.  I'd really love to give it a go.  I'm feeling pretty darn confident in my training - I've worked hard...especially on the bike which is newest to me.  My friend Billy says he's never heard me so confident going into a race.  I sure hope so.  I know I can finish.  It'd be rocking to go for a killer time on my first, but if I don't make it in the twos I'll have many, many more chances!  Can't wait for Sunday!  (and the party after!)  :)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

To Shave or not to Shave

So I'm about a week out from my first triathlon.  Most triathletes shave their legs... There's not a huge reason to do this, it seems like more of a rite of passage... There's no benefit to the swim - I'm wearing a wetsuit!  And the bike, the aerodynamics are so negligible.  It can definitely help in a fall - it makes cleaning up the wound much easier.  So I'm still undecided, but am leaning towards doing will make the experience a little more unique!

This week I had a great brick workout...26 mile ride in about 1:25 and a 4 mile run in about 34 minutes!  That puts me right on pace for the 3 hour finish I'd like!  There, I said it.  I'd love to finish, but also to come in breaking 3...

So I took a quick break in training for another home improvement project: demoing and installing a retaining wall weds-thur (tough back breaking work!)  That counts for a core workout, right?

But I did put in a slow 16 miler this yesterday afternoon.  Legs were very heavy, but I've gotta keep up some distance for Big Sur!  

More soon... And stay posted for news on the legs... :)

Monday, March 16, 2009

I'm A Slacker Blogger

Yes, I'm sorry to admit...I am. Sometimes I find writing about my life/training is as taxing as my life/training! Other times it's cool to jot the thoughts down. So without further adieu:

Training has been going really well for my first triathlon - now less than 2 weeks away! Last week I tried to train pretty hard - this included 2 (COLD!) ocean swims of a mile each, intervals on the bike, and a 14 mile long run (trying to keep the legs going in prep for Big Sur.) Oh, and not to mention the sprinkler system that I installed with Julia! (Which included 200+ feet of trenching! Talk about a core workout...)

On Saturday I decided to go for a long ride up PCH. I didn't want to go too hard, as I was really hoping to make the Trail Runner's Club on Sunday. However, I did wake up at 6 AM (ugh!) This was tough, but once I got going from the Malibu Bluffs I was loving it. Along with a few members of the LA Triclub we made it all the way to Big Rock and back! (50 miles!) It was a nice easy pace with some rolling hills. But my highlight came on the way back at Zuma. Dolphins. And DOZENS of them! At my request we stopped and watched them wade their bodies through the waves...GORGEOUS. I'm amazing on how much beauty there is in LA sometime...

I got home, showered off, and got back to work on the house. I'm very much in home improvement mode lately. My mom was in town and we installed an exhaust fan in the bathroom so it doesn't get so soggy...exciting! But this was another core workout! I turned in pretty early in hopes of making it out again on Sunday.

So the alarm interupts another pleasant dream. This was worth it though because it was perfect running weather. The trail started with an immediate climb. That sure got me warmed up. I settled in nicely to an easy 10+ pace. This put me right between the faster pack and the slower pack. There's something about running the trails (or running!) alone. It's very peaceful. I have to remind myself this is what was originally so attractive about running. If you know me I'm quite the talker. I even have to tell myself to shutup half the time. Running alone, focusing on letting my mind wander and ponder calms me. And the trail - taking note of the beautiful nature that surrounds instead of studying traffic and which cars are likely candidates to run you - the trail is much more of a calming feeling.

The climbing...that can be pretty challenging for me! I usually turn into a hiker at that point, but this day was different. I managed to run 75 or so % of the hills! I was pretty stoked. There was about 2 miles in which I'm luck I didn't loose an eye - lots of branches on the technical single track.

Ernie, who marks the trail had a little surprise for us at the end. He decided to add a little extra climb at the end - a trail that basically went up about 150 feet in just about the same distance! A good steep 50 degrees! Now that was more like rock climbing - but it felt great to get to the top.

I'm pretty excited about what the next few weeks bring. I'll be going out for a brick (bike-run) workout tomorrow and will play the next 10 or so by ear, although I'd love to get in a 15-16 mile run if possible. I'm a bit anxious about Big Sur!

Till my next blog - hopefully before 2010!


About Me

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Film composer moonlighting as a runner, cyclist and triathlete