Sunday, August 23, 2009

Santa Barbara Long Course Triathlon - Race Report

My first "Long Course Tri." I've done 2 Olympics thus far...this one is a little more than halfway between an Oly and a 70.3 Half Ironman. Let's say 1/3 Ironman...and I'm bib #911! WTF? Well here we go....

5:00 AM wakeup, coffee, pop tarts and the 20 minute drive to the Santa Barbara waterfront. After I arrive I get in the transition line, and ultimately claim one of the best spots in the house - right near the swim exit and bike start. Weather = perfect. Overcast and not too hot or cold. Kinda tropical, but cooler and not so muggy. So maybe more "Pacific Northwest." So not so tropical. Whatever...

After I set up my area I put on my wetsuit and headed down to the beach. I've found if I wade in the water for 15-20 minutes I swim much better. Something about acclimatizing to the water temperature.

At 7:05, we were off. I was in the second "wave." We ran into the water and started our mile swim. It was, as always MAHEM. A few minutes later I found my groove. I did something new this time. I found a swimmer who was the same speed as me and DRAFTED! It was great. In addition to the energy conserved I only veered off course once since I was following him. Pretty dope. 32 minutes later I was out of the water and running up the beach towards transition. Gotta say I was light headed and dizzy after the swim. I can remember this happening on my other tris - but it went away quickly. (T1 Time = 1:52)

I got on the bike and headed out on what I thought would be the toughest challenge of the day. I rode the course a few weeks back with the LA Tri Club and actually drove the course with Julia on Friday. There are few flats on the course, countless rollers and two climbs in the "Gob" - a very steep 1/2 mile and Toro Canyon - a 1.5 mile very steep climb. I decided to keep the aero bars on despite the technicality of the course (it twists and turns everywhere!) I got into a good rhythm, but because of my slightly above average swim time was passed right and left by guys in $5000 bikes. The sound of aero wheels passing you is unique - maybe the sound of a dog with bronchitis breathing heavily? Anyway, I'm fine with my $500 modified craigslist special (for now - I wouldn't mind a slightly better bike, but probably never a bike that equals any sort of decent car in terms of price...)

So we zipped down toward Carpinteria - a few very quick descents - dangerous, but fun. I took them pretty conservatively while some did them in aero! (That's INSANE can't brake!) Several flat miles later we finally hit "The Gobernator." It's a quick climb luckily, and I felt good popping out of the saddle. No big deal - was glad to have it over. 20 minutes later I'd hit the tougher climb. It's so freaking steep. My bike, when in it's easiest gear makes a fun metal rubbing on metal sound. Gotta love my sweet cheap bike. A nice cyclist (who I believe was riding one of those $5000 Cervelos) was kind enough to tell me that my rear derailleur was rubbing on the spoke, and if I continued in that gear might lose the derailleur altogether (it'd fall off!) Or perhaps a spoke! Um....opps. So risk the derailleur breaking (my day would be over...) or climb the steepest hill of the day on a harder gear than I need to. I went for the tougher solution. I somehow made it up, but boy was it tough. I was DEAD at the top. I was grinding as hard as I could. I thought I might even fall over at one point I was moving so slow...

Luckily the next section of the course was largely downhill. I took it quick and let my legs crank very easily to keep them moving. I thought I was being clobbered by small bugs when I finally realized I was feeling rain drops. Yes, I was indeed in a daze. Rain! Good thing it didn't come until now, as wet roads with these crazy turns would be tough for me. I tried to hammer the last portion of the bike, realizing that I might be able to have what would be the perfect day for me if I averaged 18.5 mph over the course. This would indeed put me in sub-4 contention if I could have a half way decent run.

Off the bike I ran into Julia and my mom - both them and my sister volunteering at the event! I got on the shoes and took off on the 10 mile run. I felt good for the first 3 miles. Somewhere in there I developed some pretty bad acid reflux. I gave in and walked. Damn. Everything going so well, with more uphill running ahead of me I thought I was throwing my goal of sub-4 away. I somehow managed to get myself running again - but at over 10 minute miles. Better than walking, right? All I need was 9:15/mile overall according to my "A" plan. At the turnaround I felt ok, but couldn't take in fluids without getting that horrid gassy feeling in my chest. I also couldn't take on any nutrition. Maybe these honey stinger gels I've been so keen on aren't so great for me. Who knows. There was a nice downhill from miles 5-7 or so, but my pace was nowhere near where it needed to be to make up for the walking and slow running. I became content with the fact that this, my first long course would be a huge triumph finishing, even if it was a few minutes off my "A" goal. 4 hours was pretty ambitious for me anyway. I had only thought I'd be able to get that if I had a "perfect day."

Mile 8 came and with two miles left I was just trying to hang on for dear life. I didn't know exactly where I stood time wise, since my Garmin watch only told my bike-run combined time. I wore a wristwatch in the water, and I was pretty sure I needed to do 3:25 between the bike and run. From my half-assed math during the haze my mind was in I figured that it was going to be fairly close - that I somehow might be able to break 4. The last few miles are flat and along the gorgeous SB waterfront. But it's a LONG waterfront, and from the pier it's about 1 miles, and you can see the Cabrillo Bath House in the distance. I for one like the dangling carrot. Being able to see the finish is uplifting. I gave as much kick as I could - but there was barely anything left. I saw Julia, my mom and sister a few hundred meters out telling people to "step up, step down" over a very precariously placed curb. Cruel! Also about 6 feet of very sof sand to run through...bizarre.

I crossed the line and was immediately greeted by two lovely women who squeezed cold water sponges over my tired body. That was a unique perk! I would learn a few minutes later that I did indeed break 4 hours - by just 22 seconds! 3:59:38. Good thing I didn't walk anymore as I would have just missed it!

I hung out with Julia and my mom and cheered on the athletes as they trickled in - including my friends Semira and Roxanne - both whom gave a strong kick towards the finish as I commanded! (My voice was very sore after cheering...yes I can talk/yell/scream with the best of them.)

The one thing that struck me about this about 1.5 miles to go when I was hurting like hell I thought to myself, "and you want to do an Ironman." My answer to myself was, "yes, yes I do." Having self conversation sure is fun, but usually the answer is more like "f*ck no!" at that point during a race. Strange. Maybe this is really where I've caught the bug. I should also mention from a mile out all I thought a lot about my dad. Somehow the pain makes me feel closer to him. Racing in Santa Barbara is extra special since it's where he raised me. Nice.

I'm trying to decide if this race was as hard as a marathon. The three disciplines all have their challenges, but I've really got to learn how to not blow up on the run. This will be my top priority for my last race of the season - Malibu Olympic on 9/12. Then it'll be all about the running in the fall.

Can't wait for my next one. In the meantime, I'll continue my eating binge. Fish and chips for lunch yesterday, followed by chicken nachos last night and donuts this morning. MMMMMM. Maybe ice cream later? Don't worry health freaks, I'll be back on salads and smoothies tomorrow. :)

Thanks for reading!

Tech Data/Splits:
448th/758 Place Overall
Bib# 911
Overall: 03:59:38
Men 30-34 58/78
Swim 1 mile: 00:31:59 (1:59/100m, 350/758)
T1 01:52
Bike 34 miles: 01:50:30 (18.46 mph, 380/758)
T2 01:38
Run 10 miles: 01:33:40 (9:22/mile, 561/758)

Saturday, August 8, 2009

First Latigo Climb

Last week I was up in Santa Barbara for the "SB Triathlon Training Camp." While the bike course was gorgeous, it was definitely a little harder (and steeper!) than I expected. Time to get some more hills in with just 2 weeks to go until my big race on the summer.

So I've been itching to climb the infamous Latigo Canyon for several months now. I still consider myself a novice cyclist, but I've definitely been getting stronger - I've been curious to see if I could handle it. The closest I've come before today is Encinal Canyon - which is shorter with a little less elevation gain. So here we go!

Anyway, I met up with my friend Jessica (who's weeks away from her first Ironman!) at Malibu Bluffs at around 7:30. We clipped in and headed North just past Zuma (Trancas Cyn Road.) After the warmup, we turned around and hit Latigo Canyon Road. Wow. It's no joke. Pretty steep at first, leveled out a bit, but all in all a pretty tough climb. I'm told it's 7 miles long and has almost 1900 ft of gain. About a half hour in I definitely started to feel it.

There's a nice little decent about 3/4 the way up, but I found that just took away my momentum! At times I was definitely missing the triple chainring which I just recently had swapped out for a more common double. (I basically lost the "easiest" gear, also known as the "granny.") Anyway, finally, almost exactly an hour after starting the climb I submitted. Jess is quite the climber - she finished a minute or two ahead of me and was barely challenged it seems! Plus she ran 20 or so miles yesterday! Bad ass. Talk about no joke - Ironman training = CRAZY.

So we hit Muhullond and eventually made it into Calabasas - tons of rolling hills on the way and it got HOT. A few hours later we took Malibu Canyon Rd back to the bluffs. Not recommended. Way too much traffic (including a tunnel) and extremely windy. Total time from start to finish 5 hours - but just 60 miles covered! The 5 hrs is not counting Jess's TWO flats (poor girl!) and the refilling water bottles at the park...I'd say we only averaged about 15 mph in the end, but TONS of climbing on the day. Next time....maybe...just maybe we'll add Piuma. Also infamous from what I hear.


About Me

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Film composer moonlighting as a runner, cyclist and triathlete