Friday, May 9, 2014

Wildflower Triathlon - May 4, 2014

On Sunday I competed in the 32nd annual Wildflower Triathlon, thirty miles north of Paso Robles, California in the central coastal region.

As a result of the severe drought the lake where they have always held the swim leg of the triathlon was empty so we had to swim in a body of water that was 2.2 miles from the bike transition. I am not sure what the body of water was – they referred to it as Harris Creek, but it appeared to be more of a pond than a creek. For the first twenty or thirty yards the water was literally black from the silt. But it was reasonably warm and calm and the course was well-marked, so I have no complaints.

The Widlflower team came up with a creative solution to the water shortage and turned the race into a Swim – Run – Bike – Run competition.  When we got out of the water, we put our wetsuits in a plastic bag with our number on the outside, slipped into our running shoes and ran the 2.2 miles to the bike transition.

When we finished the 25 mile bike segment, instead of 6.2 miles, we ran 4.0 miles, all uphill. At least that is how I remember it now.

This was my first race of the season, and because of the cold weather in Chicago I didn’t have a chance to ride outside even once. Well, I had a chance but I don’t like being cold so I did all my bike training on the Computrainer. 

My strategy and goal for this race was to:
  • Maintain swim discipline, which for me meant to not go out too fast, utilize bi-lateral breathing (breathing on alternating sides every three strokes) and to stay on course.
  • On the bike segment, pace myself on the hilly course and use all of my gears; I knew I wasn’t going to set any records, but I wanted to have something left for the run, which I knew would be challenging.

  • Maintain the run form that my coach had worked with me on all winter. Run the entire course; don’t burn out and end up walking on the hills; 

I accomplished my objectives on all segments. I swam effectively and finished in 29 minutes, which is a good time for me. In my last race at this distance I was 31:25 minutes so I think the swim lessons I took all winter have paid off;  On the bike, I didn’t burn out. I only averaged 16 mph, but some of that is due to my acute timidity on the downhill sections where I didn’t have the confidence to let the bike go all out.  And on the run, while I only averaged a 9 minute pace, that was a good outcome given the extremely hilly course. On the last long hill, I was the only runner still running (of course all of the faster competitors had finished long ago). 

I finished first for out of state competitors in my age group. That’s a category I made up. All of the other competitors in my age category were from California. Among that group I finished 7th.

During my stay, I rented a room through Airbnb (most of the competitors camp, but I’m not a camper) in Paso Robles in a house made of straw bales. It was a cool house (literally and figuratively), and it was a great place to relax after a day of racing.