Wildflower was a huge success! We got in Friday and left Sunday afternoon. I had a grand time camping with friends and racing on Saturday and cheering on Sunday. The weather was close to perfect and I was sad to leave it for the cold of San Francisco. My race was a huge success despite my worries about my overall condition.
RACE MORNING Got up at 5:20am because someone's car alarm went off. With a smile I burrowed deeper into my sleeping bag, already it was more sleep than I usually get before a race. Rode to the start with a fellow ultra runner, Mr. Gary Wang. We knew some of the same people. He said hello, we made our introductions and we were off to the start. You descend to the lake down a steep winding road. The lake and hills was before us with the last of the morning fog burning off. The transition area is at the bottom of the hill; packed, loud and filled with competitors. If the descent and the view of the lake didn't get your blood pumping, the scene of fellow athletes, spectators and bikes will.
LIKE A DOG AMONG FISH Swam like a dog amongst fishes. A slow swimmer to begin with, I was even slower this time around. I only swam once a week to prepare and only for the last 2 months. I did however do what I do best in the water, relax and enjoy myself. I told myself what I always tell myself in the water "this is the most refreshing you'll feel throughout the entire race, enjoy it!" I came out a bit embarrassed with a 41:00 minute swim time for the 1.2 mile swim loop.
ROCKETING THROUGH OPEN ROAD The bike was nice. The headwind and crosswinds that tortured us last year were mild and the temperatures were quite cool. The heat Wildflower was infamous for was not making an appearance. My goal was to do the bike in 3 hours. Cranked the first 20 miles in 1:05, the second 20 in 55:00 and the last 16 in 1:00. The last 16 went slower because of the only hill on the course. I got my goal and came off that bike grinning ear to ear. Even better, my legs were in excellent shape for the run, quite a difference from last year when I came off the bike tired.
JOYFUL SPRINGY STEPS My legs felt springy, light and ready to go. I half sprinted through the transition area and bounded up a small flight of stairs to the run course. Bounded! "What the heck are you doing?" I screamed silently to myself. I came to my senses and forced myself to slow down a bit. I didn't want my over exuberance and the cheering crowd to push me to a pace I couldn't maintain. I was moving well. The year before I shuffled out and was hurting for a good 7 miles before I felt better. When we hit the trails I let it all go and it felt good. It got warm halfway through the run but compared to what I experienced at the Mt. Diablo 50-miler, it was a walk in the park. From mile 7 to about 8.5 the run course takes us through the camp grounds and we were greeted by a lot of cheering spectators. It was such a boost. I was going so fast in that section I had to recover on the next mile. I ended up cranking that 13.1 mile run in 1:47, came through the finishing shute at top speed. I ran those last 50 yards like an interval on the track; back straight, breathing under control, chin up, face relaxed and arms pumping forward. At the last moment before crossing the line I heard a friend, Emily, yell my name (she told me later it was her) and then I was in with arms raised triumphantly. I knew without looking at my watch I had pulled off a personal best.
A KINDER FACE TO A MOODY COURSE I finished the race in 5:34:29, quite a big drop from last year's 5:56. However, my PR performance was mostly due to the much better weather conditions. Not having to fight a headwind meant a faster bike split and fresher legs, cooler temperatures on the run allowed me to maintain a faster pace. Sure some of that is improved fitness and experience but not 22 minutes worth. This is a course that has seen temps in the upper 90's to the 100's. I've raced in 100+ weather, the word "sucks" is not enough to communicate the discomfort. There was also that year when it rained and it got really cold. I can't even imagine doing some of those bike descents on wet roads. Last yearwe battled strong headwinds and crosswinds that slowed the entire field and contributed to some of the bike crashes. Last Saturday was almost perfect.
Wildflower Triathlon Long Course 1.2 mile swim > 56 mile bike > 13.1 mile run 5:34:29
More photos to come!
Nutrition Notes: Had a sandwich for breakfast and coffee two hours before the race. Before the swim I took in 20 ounces of my Carbo Pro energy drink, around 200 calories. On the bike I had one bottle of concentrated Carbo Pro, about 4 servings worth. The other water bottle holder was left open for the H20 that I knew I was going to get on the course. At 30 minute intervals I took in Carbo Pro and H20. I made the concentrated bottle of Carbo Pro last the entire ride while I continually switched H20 bottles at aid stations. I took in energy gel and salt tabs every hour. I tucked them on my quads, held down by my biking shorts for easy access on the bike. On the run I switched to only H20 at the aid stations and took 2 gels and consumed 2 salt tabs. I avoided Gatorade since it had caused stomach pain in the past. Post race Gatorade and water was fine plus several oranges. 2 pints of post race beers after re-hydrating was the best tasting. Thank you Jesse for those two beers. I rolled into camp in the mid afternoon slurring a little but a cold shower snapped me back into form.