If you’re not interested in my trip to Wildflower this weekend you can stop reading (or mute) now.
If you are slightly interested by it but in the tl:dr crowd, you can skip to the end to see my times/position.
If you are actually interested in my race report, please continue (hi Mum, hi Marie)…
So… if you read the last post you’ll know I was heading to Wildflower to do the Olympic triathlon this weekend. Now, this is no Iron Man. The Long Course is on Saturday and is a half-Iron Man; the Olympic is an “Intermediate Distance” event and is a mere 1-mile swim, 25-mile bike, and 6-mile run. However, each of the Wildflower courses is known for being particularly grueling.
Tessa, Sani (my fellow racer), his brother, and I drove the 300-miles to Lake San Antonio on Friday afternoon, and set up camp.
On Saturday, we did some swim training, a light bike ride, and watched the Long Course competitors. These guys are seriously hardcore. The winner will finish the 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, and half-marathon in 3-hours 55-minutes. The last person will take nearly 10-hours, biking and running in the scorching California sun. Seeing the people of all shapes and sizes do this race made me feel really quite lame. The Team-in-Training people were particularly impressive; many of whom certainly don’t look like athletes, but they all support each other and with serious mental willpower finish the course to support the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
Today, after two cold and uncomfortable nights in a tent, was our race. The start is split into waves, with the collegiate men going first at 9am. Then the male age groups, then female. My wave started at 9:25.
The swim started with the usual carnage; legs and arms flailing everywhere, people almost swimming over you, kicks to the face. By the first buoy it had thinned out only a little, so I decided to go wide to avoid the masses. By the half way point I was now overtaking stragglers from the waves in front; some swimming breaststroke, some lying on their backs staring at the sky. By the final buoy and the last-leg back to the dock I got overtaken by the front guy of the wave behind me. Appropriately wearing a ninja-black swim cap. The swim felt long, when training I think I go into a kind of meditative state, but in the excitement of race day it took forever.
After the first hill, the bike was relatively straight forward. I pushed it quite hard, taking satisfaction from over taking guys on $5000+ tri-bikes, and feeling awe at other guys on $5000+ tri-bikes flying past me. The course was a there-and-back, with 2 biggish hills either way. My “nutrition strategy” was to have an expresso-gel at the start and end of the ride, a honey gel in the middle, and then alternate water/electrolyte drinks throughout. This worked pretty well.
The run was killer. As always it hurt like hell trying to run after biking for over an hour. And the course was tough. There were aid stations at each mile giving out much needed gatorade and water, but even with these I started getting chills about half-way round. At this point the sun was high in the sky and it was getting hot; I feel so bad for the women who didn’t get to start till 11am. The run course was nearly all up hill for the first 5-miles, on road and dirt trails. Then a 1-mile knee crunching decent to the finish line.
I felt pretty rough by the time I crested the final hill, but I kept going and made it to the finish with a time I’m pretty happy with.
My total time was 2-hours 39-minutes, which put me 24th in my age group of 224 guys, 142nd out of all 1200 men, and 166th overall out of over 2000 competitors. For context, the winner came in at 2-hours 2-minutes, median time is 3-hours 19-minutes, and the 90th percentile take longer than 4-hours.
Transition 1: 00:03:04
Bike: 01:19:31 (18 mph avg.)
Transition 2: 00:01:09
Run: 00:46:10 (7:43 min/mile avg.)
Not too shabby, but plenty of room for improvement.
Now, off to finish this 2002 Moon Mountain Syrah and eat some honey sandwiches, oh, and I should probably shower at some stage.