Ray's Blog

Sunday, February 26, 2006

2004 August 22: TriOne Olympic Triathlon

Miz told me about this small local triathlon (she was initially going
to race as well, but when the race rolled around, she didn't feel up to
it).  A nice flat Olympic triathlon less than than an hour from
home sounded pretty good to me, so I signed up and started looking
forward to it.

The day before the race, I went on a fairly substantial hike with some
some friends.  After the hike we did some hot-tubbing and
barbecuing, and by the time I got home, it was a lot later than I had
intended.  I was full and tired, and I hadn't yet laid out any of
gear for the race.  I therefore thought very seriously about
bailing out-- getting out of the house at 5am so I could arrive in
Alameda at 6am or so sounded a trifle unattractive to me.  So I
sort of
compromised: I got my gear together, but didn't set an alarm.  I
decided that if I woke up in time, I'd go and race, but if the Fates
permitted me to sleep in, I would.

(Another reason I wasn't so excited at the prospect of racing was that
a few days previously, I had somehow, over the course of a bike ride,
abraided myself in a very
sensitive area.  To get myself shipshape, I decided to close up
the wound by spraying New-Skin Antiseptic Liquid Bandage on it. 
This was actually quite effective, but it hurt like [obviously I need
to keep this trip report G-rated and suitable for mixed company, but if
I didn't, I'd say that, well, it hurt like it would hurt to spray some
caustic agent on a cut on one's balls].)

Around 5am, I was semi-awake and looking at the clock.  In the
state I was in, I thought to myself, "Well, I guess I'm up in
time.  I can even laze around in bed some more, since I don't have
to leave home until 6am."  At 5:17am, I suddenly realized that 6am
was actually an hour after I
had intended to leave, so I jumped up, pulled myself together, and
drove off.

I see that all these miscellaneous musings and observations aren't as
exciting as the real
cutting edge race report, so I'll skip ahead a bit now to some random
after arriving on the scene...

...there was quite a current in the water (the swim portion of this
was performed in the Bay).  The first part of the swim involved
swimming against a fair bit of this current, and the people swimming in
the first waves clearly didn't quite realize how true this was. 
All of them ended up swimming rather amusing (and significantly longer
than necessary) courses, and the announcer, Brad Kearns, made sure to
make fun of them in a friendly way.

I was actually sort of caught with my pants down (not literally, as it
happens) at my
wave's start.  Originally, the sprint distance waves were
scheduled to start at 7am, and the Olympic distance waves were
scheduled to start at 7:30am.  Because of some misfire of some
sort, the sprint distance waves were pushed back to 7:15am, and Brad
said that the Olympic distance waves were pushed back to 7:45am. 
So around 7:26am, I was still chillin', just getting ready to walk over
to the transition area, when I heard Brad say that my wave was starting
in 4 minutes!  I ran over to the transition area and put on my
wetsuit as quickly as I could (this isn't a 5-second job; it's
important to take enough time to
get these things on right!),
but by the time I made it to the race start, I was barely in time to
get in even on the wave after my proper wave.  The bottom line:
should view my swim time and total race time as both being 4 minutes
faster than the official results indicate.  Really!

(Even sacrificing those 4 minutes to start with a later wave, I didn't
have enough time at the start to start out in a good position-- I was
much further downstream than I wanted to be.  Even though I knew I
really wanted to swim in a fairly upstream direction, I ended up not
having that choice, because I was sort of blocked by all the people who
started with me (and who, I maintain, did not initially swim as much
upstream as I wanted).)

Anyway: I swam very slowly.  It was
a tough swim: in addition to having to fight the current, there was
some medium-sized chop out there.  I'd like to say that, hell, everyone swam slowly, but that's
not quite true: in fact, I noticed to my chagrin that the fastest
swimmer swam more than twice
as quickly as I did (even after properly taking 4 minutes off my swim
time)!  I'm really
starting to think I should work on swimming faster.

Arriving at the transition area after the swim, I saw that the weather
was still excellent (you can assume that I told you about the great
weather earlier, in the section that was skipped in my haste to get to
the actual race venue.  A brief review of the weather: it was
perfect, not too
hot/cold/sunny).  I decided to make like a "real triathlete" and
not wear any socks (for the first time!), so I did just that and saved
precious seconds off my transition.  Surely victory would be mine
this day!

The bike leg was a 3-loop course that had a few 180-degree turnaround
points.  At the first of these, I got into a minor disagreement
with the guy who was at the turnaround point and directing the
cyclists-- it seemed as though he and I weren't sure whether I should
pass on the inside of
him or the outside of him.  I ended up kind of skidding around the
turnaround, and afterwards I noticed that he took up a post well on the
inside of the
cones to prevent further trouble.

I only took a single water bottle on my bike, because there was
supposed to be a water station somewhere on the course (and since the
course was 3 loops, that would provide ample opportunity to get
fluids).  There might well have been a water station, but I never
found it, so I was
feeling a bit dry towards the end of the ride.  Nothing serious,
though; after all, the bike leg was only around an hour in temperate

Miz & Tom were present to cheer me on, and it was great to see
them.  I saw them several times, since the bike course had 3
laps.  I didn't really have a chance to exchange more than 2-3
breathless words with them, of course.  They took the pictures
below (any blurring you see in the pictures is caused by the incredible
speed at which I was moving):

My tri bike (& its brethren)

Me biking somewhere around the transition area

Me with a kind of funny look on my face

Me starting or ending my ride

Me doing something or other in the transition area

The official pace figure for my bike leg was 21.8mph (I think the
elapsed time includes one of the transitions, too).  I guess
that was reasonable for me at present, although it's not as fast as I'd
like, considering that it's only a 40k course, that it's completely
and that the weather was most excellent.  It's rather sobering
sometimes to think about how top
Iron-distance athletes maintain 24-25mph for 112 miles! 
Inspirational, too, of course.  But mostly sobering.

After the bike leg, I was still feeling quite good, and I moved quickly
onto the run.  I left the transition area like a bat out of hell,
and shortly thereafter, I realized that my rapid transition and hasty
start to the run had
me wheezing like a maniac (do they wheeze?).  Although I felt
good, I was breathing so loudly and rapidly that I was probably
bringing down property values, and something was going to give out
soon.  I managed to get myself under control somewhat within a few
minutes without slowing down too much, fortunately.

The first half of the run went well, but then my sockless feet started
to get a bit of a "hotfoot" to them.  I think I need slightly
smaller running shoes if I'm going to go sockless, because my feet were
moving around just enough to be bothersome (I found out after the race
that I had lost a bit of skin on the bottoms of my feet.  Nothing
major).  The turnaround at the halfway point was at an airport--
not Oakland Airport, which was very close by, but a little area where
people were flying remote-controlled airplanes.  It looked like
fun (more fun than wheezing through another 3.1 hot-footed miles), but
I kept going with my usual stern reminder to myself: something like,
"My country did not send me 40 miles to start the TriOne Olympic
Triathlon.  It send me 40 miles to finish the TriOne Olympic
Triathlon."  Yes, believe it or not, while I'm racing, these silly
send-ups of famous quotes really do
run through my head.  I also try to think of amusing comments to
use in my write-ups, but by the time I get to the end of a race, these
are usually long gone.

Time to skip to the end of the race.  I actually had something of
a finishing kick, which was nice, although it's going to take more than
a 400 yard sprint before I'm actually doing these races quickly. 
I was happy with my run performance overall, especially considering
that I had gone running only once in the past three weeks (my back had
been giving me some grief, so I had been taking it easy on the
high-impact activities).

I hung out at the race HQ for a while.  A live band was playing
selections from Tom Lehrer and Wierd Al Yankovic, among others. 
In the transition area, I talked for a while with a guy, Chris, who's
recently started doing triathlons.  We finished in about the same
time, and we might do some workouts
together sometime.

The only remaining thing I have to say about the day's experience is
that on the way home, a very stupid woman cost me some time at the San
Mateo Bridge toll plaza.  Without getting into excessive detail,
let me just say that people whose cars are not FasTrak-equipped simply
shouldn't be in the FasTrak-only lane.

Results are here
Don't forget to take 4 minutes off of my time (2:27:05.4 after the -4
minute correction)!


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