I raced the 2010 Marin County Triathlon on an amazing beautiful morning in China Camp on San Pablo Bay. Last Triathlon of the season! I raced hard, finished third in my age group, and most importantly BEAT MY TIME GOAL FOR THE SEASON!
Race: 2010 Marin County Triathlon
Course: 1.5km/0.93mi swim, 22mi bike, 10k/6.2mi run
Rank: 41st/386 racers (89th percentile)
Age Group: 3rd/26 racers (88th percentile)
Bingles hurt his knee recently and didn’t join me for the race, so Sara and I packed up and drove down to China Camp. It’s a nice park on San Pablo Bay, just a few miles beyond Loch Lomond Yacht Club where we docked our boats. It had been a really cold and rainy week and I wasn’t looking forward to a cold rainy race. The weather broke the night before and it was almost 10-degrees warmer on raceday. The weather was just perfect.
I racked the bike and prepped my pit area. The Marin County Triathlon organizers really did a great job arranging the event, the pits were on nice soft grass and were well laid-out for such a cramped area. The pit arrangement was probably the best I’ve seen so far.
It was awesome having Sara right there because I wore my sandals from the pits over to the start. It was warmer than the previous few days, but it was still 55-degrees! I wanted to make sure that I didn’t freeze up on the swim (like I did in the Wildflower tri, where I could barely put my face in the water), so I pulled my swim cap right down over my eyebrows and swam around a lot before the race started.
I got an okay start, lost my rhythm a little at the crowded first buoy, but didn’t get elbowed in the face and started clean.
I’d guess that it wasn’t until 5 minutes into the 28-minute swim that I settled down and really started working on swimming efficiently. Stroke, twist & stretch, stroke, twist & stretch, stroke, twist & stretch & breathe. Rotate your hips. Bend hands at the wrist and pull through the stroke. I felt good through the rest of the swim, but got a little discouraged when some guys with white swim caps zoomed past – their wave started 5 minutes after ours did.
I came out of the swim looking as graceful as I always do: like someone’s been trying to drown me and I’m finally able to breathe freely. T1 was a good transition. I remembered where my spot was, I found the zipper on the wetsuit, and my calves didn’t cramp when I was wriggling out of the suit: success! I gulped half a lightly-sugared drink and ran out onto the bike course.
I was nervous about the bike. I drove the course the day before when I picked up my race packet and couldn’t help but notice that there was a fairly steep hill and some seriously winding roads. I couldn’t drive the twisties much faster than 25-30mph, so I was concerned about navigating them on a bike while trying to pass people. Plus I’ve been trying to race a little smarter: hammer less on the bike and save a little energy for the run. Unfortunately I’m too impulsive to really follow through with this plan, and the bike course was hilly enough that I had the opportunity to push too hard and hurt my run.
I went out HARD. I tried not to, but I couldn’t help it. All thoughts of riding at a higher cadence or backing off or whatever went out the window. It was like the other riders had done something to piss me off. I spun up the uphills and roared down the downhills. I’m guessing I topped out around 50mph on the main downhill.
I was out of the saddle on the uphills.
I passed everyone. I saw them, I put the tractor beams on, and I passed them. I passed some peeps with 10-20mph differential on the downhills. I paced no one. ONE guy passed me on a nice aero bike. I heard him coming and when he pulled up beside me I said “shit”. He said “what?” I replied “you’re the only guy who’s passed me,” to which he responded in grunts (we were going uphill and I picked up the pace when I heard him coming) “haven’t …. passed…. you yet…” Pretty funny. He got away a few minutes later.
A girl went past me on the last uphill of the last lap. I passed her on the downhill after that and said “you gotta get faster on the downs!”. She came past on the next little up and said “you’ve gotta get faster on the ups”. Damn. I wasn’t going to get chicked. At least not on the bike. I aborted the plan to ride the last bit slowly to prep for the run. I dropped the hammer and rode down into the parking lot all out, jumping the speedbumps and riding like a fool. Kept her behind me though!
I rode the 22 miles in 1:07:51, which was an average of 19.5mph. Not super fast, but I guess it was fast enough.
T2 was good. I remembered where my spot was, didn’t feel like someone had punched me in the gut, and got out pretty quickly. I had the best run I’ve ever had in a triathlon. I ran the 10k in 48:07.3, which is a pace of 7:45. I don’t track my training times very well, but one of my best 10k times has been ~45 minutes when I’m fresh!
The run isn’t like the bike for me though. On the bike I’m a monster. I see another rider and I pass them. On the run I hear people coming, watch as they slowly (or sometimes quickly) pass me, and try to hang onto their heels for a minute or two. I’m definitely not a good runner, but on this last tri of the season I had my best run yet.
I was watching the numbers on the calves of everyone who went by. I don’t know why, it’s not like I had any additional juice I could have burned if someone in my age group passed me, but I kept a close eye out. It sucked losing second place in the Ukiah triathlon by 10 seconds to someone who ran past pretty fast but then slowed down before the finish. It turns out I was right to be nervous! The next guy was only 45 seconds behind me, and he was in my age group!
I went hard on the last half mile. I sprinted the finishing chute. I was pretty happy to finish. I knew I had put in a good performance on the run. Plus the announcer got my name right!
Amazingly I didn’t have any cramping. I think I’ve nailed my nutrition strategy: two ensures early in the morning, a bottle of gatorade in the parking lot, 1.5 bottles of lightly-mixed cytomax and 2 gels on the bike, and water as needed on the run. It helped that the weather was so cool, but I think I’ve been over-eating and over-drinking immediately before and during the race. Usually coming out of T2 my stomach feels full and crampy, but this time it was awesome, I just felt some tightness in my legs.
I felt great. I think I could have run another 10k, but probably not at that blistering 7:45 pace. I had WAY more energy after the race than I normally do.
Sara met me after the finish and we went over to the timing tent to see the results. We knew the finishing time put me close regarding my season-long goal, but I couldn’t remember how many starting waves there were (if you start 20 mins after the first start, then you subtract 20 mins from the time shown at the finish). Was I in the fourth or fifth wave?
The computer showed 2:28:59.1 and I just started yelling and hopping around. I’d been working towards this all year!