Monday, September 19, 2011

Cross Another One Off the Bucket List - Malibu Triathlon RR

 I've been a runner forever. When triathlons came along with the Hawaii Ironman, I thought, like everyone else, that that was for crazy people only. Years went by, and shorter triathlons started popping up with names like "Sprint" that were just taunting us to go ahead and give it a try. Because what is more BA than saying you just did a triathlon? So at the relatively advanced age of 46 I took the challenge, borrowed a bike and a wetsuit, trained about 5 times in each, and completed my first sprint tri (1/4 mile swim, 10 mile bike, 3 mile run).

The next year I thought I would do it again. Bought a beginner road bike on Craig's list, got a surfer wetsuit on sale and did a little more training. Finished 2 sprint tri's that year, one a little longer, and vowed to do an Olympic Tri the next year. However last year I injured myself in mid-summer and had to bail on that plan.

So that brings me to this year. The Olympic Distance Triathlon would be mine. I signed up for the Malibu Tri with my coworker and rival Julia. She has been training like crazy, especially in the pool and bike. So while I can still take her in the run, there was no way I could compete here. Despite doing more training than ever this summer, I really don't swim or bike enough to become competitive with the "crazy" triathletes that are out there. My goal was to just do my best, work hard, have fun and finish strong.

As usual, I tossed and turned in bed the night before from 10:30 until after 1AM! Finally I drifted off, and then the alarm rang shortly after at 4:30. I roused the DW and hit the road by 5 for the 1 hour drive. We had to park a mile away from the transition area and I barely got there in time. Then we had to walk back 3/4 mile down the beach for the swim start.

It was a perfect day for racing. Cool and overcast. The ocean was fairly flat too. I was in the 5th wave, behind most of the men and ahead of the 50+ men and the women. Julia would start 13 minutes after me, so after some calculations I figured she would probably catch me during the bike, but maybe I could catch her back during the run.

Ready or not?

So, off we went! This is the 40-49 men. I am almost in the back - the only one not in a triathlete wetsuit, with bare calves. You can see the hills behind us. This would be where we would be riding bikes. I purposely hung back to avoid the jostling. The waves were easy - only had to dive through two, and then I was swimming toward the first big orange ball. once I got around that first buoy, I turned right and saw the other 5 buoys I needed to swim past on the 1-way 1500 meter swim. The last one was so far away I could barely see it. Well, much like Dora, I just had to keep swimming.

I'm not fast. Most of the men cleared out of my way pretty quick and I settled into a groove. It seemed like forever until I got to the next buoy, but I was doing OK and just kept plugging. Much like my training swims, I started to feel more comfortable and stronger in the second half of the swim. Eventually the next wave of men started to catch me, and later, some women were passing me. But I passed a few people too, and felt fine. Toward the end my toe was cramping, but i just kept going and it faded. As I got to the last buoy I felt faster and stronger than ever and powered it all the way back to the beach. Alright! Hardest part done, and I feel fine!

I head over to Transition and get ready to bike. Not a big rush. Just methodically getting dressed and ready. I'm smiling and having fun!

Soon enough I was hopping on the bike and cranking up the speed. The 40K route was all rolling hills. If I wasn't climbing, then I was racing down a hill. Constant gear shifting. And that made it fun. Plus it was all on Pacific Coast Highway with ocean and mountain views. I felt good and was pushing as hard as I could. Interestingly, I seemed to be passing a lot of people on the uphills, only to have them pass me on the downhills. I've done hardly any hill training, so I didn't expect that. I felt like I was holding my own with a bunch of serious bikers. I managed to grab a drink from an aid station while still moving full speed. They held out a water bottle and I held out my hand and it just slapped right in without wiping me out - kind of cool. I had a few drinks and tossed it. I also managed to eat a GU from my back pocket without slowing down. I had never eaten or drank while moving before, so that was cool.

About mile 15 Julia passed me, however that motivated me to push a little bit harder and I managed to stay close to her all the way back. I would catch her on the uphills and she would pass me on the downs. Just like the swim, I was feeling stronger in the 2nd half and pushed a little harder. I ended up staying ahead of her and finished the bike about 15-20 seconds ahead of her.

Here I am coming in to the finish. Still smiling! I worked my quads as hard as I could, but I felt good.

Next transition was basically just changing shoes and I was out for a run. Grabbed a Gu and water on the go. Still smiling!

Well! My legs were very brick-like, and my back was stiff and sore. I was just trying to run and get the kinks out. But I was passing everybody now. G had me at about 8 minute pace, and I was hoping for 7:30s, but I was going to take what my body gave me. The 10K run was almost flat, along the beach. After a mile I saw Julia ahead of me. What? Apparently she passed me during the transition, while I dawdled with my shoes, tying double knots or whatever. Well I stayed with her for a little while and talked, but then I surged ahead.

By mile 4 I was feeling better, but still running close to 8 minute pace. Then I realized I felt way too good. I was treating this like a training run. This was a race, darnit, and I was not hurting enough. So I cranked it up to about 7:10 pace instantly and started cruising. Still, it  felt like a tempo run. I managed to hold that pace all the way back. Not one person passed me in the run, and I must have passed 200 or more. So I finished my first Olympic distance tri - 3 hours of exercise - feeling strong and fast and invincible!

Here are the numbers. There were 1,036 finishers. I finished 621, or 60%. 57th of 90 in my age group. Total time was 3:05:02

Swim was 42:51 -  83% (meaning I beat 17% of the people)
T1 a slow 6:17
Bike 1:26:57 - 72% Averaged 17.1 mph
First 5 miles, 16.4 mph, next 5 16.3mph, next 5 17.4 mph, next 5 18.1 mph, last 5 18.7mph
T2 a slow 2:35
10K run: 46:20 19% (beat 81%!) Mile splits: 8:11, 7:58, 7:45, 7:49, 7:12, 7:08
I passed this guy on the run and told him he rocked.

This guy won the "Baby-carrying" division

Today I am stiff around the knees and in my back and neck, well pretty much all over. But I am glad to pack away the wetsuit until next Summer. Julia has already signed up for a half-ironman next year. I'm not ready to commit yet. I want to focus on running for a while. But I'm guessing the tri will be luring me back soon enough.


  1. Wow!! Congrats and a major bow to you.

  2. Honestly, I think I would die.

    It's funny how in a race you get those moments where you realize you just aren't going as HARD as you can. Happens to me and then I click back in. Hopefully we aren't in lala land too long. ;)

    Nice work, Bangle

  3. That is AWESOME!!
    The ocean looked really cold, and did you get kicked everywhere? My biggest fear of tri-ing (though I did them when I was a lot younger), being kicked in the face. Looks like perfect weather, though ... great racing weather. Nice work out time, no more lollygagging in the transitions :).