Race Report: L.A. Triathlon 2010

Full circle–I just looked at previous posts & noticed one of my first on my ‘new’ site was a race report of this race last year.  I hopefully won’t be reporting the exact same information.

For whatever reason, I always get most pumped up about this race.  It’s probably because it’s an “urban” race, which is different from every other race I do (which primarily take place at and around a beach or lake).  It has a big fancy finish at L.A. Live downtown, which sort of overshadows my last duathlon–where they had hot dogs on the grill (but no ketchup or mustard) & a winner’s circle sweatshirt for me.  I love them both, but sometimes it’s fun to race a race that the pro athletes compete in.

Race morning:  my wave doesn’t start until 9am, but we are told to get our bikes into transition by 7am.  I’ve noticed in the past that people show up way later than 7, and that’s my goal for  the morning.  I hate waiting around for hours.  So, I hopped on my bike around 7:15am & rode the 5 miles to the beach.  Sure enough, I got in with no problem.  Unfortunately, all the bike racks were full, but I just leaned mine up against one & got my stuff all ready.  By the time I made it out to the ocean, it was around 8:15…perfect…time to jump in the water, watch some folks at the start, and then get ready to go!

The waves were calmer this year (I would say 4 ft), but it was still rough water.  Running into it is still slightly scary, but I’ve actually come to appreciate the waves.  They break up the monotony of the swim & keep you on your toes.  So, I started right in the front of the group, not because I’m a fast swimmer–but because I thought if I sprinted into the water, I could get a head start & eliminate all the kicking and hitting that happens early on in the swim.  It worked for me this time.  I dove under several waves & then eventually got past them.  There were swimmers around me but luckily no one in my space.  I focused on keeping my stroke speedy (I sometimes get into this slow & steady kind of pace) & before I knew it, I was heading back towards the finish.  The waves kept coming on the way in, & one massive one brought us all down.  It kind of sucked because up to that point, I had remained relatively calm & salt-water free…but I made my way to shore & onto the bike.

I hardly saw anyone on the bike.  There was one girl in front of me who I was slowly catching up to, so I eventually decide I should pass her.  Now, in a USAT sanctioned race there are certain rules–you can’t draft off of one another, once you decide to pass–you must complete the pass (and the other person must let you…and then they can pass you later).  So I pull up beside her & she SPEEDS UP.  It’s the same feeling you get when someone does that in a car.  You’re like “what? are you kidding?”  I eventually back down & am back behind her again.  But she slows a little, and I approach her again.  I attempt to pass–and she does the same thing!!!  I look at her, laughing, and say “REALLY??”  She laughs back, not meaning any harm (I want to shout “ILLEGAL MOVE!”) & I say “OK, go ahead, keep doing it.  It keeps me going faster!”  I stay behind her the rest of the race.  She kept turning back to see me there, so I knew I was actually helping HER more than she was helping me.  But we basically entered our next transition place at the same time, so I told her “Great job! Thanks for keeping up the pace!” & went to grab my running gear.  I never saw her again after that, so I’m proud to say she couldn’t catch me on the run!

Oh–so in this transition spot, I put on my running shoes, grab my baseball hat, & my race bib number & I’m off to the run.  One problem= I left my bike helmet on!  HILARIOUS!  In a moment where I thought I couldn’t be more of a SERIOUS athlete, I am running with a bike helmet!!!  I attempt to put my cap on, and then I make the realization & instead of running back to my spot, I just throw the helmet in the transition area thinking I would find it later.

The run is painful.  My dream is that someone has a triathlon course where the run is not a simple out and back…it’s incredibly boring, especially with no music.  I would do so much better on a one loop course, a course with lots of turns, a trail, anything…this one does have one unique thing going for it–a gigantic hill.  I used the hill to my advantage, though, and walked part of it as I caught my breath from getting off the bike & used it on the way down to get a little rest (instead of pounding my way down it) before pushing it at the end.  My stomach is bothering me some (cramping)–but nothing like last year’s pain…it just keeps me from going as fast as I’d like.  I have to walk a total of 3 minutes or so, which isn’t bad.  I was feeling like crap, but I just kept going & found a girl in my age group who was running pretty strong.  I ran beside her, hoping to find a pacing partner for the final 1.5 miles, but she pulled ahead! How dare she!?  So then I pulled ahead & somehow managed to stay there until taking a drink of water from one of the aid stations…she went right past me.  I had some finishing speed, though, so I picked up the pace, passed her & down the final stretch passed another girl & sprinted home.

I felt completely dead.  I really focused this race on giving my all in every sport.  Sprint races are so short (.65k swim, 14 mile bike, 3.1 mile run) that I don’t need to think much about ‘pacing’ myself.  I am just learning how to really push it through the whole race, and I felt like I did it.  And it was SO much fun to have other ladies alongside of me.  It’s amazing how much more you can do with your competition so close.  Normally we’re so spread out through the race, so I have no idea where my competition even is.

Even though I felt dead, I felt completely awesome.  I raced a great race, regardless of what the finish board says.  I wandered over to the finish times & saw that I was 2nd in my age group! WOO HOO!  I had a big grin plastered across my face.  It means so much when you put time and effort into something & you actually get to see it pay off in front of you.  And you have a great time while doing it!   My prize this year= a $15 visor.  (not to mention a finisher’s medal & a second place medal).  These prize packages are becoming so large; it’s probably safe to say I could quit my full-time job now & just coast on prize money.

So, there you go–looking at my race times, I found a couple of interesting things: 1) I was 6th out of the swim–which was really great for me…could it be I’m improving? 2) my bike time was almost EXACTLY the same as last year (goal for next year=spend more time riding hilly courses…it’s the only way I can improve) 3) my transition times were faster than anyone’s & won me my 2nd place position (which means I’m really great at getting out of a wetsuit & running with a bike helmet on).

I have one more race this season–in two weeks–and of course I’m excited to compete one more time & also excited to work on some off-season goals.  Oh, and this race qualified me for the Nationals again next year–they are in Vermont, which sounds beautiful.  Maybe I’ll actually make it out there this time around!