Big Rock Triathlon Race Report

So last week I decided (in the last minute) to jump in The Big Rock Triathlon which is an Olympic Distance held at Lake Perris. It's a really well done local race and I needed to redeem myself a bit to gain some confidence heading into Wildflower which is a short 2 1/2 weeks away. The idea was to "attack" the swim and leave it all in the water and rely on my fitness to get me through the bike and run. Every triathlon I've done, I've always approached the swim as just a warm up or an attitude of "just to get through it" type thing. I really wanted to be aggressive this time and see if what I have been doing in the pool can translate in the open water. The week leading up to the swim I also changed up my swim stroke a bit. I've always had long, smooth, gliding strokes through the water which come to find out doesn't work very well in the open water. So I worked on smaller/choppy strokes with my head up more instead of burying it in the water like I normally do.

To back up a bit after Oceanside I got pretty sick. Think congestion, cough, sore throat---A lot of that has been going around down here. So the week after I had pretty limited/unstructured training. Then last week I pretty much was in maintenance mode trying to get over the sickness and prepare for the race as best as I could. My coach suggested that I probably shouldn't race if I'm not 100%, but I made the call anyway. The day before the race I actually started making strides and feeling better. Even though I had only ran once that week I just went into the race more of in a training mode than a race mode. Just swim hard and survive the bike and run!

Ice cold day!
Race morning I had decided to head out solo because it was rainy and freezing all day on Friday and there was even a chance for rain that morning - not the best place for a 2 and 3 year old. As soon as I got there I blasted some of my favorite pre-race songs through my sweet H2O Audio headphones and stepped outside the car to the freezing air! However, the lake was glass which put a smile on my face. I chatted it up with Rick at The Bike Shop who had a booth there and then went to go check in and set up at transition. After setting up I got in a quick 1 mile jog with some pick ups, some light stretching - ran into fellow Wattie team mate Jake Steen and chatted it up a bit and before I knew it - it was time to throw the wetsuit on and head down to the start. The Sprint, Olympic and Off-Road races all went off at the same time and I was the first wave (39 and under). The water was about the same temperature as Oceanside was. Pretty cold, but actually a tad warmer than what it was outside as it was still freezing!

1500 meter swim - 24:56 (1:31/100 pace) *PR

Finally nailed an open water swim
The start got delayed by about 10 minutes so I was able to get in a good 200-300 meter warm up. However, I was shivering along with everyone else as we waited for the gun to go off. It was a beach start and I lined up towards the front and on the right side of the buoys (going counter-clockwise). The gun went off and I went HARD for the first 100 meters. I got in decent position, but huge packs swam away from me and I figured it was a lot of the sprint distance guys. I settled in after 200 meters and tried to keep my pace pretty uncomfortable. I've always swam comfortable which I think is the big reason why I get worked each and every swim. The course was 2 laps and I might have over-extended myself after the first lap because as soon as I started my 2nd I noticed myself slow down a bit. As soon as I made that last turn to head home I gunned it one more time to finish strong. I can say for the first time that I swam as hard as I could in my Xterra Vortex and I got a 9 minute swim PR because of it.

T1 - 3:06

After the swim we had about a 400 meter uphill jog in the sand to transition. I came out of the water gassed. Running up that hill I wheezing pretty good (from my sickness) and this was hands down the highest my heart rate got for the whole race! I charged up the hill and to my surprise I saw Amy and the kids cheering me on! It was very cool to see them and I literally ran right by them. Got to transition, custom Wattie Ink Kask helmet on, and I was outta there.

Bike 40k - 1:06:50 (22.3 mph)

I mounted, slipped on my shoes and started hitting it hard from the get-go. Right away there was a little climb. Got out of the saddle, hammered up and then hit the downhill as fast as I could go. I saw two guys about 1/2 mile ahead of me and I did my best to catch them quickly while sipping down some FLUID Perform. As I went by them I realized one of the guys I passed was someone I was chatting with in transition and he said he was a strong swimmer, so I knew I had a pretty good swim at this point. The course was 2 loops with a pretty nasty hill towards the end of each lap. I wouldn't call the course flat by any means. I felt slightly uncomfortable with my bike position still - something I need to tweak before Wildflower. It was hard to tell who was racing Olympic and who was racing the Sprint on the first lap. I passed a lot of guys that first lap and once we made the turn for lap #2 I didn't see anyone in front of me. At this point of the race I had no idea where I was. Since I could see pretty far ahead of me in some areas I thought I might even be in the lead. On the second lap I started fading. Lack of training and my sickness started taking its toll. I went up that last hill significantly slower the second time around and by the time I was finishing up heading into T2, I was ready to get this thing over!

T2: 1:15

Quickly threw on my KSwiss Kwiky Blade Lights which have quickly become my favorite racing flat I've ever owned. I was a bit slow because I took the extra time to put on socks as I didn't want blisters heading into the Ragnarly Relay this weekend. On my way out I got a crazy Oblique muscle cramp. Not a side stitch but an actual cramp...Yup, I swam hard.

Run 10k- 36:48 (5:55 pace)

Finishing up a tough day
The first mile was a sh*t show. Oblique cramp, hamstring cramp, I couldn't feel my feet because of numbness for the first 2 miles. Felt like I was carrying bricks...definitely colder than it was in Oceanside. The run is an out and back course. You run through all of the sprint and mountain bike triathlon traffic - so at this point I still had no idea where I was in the race. Once I passed the turn around for the sprint race I could finally see what place I was in. Right away I could see about 4 guys ahead of me, then when I passed the 2 mile mark I saw the eventual winner Kosuke Amano (San Diego triathlon stud and crazy fast swimmer) come flying by the other way! Holy crap, I'm 2 miles behind the leader...Thought I was in the race more than that. Time to do some work. I started knocking out 5:40's for the next 2-3 miles and worked my way up to 5th place. With about 1 1/2 miles to go, I knocked back a gel with a little bit of water from the aid station and then almost 1-2 minutes later my legs started locking up with cramps. I think I finally figured out the cramp issues. When you take in gels your body extracts water from places like your muscles so it can help digest the thick/sugary gel. This can often times cause cramps for some people. I am one of those people! I was just in survival mode the last mile and a half. I gave a peak behind me and didn't see 6th place anywhere near so I just cruised in. After looking back at results, two guys from the 40 year old division beat me so I actually ended up 7th. Props to those guys!

2:12:57 *PR 3rd in AG, 7th overall

Chatting it up with Rick and the boys...Scarlett by my side!
As soon as I finished I started having crazy cough attacks, blowing out snot and generally just grossing everyone out. I was spent. I was definitely not 100% that day, but I was happy with the effort and I was able to get another triathlon under my belt -something I need most right now. I had a 10 minute PR despite everything so I was happy and it gave me confidence going into Wildflower---again something I needed after the disaster in Oceanside. As I was cleaning up I ran into one of my readers of this blog, Matt Davis - who was actually one of the over 40 guys that beat me! He came up and introduced himself and said that he's followed my blog for awhile now and enjoyed it. It was really cool to hear that -as I put in quite a bit of time into this thing and for someone to actually tell me was cool. If you're reading Matt, nice race and I'm sure I'll see you around! We stuck around for awards, grabbed some food and then I was in bed the remainder of the day. Then woke up the next day and during my easy spin/ride I started getting crazy-intense pain in my head. Ended up being a sinus infection. Never had one before. They are painful! Felt a lot like a migraine, really intense. Racing sick has taken me out of commission for the past 3 days but today I'm finally starting to feel better. Of course I had to work out of town at a trade show so that didn't help with the healing process either.

Time to add Ragnar 2012 to that!
Time to get better and gear up for The Ragnar Relay this weekend. We are co-ed team "HairForce" and this is the 3rd year we've done it. We placed 5th last year and we are gunning for top 3 this year. This race is definitely one of my favorites of the year. Getting together, racing hard and partying hard with good friends for over 24 hours is a blast. Ragnar does a great job putting this race on. I highly recommend everybody do it sometime. You find out a lot about yourself when you are tired, lack sleep and you have to push yourself hard for your team mates. Tons of fun and I can't wait to do it all over again. Here's last year's tale.

A few more pics from the weekend:

That crazy run up to T1
Position still needs work
Coming down on the last lap into T2
Bringing it in
Kiddos being patient while daddy races

Wattie Team mate raced great with a bum knee!

Give all my medals to my kids!
Love that lil girl!
Hit the trails to spin out the legs and found a sinus infection!
Nothing beers with the wife can't fix. Cheers!


Anonymous said...

Hey James:
Thanks for the press. Nice meeting you. Good luck at Wildflower.

Matt D.

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