Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Race Report: LifeTime Tri Oceanside National Championships

If ifs and buts were candies and nuts, then everyday would be Christmas

I've heard that saying a trillion times growing up.  Whenever I complained about what I could have done in a wrestling match, soccer game, cross country meet, etc - my dad would utter that saying and laugh.  I think it was his way of trying to get me to not complain, and for the most part - it worked.

Early in the season - I set two goals for myself.  Get a belt buckle at Leadman and break 2:15 in an Olympic distance race (which would mean my swim was at an acceptable level).

The race I set for the latter goal was the LifeTime Tri National Champions in Oceanside, Ca.  This was their finale to their ongoing nationwide race series and was STACKED with pros and elite racers.  So I talked my brother in law (the same guy who I did Leadman with) into joining and we did the race.

The day before we went to the expo for the packet pick up and to browse the vendor tents (and get all the goodies that come with it).  The Expo was pretty cool, and had a bunch of cool stuff.  Packet pick up was in and out - which is always a good sign.  
The highlight of the expo - of course - was getting to meet some of my favorite pro triathletes and, of course, getting them to take pictures with my son.
Bruce with Andy Potts.  It was difficult to get my son back from Andy, they were having a great time with each other.

Bruce with Hunter Kemper.  Hunter  has a small army of children himself (haha) and was giving me triathlete parenting tips.
Potts is a really cool guy.  Afterwards he saw my wife with Bruce and said hello (remembering his name) and even asked how my race went.  Pretty cool.

Outside of that, the expo went as normal.  My wife decided that I HAD to have a pair of Xterra Lava Pants and got me a great deal on them.  More on that later in this post (on the next race) and on a review post I'll do later.

Fast forward to race day and pre-race set up.  This was a two transition race, complete with a confusing array of multiple bags and trying to figure out where to put different stuff and when to put it in the bags.  I managed to figure it out (barely), and had everything packed for the trip to T1.

We decided to ride our bikes since we were staying less than a mile away - which would allow my wife to sleep in and not worry about having to walk to the expo with a baby.

It took about 2 minutes of riding to determine that this was a bad idea.  For some reason, Oceanside - the beautiful Sunny San Diego city by the beach - is freezing cold at 4:30 in the morning.  Like colder than Leadman cold.  It was a chore setting up the bike in transition and getting the wetsuit on, mainly because my body was shivering uncontrollably.  Pretty much everyone else was going through the same deal though, and it did start to slightly warm up by the time we were waiting for the swim start.
My bike all purty and set up in transition.

The Swim:
By far my weakest leg in triathlon - I was determined to have a good swim here.  My goal was 28:30 (based on a time in a pool that I swam twice before), which gives you an idea of how slow I really am.
The swim start was an open water start - meaning you swam out to a buoy (which I assumed had some kind of timing on it) and you took off when they fired the gun for your group.
Getting into the chute to swim out to the swim start.
As soon as the swim kicked off, a dense layer of fog covered the surface of the water.  I'm not even exaggerating when I say that this was like something straight out of a horror film.  Visibility was (literally) 3-5 feet and not much else.  This made for a very interesting swim where you were sighting every other stroke just to make sure you were going in the general vicinity that you needed to go.
I managed to swim a 30:30 in a pretty uneventful swim.  I'm pretty sure I went off course a couple of times, but I'm pretty satisfied with that result.  For me, that's a lot faster than my previous Olympic distance swims.

The Bike:
T1 was pretty straightforward and it was actually nice to run into a T1 seeing most of the bikes still racked (my division was the first out of the swim behind the pros and elites - so it's not because I'm incredibly fast or anything).  Shoved my wetsuit in the bag, got my gear on, mounted the bike, and off I went.
The bike venue is pretty cool for this race.  They shut down Hwy 78 so it was a complete open out and back with a little U-turn detour inbetween.  Normally, 2 lap courses are kind of lame - but this one worked very well.
The bike leg (at least in the beginning) was cold.  Very cold.  I was in a thin, competition style, one piece tri suit.  It never in a million years dawned on me that maybe I would want something different for this race.  In any case, I toughed it out and just kept pumping away.
The bike leg was actually really good for me.  I was passing most of the people ahead of me in the swim and actually caught up with a couple of people in the Elite category (who are all way faster swimmers than me and started with a 5 minute head start).  I was averaging just a shade over 25 miles per hour for most of the bike leg, which would have me in the 58 minute or so range once finished.  
That was up until about mile 22 when I felt a small jolt under my seat, and then head the worst sound I could hear.  The sound of a tire having no air left in it, and the rim of your bike running on only a thin piece of rubber.
*clank clank clank*
Knowing I only had a little bit more to go, I pushed my weight all the forward over my aerobars to see if I could ride it out.  
*clank clank clank*
I was moving, but going very slowly and I knew I would tear my rim to shreds if I kept going.
You can see how utterly bummed out I am when I realized that I had a flat.
I tried to ride it out, but realized I'd have to get off the bike.

So I hopped off, my hopes and dreams of breaking 2:15 (and possibly 2:05) now crushed.  Looking at the flat, I realized I was just about a mile to a mile and a half away from T2.  Doing some quick math in my head, I figured it would take me 10 to 15 minutes to get the tire off, replace the tube, get the tube pumped up, and then another 3-4 minutes or so to ride it in.  
Knowing my race was finished, I figured I'd have a little fun and do something silly - so I just picked up my bike, threw it over my shoulder, and started to run to T2.  I figured I could probably run the distance faster than the 20 minutes it would take me to change the tire and ride it in, AND I didn't want to risk something being wrong with the tire itself and just flatting again.
So I ran.  I was getting passed by everyone.  People I flew by earlier were passing me.  People who were doing the sprint and riding their mountain bikes were passing me.  I did get plenty of cheers and encouragement from the crowd, and more than a handful of people who were racing offered help or encouragement before they zoomed on in to T2.
Coming down the chute into T2, the volunteers were "Hoo Rah"ing me as I ran my bike to the rack and got ready for the run.  Racking my bike, I slapped my shoes on and went off for the run - knowing my race was finished.   Time on the bike:  1:13:27 - which is not a good time for me.  (Ifs and buts to come later in this post).

Wife took this picture while I was on the run.  "Oh how I hate you rear tire"

The Run:
The run is usually where I make up the ground on the faster bikers who know how to swim.  However, in this race - it wasn't meant to be.  By the time I got started on my run, and was passing people who were going VERY slow - I realized I had simply lost too much time to do anything significant.  I just went at a brisk pace and treated it the same way I would a tempo run (faster than normal training pace - but not race pace).  
The run venue is pretty awesome on this race.  It is right next to the Pacific Ocean pretty much the whole way through, and had a few steep hills (where you transitioned over bridges over the walkways on the boardwalk) that gave the run a bit of challenge instead of being pancake flat.
Only issue I had with the run course (which was a 2 loop 3 mile course) was that the course was set up where you finished at the same spot where you would continue on with your second loop (if you hadn't done it already).
Going over one of the bridges on the run course.  Beautiful run course.

Unfortunately, when I came running to the finish area - there was a volunteer redirecting people to keep going on the second loop.  I stopped and explained to him that I had already done 2 loops (I even showed him my Garmin), but he insisted I keep going.  
I figured that maybe they changed the finish line for some reason so I moved on.
About s 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile in - I realized that wasn't right and stopped and asked someone.  One of the guys from Lifetime was running one of the aid stations and I showed him my watch (which showed I ran about 7 miles by that time) and he jogged with me (off course) to take me to the finish line and apologized for it.  When I brought it up to one of the timing guys, I was told I wasn't the only one who complained about it but that - unless I was a pro competing for a top spot, I was more or less SOL.  Fair enough, as it would take a ton of investigatory effort for what, in the end, was a somewhat meaningless middle of the pack time.
Total run time: 47:43

Total race time:  2:35 (20 minutes over my goal time).

Ifs and Buts:  Not a whole lot I could have done better for this race outside of having better luck.  IF I didn't get a flat and was able to ride out my bike leg how it was going, I would have beaten my goal time (even with the crappy run).  IF I would have given it a full effort on the run and not allowed a volunteer to mess up my race (I knew he was wrong the entire time) - I would have smashed it.  My run time was 10 minutes over what I'm capable of off the bike (although with the hills it may have slowed me down some).  I figure I left about 25 minutes on the table with mishaps and lack of effort once things fell apart.  But again, "If 'ifs and buts' were candies and nuts, then everyday would be Christmas".
As for my brother in law - he extended his "race ending flat tire" streak to 3 races (and 8 tubes due to his debacle at Leadman).  Was a bummer for that to happen to him again.  I can't wait for him to actually have a race where nothing goes wrong so he can realize fully what kind of times he's capable of and where he needs to put his training efforts.

Outside of the shenanigans, this was an absolutely stellar race.  Everything was great about it - from the SWAG, to the environment, to the tons of aid stations all over the place, to the stuff spectators were able to do while waiting, it was just awesome.  Great race and I'll definitely be doing it again next year.

Even a race where you underperform can be okay when this little guy is with you afterwards.

No comments:

Post a Comment