The week that lead up to Wildflower did not start great for me. On Monday I basically woke up with a sore throat and ended up with a pretty bad cold for the whole week. So for the entire week I did not do anything in terms of physical activity or workout. This is not a great approach to a race. Yes, you should taper and reduce the volume in the training but to just stop completely stop is not good.
So I took Friday off since the long course (70.3) race was on Saturday. Took me about 4 hours in the Westie (Volkswagen Westfalia) that I had borrowed from H&L. When I pulled in to the Lake San Antonio Reservoir Recreational Area I had no real idea where to go. The place is pretty big with multiple campgrounds and lots of people everywhere. So I ended up cruising around in the Westie for a bit and eventually found a good shaded spot to park.
I decided to just get my gear together and head down to set up T2. So I loaded up my transition bag and rode the bike down the pretty steep Lynch Hill that took me down to the main event area and also the main transition point (T2 and T1B). The temperature at this time was probably close to 90F. I remember being a bit concerned about getting a sunburn the day before the race already. Set everything up or so I thought, I later realized that I had forgot to drop off some nutrition and sunscreen.
After setting up I went to the main event area and grabbed a beer. I found Mike D chillin’ on the lawn and we chatted for a bit. The Zoot team had decided to meet up at 6pm by the main stage. Was treated to an excellent home cooked pasta dinner by Steve at Zoot and his entire family. Got to hang out with some people from the Zoot amateur and pro team.
Got a good nights sleep in the Westie but work up early on race day morning. Made coffee, obviously! and then got all my stuff together. Got the race kit on and grabbed the transition bags, the wetsuite and all the swim gear and put on my Zoot Kane 3.0. Headed over to the shuttle bus that would take me to the swim start.
I had plenty of time before my race start. Took it easy and relaxed. Chatted with some people around me, many of who were racing their first triathlon. I was also able to watch both the men’s and women’s pro starts. I was even able to watch the men exit and transition before my start. Cool to see the pros and pickup a few things from how they transition.
I didn’t realve a great swim but also not a terrible one. During the outbound part I was going slightly off course at one point and almost had to double back to round one of the buoys I probably lost a few minute son that. I was also coughing a bit during the swim and that doesn’t really make it easier. Mentally I decided to take it somewhat easy at this point and just finish the swim. The last couple of hundred yards of the swim were nasty. The water was so shallow that my hands kept hitting the slimy bottom of the lake and the water was basically black from everyone swimming ahead and digging up the mud from the bottom also. Towards the end of the swim I also started to feel some tightness in my right hip/groin area. Not good.
Swim – 1.2 miles – 00:38:17.
After the Swim was T1B. This is where we stripped off the wetsuite and got ready for running. the reason for this was the extreme drought that is currently affecting California. So the swim could not take place in the original location and had to be moved. So we had to run 2.2 miles to T1B where the bike was. So wetsuite off and packed up in a bag. I had placed some clothes and stuff also in another bag before the swim start. These two bags would then be transported to the finish area.
Put Zoot running visor and Smith Optics Pivlock V2 sunglasses on and grabbed the nutrition I had forgotten to put in T1B the day before and started quickly walking up the hill. The entire T1A area was a concrete ramp that was extremely steep. I was fortunate to have my transition spot at the bottom so I didn’t have to make my way up this in my wetsuite. I got to the top and grabbed some water and started jogging and made it up to the next hill. Around here is where my right quad cramped pretty badly. I don’t exactly now but I’m pretty sure this was a mechanical thing and not related to nutrition. I think it was related to the hip/groin tightness I felt towards the end of the swim. And it is probably related to a whole bunch of other imbalances in my body as a whole. This was obvioulsy tough. I was loking forward to competing the race and I was cramping about 45 minutes in to it. I decided to walk and do what I could to make it to the bike with the hopes that I would be able to shake out the cramps during the bike. So I walked for the most part. I was able to run very slowly during the last 1/2 mile or so. It took me about 33 minute sto complete the 2.2 miles.
Had a pretty good transition to the bike. Between the Zoot running shoes and the Lake Cycling shoes that I use without socks that saves a lot of time.
T1 transition – 00:06:37.
It should be noted that this is basically two transitions and would have been a lot faster if it was in one place.
The bike course almost immediately starts with some serious climbing. The cramps didn’t bother me on the bike so I was actually able to push pretty hard right from the start. I immediately started passing lots and lots of people while climbing out of the park. It flattened out a bit and I settled in to a comfortable pace and started to get food an nutrition into my body. After this there were several miles with some climbs, descents and flats. At about mile 25 or so it basically flattened out completely. Lots of aero position at that point. I felt good and strong, the cramps were basically gone at this point.
I knew about a specific point on the course that everybody talks about. The climb up “Nasty Grade” started at mile 41 and climbed for about 4 miles up to the top of “Heart Rate Hill”. I was a bit intimidated by this climb given what I had heard from people beforehand. Turns out I shouldn’t have been. I didn’t find it all that grueling and hard so I probably toot it a bit too easy. I still passed a lot of people on this climb.
After climbing comes descending. Some super fast miles followed and then a few short climbs before descending down Lynch Rd to T2.
Bike – 56 miles – 03:11:07
The transition to running went ok and without hiccups. Took shoes off when still on the bike and ran through the transition area barefoot. Racked the bike, helmet off and then running shoes, visor, sunnies and race belt on.
T2 transition – 00:02:20
I decided to start off the run easy give that I had cramped during the last run segment. Since we had already covered 2.2 miles of running the remainder to run was 10.9 miles to make it a total of 13.1 (1/2 maraton). I ran an ok pace and walked the hills in the beginning. This meant a lot of walking because the run course was extremely hilly. At this point I was being passed by people, not a lot by there were several in my age group that passed me. At this point in time it had also gotten really hot. Almost all of the run course was on trails and in some parts not covered. I started taking in whatever I could get my hands on in terms of water and nutrition. Pouring water over my head at ever aid station also.
At about mile 5 or so I decided to try to push a bit harder and was able to increase the pace a bit when I was running, I was still walking the hills. I also knew the last 1 mile or so was a pretty steep downhill (Lynch Rd again). The cramps I experienced early on was mainly in my quads, not a good combo with steep downhill running. At this point in the race I had started to pass quite a lot of people again. I think many went out too hard and then basically blew up towards the end. Because I had been forced to take a pretty conservative approach to the run due to the cramping I had lots left in the engine. I did take it a bit easy down Lynch Rd but pushed hard as soon as it flattened out and passed about 3-4 people even running through the finishing chute.
Total run (2.2 + 10.9 miles) – 02:33:44
All-in-all a really fun race. My performance had ups and downs, just like the race course. I think I can take at least 30 minutes off my time if I would do it again and would not cramp. I’ve been told by many that I have to come back and do the “real” Wildflower where the running is not broken up in two and there are additional transitions. I probably will.