This was the inaugural Oakland Triathlon Festival. I signed up a long time ago because I felt I wanted to support and race a local race. The fact that I would be able to ride my bike to the start was an added bonus. Ever since signing up when telling people about this race all I’ve heard has been negative comments. “Who wants to swim in that dirty water”, “Is the swim going to be in Lake Merritt, thats gross”, “Will you be riding in a bullet proof vest?” and so on. None of the people that had these comments did the race and completely missed out on a great fun race with a very unique course and a great organization.
I rolled down the 3 miles to the transition area at around 5am in the morning. Entered the transition area from the location where both swim and bike in would be. Found a perfect transition spot on the first rack. This meant shorter running barefoot after the swim and also shorter barefoot running after the bike (since I ride without socks and leave shoes clipped in).
Proceeded with the usual setup of the transition area and met up with my buddy D who was doing the duathlon (bike and run).
For some reasonI wasn’t entirely prepared for this race and there were a couple of details that I didn’t know about. I had to check when my exact start time would be. All I knew was that the race started at 7am but there would be start corrals and I had no idea when I was going to start. 7.08 am it turned out.
I had brought some old socks to wear during the 10 min walk to the swim start. Smart I thought since it was probably much more comfortable compared to being barefoot.
I got into the water and got about a 10 minute or so warmup before my wave started. This was a deep water start and not a beach start. Only time I have done this type of start before was at a race in Stockholm. So instead of starting on the beach and running into the water you start in the water and everyone is lined up treading water before the gun goes off.
The swim was another part of this race I hadn’t researched properly. Or hadn’t researched at all I should say. When I arrived at the swim start I did overhear some people talking about the course. I then asked some more people but everyone seemed a bit confused about it. I finally decided to just go with the flow knowing that I most likely wouldn’t lead my start wave on the swim anyways so there would be people to follow.
I general I had a good swim. I was for once able to follow a bigger group of swimmers and it felt pretty good. The course was a bit unusual but fun. Had a 1 mile swim time of 24 min 18 sec.
The swim was followed by a 0.2 mile run that included running up some stairs to get to a bridge over the train tracks and then down stairs on the other side. I had no problems with this. Felt pretty good and running barefoot here was no big deal as it was mostly carpeted or pretty smooth tiled surface. It was pretty slippery at some points and I didd hear someone behind me eat it when we were running down the stairs.
T1 as a whole (run from water to heading out on bike) took me 5 min 40 sec. Thats pretty long but it did also include a long run for being transition. Getting wetsuite off and gearing up for the bike ride was pretty uneventful. I did fumble a bit when buckling the helmet but that probably only cost me a few sec.
Out on the bike I managed to get my feet in the shoes and getting the shoes on properly pretty quickly. I had my shoes clipped on to the pedals and held up by rubber bands in transition and then ran through T1 barefoot. Jumped on the bike and started pedaling with my feet on top of the shoes and when I got some speed going strapped on the shoes properly.
Started to work up a pretty decent pace right out of T1 and also started to pop some nutrition down early on. Had a few Bonk Breakers, some Gu and Osmo during the ride. The bike course was basically dead flat in comparison to any other triathlon I have ever done. It was also probably one of the more technical bike courses I have done. And by technical I mean a lot of turns. It’s not really that technical but compared to an out-and-back course with a few turns only this was technical.
I kept a pretty good pace on this two loop course and was passed only by 2 guys during the 40k. Those two were probably some super fast guys from the waves behind me (the overall winner and the 2nd place were 47 and 40 years old so probably those guys).
The ZIPP wheels performed really well in the winds and surprisingly well given the amount of turns involved on this course.
Finished the 40k bike course in 1 hour 7 min and 25 seconds.
I messed up a bit when arriving to T2. I had not prepared and unbuckled my shoes and had to kind of last minute unbuckle one of them to get my foot out and then had to stop with one foot on the ground to unbuckle the other foot. Probably lost a few seconds on this.
My rack space was immediately to the left when entering the transition area so I quickly racked the bike and made a very last minute decision to run in socks. Put socks on and while doing so heard D’s voice next to me as he entered transition also. The duathlon had started around the same time as I started my bike ride. I told him we should run together and bolted out on my run.
T2 ended up being reasonably fast given that I took time ot put socks on. 1 min 32 sec.
I set out targeting a 7 min/mile pace on the run. Felt really good early on and I kept pushing. Eventually made it to my stoping grounds around Lake Merritt where I end up a lot of times for training runs so i know that loop really well. Early on I passed a lot of people but when the sprint and international run course parted ways it got lonely for a while. I finally caught some people and then some more. After the loop around the lake we eventually hit the same stairs that we ran when exiting the swim. Running up 3-4 flights of stairs and then down again was tough at about 4-5 miles in to the run. I had to scale back a little bit at then end because is was almost about to cramp. Managed to keep a pretty solid pace for the whole run and did eventually cramp but that was just after passing the finish line.
Run time (6 miles) 42 min 59 sec.
Total time 2 hours 21 minutes 54 seconds.
Had wife, son, mom and dad greet me at the finish line. Looked like a great after party with beer and food but the lines was a bit too long. We made plans to go grab brunch instead so I went and collected my stuff from the transition area and biked the 3 miles home.
I ended up 12/79 in my age group and 63/918 overall. My buddy D that did the duathlon grabbed 1st place with almost 6 minutes to spare!
I’m definitely doing this race again!