Racing in the City Where Triathlon was Born
Last December, the Director of USAT, came to the DC Triathlon Club’s annual meeting to speak. He told everyone that USAT would love to have the club’s presence at the race and offered free bike shipping for everyone that signed up if we got 30 people to register. The DC Tri Board of Directors decided to add a little more incentive to that and subsidized some of the race fee for the first 30 people that registered. There ended up being 47 members that flew to San Diego to race! A great turn out.
I signed up for this race knowing it would be a fun ‘training race’ to do with a mini vacation tagged on after. Olympic distance is not my specialty! I’d rather do a half or a full Ironman any day over this distance! I’m not a strong swimmer so I’m always playing catch-up and unfortunately, there’s not a lot of catch-up time in the shorter distances. Plus, my muscles favor endurance over hard threshold pace for a few hours.
The swim was in Mission Bay and was wetsuit legal. This was the first time I got to try out the Xterra Vector Pro long sleeved wetsuit. Beings that I had my wetsuit and the swim was in salt water, I thought I’d have a decent swim time (for me). Turns out I was wrong! I need to learn how to maneuver the current better and have a feeling I swam more than 1500 meters. I was even drafting off a few people through a lot of the first half of the swim so thought for sure I’d knock some time off my swim. (Unfortunately, I lost my draft when I gulped a bunch of salt water and had to stop for a second to cough and almost got sick.) Apparently, on the way back in, the current was pushing people away from where we needed to finish. I swam as far in as I could until I hit the dirt and seaweed and had to stand up. Then did the high knees dance for awhile until I hit the beach. I was bummed with my time. I haven’t been swimming a ton, but enough where I thought I’d be a bit faster. Oh well, this was a fun training race anyway and I need all the open water swim practice I can get! I tried to shake off the disappointment as I ran into transition. That is where I got totally disoriented and could not find my bike. Oops! By time I found my bike, I took my time to make sure I calmed down and got everything on that I needed. (I did this again in T2 ugh! I guess I was too laid back about this race and needed to count the rows.)
I had heard that this was a challenging bike course but decided against driving the course ahead of time, figuring I didn’t need to stress out about the 18% grade on part of the crazy climb we had up Mt. Soledad in La Jolla. The course was two loops. Fellow teammate, Patrick Serfass, passed me just at the start of the climb. He made it look so easy! Up ahead, I saw my boyfriend, Ron, who was on his second loop since he started with the relay teams. That gave me some incentive to forget about the lactic acid building up in my legs and just keep climbing. I was definitely feeling the 175 miles I had put in over five days when I was in Iowa the week before this race. Plus, I was on my road bike that week since the tri bike was en route to San Diego. I think my muscles were confused!
Once I caught up to Ron, we exchanged our breathy hello’s and good jobs to each other and finally the top appeared. Yes, time to decent! The second half of the loop went by very quickly. The main thing you had to watch out for on the decent were the horrible bumps, cracks and pot holes in the road. I was surprised at how nasty the roads were! The 2nd loop didn’t seem quite as bad now that I knew what was in store for me. My time seemed pretty slow, but I knew that everyone’s times had to be slower given the fact that you had to slow down to close to 6mph on some portions of that climb. I was really hoping my legs wouldn’t be too tired to get in a good 10k.
The run was also two loops and a nice flat route. I love running off the bike and it is amazing how much better that feels to me than just going out for a normal training run with no biking beforehand. I really didn’t know what kind of pace I could hold, given this was the first triathlon of the year. Plus, since I don’t train specifically for shorter distances, I’m still trying to figure out how to pace myself. I found a woman who was running about the same pace as me and paced off of her for most of the race. I ended up running just under 7 min. pace and felt good. My coach later told me that she thinks I could have started off a bit faster and I’ll keep this in mind for the next Olympic distance I do in July.
It was great to see so many DC Tri athletes out on the course, especially being so far away from home. At the end of the race, we all met up to get a group picture and took in the sunshine while hanging out at Mission Bay. It was fun to share this experience with so many fellow club and team members! And, who wouldn’t want to race in San Diego?!
I took away several key learning points from my first race of the 2012 season:
1) The pros make it look so easy and are simply amazing to watch race! A great motivation the day before a race.
2) Learn to keep with my draft in the swim and don’t get pushed off course by the current. Pay more attention to what the water is doing before getting in.
3) Swim, swim and more swim training
4) Know exactly where my bike is in transition, have very specific landmarks to look for, count the rows and practice running to my bike before the race starts. This will obviously save time on my transitions and prevent unnecessary stress and freaking out!
5) Do more hill training on the bike.
6) Don’t be afraid to start out faster on the run.
7) I wish we had weather like San Diego to train in all year round! :)Love this place!
Category: Courtney Fulton