Bubble in the desert

A blog I started whilst on a GE "Bubble" assignment in Nevada. I'm back in Cambridge (UK) now but still miss the desert and my friends out there.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Sprint Triathlon (0.6 mile lake swim; 15 mile bike; 3.8 mile run) - Lake of the Pines, Auburn

I was planning to do a long bike and run at the weekend in preparation for The Big Kahuna Half-Ironman on September 10th but Jeff told me I should be doing short high intensity work this close to the big event. So, I decided to do the Auburn Sprint Triathlon. There apparently may be some photos of the event on Photocrazy.com at some point.

The event seems to have originated as a triathlon organized by and for local residents of Lake of the Pines but is now much bigger and is in its 25th year. It was a very inclusive event with all kinds of people taking part, a great number riding mountain bikes with knobbly tyres!

I'd been assured the water temperature in the lake would be reasonable but I didn't believe it so I have my wetsuit with me. After registration I sorted out my gear, put the aerobars on my bike and went for a swim to test the water. I was extremely pleased to find it very warm - 78 degrees!

After some considerable faff we had the American National Anthem and then were under starters orders. The swim was done in waves. Every male doing the long course started first. I kept telling myself that this was just a training run and the thing I needed most practice of was the swim in crowded conditions. That being the case, this was perfect. A 30ft wide stretch of triathletes at the starting line would be aiming for the same bouy to make the first turn. As we got under way we were climbing over each other in that typical triathlon way and what surprised me most was that I wasn't too bothered. None of the hyperventilating I'd experienced in the Donner Lake swim. I guess the warmer temperature must be something to do with it. This is not really good news since the sea at Santa Cruz is likely to be 60 degrees or less next week.

My swim didn't feel particularly impressive but nor did it seem terrible. Looking at the results, it was pretty terrible! I was 53rd overall (of 145) for the swim (though 10th out of 27 in my agegroup).

Coming out of the water I was glad to be heading for my bike. I grabbed my Death Ride bike jersey and stood on my towel to dry my feet. The Jersey wouldn't go on easily and I faffed a bit getting my gloves on, but overall not a bad transition at 1:54 (though the winner in my group was 50 seconds faster here).

The ride was fun. As I got going a young lad in a green cycling jersey shot off in front of me and I couldn't catch him but apart from that nobody overtook me during the 3 laps (since most people were ahead of me due to my slow swim!). It was fun riding people down on the first lap, since I was racing those folks. On the second lap we were joined by the folks doing the Medium distance triathlon and many of them were struggling with the rolling hills and it felt very odd to rocket past them. I felt generally slowed by being surrounded by people going pretty slowly.

The course was challenging with several short sharp climbs. Marshalls were generally excellent and much needed as we flew past Stop signs. I was a little dismayed at one Stop sign though. The roads were still open to traffic so we depended on the marshalls to be our eyes and ears at the crossing. At one, a young girl was sitting back from the junction in a chair on the phone for the duration of the race. This always worried me as I flew past the stop sign and it seemed pretty negligent and dangerous to me.

After the third lap I headed in for the transition area once more. I put my running shoes on and grabbed my Garmin Forerunner, swigged a bunch more Heed drink and headed off. The first mile was tough. The transition from bike to run does something horrible to your legs making them feel like lead. After a while though I was picking our targets ahead and was catching them. One guy in front looked reasonably strong but I caught sight of him walking on a hill and spotted a weakness. I gradually closed the gap. He stopped at a water station and I didn't so I gained on him considerably there. Eventually I pulled in behind him and waited for my moment to put my foot down and get past him with a spurt of energy. I did that but I heard him speed up. He seemed to stay with me for a while, which was disappointing - my speed-up tactic didn't work. When I eventually looked around though, he'd gone.

Nearing the end of the race I spotted someone else to run down. He was running well and I didn't have much time left. On the last climb I sped up and as I began to catch him we had a very steep descent to the finish line. By now I was sprinting and he'd seen me so he was too. Normally this is where I catch 'em but this guy was on to me and beat me over the line only to collapse from the unexpected late exertion. I quickly reached over and shook his hand. He was 45 so we were in a different category but he still beat me fair and square!

So, my agegroup placing was 4th of 27 and my overall placing in the long course event was 16th of 145. Not bad but I was convincingly beaten by the guy in 3rd place in my agegroup 4 minutes 3os! I'd managed to maintain an averge speed of 20.5mph on the bike and more satisfying, a 7:48 minute mile pace on the run (pretty good considering the first mile was an 8:04).


PS I included Levi's finish results here too (I work with his Dad). He totally whooped me in the swim!


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