After an early start this morning and pushing my body to new limits, I completed the 12th Annual Ventura Breathe of Life Triathlon sprint in 1:37:47. I placed 270 (of 363) overall and 20 of 24 in my age group (M30-34).
So what was it like? It was satisfyingly hard. From the 8am start of the 400m swim to the somewhat confusing 13.3mile bike course, to the left sided 5k run, each sport presented its challenges and I met them head on!
(note, a link to the official results appears at the end of this post)
SWIM: I stepped on a fish!
The swim was 400m, just inside the breakwaters of the Ventura Harbor. The water was warm at 66 degrees, calm and quite pool like. This was going to be a little easier than I thought.
Heading out for the practice swim, I was surprised to feel how uneven the sand was walking out into the water. It was like hiking along an old road full of potholes and bumps. But that wasn’t the real surprise. As I took another step, I felt sand being pushed against my leg. It wasn’t sand being moved by the wave, it was too concentrated and seemed to be coming up from the bottom. Then I put my foot down and felt the fish fluttering. As I started to panic, it swam off. Oh boy… swimming with the fishies… this was going to be interesting.
The horn blows and I hit the water just behind the group. I started out side stroke and was keeping up. I switched briefly to forward crawl with my head in the water. Only got in two strokes before I realized I had a breathing problem. Back to side stroke… “just keep moving and breathe” is what I reminded myself.
Half way to the first buoy, the happened. My arms and legs hurt like no tomorrow. Every stroke was painful. Slow down, breathe and glide was the best move. But then, I was swimming in a pack, which made it difficult to relax. Every time I stroked, I hit someone. I was not used to swimming in such a crowd, so that added to my anxiety.
To make a long story short, I settle into an alternating left/right side stroke and got through the swim. As I noticed people starting to stand up in waist high water, I took advantage of the footing and did two dolphins to avoid having to run through knee deep water.
Running up the beach to the transition area sucked. It was a very long (0.15 mile) beach run which drained me even more. I was so happy to step onto pavement and cross the timing pads!
T1 – Remember the Sequence
Transitioning to the bike, it was all about going through the steps. Unfortunately, my transition area was setup opposite as it had been in the past (stuff to the left of the bike, before it was right). It took a little getting used to. I didn’t have the GPS out, so I didn’t turn it on until after I was ready to put on my shoes. Putting on my left shoe, I found my right glove riding glove. ugh!
Eventually I got everything together, but I forgot the bib. While this wasn’t mandatory for the bike (both the bike and helmet had my athlete number) it was something that I missed. The sequence of T1 was out of order, but I got 99% covered
This points out that I need to practice my transitions more. I hadn’t practiced them since the UCSB Triathlon in March, perhaps I dropped the ball.
Bike – Just Keep Cranking
The bike course was a little odd and required a turn around on Harbor Blvd followed by a right hand turn onto Gonzales Rd. The turn around isn’t so bad, but the right hand turn could be missed. I personally didn’t miss it, but I heard that a number of riders in the event did and were disqualified.
Heading east on Gonzales Rd, I just kept cranking. The course is fairly flat and there isn’t much time to relax on a downhill. Just keep cranking isn’t hard, until you try and eat something. Fuel for this event was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich that I had in a ziplock bag in my jersey. I clearly wasn’t thinking about how I was going to open it while riding, so I did caveman… tore open the bag with my teeth enough that I could bite a piece off and suck it through the hole. It worked, but the peanut butter… well you know what happens when you eat peanut butter. I never tried eating one before while on the move, now I know!
The bike itself was really good, fast and fun. I settled in behind #45 for a bit and just cranked. I eventually passed him and found myself back at Ventura Harbor for T2.
T2 – Grab the Droid, stupid. Don’t Forget the Bib!
T2 was pretty fast. All I had to do was put the bike away, strip the helmet and gloves, put on the running shoes, and go. Unfortunately, I was a little concerned about finishing the race without my Droid. I wanted to take pictures and video of a friend of mine finishing after me. In a last minute decision, I grabbed my water belt and crammed the Droid into it.
I started off and suddenly realized that I sill didn’t have my bib! Ugh. Run back, where is it? Its under the shirt that I didn’t put on as I decided at the last minute just wear the jersey. With the bib on, it was time to run.
Run – The Pain and the Surprise!
Starting the run, I quickly learned that grabbing the water belt was a huge mistake. My Carpinteria Triathlon water bottle kept bouncing out of the holder. I had to stop multiple times in the first quarter mile to stop and grab it. After the third time, I just held it in my hand. Annoying, but better than stopping.
After the bike, it is always the first half mile that is the worst. Unfortunately, this run never improved. I was tired, my muscles sore and I was mentally drained. Still, I had a goal, to beat my 2009 time of 35 minutes and finish this 5k with a sub 11:00 pace. I pushed on.
Then I saw my friend, passing me on her way BACK to the finish. H0ly moly, she was kicking my butt, how did that happen? I had to catch her, despite the pain. At this point, my mental ability took a downfall. The person that I thought I would beat was ahead of me and it really made me think about the pain, the pace, and the humiliation of defeat.
I think too much. I pushed on, inspired by fellow Olympic triathletes and the fact it was only another mile. I can do this! Then I saw her. I caught up… but my legs weren’t going faster. Strategy, sometimes, is more powerful than mightiness. I decided to follow her to the finish and pass her in the last few hundred feet. It worked well, I surprised her, she took off sprinting, I took off sprinting and I passed her just in time to beat her across the finish.
As it turns out, she was one of the ones that missed the turn and was dq’d. Figures, as glorious as I was about the win, I was a little embarrassed too
I finished the triathlon in 1:37:47: 12:37 swim, 52:14 bike, 32:56 run. Placing 20 of 24 in my division and 270th overall. I know this is a repeat of the beginning of this post, but let’s look at what happened last year.
Last year I placed 24 of 25 in my division and 312th overall. The 2010 results definitely show improvement… and I am happy!
If you are looking for your results, follow this link to Prime Time’ website.
For an interesting account from an Olympic triathlete’s perspective, read: They Can’t Take That Away From Me…