Wet, Dreary, But Awesome: 2011 Carpinteria Triathlon


The Carpinteria Triathlon Sprint is the best triathlon on the central coast of California (at least according to me).  Despite heavy mist that slowly soaked everything to the core, cold air and an otherwise dreary day, the 2011 Carpinteria Triathlon is in the history books.  It is a triathlon I will be talking about for a while to come.

Here are the highlights:

Pre-Race

  • Arriving at 5:45am and getting stuck in the queue waiting for transition to open was a little insane given an 8:20 start time.
  • My transition was at the far end of the transition area, meaning I had a looonngg sprint with the bike to the bike out, but a brief sprint to the run out.
  • Despite the cold, wet weather everyone was in good spirits and I quickly setup my transition using my Gyst bag.
  • The practice went well with the water not too cold (around 62) and not very clear.
  • The GPS went dead. The old, data-geek Aric would have panicked, but the new Aric thought this was a sign from above to just trust the body and let go.

Swim (19:39)

  • Horn blew and I found myself in the pack!  Oh boy, I was actually keeping up with other athletes for a change.
  • Getting to the first buoy felt like swimming up a hill. What?
  • Rounding the first buoy, sighting was an issue, so I just followed the pack. You’d be amazed how far off course people swim, so don’t trust the legs in front of you!
  • Rounding the last buoy, the swim in took forever as my technique got so bad that I was swimming in circles.  I think I swam twice the distance.

T1 (03:21)

  • Finding transition was easy, just a few rows to the right.
  • It was hard getting the wetsuit off, it kept getting caught on my ankle and binding up.  Spent a little too much time fiddling with it.
  • The bike gear went on quickly, so off I went on my run to bike out.
  • Consistent, slow pace was the strategy running through transition.

Bike (32:22)

  • At the mount/dismount line, the first big problem.  I dropped my chain. It only took a second to get it back on, but I sliced open my thumb on the crank while doing so.  The first two miles was gushing blood.
  • Despite the blood and cold air, I settled into a pace behind another cyclist.
  • It was uphill for the first half of the course and the quads knew it.
  • I’ve mastered the art of opening sealed packages with my teeth and manipulating food one handed while cruising.  A Clif Bar was the fuel needed for the run.
  • It is amazing how much dirt one collects on their body riding down a dirty, wet road.
  • Do they make windshield wipers for sunglasses?
  • Getting passed was a regular thing, but I managed to pass a few people.
  • Getting back to T1, I felt great and was ready to take on the run.

T2 (02:26)

  • I have to run alllll the way down there?  Yep.
  • After arriving at my spot, it was a matter of racking the bike, switching shoes and grabbing the hat.
  • Out onto the run course I went.

Run (33:58)

  • I have no idea what pace I settled into, but it felt slow. Happy the GPS was dead!
  • Getting passed on both the right and left at the exact same time is a little psychologically messed up.
  • Consistent… be in the moment… the finish line isn’t going anywhere so why worry about it?
  • While I wanted to see my heart rate data and pace, I was glad the GPS died, because the body was feeling good.  I pushed it a little harder.
  • Whoa! Who put the run turn-around at City Hall?  I have to run 0.11 mile farther this year?  ugh!
  • Turning around, it was mostly down hill from here.
  • The residents are out in their lawn chairs, cheering us on! How cool is that?
  • Turning into the finish chute, I felt done.  Still, I picked up the pace for a modest finish.
  • I hope my gut isn’t hanging out in my finish line photo…  that jersey is like two sizes too small for me.

Overall, it was a really fun, exciting race.   It reminded me why I speak so fondly of the Carpinteria Triathlon.  With a final result of 1:31:46, I was pleased.  (results are posted here) From a numbers perspective, that is roughly five minutes faster than last year’s result, but still about 45 seconds away from a PR.

So, did my strategy work?  Once the GPS died and I decided to focus on relaxation and being in the moment, I think it payed off with dividends.  Not having the distraction of the data and not having to fiddle with the GPS during T1/T2 freed my mind and let me focus on what mattered.  It took me three years to figure this out, but it is a strategy to use going forward.

I am also going to spend a little time developing my tan for the next triathlon.  The combination of a pale farmer’s tan with a two sizes too small tri club jersey makes me a candidate for a triathlete make over.   In order to save myself the embarrassment of laughing grandkids, I’ll put this one near the top.

Since the Carpinteria Triathlon Sprint was my last scheduled tri of the season, I will start focusing on what my 2012 goals should be.  While I hope to better my time at both Santa Barbara and Carpinteria next year, I am also hoping to be a race director and hold a duathlon or two in 2012.

Stay tuned… things are just starting to get exciting.

Camarillo Duathlon: A Race to Never Forget


For the past three years, since the very first Camarillo Duathlon was publicized, I have had the goal of completing the course. Due to cancellations, scheduling conflicts, and even injury, I couldn’t quite get my butt down to Camarillo at the right time to get it done!  This race turned into one of those long-term achievements that happen later for a reason.

Back in early 2009 when I set the goal, the race was just an Olympic event (5k run, 20mi bike, 5k run), but today it offers a sprint (1.5mi run, 10mi bike, 1.5mi run).   So, when I arrived at Freedom Park in the wee hours of August 14, 2011, I was feeling a little like I had taken the easy road with the sprint.  Little did I know that in a matter hours, I would be on cloud 9.

Before I go too much further, I would like to commend Bill Escobar for creating this awesome event for us.  Hearing his announcements that morning, watching him interact with the public and volunteers, he demonstrated a passion for multi-sport and a level of hospitality that I haven’t seen before.  Clearly he loves what he does and I am honored to be a participant in his events.

Without further ado, here are my highlights from the event.  I will spare you the novel that I wrote earlier (you know that blow by blow narrative that is a tad long to post here, but if you want a copy of it, please email me armh31″at”gmail.com).

Run #1

Of course the start was pretty melodramatic.  We lined up and the horn blew.  The pack ran off ahead and instead of following the speedy types, I settled into my groove.  By the first turn, I was at the back of the pack, but I didn’t care.  There were plenty of aircraft to admire along the route. As long as I wasn’t last, I was doing well…. observing, strategizing, and plane spotting!

T1 & Bike

Heading into transition I felt winded and one glance at my heart rate said I had pushed the run a tad hard.  Mounting the bike, I sailed out onto the streets amongst the fields of Camarillo.  With authorities keeping those pesky cars at bay, I settled into a decent pace for the 10 mile loop.

That is until the dude in the yellow jersey passed me.  I don’t know why, but having HIM pass me turned a switch and the game was on! As hard as I tried to keep up with him, I couldn’t quite catch him… until nearly the end of the course.  Things got really interesting as I saw him up ahead and slowing down.  I easily passed him and we exchanged glances.

I thought I had him when, all of the sudden, a half mile later he goes whizzing passed me.  I turn up the speed and start chasing him down, but the zigzags back to dismount kept me from catching him.

Then he made a mistake.  He stopped a good 15 feet from the actual dismount line and I went sailing passed him again only to brake hard and stop right on the dismount line itself (a little trick I learned from an experienced triathlete).  I had 15 feet on him and I ran hard with the bike to the transition.  I still had him!

Run #2 & Finish

The Author Following the Race

With a quick switch of gear, I headed out on the run, not even looking back to see where the mister yellow jersey was. I didn’t care, I had a lead to maintain, so I kept a fast (for me) but steady pace that I was certain I could handle all the way back to the finish.  Since I had just run the same course, I knew what to expect and knew that once I was half way down the dirt road, turn on the sprint to finish.

But at the turn around, I saw that my competition had ditched the yellow jersey and wasn’t that far behind me.  I was nervous so I picked up the pace just a bit more.  Passing him, I could see in his eye that he already gave it his all.  I had won… unless I screwed up.

Hitting the dirt road was when the legs seriously started to protest. Just as I considered my options, I was passed by an older guy whom I knew was a sprint participant.  He was moving fast for his build and age, so I wasn’t about to give up my spot to him.  A little earlier than I wanted, I went into sprint mode and ran him down.

Luckily, there was a curb to run around to the finish chute, which he negotiated rather slowly compared to my more flexible maneuver.  Then it was a sprint to the finish and I beat him by two seconds.

And that was the end of a race I will never forget.

Sprint Results Plotted (courtesy TrainingMetrix)

With my overall time of 1:09:31, I was happy to see myself just ahead of the Sprint race average of 1:10:33.   That was good for 32nd place of 69 competitors.  Camarillo Duathlon Sprint Race results were plotted by TrainingMetrix (graph above is reproduced with their permission) and you can see I am just ahead of average (the red dot).

So, have I achieved that goal I set years ago?  As much as I want to say yes, I still have to finish the Olympic course and we might save that for 2012.  But with the third race of 2011 coming up on Sept. 4th, I might just give the sprint one more try in 2011!

Note: I am working compiling some video of the race (the Olympic start) and will post a video post here when it is complete.

Carpinteria Triathlon Results Posted


Hi All,

Just a quick post.  Today, I finished the Carpinteria Triathlon Sprint in 1:36:15, not exactly earth shattering, but given the crazy few weeks I’ve had, I think it is just great!

Placing 370th of 462 puts me about 20% better than the other athletes.  With a goal in 2011 of finishing in the top 50%, I have quite a bit of work to do this winter!

The results are posted on the Carpinteria Triathlon website (click “Results” on the left).   I took the liberty of plotting the Sprint course overall finish times.

2010 Carpinteria Triathlon Sprint results

The red triangle is me.  I wanted to see where I place on the graph and like it.  Note how much time is between 1st and 2nd place… a full 8 minutes!   That is impressive.

A full race report is coming soon… Cheers!

2010 Santa Barbara Triathlon Results Plotted!


As an Analyst, I love data and I love understanding patterns.  So, after finishing my 7th triathlon, the Santa Barbara Triathlon sprint, recently, I decided to do some analysis.  Check out the scatter plot below: (results here)

If you participated in this event, can you find yourself in the chart?

Seems like that group placing at the end really set themselves apart from the rest of the finishers.  Regardless of their finishing place, I am sure they had fun and I congratulate them on finishing the triathlon.

Another interesting thing is how tight the top 50 finishers are. From swim to T1, through Bike, T2 and run, the difference between places is just a matter of seconds.

Also, look at the distribution of T1 vs T2 times.  T2 seems much more consistent across the participants than T1.  Perhaps changing shoes is a much more consistent event than, say, removing a wetsuit and getting dressed.   Fascinating…

One of things that I keep hearing about this year’s event was that it was slower.  I personally took four minutes longer to finish the “same” course as last year (however, I had the flu).  So, the Analyst in me wants to prove or disprove this feeling.  Was the 2010 Santa Barbara Triathlon sprint slower than 2009?  You’ll just have to check back and see.

UCSB Triathlon is Done!


Campus Point, UCSB TriathlonYesterday, I finished the 2010 UCSB Triathlon.  It wasn’t easy, it was lonely, it was a learning experience, and yet somehow I disappeared off the results!  However, I met my first big goal of Q1 and finished my fourth triathlon and my first barefoot triathlon!  Time for celebration, relaxation and get geared up for the Morro Bay Triathlon in early June!

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, though, here is the break down of times:

Swim (800m) ~ 26:48

T1 ~ 1:34

Bike (16.93 mi) ~ 1:06:10

T2 ~ 2:34

Run (3.06 mi) ~ 36:30 (ran this wearing my lucky FiveFingers KSO)

Overall ~ 2:13:40, which puts me into 85th place of 86 competitors.  Second to last… I’ll take it!

Unfortunately, bib 371 is not listed on the official “Open” results.  I emailed the timing officials, but have not heard back.  It is very disappointing to put so much work into an event and be left off the official results.  However, glitches are always possible… (Update: There is an updated list of results at the SBTiming website here, that includes me!)

I am writing up a summary of each leg and some final thoughts, which I will share in the coming days.

For now, it is time to recover and relish in the accomplishment of finishing my longest, barefoot triathlon yet!

I also want to give a huge shout-out to Chris Petrosian, my personal trainer, who finished the LA Marathon in 4:41:49.  “Congratulations, Chris!  You are inspiration!”

Such an awesome Q1 for both of us.