Tuesday, September 20, 2011

2011 Pacific Coast Triathlon [RACE RECAP]

Pacific Coast Triathlon, September 11, 2011 – Second Triathlon. Distance: Sprint.

I'm such a procrastinator. I'm racing Orangeman this weekend, and just getting around to recapping last race! So… Here goes. Pre-race Saturday night we prepped our gear and ate a junk-food-inspired, but healthy and delicious meal which you should check out here.

We hit the hay early and the alarm sounded at 3:40 AM. After hustling through our breakfast and tea so we could get the show on the road, we pedaled away from our house in the pitch black. Note on riding in the wee hours: Almost everyone on the road is drunk or worse. One person passed us that couldn't have been going faster than 25 in a 50 zone. Somehow, by the power of blinding LEDs, we made it to the race unscathed! We arrived, got body-marked and headed for the transition area in the hope of snagging a nice spot in the racks. I went about setting up my area, and meeting my neighbors. 2 guys were first-timers, and amazingly enough (in my sophomore race) I helped them set up their transition areas. Nothing really hammers home a lesson like teaching it, right? There was a kid to my right with a spiffy TT bike that looked about 15; his mom was with him. He told me this was his 8th race (he came in 16th overall, incidentally… Ringer!) After quadruple-checking that all my stuff was laid out where I would find it, I headed down to the starting area with my new neighbors.


As I waited around the starting area I noticed my stomach felt full from breakfast and water. I hoped that would go away, remembering OC Tri where I felt sick on the run from over-nutrition. At some point my mom and dad found us – it's always nice to have family support! The first and second waves went off, and my wave took the starting line. The horn blew, and we all charged for the ocean – just in time for a nice set of waves around 5'. My goggles fluttered as I dove through one of the waves, and they half-filled with water. With no time to spare in such a short race, I paid as little attention as possible, and swam hard for the first buoy, trying to break free of the pack. I remember thinking of the opening scene in "Saving Private Ryan".

This was my second race, and the first time I had purposely stayed at the edge of the pack so I wouldn't have to deal with the chaos. This time I was right in the middle of a mess of neoprene-clad monkeys all fighting for position. Someone grabbed my ankle, and I snapped my leg to break free, annoyed. I rounded the first buoy, hit the gas, and my stride (ok, stroke), and worked to put distance between me and the chaos. This worked well until my group started overlapping the previous group, then it was back to the mess. With the last buoy in sight of my water-logged goggles, I kept my pace high but manageable. I rounded the last buoy and headed for shore. On the way in, I felt the water level drop and knew that I was right in the impact zone for the set that was apparently coming in. I half-bodysurfed the wave momentarily, but inevitably hit the spin-cycle, and when the wave passed I wasn't sure which way was up. Thankfully my feet hit the sand and I stripped off my cap and goggles, dizzily heading up the ramp to T1. I confess; it's pretty steep, and I walked a few yards to shake off the swim.


T1 was smooth and fast, although I had a little trouble getting my left cleat in at mount line. I keep thinking I need to learn that trick where you mount with your shoes attached and strap in later, but I use Shimano cleats and they're pretty easy to run in.


I regretted taking it easy on the bike in OC Tri, so I fully intended to hammer the bike for this race. I pulled onto the course and set to work, dropping into my aerobars, focused on staying in them as much as possible. (Weakness: usually I'm in and out of my aerobars a lot and I need to work on that.) Another racer pulled up on me and said I was riding a pace he'd try to stay with, we ended up riding together almost the whole bike leg. As I approached the first turnaround, I saw a SCC team rider that I knew, and felt I must be doing ok, because his wave went 3 minutes ahead of mine. I knew he'd increase the distance between us, but seeing someone who I know to be a VERY strong rider gave me confidence. My new friend and I leapfrogged a few times, and were riding a very similar pace, somehow finding time to banter a little. Approaching the third turnaround on the climb, but with momentum, I felt a strong shimmy in my rear wheel and my heart sank, thinking I was getting a flat. I slowed even as I climbed, and I craned my neck to see if the tire was losing air. Just then, my new friend came up on the left and said, "You're good!" It sure does pay to be nice to people on the course. That saved me a LOT of time. I realized it had been a gust of wind on my 66mm-deep TT wheels, and got back to cranking. One problem I noticed in this race was I couldn't get to my water bottles and maintain my pace, so I was a little behind the hydration curve on the bike. (Solved: Speedfil Hydration System) On the last climb, I put the pedal to the metal and dropped my buddy. I made the last turnaround, and as I approached the turnoff for T2 and unstrapped my shoes, he pulled up again saying, "I knew you'd wait for me!" I love the people in this sport. As we rode into T2 I said, "If you're a runner, I'm in big trouble." "NOPE! CHUCK TESTA!" he replied. (Ok, he didn't really say "Chuck Testa".)


I blew through T2 in just over 50 seconds, which is less than half my OCTri T2 time. That felt good, considering my sluggish OCTri transitions.


As I wrapped up T2, I heard people cheering, "GO CHRIS!" I looked up, and saw Chris Davis, who took 3rd AG OCTri 2011, and 2nd AG PCT 2010. Facebook has a funny way of making people who don't know each other recognize each other in the wild. Well, in this case, I knew who he was, at least. After OCTri, I made chasing Chris (or at least his times) a goal, figuring that if I could come in close to that, I would have a shot at a podium spot. Starting my run, He was probably 40 yards ahead, and I knew that distance would only grow, but hoped I had a chance at a podium finish! I realized I was being a little overzealous when I looked at my Garmin and was running somewhere around 6:20-6:30. That is not my pace, not yet, anyway. The run is mostly flattish, with a little roll to it, and I set myself to breathing and maintaining a decent pace. A mile or so into the run, the full stomach from earlier came back to haunt me, and I really hoped I wouldn't get sick, but resolved to keep running the same pace regardless. Shortly afterward, I was passed by my teenage rack-mate, who said, "Nice bike!" I wished him good hunting, and watched him speed away, running better than a 6:00 pace. (Yes, I verified that with the race results.) Another kid passed me over the next half-mile, running nearly as fast. It must be nice to weigh 105lbs! About 2 miles in, I passed 2 firefighters running in full fire gear in honor of 9/11, and saluted. With half a mile to go, I ran as fast as I could for the finish line without detonating my heart – I even (uncharacteristically) waved as I crossed this time! Oh yeah – I actually managed to get some water from those effing cups on the run this time!


This race was mostly for fun, but I really wanted to swing for the fence and see what happened. I came in 3rd AG and got a plaque to show for it, as well as a nifty USAT beer glass. I had a great time, met some new people, and raced with some amazing athletes. I hope I can fit this race in next year's schedule!


My first ride after PCT, Rose and I were taking an moderate pre-work spin, and at some point we were passed by a guy on a FELT that was hauling ass. I took off after him like the car-chasing dog that I am, and when I caught him near the end of the Back Bay Trail, I saw a number placard on his top-tube. Riding buddy from PCT? Found. How's THAT for coincidence? I thanked him for spotting my back wheel that day. He came in an unofficial 4th, due to a lost transponder. Maybe he got rolled by a set too.

Number Division First Name Last Name Age Sex Time Overall Sex Place Div Place Swim T1 Bike T2 Run City State
821 35-39 M Adam Zalewski 39 M 1:11:49.6 48 45 3 12:29.0 03:19.8 34:41.0 50.3 20:29.3 Costa Mesa CA


Rose said...

I'm so, so, so proud of your race. I can't wait to see where you go from here! <3

Julia said...

awesome race!!! Thanks for the report!

Lindsay said...

Wow Adam, super inspiring. And to think this is # 2! Wicked wicked awesome!