Date: Sunday, November 4, 2012
Location: McNear’s Beach County Park & China Camp State Park, San Rafael, CA
Synopsis: After participating in the 2012 Golden Gate Triathlon (Olympic Distance) this past January and completing a century ride with my father and step-mom in October, I had one additional triathlon scheduled for 2012: the Marin County Triathlon (Olympic Distance).
The Martin County Triathlon was a great race, and very well run. The Olympic Distance involved 1.5K swim in San Pablo Bay, followed by a 22 mile bike course through China Camp State Park and finishing with a 10K run along San Pablo Bay.
Unfortunately, due to a pretty busy work schedule through the middle of October, I did not get to train for this race like I did for the Golden Gate Triathlon – so I was a little nervous going in about being woefully underprepared. Ultimately, I had a couple of hiccups during the race and a pretty slow run due to stomach issues, but was generally pleased with my results (other than my run, which ended up pretty slow for me). My overall time was 02:30:28 with the following splits: 28:49 swim, 2:11 first transition, 1:08:31 bike, 1:00 second transition and 49:55 run. I finished 12/40 in the 30-34 age group, 49/207 in the men’s overall and 52/286 overall. A very fun day in any event!
Sarah was a great supporter and got up with me at 5:30 AM to pack my gear and head up to San Rafael – she was there the whole day and lugged around the camera for pictures!
Fortunately, the day was forecast to get up into the low 70s – so it was nice and warm in the morning for the swim. Here I am setting up my rack in the transition zone.
A couple of days before the race I had emailed some buddies about triathlons in 2013 and mentioned I was doing this one over the weekend. My friend Pat noted that he was also signed up for the Marin County Triathlon – it was a lot of fun this time doing it with someone you know.
As a side note, Pat had a great day as well as it was his first triathlon. He finished 9/40 in our age group, beating me by a three spots in our AG. We were pretty similar in our swims and bikes, and leap-frogged each other at the beginning of the run. He ultimately pulled away on the run (after impressively combating a calf cramp) as I just slowed down more with stomach cramping. Hoping to do more of these with Pat (and some other friends as well).
Talking to Pat in the swim corral.
Lining up for the swim. I was way out at the end of the group towards the edge – as I don’t like being in the middle and getting kicked and swam over. Although, there is definitely an advantage to being in the middle of the group as you can draft off other swimmers. Nevertheless, I tend to swim to the side by myself.
And we are off!
In reality, the beginning of the end of my day more or less started here. I jumped out of the gate way too fast and swam way to hard for the first 300 or so yards. I don’t know what I was thinking, other than I guess I was amped up. What was unfortunate is that as I was over swimming I quickly got a foot cramp where my toes locked up and then it went into my left calf. This was brutal as it is painful and basically renders it impossible to swim. Unfortunately I get these sometimes in the pool, but generally when pushing off the wall too hard.
Luckily, the first half of the swim is in shallow water so I was able to stand. I had to stretch it out in the water and walked/wadded for a minute or two until it would go away. I was really hesitant for this to come back when it was deeper, so I really slowed it down and swam at a relaxed pace. In reality, I should have done this from the beginning! Oh well, live and learn I guess.
I have no idea where Pat swam in the group, but based on our times he got out of the water about twenty seconds before me. Sarah got a picture of him coming out of the tunnel.
I followed soon thereafter, relieved the swim was over (as it is definitely my weak point). 28:49 swim for the 1.5K was not horrible, but not great for me based on my typical training pace. That beginning set me back a bit – but I will improve on that next time merely by starting slow and building to an easy pace.
When I ran up to transition zone I saw Pat finishing putting on his bike gear. We quickly chatted about my cramp and he was off on the bike.
Pat getting ready to go.
I followed out shortly thereafter.
On account of the slower swim, I headed into the bike thinking I wanted to make up time on a bunch of people in our age group – so ultimately I biked it pretty hard. In doing so, I was worrying about cramping up (which never happened), so I was drinking a ton of water with Hammer HEED as well as Carbo Pro. I ended up drinking more water than I wanted (about 18 oz too much based on my normal training intake), and I paid the price for this later once the run started.
You also hear not to try new products out on race day – for some reason I put scoops of Carbo Pro in my water bottles in addition to HEED (electrolyte mix). I can’t really explain why I did this – maybe because I thought I was under-trained for this so was looking for an edge? Regardless, I think the additional powder mix, coupled with higher than normal intake, ended up upsetting my stomach. This is yet another good lesson for future races, though – I am just going to stick to my 20 oz/hour with only 1.75 scoops of Hammer HEED per 20 oz. I have never had an issue with that in training, personal rides or the last race.
The bike course was fun as it had some slight elevation gains in spots, and was a lot of technical turns along the China Camp State Park coast. The bike involved 3 loops on the course. Sarah and Lucy (Pat’s wife) were standing next to one of the hill climbs. Here I am working up one of the climbs on the second loop.
Pat as well on one of the other laps.
I headed into the transition zone right behind Pat and we were both pretty quick in our transitions. I got out of the transition zone first heading into the run, but Pat was right behind me.
The run course involved a steep hill climb out of the transition (note: the bike course does too at first), and Pat passed me on the hill climb. Pat heading up at the top of the hill, with me following right thereafter.
At the top of the hill I then saw Pat off to the side – I checked in and he noted he was having bad calf cramps and was trying to stretch them out. So I headed off for the rest of the course.
The run course itself primarily involved two laps along San Pablo Bay – it was a very flat course. Unfortunately, a little further into my first lap I started to get really bad stomach cramps from all of the water and mix in my stomach. I slowed down a good bit to try and ease them. Thankfully, the pain went away, but I had to run with an uncomfortable stomach for the rest of the run. I just took it a little slower so that it would not hurt and tried to not really drink much of anything else.
After the first lap, I felt pretty good, but based on my heart rate monitor and pacing, I could tell I was moving pretty slow (as I was below my average heart rate and pace). Once again I tried to pick up the pace, but my stomach started hurting again. So I just got in a rhythm and hoped for the finish so I could stop the jostling.
Towards the last turn on the last lap, Pat caught me and passed me. He had fortunately worked out the calf cramp (as he mentioned he had torn a calf several months ago running too hard). Pat mentioned after the race that as he was stretching, there was a sports therapist right there who offered to work out the cramp. That was awesome and worked out well so he could finish!
After the steep descent back to McNear’s beach, the finish line is a cool tunnel of flags. Sarah and Lucy were waiting for us at the end.
I tried to speed it up in the tunnel – you know, just for the hard finish to impress Sarah She was cheering loud, which was really awesome!
I can tell you it felt great NOT to be running any more so my stomach would settle. Running with too much drink mix in your stomach is not recommended!
Ultimately, the weather was awesome for the race and I thought it was organized extremely well and a really fun course. It was an interesting bike and a fun run along the bay. The finish and transition zones were set up cool and the announcer and crowd were really fun. I will definitely be doing this race in the future!
Sarah and I at the end (avert you eyes for the paleness of my skin )! I was nasty sweaty, but she was a good sport for the pictures.