Los Angeles Triathlon Club
Race Report
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Club Member: Jennifer Kramer
Race: Wildflower Long Course
Distance: Half - Ironman
Race Date: 05/03/07
Submit Date: 01/30/08

wildflower long course, in one word: "holy-moly-this-course-was-tough"...some of you may notice this statement is more than just one word, but the website description of this race stated simply as "hilly" isn't quite right either. between the bike and the run, this is easily one of the toughest 1/2 ironman courses with over 1700 feet of elevation gain.


what stands out most in my mind is how much fun i had that day. it was also after this race that i realized how different i felt compared to other athletes. it seems im not nearly as competitive as i once thought. when you race sprints, there is more pressure to be fast. although this makes for a highly intense and fun race, it lasts for only a short period of time. for me, the journey of something longer....the hard work and sweat of training for hours and hours on end, the actual course of the race (landscape, nature, hills, huge bodies of water, beautiful untouched scenery...) is more gratifying and rewarding once i've accomplished my long term goal. a typical day for me is spent pursuing various activities, one after another, without any down time to enjoy....."life". i believe it's because of this, the longer the race, the better. racing long gives me no other option than to calm down, pace myself and "enjoy the ride". OR this is what i tell myself because i have a full ironman in 33 days.

a big part of what makes this race fun is that you actually camp out there. it's been nicknamed; "the woodstock of triathlons, " as 3,000 camping passes were pre-paid (tons more were purchased on-site) and approximately 35,000 people entered the park race weekend.  

as a few of us made our way down to race packet pickup, someone asked, " what's your projected race time?" to be silly, i replied nonchalantly: " 7 hours, 42 minutes and 48 seconds...why?!?!" (HOLD THAT THOUGHT)



RACE MORNING

i woke up instantly (figuratively) and fell out of bed (literally- on my race bag) at about 5:40am. a bowl of oatmeal and a bottle of gatorade later, im leaving the rv and notice all the tension in the air as people were making their way into the darkness outside of their tents. people barely spoke and already had their game faces on. we quickly made our way down to the transition area before they closed at 7:30am. ive never seen anything like it. our bike racks were pre-assigned!!! there was no reason to get down early to get a "good spot." it was more organized than any race i had ever entered.

SWIM- 1.2 miles

first off, i was bummed to read in the wildflower rule book that swimsuits were required and no "thongs" were allowed. trying not to start the race disappointed, i threw on my la tri club kit and figured it would just have to do. the water temp was 65'. not bad! i put myself in a position to hopefully get lucky (hey now), the middle to front end of the pack. the gun goes off for my wave at 9:15am and although i hit "start" on my polar, about 7 minutes into the race, my arm gets slammed by some girl and it stops. this was nothing compared to getting kicked in face and the ape girl behind me scratching at my feet with, i can only assume were perfectly manicured acrylics (wtf?). franky says "relax," so i decided to allow my obsess ive compulsive nature work to my advantage. during a race, i am generally unable to breathe bilaterally, so ..."10 breaths left, 10 breaths right and sight every 7." within a few minutes, i felt great! smooth, relaxed and calm. this all changed, though, when i rounded the buoy. lots of chop in the return so i could only breathe left or I'd ingest mouthfuls of water. it felt much longer on the return but i was still surprisingly calm...wait. what's that?!?! is that a pink cap to my right? holy sh$t...is that a blue cap passing me?!?! whaaaaa? my wave had white caps!!!! no worries, ill catch ' em on the...ummmmmm...well, so what if i don't catch them. im having fun.
total swim time- 45:09, 1487/1966 overall

T1

running into t1, i hit start again on my polar and figure to add about 50 minutes to my time. i get 1/2 my wetsuit off as i start running to my bike... uhhhhh, where is it? brainfart. i start running all over the place, lost, as if i had never been to a transition area before. it took a volunteer to direct me to my bike. i could've read the paper and cooked dinner for a family of 8 in the time it took me to find it. D'OH!
a whopping 5:00 min exactly

BIKE- 56 MILES

i can only assume that this is where wildflower gets its reputation. the ride began with a steep uphill from the lake. i was in my lowest gear seriously struggling to get my heart rate down. that was mile two...only 54 left to go. once out of the park, i really enjoyed myself until i noticed that the chapstick that is usually velcroed to my top tube is gone. total hardship, for those who know me. this particular chapstick has stuck in place for hundreds and hundreds (and hundreds) of miles and its gone within the first 10 miles of my first big race. saweeeeeeeeeet. this was about the same time that my feet were no longer numb from the swim. one thing i noticed that was very different about this race was that very few people spoke...that is of course, if you weren't riding next to stella tong. i could only assume she was saying hello to everyone. i wouldn't know; she passed me at mile 7.
 
miles 15-34 were pleasant and relatively flat, the first time i was actually able to settle into my bars and spin. i actually passed 4 people during this time, and im NOT talking about those to the side of the road who flatted either!!! (hey you fast people can just read about how the rest of us deal with being in the back of the pack- stop laughing) i was told to eat about 100 more calories/hour than i'm used to- tasted really good, but felt really awful on the run (more on that later). For those of you who read this and are not triathletes, i apologize in advance for the visual but...i had to pee by mile 30 but i decided that i could save "so much time" by just going then and there on the bike without actually stopping to use the port-a-potty. it took me two and a half miles to do it, but it was done!!! so here i am, giggling to myself at the time because i'm thinking im a "real" triathlete now...when in actuality, i couldn't be a bigger jerk-off. the whole process took me 14x longer than if i had ridden my bike to mcdonalds and stood in line to use the restroom...with 15 people ahead of me...in kentucky.

i prepared myself for the hill referred in literature as "nasty grade" from miles 42-46. although this hill sucked, it wasn't nearly as bad as i thought it would be!!! i definitely hit zones 4 and 5 at times, but i felt somewhat thrilled to pass a couple of people walking their bikes up and many riders that must've gone out too fast...all i can say is thank god for granny gear, eric from triathlon lab, who somehow spotted me in the la tri club van screaming out support when i most needed it and the poor dude dressed up as the energizer bunny at the top of the hill who gave me a good laugh. the best part of "nasty grade" ? THE DOWNHILL!!! the only thing that could've made my descent any better (white knuckling the whole time fearing death but trying desperately to lay off the brakes) was not getting hit in the face by the biggest freakin' horsefly you can image going 35 mph. yeeouuch. the last few miles were pretty uneventful, but all in all- a beautiful, albeit slow, ride.
total ride time 4:10:25, 1807/1966 overall

T2

running into t2 , i was greeted by mike gwaltney and paul ruggiero (thanks guys!) huge smiles and clapping!!! (or perhaps they weren't clapping but rather, directing me to my transition area this time) i found it right away. helmet off. cap on. fresh socks. quick spray of spf . bib # around waist, grab 2 powerbar gels and im off.
2:57

RUN- 13.1 MILES

within minutes of being fully upright and running, i begin to feel bloated and full. by mile three, i had a lot of pain in my stomach. such a strange feeling for me as my legs and mind felt amazing!!! i knew that i was running slowly so i picked out a girl running ahead to catch in order to get my mind off the pain. i played cat and mouse with this girl for almost 10 miles!!! i hated her. i was having such a tough time that i decided to walk all the inclines and run the flats and downhill. this seemed to work for me. 60% of the course is on trails and is beautiful and brutal at the same time. the hill at mile 5 was cruel. or was that mile 6? or maybe mile 7? whatever. they were all cruel. i figured that what goes up must come down, so finally when i hit the top of hill #6707 i was so excited to... WHAT'S THIS? ANOTHER HILL!?!? UGH. at some point during this race, i'd actually like to run- call me crazy. this, mixed with 4 bottles of gatorade , 2 cliff bars, 4 gu's and a few fig newtons taken in on the bike make for a very unhappy belly.

seeing jamie silber at mile 7.5...brian morri at mile 12 and gary schechner moments later in the LA TRI CLUB van asking me if i needed a ride (only one mile from the finish!!! thanks for that, gary) definitely made me forget how much my stomach hurt; if even for only a moment. as i approach lynch hill, the final descent, i realize that this must be where all the downhills went...if you can call it a descent at all...i've rappelled down cliffs that weren't this steep! either way, i went for it and finally ran a "normal" pace for the first time since the run began. i came barreling down the shoot, trying to suck in my bloated belly for the pictures, and saw the huge finish sign just before seeing stella, anna , hollywood, heather, todd and josh cheering me in from the bleachers to the right. they only waited 142 hours for me- god bless'em ...but i was done and couldn't get the smile off my face!!!
total run time- 2:39:05, 1610/1966 overall
 
T0TAL RACE TIME: 7 HOURS 42 MINUTES AND 36 SECONDS - 12 SECONDS FASTER THAN MY PREDICTED RACE TIME!!!
class rank 97/120, sex rank 378/459 ,overall 1665/1966
(there goes my $10,000 in prize money for finishing top 5 in age group, damn.)



jennifer kramer

"life is either a daring adventure or it is nothing."
helen keller

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