||Wildflower Long Course 08
||Half - Ironman
I categorize my races, like most people, as “A” and “B” effort races: “A” races are 110% PR performances and “B” races are sub 90%. The Wildflower long course was lined up to be my “B” race of the season, something I would not give a whole lot of effort to and just concentrate on having fun with my fellow club mates. My obtainable goal on paper was 5hrs 45min (give or take 5min); 38min swim, 3hr 20min bike, 1hr 45min run. Perceived effort would have been a good swim, ok bike, and a slow run. That’s a piece of cake right?
Camping with the LATC family
Part of the whole Wildflower experience is camping, and there’s no better way to enjoy the camping experience than with the LATC family. There are so many familiar faces and friendly people to meet; never a dull moment. A shout out to Lesley for keeping me company on the drive (at least when sleeping beauty was awake), Carsten for letting me sleep in his tent Friday night (it was pitch black when we arrived), and Brian for cooking up instant oatmeal for breakfast (that hit the spot). If anyone intends to get a good night sleep camping, they should seriously look into getting a good sleeping pad. In my younger days, I could lay my sleeping bag almost anywhere and sleep semi-comfortably; so I thought two yoga mats should do the trick but I was sorely mistaken. Yes, sorely mistaken!
Ah, the Lake San Antonio swim, I could only wish that all triathlons started on a pristine fresh water lake. Lake San Antonio water is much more palatable than the polluted ocean water we train in; taking accidental gulps didn’t make me feel like I’m growing a third eyeball. Hey, and no sharks! It was 30 seconds before my wave start and all I could think about was running up that rough and jagged feeling boat ramp; walking down the boat ramp was a chore.
I had a refreshed and clean feeling coming out of the water and witnessed that the more experienced athletes left their slippers on the side and now they are putting them on while they run up the boat ramp. Curse them! Luckily my feet were fairly numb from the swim and it didn’t bother me too much.
The long bike course is the highlight of Wildflower Triathlon. A 56 mile course circling the lake with the famed “nasty grade” now renamed “Heart Rate Hill” by Polar. The bike course is filled with beautiful blooming trees and flora on undulating terrain, typical of the California coastal range. The race directors did a nice job identifying the pot holes and road cracks with red squiggly lines; it helps to avoid hazards when you’re flying downhill. Love the squiggly lines! It’s too bad the entire course was filled with cracks and potholes and also the road surface was very rough. It made for riding in the aero position a very daunting task. I had to get out of the aero position several times just to rest my arms, but my arse paid the ultimate price even with a cushioned gel seat. The bike course was difficult by anyone’s standards, so I took it very slow and easy and just enjoy the scenery.
I was a bit fatigued coming off the bike course, but who wouldn’t be after a 56 mile hilly bike ride. I decided to unclip my shoes and run with my bike through the transition instead of running barefoot. The directors should consider putting down carpet on the transition area and the boat ramp. I had a very good time coming off the bike and was on pace for a 5hr 45min finish.
Feeling more tired than expected, I took it slow initially and slowly drank some Emergen-C. Drinking Emergen-C on the course was an experiment figuring my system needed vitamins and minerals instead of just electrolytes. And it worked! I felt so much better that I decided to pick up the pace. I was flying through miles 1-4, banking even more time; I wanted to keep up the good pace just to finish earlier than expected and chill at the LATC tent. It wasn’t until mile 5 that my race plans came to a crashing halt. “Are they nuts, we’re supposed to climb this!” was all I can think of as I slowed to a walk up the steep grade. I never planned on running up a steep dirt trail, and there I was wearing my racing flats I used on the Boston Marathon. Once I started hyperventilating, I knew I was about to crash (hit the wall – for marathoners). I made another mistake by running down the steep grade, now my legs were sore. I was in big trouble once again. It was déjà vu, thoughts of Oceanside came rushing back. The rest of the course was filled with lots of drama and not worth mentioning.
Total time 5:57:37
I was totally drained when I crossed the finish line. No one should ever consider the Wildflower long course as a “B” effort event. The long course requires preparation, perseverance, and the utmost determination just to complete the race. I was huddled over a red bucket filed with orange slices on ice, one hand on the bucket and the other hand grabbing oranges. I must have downed about 20 slices and kept pace with the lady cutting them up; for every slice she put in I took out. I wandered like a zombie around the finisher’s area until I found a chair next to the med tent; I wanted to stay visible to the first responders just in case anything happened. I dropped my water, my hat, and my towel – crashed on the chair then I took a long awaited nap…