After doing my scheduled 2:30 training ride with the local race group my wife and I drove to Oxnard for the Strawberry Fields Triathlon. My fifth triathlon and third at the Olympic Distance. I stayed with my weeks training schedule going in to this race since this is a "B" race to help me feel more comfortable in race situations. It would be nice to taper a couple of days and do a "PR" but that's not the goal. I certainly wont be doing a 2 hour 30 minute training ride the day before IMAZ. The goal is to learn and boost confidence knowing my Ironman training is paying off. This is a well organized race at a nice venue. The volunteers were helpful and you get free strawberries! I would recommend this race to anyone...unless you are a very poor swimmer. As it turned out, this race was a mixed bag for me.
THE SWIMIn talking with my competitors who have done this race in the past, they have had a few years where the swim is cancelled due to surf conditions. This year when we arrived at the beach the conditions looked perfect. Athletes walk 1/4 mile south of transition swim out and then parallel the shore swimming north against the current then a right turn swim in to the beach. The transition is aprox. 200 yards from the beach. As I waited for my wave, watching the surf it seemed to get bigger. (I was in the last wave) The guy next to me in my wave said "I think a swell just came in". He was right... but it was still nothing to be fearful of but I realized my goal time of 30 minutes was out the window for sure. The gun went off and I ran to the water. I know I'm a slow swimmer and I'm learning to accept that. I don't try to keep up with anyone I just try to swim my speed. The swell seemed to be breaking far from shore and seemed to take forever for me to get to the first buoy as I fought the waves. As I started to swim north I already felt tired including my right calf muscle that was on the verge of cramping. In addition to that my bilateral breathing was helping me to take an occasional saltwater gargle when I would breath on the ocean swell side. I was swimming thinking, "that was stupid to ride so hard yesterday" I actually had the thought that I couldn't finish this swim. I was so dejected. I must have looked pretty bad because as I was swimming to shore, waves crashing around me, a lifeguard on a board came over to ask me if I was OK. At this point I was OK because even without swimming, the waves would have washed me ashore. I'm glad no one asked in the first 20 minutes of my swim...I probably would have quit. This picture says it all.GOAL TIME :30:00
ACTUAL TIME :46:03
T1No issues here. I thought the distance from the beach running in sand to the transition would slow me down but transitions across the board for this race were fast. One advantage of being a slow swimmer is that its easy to find your bike out of 400 bikes when there are only 25 bikes left in transition when you exit the water.GOAL TIME 5:00
ACTUAL TIME 3:49
THE BIKEThe bike course has you riding on roads that border strawberry fields hence the name. The roads are in good shape with a couple of overpass type of rises on them so it's basically a flat fast course with mostly light crosswinds. A good course for a fast time. It's nice to have my favorite discipline after my worst. I feel like an athlete again instead of a floundering fool. It's often what motivates me during the swim. "If I can just get to the bike..." As I started my two laps on the bike course my calf cramp during the swim was long forgotten, but my legs felt heavy from my training ride the day before. As usual I get to pass other people on the bike who are either faster swimmers than me or they are first timers doing the sprint distance. Either way its nice motivation to know I'm faster than someone at something!
GOAL TIME 1:10:00
ACTUAL TIME 1:05:36 AVG. 21.1MPH
I did stop to borrow another competitors sunscreen and made a trip to the Potty other than that, a good transition I thought. I'm still using regular shoe laces no trick laces for me.
GOAL TIME 4:00
ACTUAL TIME 3:09
I left transition with a guy who did the swim without a wetsuit and swam faster than me! I caught him at the end of the bike and we ended up leaving transition together to start the run which was great because it always motivates me to have someone to pace with. Unfortunately he started out faster than my legs wanted to go and I had no idea what the run course was like although it was advertised as flat and fast. It seems to take me a half mile to a mile before I really start feeling good transitioning from bike legs to running legs. The course was flat as advertised and I was beginning to feel better and finding my groove. I felt like a was doing a great run but it was hard to tell. I dont use my GPS in tri's and my heart rate was staying at 158 (80%) which seemed low for the effort I was putting out. After I completed my first of two loops on the course I looked at my split and saw I was running a great time. On the second lap I caught my friend I left transition with and picked up the pace as I passed him. He yelled behind me "Great run!" I was a little worried that maybe I would blow up towards the end but I managed to keep the pace steady and kick it in for the last 200 meters.
GOAL TIME :53:45
ACTUAL TIME :52:22
MILE PACE 8:03
GOAL RACE TIME 2:42:45
ACTUAL RACE TIME 2:51:01
Overall I'm happy with my race. I had a solid bike and a great run and if I would have done my goal swim of :30 minutes I would have finished 8th in my age group.
What lessons can I take away from this race? My swimming leaves much to be desired. This race was a good reality check for me that I need to work harder on my swimming and I should do some open water training swims. Something I have ignored completely. I also have not taken a single swim lesson. I'm determined not to do so. Part of it is pride but I also want to prove that anyone using free resources such as Youtube and some hard work you can finish an Ironman swim. After all, I'm not trying to compete, I'm trying to finish.