Monday, May 28, 2012


Race Headquarters
I decided to put this race on my calendar this year because of its reputation of being one of the toughest half iron distance races around. The U.S. Championship course will be much more difficult than Ironman Arizona and I wanted to compete in this race to get a feel for where I'm at in my training and where my weaknesses are. Some say the Wildflower long course is nearly as difficult as a full Ironman. The 56 mile bike has 5,345 feet of elevation gain and the 13.1 mile run has over 2,000 feet of elevation gain. In comparison the U.S. Ironman Championship course will have 3,900 feet of elevation gain in its 112 miles and 2,100 feet of elevation gain for its 26.2 mile run. As you can see the Wildflower course is not for someone who doesn't like hills.

 The carrot for this race was chasing my wife Liz's course time of 6:35:43. Looking at her splits I felt I could beat her swim and bike times. The key would be gaining enough of an advantage in those disciplines to beat her run time of 2:10:27 which I was fairly confident I could do based on my recent training.  
Before I get in to my race report let me tell you that the Wildflower Triathlon is a must attend event. The venue is beautiful, the race celebrating its 30th anniversary is very well organized. It totally lives up to its reputation as the Woodstock of triathlons with over 30,000 people attending, live music, excellent food vendors with reasonable prices, tri related sports vendors and even activities for children. Nearly everyone camps or brings an RV. Even some of the Pros have been known to sleep in a tent during the weekend. It's the perfect place for a beginner or serious triathlete to race and if you bring the entire family and they will all be guaranteed a good time. The only time you may be disappointed with is your finishing time if you under estimate the difficulty of this course.

THE SWIM 1.2 Miles
First off, let me tell you that Lake San Antonio has the best tasting water I've ever swam in...and did I mention warm? This is only my 9th triathlon and only my second in the past 18 months. Although I’m more confident than I used to be, I still get butterflies. I told my wife Liz when I stop getting nervous about triathlons, that’s when I need to start doing something else. After setting up my transition I walked down to the boat ramp to prepare for my wave start. The lake was calm and peaceful with the exception of the athletes who had already started swimming.
Swim start
 It looked like the perfect morning on Lake San Antonio. After the wave started ahead of us we all had a chance to get in to the water for a quick swim before our start. The water was a comfortable 68 degrees and with the warm sun on a black wet suit it felt refreshing to get in to the lake. Back on the boat ramp we all waited for our wave start. As usual I hang toward the back of our group to stay out of the “real” swimmers way. The gun sounded and I casually stroll in to the water knowing I'm one of the slowest in the group. As I started my swim aiming for the first buoy of the rectangular course I was feeling calm and started my slow and steady stroke. At the first buoy I noticed that I was still with other swimmers in my wave and there were actually a number of people behind me. This is good! Right turn and I seemed to be sighting well as I swam a perfect line parallel to the shore. I was still getting hit and kicked occasionally by a few swimmers, another good sign that I'm at least hanging with others. Feeling more confident than ever during a swim I started pushing my pace and noticed I was catching stragglers from the wave in front. To me this was a great feeling and just boosted my confidence to swim harder. As I made my way around the final buoy I noticed I had taken a bad line and was now about 100 meters off line from what everyone else was swimming. In my haste to swim harder I sighted poorly. Lesson learned. I corrected and was in a nice groove when about 200 meters from the boat ramp my left calf cramped. Not bad but enough I had to stop, stretch it out and then swim timidly to the finish. I got out of the water looked at my watch and was so happy. I just had my fastest 1.2 mile swim and that was with a cramp and bad sighting.
Liz's Time: 54:19
Goal Time: 45:00
Actual Time: 44:01