Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Big Kahuna Race Report

At the Big Kahuna Triathlon this past Sunday in Santa Cruz. That's Geoff who placed 6th in his age group. In the background is coach Duane Franks who placed 5th in his age group.

Back in college, when I was already in San Francisco having transferred from the University of Hawaii the year before, I went home to visit my parents in Honolulu. The family sport growing up was Waterskiing and of course while I was down there I went skiing with the fam. I was out of shape and into the typical college things; eating crap, staying up late, working a lot and exercising very little. Body is not ready but I get on the course and the mind takes over. It knows just how to direct the body; where to shift the weight, when to change handles, when to bend the knees, it's like riding a bike. I finish exhausted and the next day I was so friggin' sore. The mind, it doesn't forget but the body on the other hand.... "the Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak". Sunday was a bit like that.

The race was by far the worst triathlon performance I've put together:) The only reason I'm okay with it is because I went in knowing that I didn't have enough training to try a PR that day and did it anyway. I was rolling the dice, gambling that maybe I just had enough. That maybe I could make up for the lack of training with will power and endurance. Needless to say it became a sufferfest. Ha! but a good time nevertheless. I laughed during the race and I was in an even better mood once I finished. I was happy to finish and most of all I beat Serena's friend Matt. We were racing against each other.

It was a great day all around. I get into the start/transition area at 5:45AM and the first thing I hear is laughter. Several people were out testing their bikes, being loud and having a good time. A number of people were out jogging. Everyone seems relaxed. I meet up with friends and had all the time I needed to get ready. Totally laid back start.

The gun goes off and I await the start of my wave, all the waves were seperated by 7 mins. Despite having only picked up my swim training a month and a half ago (the start of my Big Kahuna training:)I felt prepared. All my training swims were in the bay with conditions much harder than the race's. I come out ahead of the swim and my T1 transition (swim to the bike) was also faster than last years. The swim finish and the bike transition is about 1/8 of a mile apart with nothing but concrete in between. This year I was smarter, I brought slippers like some of the other folks. While running in slippers ain't fun, it beat last years jog on barefeet.

I start the bike strong and in control. I reminded myself to keep it within my limits. Push hard but not to the point of trashing myself. I get passed a zillion times but I hold on to my pace. I was determined to run my own race. The bike ride was beautiful, it was on the coast along Highway 1. At one point I looked at the ocean and saw a perfect wave come in with surfers on in the water. About a quarter of a mile from the turnaround point Matt yells at me, he was already headed back to Santa Cruz. I already had it in the plan to negative split the ride so I thought I might as well chase Matt, bad move. I chased and went too hard, harder than I should have. This was the point that I lost control of my race. I knew it but gunned it anyway. I never caught Matt and with all that hard work I only managed to break even with last year's bike time. Worse, I trashed my back in the process.

On the run the legs were extremely tight at the start, took them a full 20mins to unwind but soon as they did I started noticing major pain in both sides of my lower back. Nothing sharp to signal injury but a deep down ache and pain on both sides. Imagine clamps on the sides of your lower back that would tighten when you increased speed or had to go up minor inclines. I had to walk and run, pain got really intense, it was some grade A stuff. Stretching helped and I had to do that regularly along with walking. Caught Matt after the first mile though, hehehe. He was suffering too. He was so determined not to let me catch him on the bike that I think he also over extended himself on the bike. Just a theory but he looked like I felt. We chatted briefly and I continued on. On the 9th mile and I don't know how to explain it, the pain abated by as much as 95% and I was able to increase my pace and run continuously. No problem with the legs at this point. The walking and running had them feeling great, they even said to me "What's deal yo bro? Why we goin so slow?" I caught up to a number of folks who passed me on the run which made me feel better. It was too late however to save my race but I finished strong, looking good for the cheering crowd. I managed a 2:01 (9:18 pace) for the run, a lot longer than last years 1:42.(7:50 pace). I lost time on the run but it all started on the bike. Nevertheless I saved my race from going over 6 hours and just finishing was a huge relief. My calves were starting to cramp on the last mile. I don't cramp! The last time I felt cramps was at a 100k run this year and that was because I was en route to a PR. I was never in a bad mood but there was a moment when I thought that I should scrub the rest of my season since I was such an idiot. Thankfully that low moment passed pretty quickly.

The finish was great. The first thing I did was eat, get cleaned up and got my stuff put away asap so all I had to do was hangout. After getting back to the finish line I meet up with friends, hung out with Matt and his brother Mike and met some new people. I listened to some of the live Hawaiian music, ate some more, watched people finish, took more pictures and got some sun. It was great

So this race finishes at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk. There's rides, restaurants, a rollercoaster and a whole lot of carnival type stuff. It's packed with locals and tourists, most of which didn't even know there was a triathlon going on. Walking through them to get back to the bike transition area was quite a treat. I don't wanna brag or anything but I think I got a few stares from the ladies, just not sure if they thought I looked cool in spandex or they were disgusted with all the salt and sweat, with my beat up, hunched over shuffle and glazed look in my eyes:)

For the drive home I had one of those giant Slurpee's from 711. All that sugar didn't keep me awake though. Halfway through I had to pull over and nap for 15 minutes. It was either that or jumping jacks to get the blood flowing again. I choose the nap for obvious reasons:)


  1. I can't believe you walked around in spandex! :)
    Good story, great hanging tough and even better attitude. You are ready to lecture me about it when I'll be in my sefferfest in a week.
    Where do you keep slippers for the T1? The ride sounds very pretty.

  2. Did you say cramps??
    I guess even the elites get those every now and then.

    I wont comment on the spandex :)
    Great post though.

  3. Oh, man - sorry to hear you had a bad day. That's a long time to be dragging yourself around out there when your body is hurting so badly.

    You seem like you have the right persepctive on this race, though. I'm sure you'll have better luck with the next one.

  4. I'm with Olga....spadex?!