Friday, May 11, 2007

Wildflower the Novel

Sunday racers celebrating with Coach Neil (one w/baby). Competition and Camaraderie.

Our club has been attending Wildflower for many years now and they got their game plan down pat. Send people down early, on Weds/Thurs to secure a large camping site for the whole club. Collect and bring down tents early, set up for members to hold down camping spot. A solid plan and it worked well, unless you roll in at 11PM on a Friday night while people are already sleeping and have no idea where your tent is. Worse you've only used the tent once (bought in Berlin for a camping trip near the Baltic Sea in former East Germany) and had no memory of what it looks like or who the maker is. Kristin, who was my ride, got us lost on the way up but I was just as culpable since I was suppose to help.

Saturday was an early rise. Getting in late and waking up early doesn't bother me much since I don't sleep much the night before races anyway but sleeping on hard ground was a bit of a pain. Was up by 6AM and down at the start by 7AM. I didn't get my morning coffee but race day excitement took care of that. I still had to register but that thankfully was painless. Race was officially off at 8AM, my wave however wasn't scheduled to start until 8:45. The ladies had to wait even longer, they started after 9. I was very relaxed and spent the time cruisin around, shot pictures of friends, etc. I was feeling great and knew I had it in me to hammer a good race. My goal was simple, come in under 6 hours. My fastest time in the long course distance was 5:36 but it was on a different easier course. All I asked for Wildflower an under 6h finish since none of my previous long course finishes have been over 6h.

Hanging with the competition, Richard from the San Franciso Tri-Club. He's using this race as a tune up for Ironman Brazil. Nice huh, vacation and a race.

Boy did it feel good, I felt smooth and the water felt great. It was uncharacteristically choppy but I adjusted fine. I'm used to choppy water. I kept telling myself, "this will be the most refreshed you'll feel all day so enjoy it while it lasts". Halfway through I started laughing underwater, I remembered the time I almost drowned in a river when I was 10 years old. Didn't know how to swim but wanted to hangout with a girl. Girls.#$%& I think about that moment often when I'm swimming, just to remind myself how far I've come. It always makes me laugh because I can't believe I'm in Triathlon now. 45 mins later I was running up the ramp. That's right 45 minutes, slow as molasses but expected. For reference the pros got it done in the low 20's, most of my friends in the low 30's. Came out feeling strong amid the cowbells and yells of support from the crowd on both sides of the chute.

Got on the bike feeling pretty mighty. The transition area is surrounded by spectators and I found the din invigorating. Man it pumped me up. The ride opens up with a climb. No biggee, just sat and cranked. No need to get too excited too early. 5 miles into the ride we left the safety of Lake San Antonio's hills and hit the open road where we were then besieged by the wind. A full on headwind, the kind that makes you want to tuck behind the person in front of you except that it's illegal. This is a no drafting race. On training weekend we bunched up in groups and took turns in the front, it wasn't even windy then. Well what can you do? I just gritted my teeth and cranked, cursed every once in awhile and it made me feel better. At mile 19 or so we turned right and the wind gave us a break. However the wind returned on the last 15 miles of the ride.The wind didn't only slow us down but it also made things a bit dangerous. After the second and largest climb of the ride was a big downhill. Normally a pretty thrilling drop, not to mention a place to make up time, I found it scary and daunting. I dropped in and the bike became hard to control. It sounded like a storm with winds shaking the bike. A couple of friends out on the course spectating mentioned that they saw several emergency vehicles at the bottom of the hill several times. On my ride I saw emergency vehicles 4 times. My biggest worry was that either a cyclist was gonna crash ahead of me or that a gust of wind would throw me off balance. Thankfully neither of that happened. Got it done in 3:13.

Started the run with legs feeling pretty tight and out of breath but that's normal for me. Things settled down pretty quickly. What I couldn't get a handle on was my heart rate. It was way up so I settled into ultra-running mode, walked and ran, walked and ran. I divided long hills into walk run sections and just walked plain walked the short steep ones. About 60% of the run is on trails, maybe even more. The hills are piddly but when you are tired and you have a time goal anything making it harder is a major pain in the a**. I stuck to the plan and slowly I got the heart rate thing under control. Aid station at mile 3-4 provided a nice distraction too, well somewhat nice. I thought it was just a joke but there truly is a naked aid station at Wildflower. Up until this point we only had girls in bikini's. Like most of the volunteer force at the race, these were Cal Poly college students. Speaking of which, the Cal Poly collegiate team was number one in the collegiate standings. Unfortunately I wasn't able to fully enjoy the sight because there were also naked guys in the crew and one of them looked like a young Homer Simpson with hair....I was disturbed and left thinking, "WHY WAS HE NAKED??!!".

On the run, coming through camp. Image courtesy of the club.

By mile 6 I was starting to get my groove. By mile 7 I passed through camp and got the cheering section of my life. I was floored. It was a total surprise, I had no idea we'd go through there. My heart rate was back up again but this time I didn't care, I only had 6 miles left. I could feel the finish and had started to believe again that I could actually achieve my time goal. I had given up halfway through the run and I abandoned it because it caused me more stress than I needed. Ironically letting go of it helped me make up a lot of time. The last mile is downhill and unless my quads are shot you can bet a fast run on the downhill for me. 10 minutes to 6h I had a mile left and all downhill, I knew I had it then. At the bottom I heard a ton of cheering and I actually thought it was for someone else, someone who was chasing me down perhaps. You know how the crowd goes wild at races when someone gets all pumped, sprints and starts running down people all the way to the finish. So I promptly moved to the right to get out of the way. I then looked over my shoulder to see who it was no one?? All the cheering was for me. Hahaha.Thank you Wildflower fans! Heard my name on the loudspeaker and the next moment someone was taking off the timing chip off my left ankle. I was greeted with a medal, fellow club mates who finished ahead of me and a wet cold towel over my shoulders. Sweet. Run time was 1:52, 8.5 minute miles. Total time for the race including transitions was 5:56:51. Pretty happy about it, now I have a time to beat next year. Ya heard me, next year. It was such a great time I plan to come back.

Wildflower Long Course
1.2 Mile Swim | 56 Mile Bike | 13.1 Mile Run = 5:56:51

On the way to retrieving my bike I ran into Donald. It was great running into him and we chatted for awhile. He seemed quite disappointed about his race but I'm glad he still had a good time. He managed to connect with a lot of bloggers. He accomplished more than racing that weekend.

My favorite event, food. Look at those glazed eyes, good thing there was coffee available after dinner.

Saturday night we had a catered dinner and a PiƱata to celebrate Cinco deMayo. The food was good but the company even better. Traded stories with the other racers and thanked those who supported us. When I first came in I got a pat in the back and offered a beer, can't beat that. Not to be out done by the naked aid station, one of the clubs camped down the road from us got naked and ran all over camp. There was a good number of them too. I wondered if some of them raced earlier and where they got the energy to keep running. The folks racing Sunday morning turned in early but most of us who already raced stayed up and hung out by the fire drinking beer, wine and eating brownies. I turned in at 11:30 and slept like a baby, this time I had the chance to inflate my air mattress.

DinnerTime.jpgNakedness.jpgOther folks having dinner and more nakedness, this time from the campers.

Sunday was spent cheering on the Short Course folks. I remember getting up and thinking to myself "thank goodness I'm not racing". A couple of folks was kind enough to share their coffee. JP, Janet and I then made the rounds on the short course camp. We greeted our racers, wished them luck and snapped a few photos. The start of their bike ride also has a hill but I think theirs is even steeper:) A bunch of us positioned ourselves there and the later on we moved down to the start of the run. All the walking and standing actually helped flushed my legs. Our athletes did very well. By 2:30PM Kristin and I were already on our way out. We beat the rush. On our way out we say the last of the last on the bike. it was very painful to see. Those folks on their return still had a 6.1 mile run ahead of them. But there they were, still fighting and making headway.

OlympicBike.jpgSpectating.jpgLynch Hill on Sunday's race, the start of the short course bike ride. Biker climbing and the gang cheering. They were out supporting us on the long course on Saturday and now it was our turn to return the favor. Nice to see the others working for a change!

It was a fantastic time. The whole camping thing throughout the weekend was a whole lot of fun. Still thinking about it days later.

This year we won the the overall club competition. We always get beat by LA Triathlon because they are a much larger club but not this year. We also came third in the 3Men + 3Women competition. Top 3 men and women in our club have their times added and compared to the other competing clubs. We lost to San Diego and LA, basically Southern California. Always next year.


  1. -spams6:39 AM

    Homer Simpson? GROSS!

  2. Great Report and Great Pictures
    Damn you look buff!

  3. Aw, nice! I mean, a dude naked is not that nice, even though I am a girl, but overall I am sure they lifted pain from runner's shoulders:) Good times!
    And, oh, man, congrats on your Quicksilver 30 min PR!!!!! WOOHOO!

  4. Rick, awesome job! Anyone who can run a half marathon in 1:52 after all that swimming and biking is a rock star in my book. Way to go!

    And I am sorry you had to encounter Homer at the naked aid station... :)

  5. Rick,

    Nice report and congrats on a strong finish! It's the first race of the year and arguably the toughest half-IM in the area so everything should feel easier moving forward. What's the next tri?


  6. Great report, Rick. I wish I could have felt as good as you did during the run.

    Nice job bagging that time goal.