Thursday, September 13, 2007

Game On!

Jan and Malik finishing. Emily finishing. For the photoset click here.

My last post on the 07 Big KahunaTriathlon.

Part 1
Part 2

I was a man on a mission heading out of the transition area. I run out with club mate Helen who is on a relay team. Lots of yelling and cheering. I hear my name, friends are on the course and I am buoyed tremendously by their presence and enthusiasm. I felt great. Tightness on the legs was natural after the bike and the back was sore but not painful. After two miles the tightness subsides and my legs make the transition to running, I was clocking 8.5 minute miles at this point. As the miles progress I feel looser and better but I hold a little back for the return trip. The run is along the coast. Usually I delight in catching up to the faster swimmers and cyclists but my focus was all on the clock. Since I regained my composure I was able to relax a little, even cheered on some of my fellow athletes. I reach the halfway point on schedule. I'm excited. I pick up the pace hoping for a negative split. The finish line was pulling me home and I was no longer aiming for sub 5:36. I was gunning for sub 5:30 and flirting with the idea of a sub 5:25. Is it possible? Only if I can keep the pace or go even faster I said to myself. I was totally psyched at this point, smelling success but still cautious. "Don't count your chickens before they hatch" I thought to myself.

As in all my races, little things started to conspire against me to throw me off my game. I had a hotspot turning into a blister at the ball of my left foot. Both underarms were raw from chafing caused by the racing top. Worse I felt twinges in my left hamstring and I remember that I had not taken any salt during the race. In my haste out of T2 I left my salt pills. The overcast skies cut down on the sweating but I could tell from salt stains on my shorts and the salt on my face that I had sweat out a good amount of sodium. Was I going to cramp so close to the finish? With three miles to go I noticed my timer had stopped. My wrists had expanded a bit and while readjusting the strap I somehow inadvertently stopped the timer. It was for the best, I was checking my watch too much.

The house is about 2.3 miles to the finish. I pass it amid the cheers of friends and Scott's picture taking. I smile, show a little leg and pick it up even further knowing I'm close. My heart rate was at max and I was hurting. With one mile to go I convince myself that I will never be a good competitor/racer because I hate the pain of competition and since I also don't like the pressure of chasing after someone or some goal I should just resolve to have a good time in all my races by going slower. I was at peace with the decision but curiously don't slow down. The last 100 yards or so is on the beach. We make our way to the edge of the water where the sand is firmly packed. I pick off my final two runners, a 56 year old gent (your age is written on your calf in triathlon) and a woman who looked to be around the same age. Despite my passing them their overall time will be faster because they started their swim wave later than mine's. Inspiring. The finish chute is back up the beach in soft sand. As I come through I hear loud cheering, the kind you hear when a finish is being fought out or an athlete is being chased down by another making for an exciting finish. I've chased someone down before in the finish chute of this race, I know that sound. Ah no worries he was safe, I have a policy of not nipping someone at the finish line. I merely pulled up along side and we finished the last 5 yards together. If I was a pro fighting for a top spot it'd be a totally different matter. Anyway not looking back to see if this was indeed the case I ran up the sand. It was like running through mud but better because sand doesn't try to hold on to your shoes. Picked up my feet like I was running through hot coals. I hear my name amid the cheering and I acknowledge by shaking a half hearted victory fist. Sure enough seconds after I come through 56 yr. old male racer comes through the finish line. I finish the run in 1:45+ putting my pace at 8 minute miles. The run was 3 minutes slower than my best time on this course which was a surprise. Undoubtedly my faster bike time slowed me down a bit for the run.

My final time: 5:19:46
Where does that put me? The winning time was 4:04 the last person came in at 9:50. I'm 237 out of 817 finishers.

Hanging with friends after the race.

I quickly headed back after the finish to the transition area and got my camera. Hung out with friends, made new ones and cheered finishers. Got something to eat, drink and I took a salt tablet just in case. It was a good two hours before we finally headed for home.

Back at the transition area, it turns out that the 56 yr. old athlete who came right behind me was only two bikes over. I struck up a conversation with him, friendly chap. He came in at 5:04, second in his age group despite also spending 9 minutes fixing a flat on his bike. We laughed about our luck wished each other a good rest of the afternoon.

Originally I was going to head back to San Francisco Sunday night but decided against it and hung out with 3 other folks. We grabbed dinner, drank beer, visited another house and drank some of their red wine before heading home for some well deserved sleep. Monday morning found us all awake by 5AM - strange. Sunrise was beautiful in Santa Cruz. Jan and I were the last to head out at 7:45AM. We were reluctant to leave but work calls. To avoid heavy traffic we drove up the coast back to San Francisco.

Drinking my coffee out on the patio. Minutes before this photo was taken a woman rode by in her beach cruiser, smiling she yelled "where's your bikes". If she only knew.

I wasn't planning on doing Big Kahuna next year. I'm flirting with the idea of doing Angeles Crest 100 instead...but it was such a great time that I may just come back. Besides the possibility of having a problem free race and coming under 5:19 is hard to resist. We shall see what happens but for now I feel very good about my last triathlon for the 07 season.


  1. Anonymous8:24 AM

    good post =]
    gotta work on them punctuation marks!!
    p.s. guess who's coming in about a month-ish?

  2. Such a warrior.. Great post Rick!

    So much happening in just a 5 hour period.

    56 year tri guy huh? I don't feel so bad now.

  3. Aw, I like it! No racer you are:) So, while you're at it, I would like to go for AC next year...probably, unless I go insane and decide on Plain. Lets think it through...
    Good times, Rick, good times. You are a warrier and a fun kid together. Missing having you around already.

  4. Thanks Olgie, miss you too but the year's not over yet. I hope you continue to stay healthy and run Firetrails with us.

  5. Didn't someone just tell me that he was going to spend less time on triathlons and more time training for his ultras? ; )

  6. Wow, Rick, awesome job! You recovered and regrouped from your tire incident remarkably well, I would say. And I can't imagine running a 1:45 half marathon after all that swimming and biking. Sounds like you had a really fun weekend with friends, too.

    Way to go!

  7. Great Report Rick... way to fight for that 8min pace & ya I think I would be the same way at the finish...not plow by someone to come in 2 seconds faster- good move at the end...

    nice pics too! AC100 broooooooooooo it's ur 2008 ultra year!!

  8. Awww..what a nice guy at the finish. : ) I wouldn't want to leave either...especially from that patio! Nice job!

  9. What a great race report! Fantastic job! Very inspiring!

  10. awesome race and race report. What a half time :D.

    See you tomorrow!

  11. Sweet race, Rick. Congrats on the big PR. I might have Kahuna on my list again for next year.