Date: September 18, 2010

Distances: Olympic distance (1.5K Swim, 40K Bike, 10K Run)

Today was the second San Diego Tri Classic, put on by Moment Cycle Sport. Last year I really enjoyed this race, and couldn’t wait to do it again this year. This year’s race was definitely much more polished with more accurate course measurements, timely start, better transition area design, and no sprint race. These were the things I thought were improved. Although there are likely to be a lot of triathletes that would have liked to see a sprint race too, I think it is much better when there is only one race on the course. The course was narrow in a couple sections, some road areas were bumpy, and there were a number of sharp turns and u-turns, but overall it was a fun and pretty safe course.

This race is located in Point Loma at Liberty Station. Liberty Station is where the Naval Training Center had been, which used to have a Navy basic training and other schools. I remember when I first was stationed here I’d see the recruits marching around the base, and we would go there sometimes to the pool or commissary. Liberty Station has retained a lot of the original architecture in their shopping center. They also have a large park there where the transitions and start/finish were located. There is also a lot of parking close by, which is actually a big plus in San Diego. I arrived at the venue shortly after 5 am. When I was setting up my transition area I met a gentleman doing his first triathlon. I gave him some suggestions and answered some questions. I kept it simple and didn’t get into many details, explaining that the first triathlon you do is the biggest learning experience you’ll have in the sport. This was definitely true for me, and I suspect it is so for most people.

The swim began right after sunrise, and was in a small part of the San Diego Bay. I used to have a boat that I would launch out of the Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD) and drive through these waters to get out to the ocean. Back then I never considered swimming in this water. It doesn’t look very clean, and they issued us a warning of potential chemicals in the sediment (“…metals, petroleum hydrocarbons, pesticides, and PCBs…”). It is interesting to see such a warning since I am learning about these and other environmental toxins right now. I decided the warning wasn’t anything different than I would have suspected being present anyway, so I just decided to not drink the water and hope for the best. I was in wave seven, starting 18 minutes after the elite wave. I didn’t hear any warning of the start, just the horn, so I wasn’t as ready as I like to be. My swimming has been feeling better since I’ve been swimming much more for almost two months now. I knew Bill Gleason was there, and that he is a fast swimmer, so when I saw someone about 10 yards ahead of me I decided to suffer a little and push it until I got on his feet. I never quite got right on him, but was close enough that I could feel the draft and see bubbles from his swimming. There were a lot of floating bodies to dodge out there, which never bother me except when they start to do a frog kick or scissor kick. I’ve been kicked hard several times before in this type of kicking and really wish people would understand that and avoid just stick to a flutter kick. There were several times I saw people kicking like that as I was passing them and I decided to push them away. I certainly wasn’t trying to annoy a swimmer that is uncomfortable in the water. It was purely self preservation.

After the turn around on the swim I was still in Bill’s draft when all of a sudden he slowed to almost a stop. I didn’t know what was going on, but later found out he was cramping. I thought he was tired of me drafting and he wanted his turn being pulled, but after I passed him I looked back and he wasn’t there. Near the last bouy I saw to my right someone in my wave passing me, so I jumped into his draft and relaxed the last bit as he pulled me in. I thought it was Bill again, but it was Chase Watts, who was wearing a LA Tri Club jersey.

The bike consisted of two loops. We rode onto Subase, where I used to be stationed for about five years. The best part of this course is that we got to ride up a steep hill on the base, McClelland Rd. It is a 0.6 mile road with average grade of 7.1%, but the main part of the hill is much steeper than that. My times for the two hill climbs were 4:00 and 4:02 (341 and 343 average watts, respectively). I stayed in the aero bars for the entire climb, and didn’t see anyone else doing that. Molly told me later that she used the aerobars for the entire climb. She also said that she’s learned to go much faster downhill after she’s seen how I descend. I mostly passed people on the climb, but I am not fast climbing hills like this. There were a couple people that passed me uphill, but I never saw them again once I passed them at the top. I didn’t see Molly on McClelland, but she was catching me on a shorter climb, and she was taunting me! It was hilarious! I loved it.

The run was completely flat. The course goes around the recruit training ship. I went to recruit training in Orlando and we had a ship just like this. I look at it now and realize how that in no way prepared me for what a real ship is like. I was pleased with my run, since I still feel my running is lagging behind the rest of my fitness. I managed to run a 6:28 average pace by Garmin, 6:40 average pace by official results.

Overall I finished first in M40-44, second age-grouper overall, and seventh overall including the pros. Macca showed up, beating Karl Bordine by six minutes, and beating me by 15 minutes. I really didn’t know what to expect since I hadn’t been on the bike all week after my 252 mile ride last Saturday, and my training wasn’t very good since I had extra driving up to UCLA this week.

I have to start thinking about race day nutrition again. Today I ate about 700 calories prior to the race over an hour and a half, finishing 30 minutes prior to race start. I don’t think I needed that many calories, but tend to eat a little extra with the pre-race anxiety. During the race I took in zero calories, and only had three small sips of water during the run. This was plenty. I saw people with multiple water bottles filled with sports drinks, and several bars and gels in their transition area. I know I eat too much, and obviously there are a lot of people out there that do too.

JT Lyons and Cory Osth, along with the rest of the Moment Cycle Sport crew, put on another great race. And of course it wouldn’t have been possible without the efforts of the many volunteers!

I forgot my camera today, so no pictures, but Kevin Koresky took a lot. Click here to see his photo gallery.