This past weekend was a fun-filled race weekend with two “C” races on schedule: (1) Renegade Racing Off-Road Triathlon at Bonelli Park in San Dimas, CA, and (2) Kring and Chung Newport Beach Triathlon at Newport Dunes/Back Bay. Overall, it was a great race weekend and definitely helped pinpoint my weaknesses in triathlons (more so than the IM 70.3 since these were shorter and I could see which improvements would bring me closer to a win).
Up in the Mountains: Off-Road
Ok, so maybe not necesarily up in the “mountains”, but mountain biking and trail running at Bonelli Park was as close as I got to the “mountains” this past weekend. This was the first of my two “C” races this weekend. I had decided that it’d be ok to have these two shorter races back-to-back since combined they were still far shorter than the IM 70.3.
The swim went smoothly enough. I struggled through it though, alternativing from freestyle to backstroke because I was having a hard time breathing. This is because I never practiced running into the water and starting to swim. All of my swimming training sessions always started in the water with my heartrate slowly rising. Sprinting into the water and raising my heartrate quickly was not something that I practiced before the race, and my body reacted poorly to it. I wore myself out too fast and had a hard time getting into a rhythm and catching my breathe. Luckily for me, the swim leg was actually shorter than half a mile. Not sure how long it was exactly, but I got out of the water in about 13 minutes. Probably could have gone a bit faster if I wasn’t struggling so much, but at least I finished.
The bike leg was a lot harder than I was expecting. It was a 7.5-mile loop around Bonelli Park, taking in a mixture of paved roads, fire roads, single-track, hike-a-bike, etc. Two laps for competitors doing the full triathlon, only one lap for people doing the recreational triathlon. The first couple miles were on paved roads (through the park and an RV campground), before turning onto the trail towards a major hike-a-bike section. Then it was rolling through blooming mustard. A few more climbs (where many people had to walk their bikes, though not too steep, just tired). One steep-ish paved downhill that required a “bunny-hop” over a curb to get back onto the trail (I got off and walked over it the first lap, cleared it on the second lap, but lost my balance shortly after and took my first and only fall for the weeekend). There was a nice single-track, switchback section (gradual climb) before the final (sort of) “straight-away” back to transition. Then we had to dismount, walk through transition, then head off on the second lap.
I had a lot more energy the second lap than the first, but my time wasn’t much faster. At least, I didn’t get off my bike as often on the second lap and I knew what to expect (when to shift, when to slow down for turns, etc). Passed quite a few people on the bike, but definitely wasn’t as fast as I wanted to be. The thing to work on is keeping my cadence and getting stronger on the hills. Nothing will help me get up that hike-a-bike section, but stronger legs will help with some of the more gradual inclines.
The run was also another tough one. I’ve never taken a spill while running, but if there was ever a place that it would happen, this was the trail. There were some steep, rocky descents that I had to walk/skip down to make sure I didn’t lose my balance or my grip on the ground. There were also a lot of pretty steep, rocky ascents that I had to hike up. The run was a lot slower than I had wanted, but, again, I was weak on the hills and didn’t have enough energy to pick-up speed on the descents/flats. I also got lost at one point, heading the wrong way at a fork in the road, and taking two other runners with me. We eventually found our way back to the trail, and weren’t that far off from it (maybe a hundred yards of track, probably less).
I ended up 3rd in my age group (out of six), which was great! But, there was a 20 minute gap between me and the two girls who took 1st and 2nd (and 3rd and 4th overall women). They were faster on the swim by about 4 minutes, slightly faster on the bike, and about 10 minutes faster on the run. But I’ve got high hopes for this race next year. They annouced that this will be part of the Xterra Series next year, and I’m hoping to improve a lot so that I can win. Trail running and hill training is what I really need. Getting a little faster on the swim will help, but mostly I’ll be focusing on improving my biking and running legs.
Renegade Racing Off-Road Triathlon Results:
(provided by Prime Time)
Bike Lap 1: 00:51:09
Bike Lap 2: 00:51:33
Total Time: 2:41:45
Age Group (W25-29): 3 out of 6
Overall Female: 9 out of 25
Overall: 69 out of 100
Down by the “C”: On-Road
Sunday’s race was a little bit earler, but also a little bit faster (since it’s was the same overall distance, but on the road rather than on the trails). I think I had an overall good performance, but still have room for improvement. This is another race that I want to tackle and “master” over the next year so that I’m a little bit more competitive next year.
The swim was “business as usual”. I usually practice my open-water swims at the Dunes, so it wasn’t a surprise. Like my practice swims, I had an alright time sighting heading out, but had trouble sighting and keeping a straight line once I had rounded the buoys. Also, there number of people around me totally freaked me out and made it hard to keep my rhythm. Note for next time, stay to the right of the swim wave. A few more strokes to get around a buoy is way safer and better than getting kicked in the face trying for the straightest line. (Related side note: I’ve been told this before, but if you know anything about my personality, I tend not to listen to what people tell me about training unless you are some sort of authority on the subject or until I experience it for myself).
I got out of the water in about 20 minutes, which I is what I had expected based on my 1.2-mile swim time. The bike leg was interesting. I kept an eye out for females so that I would know how many were ahead of me. I didn’t see too many, and I passed quite a few ladies along the way, so I thought I was in good shape (not to win, but to have a good finish). Then I hit a very short, but very steep, hill that was not unexpected at all. I powered my way up the hill, but left very little energy for the longer, but much less steep, hill on Eastbluff Drive. Wish I had saved some energy to power up that hill because I lost a lot of time struggling to get my legs back.
Like Saturday, this was also a two-loop course. I hit the transition area to lots of people cheering (YAY for wearing my OC Tri Club kit), which gave me some more energy for the second lap. Passed a few more people, but also got passed by some really fast guys on crazy aerodynamic bikes with disc wheels (“whoosh! whoosh!”). Oh.. and I’ve never seen such blatant drafting in a triathlon before. Unbelievable!
The run was mostly flat with only one hill. I had a hard time getting my running legs, so it was a slow run, but there were tons of people out (racers and spectators and volunteers) keeping me going and cheering me on (along with everyone else, but I like to think I’m special).
I like to think I had a strong finish, and I mustered up enough to get a good run across the finish line. The finish
“chute” was rather crowded past the finish line, and there was only water available. Oddly enough, the post-race nutrition was way over at the swim start, where the vendors and awards table were set up.
Kring & Chung Newport Beach Triathlon Results:
(provided by J-Chip USA)
Total Time: 1:41:14
Age Group (W25-29): 9 out of 30
Overall Female: 57 out of 160
Overall: 306 out of 481
The Gallery: Pictures Courtesy of MINH!