Sacramento Olympic Triathlon
I kicked off the 2007 triathlon season this past weekend in Sacramento. Heather and I took the time to do a little sightseeing around town and to visit with her brother and family. We made the 2 hour drive on Saturday afternoon. After checking into our hotel, we drove the super flat bike course through the industrial park surrounding the Port of Sacramento. We later discovered that the map on the race website was wrong and we missed an entire section of the bike loop. It’s a good thing we figured that out the day before the race because there were plenty of people who got confused on race day. Once we finished driving the course, we found the registration area and I picked up my race number and other usual race “stuff”.
After a quick stop to see the capitol building it was off to our favorite prerace dinner, the Olive Garden. The ritual of going to Olive Garden started with a bunch of us who did the Florida 1/2 Ironman race in Orlando. The first year we went, everyone had a good race so we decided it was Olive Garden. Next year we went back and everyone tried to remember what their “lucky” dinner selection was so they would have a repeat performance 🙂
Race morning we rolled out of bed at around 6:15AM. That’s actually not very early as race days go. Our hotel was only a couple blocks from the start of the race, so we didn’t have far to drive. We had some breakfast, checked out of the hotel and headed down to the race. I rode my bike to the race start to get my stuff organized while Heather walked to the start. She found me…in the bathroom line of course. She was nice enough to point out that she saw Steve Chavez on the way in. I have raced side by side with him in numerous races over the last few years. We are usually out of the water about the same time, back and forth on the bike and then he leaves me in the dust on the run. The guy can run like a rabbit and the crazy part is he turned 50 this year.
Heather left me to prepare and she went and scouted out a good photography spot at the swim exit. I did my usual prerace mental walk-through, making sure I hadn’t forgotten anything. There are a few things you learn over the years, the hard way; make sure and put bodyglide (a lubricant) on the back of your neck or the wetsuit leaves a nasty rash. Make sure your bike is in an easy gear, so when you hop on you don’t have to grind a seriously hard gear….stuff like that.
There were three seperate events on Sunday, a Super Sprint race, a Sprint race and the Olympic Race. All three had mass swim starts. The Olympic went last. I actually had time to see some of the Super Sprint swimmers come in before we started. The swim start was really low key. There were about 160-180 in our race and it was really hard to tell that anyone was ready to swim just seconds before the gun. I thought I was ready, but about 15 seconds after the gun I swallowed a huge mouthful of water from the Port of Sacramento and immediately wondered what that was going to do to my system 🙂 After choking for a few seconds I managed to get into a rhythm. The swim was pretty uneventful, I felt pretty strong the whole way. After turning the first buoy we headed straight into the sun, so every-time I looked up to site I couldn’t see a thing except a few swimmers in front of me. I just trusted that they were going the same direction! As I exited the water who did I see in front of me but Steve Chavez. He took his wet-suit off at the top of the boat ramp since there was a 400 yard run across stones to get to the transition area. I decided that would be easier as well and took mine off and carried it. I saw Heather snapping pictures and cheering as I ran up the boat ramp.
Because there were 3 races all of different lengths, the bike for our event turned out to be 1 “big loop” followed by 1 “small loop”. It turns out that a lot of competitors didn’t know this in advance. There were several folks who returned to transition after 1 loop and were disqualified, there were others who did 2 big loops and biked much farther than necessary. I knew this because of course Steve Chavez was right in front of me on the big loop and the next thing I knew he pulled up from behind and came up to my side on the second loop and said “I went back in early and they told me I had another loop”. Getting past all the confusion, the bike course was actually pretty nice; low traffic, super flat, nicely paved roads. There was a pretty good wind which was the only detriment, other that that it was really nice. At the big loop turnaround we had a tail wind for a few miles and I was really hauling. Then you’d turn into the wind and uggghh you didn’t feel so strong anymore!
After a quick transition, I was out on the run. I forgot to mention that Heather helped me spot the ‘best’ transition spot for my bike based on where the swim in bike in/out and run in/out where located. That’s another thing you figure out after enough races. It helps minimize the distance you have to run in transition. Anyway, I headed out and saw Heather as soon as I exited the parking lot. After about a mile I loosened up from the hour on the bike. The race went about a mile on the road, over a bridge and then 4 miles on a dirt levee before returning to the road. I felt like I was running well most of the way, but I never felt like I was running super fast. Part of the problem was there was nobody close to me the entire run. It wasn’t until the turn around at 3 miles that I was motivated to run hard on the way back. I saw some young kid close behind me and then I saw Megumi Masuda, the first female only a few minutes behind. That girl is fast!
Below is my race progress throughout the race. It looks like one of my typical races; I’m happy when the swim is over and then things get better. I ended up 6th overall and 1st in my age group. I was happy. I signed up for the race to get an idea of what kind of shape I’m in. Now I know what I need to work on.
It turns out that while I was out running like crazy, Heather, Dean, Christina and the girls were lounging around on the dock enjoying the day! Dean and the family arrived in time to see me head out on the run and then they were all at the finish line. Katie was quick to point out “Ewwww, your not wearing any socks!!” 🙂 After I collected all my stuff, we all headed to Old Town Sacramento and enjoyed some lunch. We wandered around all the shops and museums for an hour or so before Heather and I headed back to the Bay Area. All in all, it was a very fun weekend!