Ice Breaker Triathlon, Granite Bay, CA – 4/15/2012
I wanted to do a Sprint distance event for my first race of the year, to shake the cobwebs off, remember how to pack, set up transition, etc. I found one that let me combine a race with visiting my sister, which was awesome.
I waffled as to whether or not to taper before the race, as I didn’t want to lose progress in my Ironman training, but also wanted to see what I could do performance-wise. I ended up doing a 50 mile bike ride the day before (instead of my training plan’s 60 miles), and I took it very easy. An added variable, though, was that I was on my brother-in-law’s bike.
I brought my bike seat with me, but I couldn’t get the pedals off my own bike, so those stayed home. This meant using flat pedals for the first time in 2 years, and straight handle bars, which felt very strange. Being without my pedals/shoes meant that all my pedaling was very quad-centric (when you’re clipped in you can pull up on the pedal, which evens out the muscle use, and makes you faster).
For my 50 mile “taper ride” (the quotes denote sarcasm, as this is NOT how one tapers), I traveled from Suisun City to Napa, via this northern route. The elevation profile revealed I’d have a bit of climbing to do:
It was a little tiring, but not that bad (though it would have killed me a couple years ago). And the views were fantastic (from flickr):
Seriously, it was two solid hours of views like that, but better. Then I had some delicious lunch w/ Sis and Bro-in-Law at the Oxbow Market, and a wee glass of the best sangria ever (from Pica Pica Maize Kitchen):
And then it was time to head back. That steep climb was considerably less awful than I thought it would be (I actually kind of liked it, which is concerning), and I couldn’t say whether the sangria helped or hindered the experience. I was having fun, at any rate.
I did get a little lost in the last few miles, though, and ended up taking a detour through scenic Rockville. I passed a massive estate which read “Villa de Madre” on the gate, and a cemetery where I spotted a tombstone reading “Figurate”, which made me giggle.
The evening was spent making sure all my race gear was in order, lubing the bike chain, eating a massive, pasta-based dinner, and going to bed around 8pm. Then it was up at 4 and out the door at 5 to make it to the race site by 6:30.
And then came the dawn (rest of the pics are credited to Sis)…
I picked up my registration packet with the numbers to affix to bike and self, and set up my transition area. I also got body-marked (bib number on the arms and hands, age on the calf), and then we watched the “Dash” racers get going (200yd swim / 6.5mi bike / 2mi run).
I also demonstrated the vital importance of flexing while applying suncreen…
A word on food. For breakfast at 4am, I had two muffins with PB and J, and two packets of oatmeal. During the drive and setup I was sipping on a 24oz bottle of Cytomax w/ a half a Nuun dropped in for extra electrolytes. I also visited the porta-john three times. And now you know.
Bang went the gun! I didn’t quite leave myself enough time to get in the water and get acclimated before the start, so I only had a couple minutes. I haven’t done any open water training yet this year (too cold!), and I’d utterly forgotten what 55 degree water feels like.
It feels like ice. Angry, mean, hostile ice, and it’s all over you, all at once, and it is trying to DROWN YOU. I spent the first several minutes of the start hyperventilating while doing a heads-up breaststroke, just waiting for my heart rate to drop so I could swim properly. That did eventually happen, and after the first turn I was warmed up enough to put on some speed. I ended up completing the swim only 11 seconds over my goal time of 17 minutes, which is fantastic considering the crappy start. Icebreaker, indeed.
The bike course was on lovely, well paved roads, but SUPER twisty, with athletes zipping along and passing each other in both directions. I don’t think I would have been much faster even if I’d been on my own bike, just because I was in near constant fear of colliding with someone. Of course, my legs were also a bit tired from the ride to Napa, but whatever.
Just after the above was taken, I passed a gal who I think was probably just starting her first lap. I said “nice day for a ride, eh?”, and she replied “It sure is!” And it was, at that.
By the time I started the run, my right knee was bothering me. It had actually started to feel tight a couple days before. I suspect I just didn’t stretch enough Thursday, and then getting on a plane just hours after a fast run Friday morning made it angry. The ride to Napa surely helped, too. In any case, it felt like it would last the 4 miles, but I knew I wasn’t going to be setting any personal records. I just kept myself moving at a steady clip, enjoying the view. And what a view it was!
The run course had WAY more climbing than the bike course, with several rocky, sandy beach climbs and a few muddy trail descents. It was absolutely gorgeous.
Shortly into the run, though, I was nearly knocked over (not really) by a 13 year old girl going twice as fast as me (yes, really). She was FLYING. I looked her up in the results… she took 3rd of the women, and 44th overall. HOLY CRAP. Kyra Hunsberger, I salute you, you terrifying little demon.
I had enough gas in me to “sprint finish” over the last hundred yards, and passed a guy two steps from the line that had just passed me a few seconds prior. I love doing that.
The finisher food was excellent, and consisted of a black bean burger patty, pasta w/ marinara, orange slices, and Oreos. Yum.
My sister had done some excellent searching in the ol’ interwebs to find a nearby Mexican restaurant with a full bar so that I could get my traditional post-race Pina Colada. She scored with Q’Bole. After downing the first Pina, I asked the waitress what was in it, hoping she’d say “vegan friendly coconut cream, of course,” but it was just milk. Drats. So next I had a beer.
swim: 17:11 / bike: 56:35 / run: 38:20
(distances: .5 / 13 / 4 miles)
placed: 21/22 in my division, 183/267 overall.