Monday, May 20, 2013

Wildflower Oly 5/5/13 (Heat vs. Wind)

You can blame the lateness of this report on the fact that I don't know how to get my pictures off my camera since I usually only take pics with my phone.  I need to get better about taking pictures period but baby steps with this whole blog thing.  I am not going to do a full race review of the set-up, expo, camping etc... because I am sure anyone who knows about WF gets the gist.  It's the Woodstock of triathlons and it's amazing (see naked run and beer bong aid station).  If you're a triathlete, this race needs to be on your list, period!  It's hot and miserable and the hardest course imaginable but in the end you'll be so glad you did it.

We drove down after work on Friday night and got into the park around 10pm.  Somehow we magically found the SF tri club area (cell phones don't usually get a signal) and MFR wandered around with a headlamp to different camp fires until he found his buddy who was saving us some ground space for our tent.  We parked, set-up, met everyone and were in bed within an hour or so.  Important to point out that I was wearing a tanktop when I went to bed at 11pm that night (we'll circle back to this).  At 7am the next morning the sun was already scorching right into our mini-two-person tent so we were up.

Wildflower Housing
We had breakfast (aka instant coffee and bagel/pb) and walked the mile down to the lake to pick up our packets and watch the halfers swim and transition to the bike.  We got to see Leslie head out on the bike and then we tried to find shade.  This is always the trick with WF, what do you do the day before the race?  Since you're camping you have limited indoor options but starting a race with a crispy sunburn is never a good idea.  We opted to watch the pros transition to the run, sit by the stage and listen some music and stalk coincidentally sit right next to Lauren Fleshman, which scored us some Picky Bars and swag. Then we headed to the finish line to watch her husband,  Jesse "Threepeat" Thomas Win The Day!

Waiting on JT!

Jesse giving some fan love

Those are the only pictures I took all weekend.  It's not my strong suit but I'll work on it.  After JT fanmania, we climbed  back up to the campgrounds and set up chairs and the hammock (yep MFR has a camping hammock) in a shaded area right before Mile 8 Marker and cheered on everyone.  I cheered super loud for anyone wearing Portland gear, SF gear, TNT gear and SoCal pretty much everyone.  They all looked hot and freaking miserable so they need the extra push.  I still can't believe I ever did long course.  The only exception was when Leslie came by smiling and looked great.

After hours of cheering we got ready for the morning, watched the naked run (I actually have a pic or two of that as well but it's not that kind of blog) and had an awesome dinner of jambalaya. It was right when it started to get dark that we realized just how much the temperature was dropping.  I ended up with multiple long sleeve shirts and a huge sweatshirt on and I was still cold.  Big change from the night before.

We woke up at 6am and everyone starting panicking about the wind and temperature (easily 20 degrees colder then Sat. when we woke up).  What are you gonna do?  No matter what, everyone is dealing with the same conditions come race day.  Temp wise it was actually perfect for a triathlon but people just weren't prepared gear wise (arm warmers etc...) and the wind was the real concern.  We all ate, checked our bikes and rode down Lynch to transition.

I set up transition quickly and put my wetsuit on because I was cold.  I still had 2 hours until my wave started.  My panic didn't start until walking down the boat ramp to the lake.  You could see the buoys blowing all over the place and it looked really choppy.  I watched all the waves go off including MFRs and then even got to watch him run out of the water.  My wave started an hour after his so at least I had someone to cheer for.

Swim: 40:02 (slowest Oly swim I've ever done)
At 10:20am it was finally my turn.  Our group "warmed up" for the allotted 5 min and then they called us back out of the water.  It was way warmer in the water then it was on shore.  The horn went off and we were all running in.  I stayed towards the back and tried to avoid getting clamored.  It sort of worked but I still had a few kicks to the head etc...  It was actually great swimming out to the first buoy and I felt really good.  Then we turned right and all hell broke lose.

It was so freaking choppy.  Swells were rocking me all over the place and started to make me feel naseous.  Every time I tried to sight, a wave would come over my head and I'd swallow a bunch of water.  I tried to stay right in line with the buoys but they were blowing all over the place and people were getting pulled out left and right.  That's when the mental part kicked in, I started questioning if we/I should even be out there.  Cue the dramatic music...Is this safe?  Am I going to die out here?  Of course it seems so much worse when you're in it then it actually is.  My breath shortened and I kept trying to tred water to calm myself down.  That's when I realized that people who were backstroking (which was quite a few b/c of the chop) were passing me.  I had a little talk with myself. "Alright you have two choices.  You either pull out of this swim and feel like a failure for the rest of the day/month/year/life or you slow your breathing, put your head down and do the best you can to move forward. But you can't just sit here."  I opted for no. 2 and even though it felt like I was out there for hours and barely moving, I somehow made it to the turnaround. It was little better on the way back.  Still choppy but not as much of a straight headwind.  I climbed out of the water and walk/jogged my way up to transition.

T1 5:34 min
I felt like I had won the battle just by completing the swim.  I am a slow transitioner and this was no exception.  I was trying to hurry but was still catching my breath.  There were quite a few bikes still racked in my area (age group) which told me that others were probably having similar swims.  That gave me a little mental boost and I grabbed my bike and ran out.

Bike: 1:49:24
Getting up Lynch actually felt really good.  I just settled in and passed tons of people.  I knew it was going to be windy once we got out of the park so I had a Gu right when I crested Lynch and kept sipping on Nuun.  Overall the bike felt good for me.  This is usually my weakest event but I pushed it the entire time.  It was windy but that gave you a little tailwind on the way out.  The worst part was the turnaround.  With the tailwind I cruised into the turnaround on a slight uphill at about 19-20mph.  Once you circled the cones and it became a slight downhill the headwind hit and I was going 6 mph. Just let that sink in.  6mph...downhill and I was pushing.  KILL ME NOW!  The next couple miles were rough but once we got close to the park, I felt that given the circumstances I was having a pretty good ride.  I had another Gu around mile 20, tried not to get knocked off by the side winds, descended Lynch and into transition.

Totally faking the smile

T2: 4 min
I dismounted, ran all the way across transition and found my space easily enough.  At some point during my bike I realized I forgot to take my running hat out of my bag and lay it out.  Crap!  I debated just running without it but decided I wanted something to pull my foul lake hair out of my face.  So I had to dig for that for awhile and finally found it.  Stumbled into my shoes and grabbed my race belt and jogged out of there.

A little darker than yesterdays photos
Run:  58:35
Once you leave transition, you run straight into a staircase.  There is no easing into anything at WF.  My legs felt heavy but I just took it easy and chugged along for the first couple miles.  I walked the really steep hills and just tried to keep my pace steady the rest of the time.  I never felt great but I never felt bad, which for me is a win.  The weather was finally a positive factor since it was perfect running temperature.  Way different then the 85 degree run from long course I remember (not so fondly).  I definitely passed more people then previous triathlon running legs.  I probably could have pushed it a little more on the run but as I cruised through the campground and down Lynch, I felt good about my performance (except maybe the swim).  I ran through the finishers chute, grabbed lots of food and MFR was waiting for me right outside the gate.

All in all it was challenging, humbling and fun day!  I felt good with my race and MFR killed it.  I don't know who had it worse, the halfers with the heat or the Olys with the wind/rain crap but neither were ideal.  There is no such thing as perfect race conditions at Wildflower.  You have to earn it.  It was a good race to reignite my passion for the sport of triathlon and I am excited to experience a few more this year.  It's weird stepping back to the shorter distances but I've seen my bike and run improve already so I must being doing something right.  I did feel a little sick post race but a stop at In-N-Out quickly cured that.

Overall: 3:37:35 (my goal was 3:40)

I always love their medals.


  1. Nice work! Way to beat your goal!

  2. Good all in all!!! That is a tough call the heat vs the wind!! Fun hearing all of the details! Love the pics of JT!! Do you think he will go back next year?