October 16, 2010: I had heard about this event from another Breakaway athlete. After checking it out, I thought it would be a great idea to enter this race. According to last year’s results, it was a really small event, which would mean that I might actually have a good chance of placing in the top 3 in my age group.
Originally, I had signed up for the Olympic distance event, but then I learned another Breakaway Training coach (also in my age group) might be racing it as well. At that point, I decided to do the Sprint event instead to give myself a better shot at a medal. In the end, the coach didn’t race that day, but I’m still glad I did the shorter event. I’ll explain later. I was impressed with how easy it was to switch events; it just required a simple email request. And then I received an email confirmation.
The event was held at Lake Perris State Recreation Area, in San Bernardino County near Moreno Valley, which is a little more than an hour away. I woke up race morning at 3 AM to get ready and prepare breakfast so that I could be on the road by 4 AM. Transition was supposed to open at 5:30 so I wanted to get there early since I still needed to pick up my race materials, not to mention that I always prefer the end spot on the bike rack. I found the park no problem, but it was so dark that I could not see any of the little signs pointing towards the triathlon staging area. So after about 15 minutes of being lost in a campground area, I found my way to the race site.
Transition: This race is so small and low key. The transition area was pretty much first come, first serve. I was one of the first people there, so I picked out a good spot and set up my stuff. I then checked in to the race and got my bib number and stickers. I chatted with a former student of mine from when I was a student teacher in 1993 (!). This was his second triathlon. I scoped out the various exit and entry points. The run from the swim back to the transition area was much longer than usual, at least 1/4 mile if not longer. I figured it would be a good distance for me to catch my breath after the swim.
There was a pre-race briefing given by the race director. In addition to the national anthem, it had the usual information about water temperature, road conditions on the bike course with the construction on such and such street, as well as a brief profile of the three courses. But one cool thing about the briefing was that the race director began the meeting with prayer. I thought that was awesome. We bowed our heads and thanked God for the talents and abilities he gave us to be able to race and asked for his blessings of safety for all the athletes. Super cool. After the briefing, I went for a 10-minute jog, and then hurried up to put on my wetsuit to start the swim.
Swim: The water was amazingly warm, like 72 degrees. Freshwater, no salt. Awesome. I had the best swim of any of my preceding triathlons with a 10:42 for approximately 800 yards, a little less than half a mile. That put my swim pace a 1:21/100 yards, which would explain why I felt so tired towards the end of the swim. I was wondering if there was something wrong with me because it was puzzling to me why I felt so out of breath for such a short swim. I was very glad for the long run back to T1. It gave me time to catch my breath and recover so I could hammer down on the bike segment.
Bike: For some reason in my mind, I thought the bike segment was only 9 miles long. It had a couple of hills in there, one medium hill at the beginning and one short, steep hill near the end of the route. For a 20K (12 miles), I did reasonably well at 34:34, averaging about 21 mph. By the end of the race, I would learn that I had passed most of the people in the first swim wave.
Run: My goal for the run was to do the 5K sub-7:00/mile. With a time of 22:03, it was just a little over. I definitely pushed it for most of the run, but I clearly ran out of gas towards the end. Unfortunately, I learned that the guy in front of me was 3rd to finish in my age group, and I missed passing him at the finish line by 2.3 seconds. In my gut I knew I should have started my sprint to the finish line earlier, but I waited too long and simply ran out of real estate to make a pass before he crossed the finish line.
I was pretty pleased with my swim, which took away some of the disappointment I felt from finishing 4th place by only 2.3 seconds. Just some.