Sith Lords Revealed

Cue the catchy bass intro, super sax rift, and arpeggios on the keyboard…

Revvin’ up your engine
Listen to her howlin’ roar
Metal under tension
Beggin’ you to touch and go

At last we will reveal ourselves to the Jedi. About a year in the making, I had asked my son’s high school friend, Pat Rentz, if he would be interested in racing a triathlon relay with me. So a few months ago, we decided to give it a go and make the Spring Sprint Triathlon (May 6, 2012) the race to debut Team Sith Lords with Pat leading out on the swim, me holding on with the bike, and Jay Simbulan anchoring the run. We all wanted to win, but looming ahead was the defending winners of last year’s men’s relay, Team Jon Martin, featuring none other than Pat’s older brother and former collegiate runner, Mike.

Highway to the Danger Zone
Ride into the Danger Zone

Team Sith Lords

Team Sith Lords: Jay, Me, Pat

At last we will have revenge. The original vision for our team was to race with the two brothers. However, Mike had signed up with his team before we did. And now that this past weekend’s race is over, I would have it no other way. Instead of two young brothers, we have Pat plus two old dudes. Yes, I know. Very formidable.

The week before the race, we looked at Spring Sprint results from the past two years. According to our calculations, the race would be decided by my bike split, that is, how much of a margin (if any) would I be able to give Jay to hold off Mike on the run. Mr. Mike, able to run a 5K in the low 0:18s versus Mr. Jaybo, able to run a 5K in the low 0:20s and sub-0:20s. The strategy called for Pat to finish first out of the water, followed by me building a two-minute cushion, and Jay holding Mike off to the line.

This is how it played out (sax rift blaring in the background). Read the rest of this entry »

Striking Gold at Big Rock

Big Rock Medal

Big Rock Sprint Triathlon Medal

It was a last minute decision to enter this race, the last tri of the season. Make no mistake. My main motivation was to podium and get a shiny medal. Is that lame? Oh well, who cares, right?

I raced the Sprint event last year and missed 3rd place in my age group by 2.3 seconds. That stung, especially since I tanked out, aka didn’t go all out, for the last quarter mile. I vowed to make it a different race this time around. If I didn’t get a medal this time, it would not be because I wimped out during my sprint to the line.

Pre-race preparations starting the day before did not go well. I spent most of my Friday afternoon setting up, configuring, and all around geeking out with my new iPhone 4s that arrived in the mail. Although a good thing, needless to say, staying up late oohing and aahing over my super cool phone did not make for a good night’s sleep/rest for the race since I hurried to start packing my race bag at 9:30 PM with a wake up alarm looming at 3:00 AM, and heading out the door by 4:00 AM.

The drive was relatively uneventful save for the occasional slowing to navigate through some fog that obscured my view through the windshield. I reached the Lake Perris State Recreation Area (SRA) a little after 5:00 AM with darkness still enveloping everything. Volunteers were arriving at about the same time. I could tell that the race organizers were still setting up for the race.

That’s one of the things I like about this race. It’s so casual and laid back. Take the Transition Area. You just kinda show up and pick any spot you want, no assigned spots. And so I picked the end spot of the second rack near Bike In/Out. I set up my transition area relatively slowly under the light emanating from the narrow beam of the headlamp I wore. Setting up the area seemed automatic to me, and so I found it amusing to hear the banter going on between a n00b first-timer asking 101 questions to another more experienced female racer. The n00b had brought her one-ton mountain bike to the race. I chuckled when I heard them talking about the swimsuit with laces she was wearing and where she would change into her bike clothes after the swim.

I went for my 10-minute/1 mile warm up a little after 6:00 AM so I could be back in time for the pre-race talk and do a swim warm-up before my start time of 7:36 AM. Oh yea, if anyone has any idea why my bowels go hogwild before races, please let me know. I think I must have gone to the porta-potty seven times (and only three trips were for #1). BTW another thing I like about this race is the prayer the race director does before the race. I think it’s refreshing. Read the rest of this entry »

Out of It

That’s how I felt mentally coming into the Solana Beach Triathlon four weeks out on the flip side of Ironman Coeur d’Alene. Physically, this past week was the first week that I felt I was back at full strength, able to do regular workouts without feeling fatigued after 15 minutes. But if I had to do it over again, I definitely would not be signing up for any races for at least one month or more after completing an Ironman.

Is this the new normal when I actually sleep well before a race? Or is it a sign of waning motivation? In any case, I felt very rested waking up at 3:30 AM even if it was only five hours of sleep. Out the door at 4:45 AM with Gooberfish (racing in the Duathlon), and we still were not even close to being the first ones in line to enter Transition even at 5:15 AM. I finished setting up my transition area (in between going to the bathroom four times), then waited around for about 2.5 hours before the old fogies wave started at 8:25 AM. I chatted it up with an “old friend” (emphasis on old), Erik, from LA Fitness. We’re back in the same AG again since I turned 45; and with him being a venerable 47, we have couple of years to fan the flames of this “old rivalry”. Erik, why do you keep describing me as old?

Even as I put my wetsuit on to mozy on down to the beach for a warm-up swim, I just could not find any motivation to do this race. It wasn’t until I lined up at the front of the start line—why did I do that? Must be a glutton for punishment—that I started to feel the spark of competition again. I reviewed my three goals for this race:

  1. Swim as hard as possible without hyperventilating. (Cue Star Wars: Let go of your feelings, Luke… Fear is of the Dark Side).
  2. Kill yourself on the run (i.e. sub-7:00 minutes/mile).
  3. And yes, I’m putting it out in writing: Cross the finish line before any “old rivals”!

Read the rest of this entry »

Thunder Rolls

Encinitas Sprint TriathlonIn less than 50 days, I’ll be racing in my first full-distance triathlon at Ironman Coeur d’Alene in Idaho. Stuck in the throes of high volume training weeks was this week with only eight programmed hours of training and one little sprint race as a tune up for the big dance. I raced the Encinitas Sprint Triathlon this past Sunday, May 15th. I’m pleased with how I finished the race 12th in my AG with a time of 1:16:51.8.

Transition Area Setup: Started the morning a little annoyed with the disorganization of the race folks. Missing bike sticker in my race packet, so I made my own. Got chased around by someone asking if I needed an extra sticker. Sorry dude that I was annoyed with you and asked you to leave me alone. I guess I was frustrated that it took me over five minutes to find my AG rack. End of complaining starts here.

Swim (17:48.4): I’ll be honest. The huge waves freaked me out. Nice cross current too. We all took off to the right of the buoys to account for the current. Ran into the surf and when the water level reached my waist, I started doing the dolphin dives. Amazingly, I successfully swam out past three sets of breaking waves without swallowing any ocean water. I was surprised that the breaks weren’t that humongous. Once past the breaks I really thought the water would be much smoother, but the rise and fall of the huge swells as I swam out to the buoy made me so glad I didn’t overeat for breakfast or eat too close to race time. I don’t ever want to know what it feels like to throw up while swimming. As per usual, I felt relieved to make the turn back towards shore. Despite missing all the rough waves on the way out, I got thrashed by one wave and it shoved me down hard underneath the surface. Perhaps it was a foreshadowing of the thunder about to come.

I expected to do the swim in about 15-16 minutes, so I was a little disappointed with the time. Looking back at this race in hindsight, I have to admit that I didn’t swim as hard I could have. And that kind of pisses me off. I’ll make no excuses for myself. I let the fear of the waves and the ocean get the best of me. Just as an aside, in my first pool swim after the race, I decided to let loose and swim with extra umpf for the entire workout. I’m hoping the next time I put that wetsuit on– that I’ll take the confidence I felt in the pool swimming hard–to  swim like I know I can during a race. And maybe, just maybe my bike ride will be more about building a lead rather than trying to catch up.

T1 (2:57.4): The run up to T1 was pretty long and steep, but I liked it. I was stoked to remove my wetsuit without difficulty. I had been practicing stepping on the legs portion of the suit to get it down low. Then I sat down and removed the suit from my ankles with my hands. Yes! Something good. And I know I can get even better and faster at removing that suit in future sprint races.

Bike (33:38.9): I always feel extremely confident on my bike rides. They’ve been the most natural part of this sport for me. Granted, this 20K ride was no time trial on Fiesta Island, but nevertheless I hit it pretty hard, averaging 305 watts and 22.2 mph, definitely within my Zone 4 effort/power level. I really like this bike course along Coast Highway. Eric and I have ridden this particular stretch of road many times in our training rides.

Other than having to yell at a few other athletes to announce my intentions to pass on their left side, there were no real challenges on this bike ride. There was one dude (#55) who blocked my pass. I guess he didn’t hear me when I asked him to move over the first time. So when he was blocking me, I yelled: “Dude, you’re not allowed to block my path!”. As I passed this guy yells: “Just say so.” Whatever dude.

So as I get close to the transition area completing the first loop, #55 passes me. And this dude starts talking trash as he passes me: “Way to beat me! Nice riding.” Are you serious? Saying nothing as we rounded the turn to start the second loop, he started to pull away. Whatever dude. The only thought going through my head was:

You have no idea what I am about to unleash on you.

Read the rest of this entry »

First Tri – Spring Sprint

Finally, I’m making time to write my race report about my first triathlon, the Spring Sprint in Mission Bay held on May 3, 2009. I raced AG 40-44 in the Super Sprint race: 200-m swim, 6-mile bike, 1.5-mile run.

Seriously, about two weeks before the race I could think of nothing else. While I was at work, I daydreamed about the race. When I was at the gym and training, I imagined myself going through the three routes. My poor wife had to listen to me talk about the race over and over again.

But before I get into the race details, I think it’s important to state up front one important race detail: my race outfit. LOL. For my first race, I decided to wear the MT1000d race singlet in blue by 2XU. And for you newbies like me, that’s pronounced “Two times you” not “2 X U” as I first thought.

I had given a lot of thought to my goals for this race. Honestly, my only goal was to win my age group since only a first place medal would be awarded for the Super Sprint. My personal trainer advised me to forget about that goal because I was setting myself up for disappointment. Maybe so. I knew my wife was worried because I set such a huge goal for my very first race.

I had trained hard for the last 12 weeks specifically for this race. And for the last year or so I’ve been increasing my cardiovascular fitness and physical fitness with weight training. I actually felt good about my chances even without having any prior experience.

So Team De Ocampo (my wife and I) arrived close to 6:00 AM at the South Shores Park Boat Ramp, the swim start site. I confess I was a little agitated when it appeared that race parking was diverted to the side streets across the street. So we went across the street and I struggled against negative thoughts about the race. Sounds stupid, huh? Note to self: For next year, ignore the traffic signs because there was plenty of parking in the main lot for the athletes.

Body Gliding

Body Gliding

I set up my transition area stuff, and then waited for other waves to start. I was in Wave 15. Note to self: Scope out the transition area more to become familiar with the arrows guiding the way from swim to bike and bike to run. This note to self would become very important later on after the race started. And so I put my wetsuit on to get ready.

The swim was not at all what I expected. I had to wait around for Wave 15. That’s when all us old fogies started our race. We started in the water, so I had to tread water while waiting for the official start. I was mixed in with several divisions so there were maybe 40+ people in the water at the same time.

When the gun went off, the water became a mass of splashing feet, arms, legs, and black wetsuits. Everyone was just flailing around jockeying for position. Surprisingly, I was really turned off by this mentally. I really hated all the bumping and thrashing around, even though I started very close to the front of the wave. I also swallowed two huge mouthfuls of gross sea water in the disgusting Mission Bay (sewage bay), which further deteriorated my mental outlook. By the time I rounded the first buoy, I was exhausted. Surprisingly, I reverted to just breathing on one side (my left) even though I practiced bilateral breathing for the last 12 weeks. I also found myself breathing on every stroke; again, not what I had practiced. As I passed the second buoy, I bumped into another person yet again. But finally, I could see the finish line for the swim. And I was exhausted. In my mind, I said “Screw it.” Just breathe every stroke and only your left side. Instead of going really hard at the end of the swim, I decided to slow down and catch my breath a little.

Exhausted, dazed, confused

Exhausted, dazed, confused

I later asked my wife what position I finished the race. And she estimated that I was the 6th person to finish. As I moved into T1, I was totally disoriented, exhausted, and totally on an adrenaline high. I was so discombobulated that I started following the people from other waves going into the run! I ended up in an area out of the race. Needless to say, I was very pissed off. Finally, a race official pointed me in the right direction to the T1 path. I peeled off my wetsuit, put on my helmet, sunglasses, gloves, and cycling shoes. It seemed like an eternity. I was able to put out the anger and negative thoughts about my stupid mistake after the swim. As I headed out to the bike route, all I could think about was setting the course ablaze on two wheels!

Read the rest of this entry »