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August 29, 2007

santa barbara triathlon - race report

this past weekend we headed up to santa barbara to stay with our friends and race the sb tri long course on saturday. we headed out on thursday evening, just after we gave tc his last feeding for the day and ended up making wonderful time up the coast. traffic is so ridiculous now that you have to drive late at night or early in the morning to avoid the craziness in la and ventura.

anyway, we kicked around on friday, i picked up my race packet and we carbloaded with a wonderful pasta dinner. i opted to sleep on the couch friday night, since tc had been grunting most of thursday night and i didn't want him to keep me up. that was the wrong call for two reasons. first, the cats were playing with marbles on the tile floor all night and second, while the couch is comfortable, it doesn't provide the back support necessary for a relaxing night sleep. i woke up feeling okay, though, and was ready to head out come saturday morning.

i showed up at the transition area by 6am and started setting up my gear. i got everything all laid out, hit the honeybucket one last time and headed down to the start. i was really excited about the swim, since this was going to be my first legitimate open water ocean swim during a race. the swim in pendelton had been in a boat lagoon and didn't have waves or current to challenge you. the water seemed pretty calm, though, and there was no wind, so it looked like it wouldn't be too rough.

our wave started and i charged the surf and dove in quickly. and was shocked. i'd been doing weekly ocean swims in corona del mar and the water had been in the 70's, but a mere hundred miles up the coast and the water was really chilly. in the high 50's, the water quickly chilled my face. the skin got so tight and numb that it felt like i was wearing something on it. after a few hundred yards, though, i generated enough warmth for it to not bother me.

the swim was one of the roughest i've ever done, though. it was the washing machine, the whole way. just when it'd start to ease up a bit, i'd either swim into another group, or the leaders from the next wave would be catching me. there were only a couple minutes between waves, so for the mid-back pack swimmers, we were caught by the leaders of at least two waves. i didn't let it phase me much, though. i eventually tucked behind another swimmer that was a tad bit faster and i drafted off of him all the way to the turn around point. it was the first time i'd ever drafted in the water, and let me tell you, it's great. no sighting necessary! i was able to just keep my head in the water and focus on mechanics.

i popped out of the water after the mile swim in 34 minutes, a pr at that distance for me. i was ecstatic! yes, i'm a slow swimmer, but i was really pleased to have done so well on my worst leg. i headed into t1 feeling great, and was quickly on the bike with only a 2 minute transition.

the bike leg was great. i flew along and hit the really tough hills hard. there were several climbs where everyone was out of the saddle and creeping up the hill at 4-6mph. those steep climbs were grueling, but fun! i was taking accelerade on the bike, since the company provided me with product to test. this was the first time i'd ever used it while racing. training rides and runs with it had been fine, but i'd occasionally fell a tad crampy following a workout. i never really gave it much thought though.

as i neared the turn around point on the course, i noticed two things. first off, my back was really tight. this, despite my use of the aero bars and using proper body positioning. i couldn't figure out why i was so sore when i'd been doing harder rides without any back problems. the second thing i noticed was that my stomach was starting to act up. again, odd on the bike, since i'd never had problems while cycling before. as i rolled into t2 after the 34 mile leg, my stomach was feeling REALLY rough and i was trying to manage keeping from throwing up. i mean, i felt great, was alert, felt really well hydrated, but just on the verge of spewing.

t2 was quick again and within 2 minutes i was out on the run course. the legs felt okay, but i didn't want to move too fast for fear of losing breakfast and everything i'd eaten and drank on the bike. i moved along at a quick but conservative pace and skipped the fluids at the first two drink stations. by the third, i started in with water and eventually was able to drink gatorade. by mile five, i took my last gu and then hit the turn around point on the run.

kevin and loganzilla were out on the course, playing photogs and support. i'll tell you what, they REALLY know how to support a racer. they were estimating pace and distance and showing up at every spot they could hit. kevin shot tons of pics and loganzilla was all over the course with his cowbell. i'd be running along and hear the cowbell coming from behind me and they'd drive past slowly, with loganzilla hanging out the window ringing the thing wildly.

by mile seven, i was starting to come back around. as i ran across the bridge and through the park, loganzilla paced along side me, ringing his cowbell. it was the perfect pick-me-up and as i hit the road again and the long downhill to the finish, i started picking up the pace. it was a little late for me to really affect my time much, but it felt good to finally be running what i considered a decent pace. by the time i hit mile nine, i was finally feeling myself again and was hitting a pretty good pace. i ended up finishing strong and felt that i could have kept going at that pace for a while. while i didn't want to eat anything right away, the muscles still felt pretty good.

i finished the course (1mi swim, 34mi bike, 10mi run) in 3:45:16. i initially said i'd be happy to just complete in under 4 hours, but would have been ecstatic with a 3:30 finish. there's always next year! this race marks the end of my tri season, though. i'll do a sprint again on thanksgiving, but from here until next february it's all about getting the trail miles up and working on climbing long on the bike.

still, even with the stomach problems at this race, it was a great way to end the season. a beautiful course, a great event and the best support. what more could you ask for?

Posted by jeff at August 29, 2007 6:07 AM

Wow, what a race!!

And we are confident that between tc's poop and your stomach distress, regular readers will always know what is going on in your family's digestive tracts, eh??!!

Solid way to conclude the tri season...with a first in open ocean swimming!!

Way to go, jeff!!

Posted by: Joe Ely at August 29, 2007 8:29 AM

Sounds like you had a great day despite the complications - congrats!

Posted by: Dawn at August 29, 2007 9:29 AM

The smile on your face while running up that hill is priceless! Looks like you were having a lot of fun. Congrats on a great race.

Posted by: Laurie at August 29, 2007 12:46 PM

Nice race, buddy!

Posted by: Flat at August 29, 2007 1:03 PM

Great job, Jeff! Do you think that endurance drink was the source of your stomach problems? I have heard a number of people complain about it being hard to take.

Posted by: Mark at August 29, 2007 1:17 PM

Great race report! That time is outstanding. Odd distances but it sounds like a good race. Congrats!

Posted by: 21stCenturyMom at August 29, 2007 3:04 PM

ps - before your next swim start get in the water and let it fill your suit. It really cuts down on the shock factor. I pull the suit away from my neck to speed that process up - I just like to get it over with and I like to warm up in the inside of the wetsuit. It really helps.

Posted by: 21stCenturyMom at August 29, 2007 3:07 PM

damn you putting all us other parents to shame...you are just such a great athlete

Posted by: brit at August 29, 2007 4:44 PM

Great race, jeff. Just great.

Posted by: jank at August 29, 2007 6:11 PM

So if you're doing a sprint on Thanksgiving, I guess that means I'm running alone? *wink*

Posted by: tracy "htppnh" at August 29, 2007 6:31 PM

great report jeff. i corrected my info...maybe now you can send a little blog love HA!

Posted by: christine at August 31, 2007 3:38 PM

all I can say is, "WOW"!

Posted by: kurd at September 3, 2007 7:42 PM

Great race and great report, Jeff. I hope to do that one someday.

P.S. Nice going with the swim PR!

Posted by: Donald at September 4, 2007 1:16 PM

hip hip hooray for the hipster.

Posted by: david at September 4, 2007 6:03 PM

Your pics make you look altogether tough and happy. How exactly does that work?

Are you running in the Twin Peaks race events over the winter? I'm considering one of these events since I'll be in a snowy clime starting almost right now.

By the way, reference your latest blog entry, I'm so glad things are okay with tc. Kind of a scare, though, yes?

Take care!

Posted by: Meghan at September 6, 2007 5:22 PM
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