Monday, April 8, 2013

Double Sprint Triathlon Weekend, Round 2, Macca Included

When I raced the double sprints last October after returning home from Kona, I loved it but can't say that I ever expected to be doing something like that again anytime soon. Well here we are about six months later and I've already done it again! The Huntington Beach Triathlon and the LA Tri Series Sprint Triathlon (Race #1 of the series) at Bonelli Park just happened to be on the same weekend, different days, April 6 & 7. Hmmm. The weekend after Oceanside 70.3, so not exactly ideal in terms of post-race recovery (at least for an amateur like me), but a fun challenge. That'd be three races within eight days... definitely something new for me. I say, why not test the body's limits as long as everything is holding up?

Before the weekend, I caught word that "you know who" was signed up for this second round of double sprint days as well. That person, of course, being Macca.
It's all about having fun! No.'s 1 & 2... bam!

Leading up to the sprint weekend, I can't say I was the role model of health. Anytime I finish a big race like O-side I loosen the reigns a bit and indulge a little more than normal. That includes food, drink, training, etc.... it's important for the body and mind to chill. So how that would affect the sprints? Who knows. I didn't mind, though, because I sure felt happy and content! I will give you a hint on the results with this picture (if you haven't already seen my FB, IG, Twitter... hahaha)... that things worked out ok:
Winner winner chicken dinner! :)

So the full deets on the races.... Start off by saying these two races were so drastically different and so much fun in their own unique way. Sunday's race at Bonelli was one I am familiar with; I've raced the LA Tri Series events numerous times over the years and always have had positive, fun experiences. It's a lake swim, in a nice quiet lush park area 45 miles inland from the coast, and not flat. On the flip side, Saturday's race was brand-spakin' new in Surf City USA (HB), where it's been 2+ decades since they've held a tri. This new one was put on by the same crew as the Seal Beach Tri (which was part of our first double sprint weekend), so I had no doubt it'd be solid.

The Huntington Beach Sprint Triathlon - Race #1
I love a good ol' low-key, community race that's fun for anyone from a newbie kid to, well, Macca. No pressure, interesting people, lots of smiles (after you're done grimacing in pain of course).
Everyone was family on Saturday. Macca's bike racked next to this silver trusty steed.

Macca and I discussing the gnarly swim ahead.
That said, this race was no stroll in the park, and it ended up being tougher than I even expected. For that, I freakin loved it. Every second. We arrived to the race with ample time to set up, hang out and chit chat. My mom was my sherpa for the day. Pre-race we were noticing that the waves were big and the current in the ocean seemed quite strong. Plus the buoys being set up for the swim were in different locations than on the course map. Turns out they had to change the swim course due to the rough conditions. Originally it was supposed to be a 1/2 mile point-to-point, now it was an out-and-back. Even with the change, there was still a delay in starting because the waves/current were a legitimate concern. Rumors were sparking that the entire swim was going to be cancelled. I did not want that to happen. The water was angry, but it would still be fun to battle with it!!! (Or so I thought.) Thankfully, they made the call to keep the swim, and the race got going!

Warm head, happy head. Just don't mind the getting choked part ;)
I was in the first wave, and holy shit. I was excited for the rough swim until I actually starting doing it and realizing that it was a struggle. Much more difficult than I anticipated. Picture this: Your HR is starting to soar being that it was a race, but at the same time you're forced to dive under the big waves and hold your breath, while also getting thrashed around in the waves/rip current.... For example, we started to the far left of the first buoy and within a minute I had been pulled by the current to a point where I was lined up with the buoy. After making it past the waves, it wasn't so bad until turning to head in -- arguably the scariest because you can't see the big waves sneaking up to crash on you. Let's just say I'm glad I did it and made it out in one piece! I have no idea how long the swim actually was, but I think those 10 minutes were harder than Oceanside's swim the weekend prior!
Go time!
Getting trashed. Not easy making it past those waves!
Lifeguards everywhere!

My all-time favorite race photo ever! Face says it all about that swim!
The bike was a simple out-and-back on the Santa Ana River Trail, followed by a deep-sand beach run (same format as the Seal Beach Tri). I knew by the halfway point on the bike I was sitting in first overall, so my goal became to hold that position, of course! I did not let up my effort for a second. I hit the run knowing it was going to be tough (from experience at the Seal beach Tri, which was also happened to be the last time I ran in sand, haha oops). Seriously, if the swim wasn't hard enough then the sand running would make up for that. Dang! Brutal but short and extremely good practice in maintaining form, running strong and working hard -- my average HR for the run was 174!
T2 in...
...and out!

Macca's sand running form at the finish....

....and then there's my sand-running form. Chime in sounds of "wa wa wahhhhh"

I held on to first female, making the HB Triathlon my first-ever triathlon win. A special feeling, and I got lots of love from the folks at the race making it such a nice experience! Of course, Macca won as well, so it was fun sharing all the excitement with him around. There was a good turnout of people, including even Bob Babbitt who raced, making for a fun morning of sport.
Macca, me, Bob Babbitt, Scott F., Llyod from Tri Lab.
But alas.... it was time to head home to chill and do some quick recovery tactics to gear up for the next day's race. Top on my list for fast recovery: Compex, magnesium oil, 110% Play Harder Compression (in that order), as well as a post-race meals with a good array of greens, protein, fat and carbs... and later on a beer and dark chocolate :)


LA Tri Series Sprint Tri - Race #2
As mentioned, I'm familiar with this race series and love it. They put together great events no matter what your skill level in tri. The last time I did their sprint-distance race was in 2010, when I was in darn good shape and finished in 1:16 for 1st AG, 5th overall. I've won/podiumed in my AG in the series' other race distances too. So this time I decided to be adventurous and sign up in the elite division. We had our own "elite" row, instead of Saturday's "rack wherever" format.

I was extra happy Sunday morning because John decided to do this race as well. The mood around was light, fresh and 100% stress free; can't say that's the case before a "big" race. We were all hanging out in transition, and Macca and I were talking about HB -- even he was commenting on the aggressiveness of that swim. Meanwhile, numerous people were flocking to Macca asking for photos and autographs*. I even got a little taste of some fan love too... some Endurance Planet listeners introduced themselves (as was the case Saturday), and I was actually asked for my autograph on the back of the Wheaties box featuring Macca that super-fan Andy brought to get his signature. Classic.

Finally it was time to race. The terrain at Bonelli Park reminds me of a mini Vineman course. The lake has that eerie, steamy look just like the Russian River in the morning. The bike is a lot of rolling hills through trees and natural surroundings, complete with some sections of bad road conditions like Vineman (good practice!). The run is mostly flat with some hills/inclines but nowhere near as hot and brutal as Vineman :) I plan on doing their other two races in the LA Tri Series (both get longer in distance) in my leadup for Vineman this year.
The lake. This was actually from 2010; this year it was foggy/misty.

I was honestly very amped to race even if it was just 24 hours since the last one, and I was hoping for another good result on the day. I know this race attracts some faster ladies and I'd have to dig deep. My body felt generally ok, but my hips -- hip flexors especially -- were pretty tight and feeling locked up (that liftoff from the sand run the day prior did me in). But calves/quads/hammys felt decent surprisingly -- recovery tactic success!

All the women started together, and I think I went out too hard on the swim. I found myself gasping for air within the first few minutes and really had to work hard to calm myself down but still swim strong. I did the 500 in 8:50, good not great.

The bike was a blast! I knew I was not first out of the water, so I had some ladies to try and catch. One chick passed me and I was determined to get her, but she was off like a rocket. I'm pretty sure she was the eventual winner. So I just stuck with a goal of simply hammering it. Let's see what the Shiv could do for today me baby!!! This, again, is my kind of course with all the hills, decents, turns, varying road conditions, etc.... The Shiv and I bonded super well, and I had a great ride, going a full 2:00 faster than in 2010, and averaging over 21mph. My avg HR was mid-160s, too, rather high for me, which lets me know I did work :) Watts well north of 200 average. I did, however, "forget" to drink anything more than two sips Skratch. Oops. I was better with hydration the day prior. I think a little Skratch even for a sprint is good!

I was in and out of T2 in less than a minute and my hips still felt stiff, the right side especially where I've had issues, but I kept on keeping on. After you do a half-Ironman, running a 5k (almost) seems like nothing even after doing it the day prior as well. My pace wasn't stellar (it was low 7:00s, but I wanted sub-7:00s!) so I ignored it and just went as fast as the legs would carry me. By the second mile I think the stiffness in my hips was affecting my form and my knee starting bugging me a bit. I made the call to not push much harder with my efforts to avoid the risk of hurting something worse, as I know my history with my knees and doing too much in a race to the point of injury. Not worth it.

I was running up a long incline nearing a U-turn, and at that point saw three women running shoulder-to-shoulder back down. They were freakin hammering the run and probably 1/4mi in front of me, and probably way fresher than I? Obviously they were in their own little race together, and I know how that drives you to go even harder. Meanwhile I was running alone and on knee alert. My chances of catching them weren't good, nor was I going to best my 5k time in this tri. Meh, I didn't care, I was still pretty dang happy where I was and doing what I love!

I finished a couple minutes behind that group of ladies (all three of whom really duked it out to a close, fast finish), putting me 2nd elite and 4th overall, with ~1:00 course PR too (1:15). One more podium making it 3 for 3, over eight days :)

Sorry for the lack of photos. All we had on Sunday were racers, no sherpas!
Men's podium. Second place was only 30 seconds behind Macca! Erik Nau, I believe.
As for my podium, the other girls bailed  on awards so they let me sneak up to the top spot.
A win by default! Hahaha... ;)


So what else is there to say? It was another fabulous weekend of racing, confirming even more that I love triathlon with all my heart. I am happy that my body was recovered enough to push hard in these couple sprints and not hurt myself (knee is fine today; played it smart). And I'm even more happy that my spirits were high enough to simply get me out of bed and to the starting line both mornings! Haha.
Recovery in full swing Sunday afternoon. @110PlayHarder <3 td="">

*Say what you will about Macca, but here is a guy who truly loves this sport. I've watched him quite a bit now interacting with the folks at these little races, and he is a very gracious dude and takes time to talk with everyone, sign everything, you name it. You know if someone is faking it vs. loving it, and I see him as someone who is loving it. I'm sure I haven't seen the last of him at these local races....

Case in point:
Macca greeting in a young speedy dude at the LA Tri Series Sprint. Photo courtesy

Thanks to Specialized, Skratch, Bonk Breakers, 110% Play Harder, Shimano, Lucho, family & friends for your support and understanding that I'm slightly crazy haha!


  1. I'm just cracking up at the silver bike to the right of your tri-bike!

  2. Kinda wish I had done this. Sounds like fun. And Macca seems really cool in terms of the sport -- wouldn't want to be married to him and quite possible he's an asshole -- but totally loves the sport.

  3. Wow way to go, killer races! Those waves look intimidating on that first one!

  4. I love your blog. Its seriously entertaining. Like someone else said... im kinda bummed I didnt try one of these too. What a blast!!
    My days will come sooner then later.


  5. Great summary, yeah the waves were something...lots of lifeguards.. soft sand.. Looking forward to next year already.