Thursday, June 14, 2007

Redondo Beach Race Report

It feels like it has been a long time since my last race. I originally had not planned to do the Redondo Beach Triathlon, because I was more ambitious and wanted to do something a little harder, the Wildflower olympic distance triathlon. But illness and other unplanned events meant that training went very poorly and I simply wasn’t ready. I’m glad now that I made that choice because I was dying out there on this sprint with a very flat course. I do have an Olympic distance race coming up, the San Jose International Triathlon and so actually I thought that Redondo would be a good training event just in time to peak for San Jose two weeks later.

Because I treated the event as a training exercise it took most of the pressure off, but I was still a bit worried, partly because it seemed I had not had any good training over the winter, and because a stomach flu pretty much took me totally out the two weeks preceding the race. Just when I was supposed to be peaking I was in bed with a fever and couldn’t eat anything. I lost five pounds and when I did start up with training again I couldn’t do anything more than jog for 30 minutes.

I just told myself that it is all about pacing, and yet I also didn’t have my most important tool in pacing, my heart rate monitor. I recently purchased a Polar Power Sensor for my bike, but unfortunately I discovered that it does not communicate properly with my Polar heart rate monitor. All signs point to the power sensor and not my monitor as being the problem, but I sent them both to Polar so they could test them and find out what the deal is. So until I get them back I am without a heart rate monitor. So because of all this Redondo was a training event and a chance to learn some pacing by feel, which is probably very useful anyways.

When we arrived at the event the temperature was pretty cold and I wasn’t sure if my triskin was going to be warm enough. I had brought some arm warmers and an extra bike jersey, but ultimately I decided not to use them. In California the beach is always overcast in the mornings in the summer, but it burns up pretty quickly and so I gambled that I would be ok.

The Swim

The water was very calm. For such a short event the swim was actually pretty long at 1000 meters (about a half mile). Actually I think it may have been longer. It seemed on the long side. My group (clydes and old-timers) was pretty small so there was no real jostling for position. I got into a good groove pretty early and just kept an even pace. I was passing a few people and after a while I passed a few people in the earlier wave which made me pretty excited. My problem with open water swimming is that I tend to swim to the left and no matter how carefully I sight I seem to swim too wide of the buoys adding extra unnecessary yardage. This time it really hurt me because the swim exit was close to the pier and I thing there was a greater undertow near the pier. I was swimming and going nowhere. I saw people about ten yards to my right swimming right in, but it was like I was stuck. I picked up my pace and swam as hard as I could and still was not moving. I could look down and some plants growing on the bottom of the ocean and I wasn’t moving relative to them at all. So finally I swam sideways toward the other swimmers and then powered in to shore. The whole exercise probably added a whole 3-4 minutes to my time and left me barely able to stand as I pulled myself out of the water. My swim time was 22:10 which I was happy with, because it was at least 2.2 minutes per 100 meters and actually much faster when you consider running up the beach and swimming wide of the buoys.


I was so tired and my heart was beating so fast from the swim that I was hyperventilating and couldn’t run. I had to sit down to get my wetsuit on. Actually I thing I just used that as an excuse to sit down. This time I was trying something different. I left my bike shoes on the bike and would put them on during the ride. One of considerations I was giving to which pedal to pick for my new bike was what type of cleat is best to run in during transition. There is no good answer for this. All bike shoes are pretty bad for running (or really just walking quickly). Then I got to thinking that I have triathlon bike shoes and really the only point of having such shoes is that you can put them on while on the bike. So I figured I would take the plunge and do that. For the last few weeks, every time I came in or went out from my house on my bike I would practice getting in and out of my shoes. In fact, the day before the race I spent an hour riding around my neighborhood, and all I was doing is getting in and out of my bike shoes as fast as I could. I actually am getting pretty good at getting in and out of the shoes, but I still cannot swing my leg over the bike to switch from running to biking. I just don’t have the right balance yet and am too afraid of laying down my nice new carbon Bianchi. So I just stopped, stepped over then then pedaled away, without a running start. I wasn’t about to learn this all on race day. Unfortunately I don’t have my transition times, because the timing company is not reporting them.

The Bike

Putting my shoes on during the bike would have worked fine, but one of the Velcro straps on my shoe was partially closed. I know how it happened. I saw one of the coaches of the racer next to me on the bike rack do it. It was supposedly to keep it from touching his bike. Well excuse me, I racked my bike there first, so he should just move his own bike and should keep his damn paws off my bike. That’s what I was thinking at the time, but I had to rush off and get body marked at the time so figured I would deal with it later and then forgot. But here I am on the ride trying to get my foot into my shoe and it is all closed up. I tried to reach down and unfasten the strap, but while the shoe hangs down from the pedal it is upside down and hard to reach. I finally got it, but it probably took at least 90 second of me fiddling with it. The whole time I kept thinking, “is this really saving time or am I just extending T1 into my bike.” I don’t know.
Here you can see me before I get my feet into my shoes.

The bike course was short and fast – a two 3 mile loop course. The first thing I notice is that it was crowded with people everywhere. USAT rules require that you leave space between you and the rider in front of you unless you are passing. And if you are passing you must complete the pass in something like 7 seconds. The passed person must fall back and have the required space before attempting a pass. When that is just a ridiculous rule when you have so many people going so many different speed. There was about five different lanes of “traffic” on the course and the slower people were not always, or even often, on the right. There were little kids on their cruisers swerving every which way right in front of fast guys on their Cervelos and it was just madness. I just tried to stay to the right when I could and tried to stay out of other people’s way. I just which others were doing the same.

There was a short downhill to a roundabout in front of the pier. That was really fun. I tucked down low to get as little wind resistance as possible and tried to take the turn as fast as possible. It was pretty thrilling. Then there was a short hill to get back up where we started. Here is a picture of my climbing the hill and working hard. The lady in front of my is looking pretty good, but I think she went a bit too fast in transition because she put her helmet on backwards.

Taking my shoes off on the bike as I came into transition went smoothly with no problems. Total cycling time: 24:35. Now I believe that figure includes my time for both T1 and T2, because the timing company didn’t break those out. If it didn’t include that time it would be a slow bike at 14.6 mph. But if you estimate around 5 minutes for T1 and T2, then it comes out to around 18.4 mph which is more my speed for such as short course.


Not much to say here. Just grabbed my shoes, visor and put on my race belt. I probably went harder on the bike than I should have and my legs where feeling a bit rubbery. But I just told myself, “slow and steady” and headed out.

The Run

The run seemed to never end, even though it was only 2 miles. While a few people passed me on the bike it seemed that everyone was passing me on the run. Usually it is this time in the race that the elite women who started several waves back from me start to overtake me, and there certainly where those. But there were also the old men and even little children. Man, you know things are going bad when the little girls start whipping your butt. You go girl!

I finally made it across the finish line and was hurting pretty bad, but I was excited to have raced again and felt the rush. My run time was 20:30, which I do not believe included any transition time, because otherwise I would of have a very fast run (for me at least). As it is, it would mean 10:15 minute miles, which is on the high end for me and certainly much faster than it felt I was going. I thought I was going about 14 minute per mile pace.

Overall, I completed the event in 1:07:15. Compared to my last race I did about the same pace on the bike and the run, and improved a bit on the bike from an average speed of 17.2 mph at Malibu to about 18.4 mph (estimate). I hoped for a better improvement, but frankly I’ll take whatever I can get.

I happened to mention to another racer the fact that I will be doing an Olympic distance triathlon in two weeks and he shook his head and said, “good luck going long.” I never thought of the Olympic distance as being that long before, but after feeling how tired I was at this event, it put some fear in me and I only have one good week of training left before I have to taper, so I am making the most of it.

Special thanks to Dan Field for the race photos!

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congrats on the race! And a great race report.

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5:01 AM  
Blogger Bigun said...

hey, great job on the race - nice to see you training and posting again. Keep it up!

5:03 PM  
Blogger Jane said...

For some reason, I stumbled upon your blog when I googled "SPD vs look" pedals. What did you decide? I've always had SPDs, but curious about the other ones. Great blog by the way; I'm new to the triblogging world. Your daughter is so cute! Tell her I like her drawing!

3:23 PM  
Blogger Jane said...

I have a Valentina. The Pasquini 90 is a nice one. I considered that and also the ECM Giotto and Salvatore. So can you run in transition area in those Look pedals?

11:08 AM  

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