Saturday, September 21, 2019

Malibu Trip | The Triathlon


Guest post by Todd, in his own words.  Some photos are professional race photos we purchased from Finisher Pix, since I (Christine) was not able to be everywhere on the course.

The day before the race (Friday 9/13) we headed to the expo. 

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I was glad we got to see the parking situation and the course start area.  It’s hard to navigate all that for the first time at 5am.  Triathlon expos usually have a course talk-through where you learn about sharp turns, traffic crossings and the like.  I was excited that we arrived right as a talk-through was happening since I’ve never raced this course.  But it was mostly, “ride north, turn around, then ride south.”  “If you see a sign, go where it says.”

Perhaps triathlon is not the sport of geniuses.

With that done, all that was left is to prepare the gear, eat a big dinner, and relax.

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On race day we arrived on time (5:30 AM!) and I got everything set up in transition.  It was still dark. 

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A quick hour later I was in the water. 

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As usual I can’t swim straight so I went out to sea at first, then zig-zagged my way to the finish.  The upside of this route is I was mostly alone.  I didn’t suffer the usual kicks and punches from other swimmers.  But I didn’t see Matt Damon either.   And there were no nearby sharks looking for the stray swimmer so the swim was a win for me.  I felt good.  The bike and run were another story.



Athletic prowess peaks somewhere around 25 years of age.  But lots of non-professionals can improve year over year for a long time after that due to increased strength, technique, strategy, or equipment.  I’ve been on that path the last few years, each year I was a little faster than the year prior.  However it’s possible the age of improvements has ended for me.  Bring on the age of excuses.


Excuse #1:  For the first time I got a flat tire during a race.  This situation got worse when my replacement tube also failed during the refill.  I had one more spare tube and thankfully it held up.  I had to flag down another rider to borrow a CO2 cartridge because I was out of those.  That whole ordeal cost me about 16 minutes.


Aside from my flat, the bike course lived up to my expectations.  Miles of coastal road with great views.  If you’re from San Diego it reminded me of the area right south of downtown Carlsbad where the 101 is on a 20 foot cliff above the ocean and you have this great panoramic view.  Much of Malibu is like that and the bike route was wonderful.


After the ride I came out of transition and got a rare glimpse of Christine waving to me. 

I started to run that direction but the course wrangler told me this isn’t the ocean and I can’t go whichever direction I want.  He might have said “you dumb triathlete” under his breath.  So I made a hard right and started the run.  I mile and a half later I was back at the same spot and this time I got to run by Christine briefly.  And then, Excuse #2.

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It was a humid day in the mid-80s Fahrenheit.  Soon after that wave to Christine’s camera I started to feel my left quad stiffen.  The last time I ran a race on a hot & humid day the same thing happened.  On that day I walked the rest of the course to the finish.  This time I slowed before the muscle really seized up and walked for about 2 minutes.



The rest of the run went like this.  I could run 1/3-1/2 mile before one leg or the other started to tighten and I had to walk.  This cost me about 10 minutes of time.  My finishing time was 3:30.   Or 3:14 or 3:04 depending on how seriously I take my excuses.




But I have no time worries in this blonde head.  I’m not out there to achieve a personal record each time.  I prepared well and enjoyed the course.  By managing my cramps I was able to drive home without pain.  A painful 4 hour drive would have colored the whole experience in a bad way.  By being smart (take that, talk-through people) I made my memories of the Malibu tri better.

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From Christine:  Getting up at 4:40am is no joke!  But that’s the triathlon life for ya.  We made it down to the Zuma Beach parking lots and parked about a mile from the triathlon transition area, where Todd racked his bike and his gear.  All in all, we were there about six hours since we had to arrive so early to park and get into transition area.  I waited at different places for Todd during the whole race.  It was HOT!  I was not comfortable being outside in the sun for that long.  But I persevered and was rewarded with occasional glimpses of Todd coming out of transition for the bike, then for the run.  I walked over 14,000 steps that morning!  Unfortunately, due to timing mishaps, I was not at the finish line to greet Todd and take photos.  I was really bummed about that, as that is what I usually do at each triathlon.  But we saw the really nice finish line photos that Finisher Pix took, so we purchased the download package.  Now I know what he looks like crossing the line with a big smile on his face!  I’m always SO SO proud of him for each triathlon that he finishes.  His training ethics that lasts for months each year, and his perseverance during each race despite adversity in weather, temps, or other conditions always amazes me.  How he has added another finisher’s medal to his collection!


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