Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Malibu Triathlon Classic 2010 - Race Report

This was the big one of the year for me. I have been racing this event for the last 4 years and I see this as a great snapshot of how I am performing.

Last year I saw this race as my breakthrough event. I got on the podium for the first time, although technically I finished 4th so this was due to the podium being 5 deep. That being said, it was by far my best result and as the race was very competitive, it lit the fire that has now allowed me to focus on being competitive in the events that I enter.

Up to this point, I have had a great year so far with one second place and three age group firsts. My focus on this race was to improve on last years result.

Before the race

I like to think my pre-race routine is kind of set at the moment and I felt nice and relaxed going into my warm up. I took all of my nutrition as usual and after the mandatory pre-race talk from the race organizer Michael Epstein, I took to the water for a good warm up. The water was cold at 58 degrees F but all of our recent practice sessions this year have been similar so not long into the warm up I felt pretty comfortable. I watched the first wave head off and saw a great swim from Chris Lieto.

After the 3rd wave had set off, I made my way to the start, hooking up with fellow team mate Jamie Specht.


As the gun went off, I raced into the water. Even though I always try to start at the front, It always feels like I am a bit slow off the mark. This time was no exception.
Myself and Jamie on the right
I tackled the shallows well though and made good progress but messed up the negotiation of the first large wave and lost ground. After recovering I got into my rhythm. It felt good and fast but hit lots of traffic from the earlier waves in front. It didn't feel like it affected me much but I did need to sight nearly every stoke. I also failed to get in the tow of another swimmer which wasn't the plan either.

I rounded the last buoy and headed to the beach. I only caught a small wave and felt a little sluggish exiting the water but all in all I thought the swim went well.


I sprinted into a very long transition and did well stripping my wetsuit down to my waste with plenty of time to spare. My wetsuit had a little issue getting off over the timing belt but an extra couple of seconds using my fingers rather than the standard "stand on it" technique helped it off without too much complication. The rest of the transition was swift but I had already seen Josh exit transition at least 30 seconds in front of me and Jamie would have been long gone if his swim was to the usual standard.


The chase was on. Now was the time to try to reel my two friends in on the bike. If I hadn't done it by the end of the bike, they would both probably have me on the run so this was the crucial stage for me.

Sorting out my feet
I got up to speed pretty quickly before getting my feet strapped in. This was the first time this had gone pretty much perfectly. I negotiated the speed bumps with caution followed by the wet temporary bridge that took us under the PCH. Once out on the highway, the race was on.

The boys were nowhere in sight so at first, I did not have the confidence that I would reel them in, but about 4 miles into the course, I spotted what looked like Josh up ahead. I put in a push and closed the gap. The pass was made on a false flat I think and I made sure I had good speed to take him and open up a gap. It was not long before I passed Jamie in a similar move.

At the turn, I realized that the wind had actually been behind and was now a head wind. This was different to previous years and also my recent training.
In a way I knew this was going to be to my advantage due to my strength on the bike but it also meant that my pacing was out. There are normally climbs on the course on the way back that would allow you to treat them as 30mph+ false flats when a tail wind is present that today were transformed into pretty hefty obstacles.

As I rounded the final turn that takes us back into the beach parking lot, I looked out for Josh. It was a good 30 seconds after the turn that we passed each other. This meant that I had about a 1 minute lead.

I nearly lost it on a speed bump on the way on though as I mistimed a pass and had to bunny hop it instead of squeezing around the side. We had been warned against this and it is only because I have been practicing this on my way into work that I was able to avoid a catastrophe. It even gained me some time as I was up to nearly 30mph at the time.


My dismount went well and I made good ground through transition. My shoes went on and I chose to keep the glasses on too this time.
As I was exiting transition to head out on the run, I saw Josh coming in on the bike. This actually put me about 2 minutes ahead.


The run went well. I got into a rhythm and felt comfortable. A couple of people passed me but they were all from earlier waves so I decided to try to keep them in sight instead of trying to overtake them back.

At the turnaround, Josh didn't seem to be taking time out of me so I maintained my pace and tried to finish strong. Josh's brother Zach was also doing great at this point. He was way ahead of me from the wave before. Last year I caught him on the run but this time he was easily going to stay clear.


My Move
I put in a final kick as the finish approached just in case someone was catching. I stayed clear and out of trouble and crossed the line with my new "Simon Gowen" move.

After the race

The race felt good and at first I thought I had finished close to my target time but then I realized that I had miscalculated the finish clock and the 15 minute, wave 4 offset. I had hoped to go 4 minutes faster than last year but in fact, I was 4 minutes slower. But everything felt great. What had gone wrong.

My swim felt good but was actually over 1 minute slower than last year. In fact all of my splits were slower than last year except for my run time that was only 4 seconds quicker.

The bike course may have been slower than last year because of the head wind on the normally fast way back but the only explanation I can offer that explains the other times were a combination of back issues leading into the race and a lack of racing effort. By the latter part, I mean that I don't feel I ever really left my comfort zone and could maybe have pushed harder.


Although the times were not exactly to my liking, the podium was a much better result. Although I only finished 16th Overall, I finished 2nd in the M30-34 age group. To make things even better, Josh Wills finished only one place back in 3rd and to round off the podium, Jamie managed to pull off a great performance to grab 5th. Congratulations to Tyler Willingham for taking first place by a convincing margin.
Myself, Tyler, Josh and Jamie

Zach pulled off an equally great result grabbing 5th in the M25-29 age group  to get himself a podium position.

Lots of things to take away from the race but a great day had by all.