This past weekend I completed the Wildflower Triathlon Long Course. Simply put, it was a brutal 70.3 distance race. However, it is a race that I will definitely do again and again.
The course is challenging in so many ways. The hills on the bike grind you down and the hills on the run destroy any remaining fortitude. My Garmin reported 3900′ of climbing on the bike and 1400′ on the run. And that would be enough to make the race challenging, but adding in heat and wind takes it to a whole new level. The one-death-game-over kind of level.
The swim was pleasant at 71° but as this was a shore start, my time was a little longer than average due to having to wait to get into the water since I typically hang towards the back of the pack. The run up the boat ramp was not so much fun, however and my feet weren’t accustomed to the rough concrete.
T1 was slower than I would have liked by a few minutes. Then it was off on the bike.
The ride was pleasant for the first 1.5 miles, then it was time to climb up Beach with an average grade of 8.9% for a half-mile. Thoroughly warmed up and with winds increasing, the next 38 miles of rolling hills was mostly enjoyable though it was definitely becoming much warmer and more difficult as the miles rolled by.
“Nasty Grade” was at approximately mile 41 and I thought it was actually easier than Beach road and I was surprised at the number of athletes that walked their bikes up the hill. Cresting the top were some rollers followed by a long sweeping and very fast downhill. At approximately mile 46.5, I was about 30 feet behind a group of riders going about 33mph when I was passed by a rider traveling much faster, maybe 40+mph, in the left lane. When he passes the group in front of me, he drifts over the yellow line into the right lane and clips a rider’s front wheel with his rear wheel. The clipped rider crashed very hard and I had to panic stop to avoid hitting the rider who is now laying in the road. I stopped, along with four other riders to render aid and to help direct traffic around the crash. No one had cell phones on them but eventually traveling up the hill came by and had a cell phone and called 911. The fallen rider, Tor from San Francisco, was badly shaken up but didn’t appear to have any really serious injuries. I stayed directing traffic until the EMTs arrived and then I continued my race.
By this time, I was mentally out of the race and wasn’t going to have a great bike time, so I just pushed along and kept my heart rate low. Stopping and helping was the right thing to do and I don’t regret the decision. I rolled into T2, shaken and hot, but managed to have a decent T2 even while talking about the crash with Coach Derrick, who thought I was who crashed since I was out so long.
Knowing that the run was hilly, I planned on run/walking the course. The trails, the rollers, and the big hill at mile 4 with 10% grades made for long and difficult run. I took it generally easy with a 14:15 pace and my HR was much lower than it normally would be, even with the heat so I know I could have pushed harder. A friend met up with me at mile 10, and we pushed ourselves to finish the race, and we ran the last mile at a 8:30 pace and I completed the run in 3:03:45 which isn’t much longer than my other IM70.3 runs. It was nice to have finally finished this grueling event!
I learned a number of important things during this race.
- With the heat and the dry air, I struggled to stay hydrated throughout the day. I consumed more than 180 ounces of fluid – 40 ounces of Perpetuem, 65 ounces of water, and 75 ounces of Gatorade and I poured water over my head at every opportunity on the run. I also took 6 salt tablets at T2 and ate Power Bar Energy Blasts yet I was still unable to hydrate enough.
- I forgot to eat towards the end of my bike because I wasn’t hungry and because of the crash.
- I need to train more on trails prior to doing the event again. And in heat if possible. The hilly runs up Torey Pines and La Jolla Shores helped but weren’t enough.
- Great Western Loop is a requirement on the bike before taking on WF Long. In the heat if possible as well.
My “official” time at 8:17:47 was nearly 60 minutes longer than IM 70.3 Oceanside at the end of March, mostly because of a slower bike. And WF Long is much more difficult of a race with the hills and the heat. I will prepare better for next year so I can beat my new PR!
- Overall: 08:17:47
- Swim: 00:49:36
- T1: 07:55
- Bike: 04:12:54
- T2: 03:37
- Run: 03:03:45