This was my first attempt at a half distance triathlon this year. The race comprised of a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike and 13 mile run. I felt very confident going into this race because my performances in previous races this year were better than expected!
In May, I raced at Wildflower Triathlon and despite getting a flat tire on the bike, I was still able to finish in the top 5 of my age-group. A month later in June, I finished in 1st place in my age-group at a local race; Orange County Triathlon. I had no reason to doubt myself when toeing the start line of the Chula Vista Challenge (CVC) Triathlon!
So how did this race go for me? Did I PR? Did I meet my targets that I had set for this specific race?
Speaking of targets, I had a few in mind:
- Finish in the top 5 of my age-group
- Finish in the top 5 overall
- Run the 13 miles in 90 mins or less
Those targets were deliberately aggressive but within reach. Target #3 has been on my list for about 4 years and I’ve been very close to achieving it previously!
I had nothing to lose but everything to gain 😉
We set off at 3.30am on Sunday morning from Long Beach and drove down to Chula Vista. The race organizer had sent out an email two days prior to the race informing participants that the swim was likely to be a non-wetsuit swim. When we arrived at the race location, we could hear the MC announcing that wetsuits were not allowed due to warm water temperatures. We could wear a wetsuit but we then wouldn’t be eligible for age-group awards should we hit the podium. I had intentions to hit the podium so I decided to not wear the wetsuit and just go with the flow!
Since this was an ‘in-water’ start, we made our way into the warm waters and lined up just before 6.30am. The sun wasn’t shining as it was overcast so it was a bit hard to see the buoys in the far distance. The good thing was that the buoys were very large and there weren’t any distractions in the background such as trees, buildings etc., that would make it more difficult to spot the buoys.
The race kicked off at 6.35am and I had one of the best starts ever! And I mean EVER!
My first few strokes were quick and I felt that I was catching the water firmly. After about 6 strokes I looked up to spot the buoy and I saw myself behind the first 3 swimmers. That boosted my confidence and I focused on maintaining a high cadence and a firm catch with my stroke. Another 6 strokes went by and I looked up and saw the leaders drifting further ahead of me. I tried not to get discouraged but instead tried my best to catch up and follow their draft. As I got closer to the first buoy, I knew I had lost the lead pack which I think had 3-5 swimmers. Thankfully there was a swimmer to my right who was overtaking me and she looked like she was picking her rhythm and was going to be the one who I could draft behind! She came next to me and a few strokes later she was ahead. “This is my only chance to catch a good draft” I said to myself. I got right behind her and made sure I did not lose sight of her feet. I literally had her feet in my face! This was it. Just hold on. Don’t lose her feet, and you’ll have a good swim split.
I was able to hold on for most of the swim except for the last few hundred meters where I lost sight and ended up swimming on my own.
Came out of the swim in 11th position overall and 1st in my age-group with a time just over 31 mins! Definitely happy with that effort!
If you’ve read any of my previous race reports, you’ll know that I suck on the bike ☹ Not because I’m unfit or don’t like to ride, it’s due to my hip injury that I sustained from an accident last year. It has been a tough year with bike training as I generally end up with my left hip feeling very sore after a hard bike workout. The pain usually subsides after a couple of days but then it’s back after the next bike workout. Especially on the time trial bike, I feel a sharp pinch with every pedal stroke. Nothing much I can do other than be proactive and maintain the injury as best as I can.
Despite the hip issues, the bike went fairly well. I definitely got overtaken by a handful of stronger cyclists but as always, I kept to my plan knowing that I have potential to catch up on the run.
The bike course was closed to traffic, which was awesome! But the roads were in a terrible state. It was so bumpy and parts of the course felt like I was off-roading! I was fearful on the first lap of 4 as I was afraid of slipping or crashing after hitting a pothole!
In all honesty, I hated every minute of the bike course. I couldn’t enjoy the ride as I had this lingering fear at the back of my mind.
Anyways, I got off the bike after 2hrs 50mins and I didn’t care what position I was in. I knew that the real work would start now and I had a tough task ahead of me of catching those that overtook me.
3 laps on this course so if I wanted to run the 13 miles in 90 mins, the math was simple! Run each lap in 30 mins! Easier said than done – as is always the case 😉
The legs didn’t feel relatively fresh but as I’ve experienced in training, it takes about 5-10 mins for the legs to ‘wake up’ and get into run mode.
The first lap went by fairly quickly and I was on track with my pace. What helped was overtaking 3 athletes towards the end of the first lap which motivated me to continue to push on the second lap. Lap 2 was starting to wear me down and the temperature was rising very quickly. There were sections on the course where the sun was beating down and throwing water on myself had no effect at all!
I completed lap 2 and overtook another athlete but lap 3 was all about surviving. I was finding it hard to keep my cadence and as a result my pace dropped. I broke up the last lap into small chunks to better cope with the situation from a mental perspective. It was getting hotter, I was getting slower and this is not a good combination! In most races, I like to finish strong as it reflects that I’ve executed the race well by pacing myself appropriately. Unfortunately in this race, it was the opposite. I somehow got to the finish line and collapsed as I had nothing left in me! I truly left everything on the race course. I crossed the line with a run split of 1hr 34mins which at first made me feel disappointed. But when I look at the final results, it was the second fastest run split of the day! I can’t be too mad at myself 😉
Did I Have A Good Time?
I somewhat did! Swim was good, bike was okay-ish and the run was okay (would have liked to finish stronger :-p).
Will I race CVC again? Absolutely not! The road condition on the bike course was terrible! It is more suited for mountain bikes! However I must point out that the roads were closed to traffic which is always a good thing!
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Until the next race – cheerio!