On May 22nd I raced the Tri Rock San Diego Triathlon in downtown San Diego by the Convention Center. I knew when I arrived on race morning that I would have my hands full as I saw Steve Thunder racking his bike. Steve is in my age group. We had raced the Superseal Triathlon in March and I narrowly edged him out for the win.
The most unique aspect about Tri Rock is the time trial start format. Each age group does start together – sort of. Before the race they line us up by age group. But the swim start area is so narrow that only 1 or 2 athletes can jump off the pier at any point in time. Each athlete’s race officially starts when he crosses a timing mat at the end of the pier. This means you better race hard all the way to the finish line because you really won’t know how you did until a few minutes after the race.
The swim course was 1.5K (0.93 miles) in the San Diego Harbor. We were aided by a gentle current. I had a great swim as I completed the course in 21:06. As it turned out, I had the fastest swim time in my age group, but I did not know that at the time.
The bike course was a major challenge for me. It was only 22 miles, but it had a lot of turns and was very bumpy at times. The turns posed the biggest challenge as that meant a lot of energy was spent to re-accelerate back up to speed. Very few courses in North America are like this so I was not trained for this type of anaerobic effort, but I doubt my competitors were either. I only managed the 9th best bike split in the age group with a time of 1:03:17 (20.8 mph), but I did the best I could. This effort dropped me down to 6th place. Steve did pass me about 13 miles into the bike course, but I had no idea of when he started the race.
The run course was 2 laps for a total of about 5.6 miles. Parts of the course were on concrete and brick so it was not very easy on the body. I knew I’d feel it the next day. The 1st turnaround was about 1.5 miles into the course and Steve was about 1:50 ahead of me. Uh oh! Steve is too good a runner. I knew I’d never catch him, but hopefully I could get close and hopefully he had started the race before me. I did have the best run on the day as my run split was 33:22 (5:59/mile) for a finish time of 2:01:12. That was good enough for 3rd place out of 18 men in the 50-54 age group and 15th out of 353 overall finishers. I did manage to beat Steve by 6 seconds, but 2 guys from Boulder (Scott Jones) and Las Vegas (Todd Mitchell) beat me. Oh well. I had a lot of fun and that’s what counts.
The highlight of the day was racing with my Team USA friends George and Jane Esahak-Gage. It’s been 10 years since we all raced together. Back in 2006 George and Jane were on a Sunday morning bike ride near their home in Arizona when they both got hit by a car. Jane got a pretty serious concussion, but George was a real mess and nearly died. It is a miracle that he lived and has been able to race so well – thank you God! Jane won her age group and George placed third in his age group.
Living the life…