On May 5th I raced in the 35th Wildflower Long Course Triathlon at Lake San Antonio, CA in the wine country of central CA. This was my 14th time racing Wildflower as it is one of my favorite races of all time.
Due to the drought, Wildflower was not held in 2017. And during the 3 years from 2014 – 2016 they had to tweak the course because of the low water level in the lake. The water level is still quite low, but we did get enough rain a year ago that we were able to race on the traditional Wildflower course. It is such a beautiful venue. Words don’t describe how good it was to be back on the old course.
Lake San Antonio is a fresh water lake. The water temperature was about 68 degrees and the air temperature was 75 degrees and climbing when my race started at 9am. It might have reached 90 degrees by the time I finished. I love warm conditions like that. I had a great 1.2 mile swim as I exited the water in 6th place with a time of 30:54.
The 56 mile bike course is very challenging. It offers hard climbs at the 1 mile mark and then again from 42-44 miles when we climb Nasty Grade. Beyond that, the course has some flat sections and a lot of rollers. It also has some fast descents where it is easy to exceed 40 mph. I was determined to pace myself conservatively on the bike because I recalled being toast by the 50 mile mark in previous years. A challenge I did not anticipate was the poor road quality. Many sections were very bumpy. I suspect those sections added up to about 10 miles. They were especially fatiguing on the upper body, but everyone had the same challenge. My bike split was 3:03:05 (18.4 mph) which was the 10th best in my age group and it dropped me into 9th place. I was very pleased with this effort and most importantly, I felt like I started the run with plenty of energy.
The 13.1 mile run course is absolutely brutal. It is the hardest 13.1 mile run course I have ever done. 70% of the route is on trails which I love. And there are some very hard climbs that most people walk. Not me. I am very willing to suffer by running everything on this course, except for a few seconds when I go through an aid station. In years past the aid station at mile 4 has been supported by the topless girls from Cal Poly. I had not done the race since 2014 so I was really looking forward to this part of the Wildflower experience. Unfortunately the girls did not get the memo this year as everyone had their clothes on. I thought about asking for my money back, but decided to press on as I was still feeling good. That all changed by mile 6. I did manage to keep running, but I was so tired I wanted to tap out. I’ve learned from experience to push through that as I just might feel better in a few minutes. I took in some extra calories, salt tablets and fluids over the next 2 miles as I found my determination again. I managed to kick it in all the way to the finish line. My run split was 1:43:02 (7:52/mile) which was the fastest run of the day in my age group. That moved me up to finish on the podium as I was 3rd out of 45 men in the 55-59 age group. 1st and 2nd place were 13 and 6 minutes, respectively, ahead of me and 4th place was 5 minutes after me. My finish time was 5:23:33 and I was 144th out of 1,084 overall finishers. For my efforts, I won a bottle of Freakshow wine.
To see my race pictures, click on this link:
My wife, Laurie, also did the race. This was Laurie’s 6th Wildflower finish and I could not be more proud of her. Laurie led the way with pushing us to do Wildflower this year. The Race Director, Terry Davis, is a strong Christian. We wanted to support Terry and his efforts to bring back this great race. We feel so blessed by God to get to do this stuff.
Living the life…