Wildflower LongIt's very weird to go into a race knowing that not only are you going to DNF but that doing so is your race plan. That was my experience at Wildflower this year.
I started out signed up for the Olympic course. I figured I could do that with little to no training and I could easily walk the run course, if I had to. The idea was to see how much faster I was compared to the last time I did this course -- two years ago -- and to not overtrain and hurt my calf because of pressure to finish a Half-Ironman. This worked well until I accidentally ran a 10k and got overly excited about where my running was at and started doing too many run workouts designed to increase speed.
End result: I hurt myself right before Wildflower. Doctor said: no running for a week!
Since I'd paid and couldn't get my money back, I decided to upgrade to the Long and just do the swim and bike. I figured, if I did the Olympic, I'd be too tempted to run anyway and the swim and bike portion wouldn't be a long or hard enough workout. The great part about my plan? Tri-cal didn't charge me to upgrade!
I had a decent swim, longer than I wanted, but nothing untoward happened while in the water. But my swim cap wasn't the same color as the others in my wave. I was told this is because I had registered late but my number put me in a rack with a bunch of guys my age and my swim time on the web site was 10 minutes longer than it should have been -- meaning they started me with those guys. (I guess I should do something to fix that.)
For the bike, I admit I was half-asleep until we hit Jolan when I suddenly perked up and started really riding. It's a good thing I didn't try to do that stretch with my mind turned off because there were some tricky crosswinds. In fact, the entire bike course was quite windy -- not as bad as IMAZ, but close. There were some hairy accidents and one person had to be Life Flighted out.
I ended up, between not really pushing it early in the course and fighting all the winds, finishing 20 minutes over my time last year, which was disappointing.
But I felt pretty strong going up Nasty Grade and I wasn't as fried at the end as I was last year so I was happy about that. The entire last half of my bike felt very strong, in fact. Too bad I lollygagged during the first half.
It was interesting finishing so early. It's a different experience than when you are in the last wave and kind of slow and lots of people have already gone home by the time you've even finished.
This was an Olympic Distance tri and I can't remember why or when I signed up for it. I was still not running much, but I figured I could limp through the run and be okay.
The swim was okay. It took 38.5 minutes which was a bit much. Though my pace was the fastest I've done that distance since my first Olympic, which is interesting because, compared to where I am now, it was slow.
I enjoyed the bike course but also didn't make fantastic time. There was a bit of a headwind and I ended up with a time of 1:37:55. That was slightly slower than the Santa Cruz Tri but not a lot slower and my overall pace was faster. (The course was slightly longer.) But a lot of people finished much faster so this highlights that my bike is my weak portion.
The "run" was a trip though. I started out okay and got past the first aid station when the rails came off. Not only could I not run any more, but I couldn't really walk either. I finally remembered to take some Advil and limped to the turn around. It was painful and slow. But at that point, the pain lessened and I was able to "race walk" the last half of the course. My pace race walking was fast enough that only one of the four people running and run/walking behind me was able to catch up! I was able to kind of jog across the finish line too.
Even with only running about a quarter of the distance, my pace was only 15:25 so I must have done some pretty fast walking at the end. Total time was 1:35:37 and the crazy part is that I wasn't that much faster when I ran Wildflower Olympic the first time. The hills and heat of Wildflower and it being only my second race made my run on that course very, very slow!
Now here's the really crazy part: Not only was I not last in the race, but one of those three people I beat was in my age group so I wasn't even last in my age group! That still cracks me up, two months later.