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*As long as it fits your goal plan!
USA Production’s California Sprint and International Triathlons were not originally on my calendar. But after a disappointing day at Monte Rio, I was itching to race again. Turns out, as a sponsor of USA Productions races, Topo Athletic had a few free race entries to give to their ambassadors (me!) – so I took advantage of that and entered the California Sprint Triathlon on June 26. Thanks, Topo!
The sprint triathlon serves as USAT’s Southwest Regional Championships – so there was some fantastic competition! And as always, fantastic race organization and volunteers. Shout out to the volunteer leading the T2 exit, probably the most engaged volunteer I’ve ever seen!
Since this wasn’t originally on my calendar, I’ll fully admit that I did not do as much course reconnaissance as I normally do. In fact, I was almost clueless (hello, surprise hill on the back of the course)! But it was fun, flat-tire-less, and a good challenge.
The swim: Shadow Cliffs Regional Recreation Area is a secret park in Pleasanton (ok, maybe only secret to me!). The water is warm (not my favorite) and I considered a no-wetsuit swim. I ultimately opted for the sleeveless Xterra. The starting scrum was nasty at this race. Lots of young athletes clamoring for the front pack, and a loudspeaker not-quite-loud-enough for the distance from shore. While I didn’t miss the start, I missed my precision at the gun and got hit a few times.
I eventually found a slot I liked, and cruised around the second buoy and in to the finish. I had passed a racer on the approach to the exit, and I think he took it a little personally – I received a nice elbow once we were up on dry land. #sportsmanship…
T1: *Unhook saddle from rack, then move forward* I tried to bring the whole rack with me out to the course. Supposedly there is a video of this which I am trying to track down, mostly for my own entertainment. Otherwise, fast and easy.
The bike: One really tough feature about this race is the immediate start and end to the bike. On the way out, you’re going up a steep incline; on the way in, you’ve got a tight turn and steep hill down. Despite construction, the course was clean and swept. It’s a nice big rectangle around the park for a short sprint of nine miles.
I usually don’t get passed that often on the bike. This isn’t really commentary on my bike skills, it’s just that usually I’m in the front pack from the swim and keep stride with the leaders. I see a lot of calf numbers on the run, instead! But, not so much for this race. Before we made the first turn, I was passed by three or four women right off the bat. Another got me on the back side of the rectangle, just before the one hill out on the course. It was a fairly tough bike because of how little elevation change we saw – you get in your big ring and hammer. I held a 19.2 mph average on my road bike, so…that was pretty solid!
Came back in to the park spinning and ready to run. You can see part of the run course as you head in, and I realized it was about to get really really hot.
T2: I will gladly take a 45 second T2, thank you very much! Again, fast and easy. Helmet off, swap shoes, grab visor and race belt. Gone.
The run: There aren’t many dirt paths walking or running distance from my place in Oakland, so I run primarily on concrete. And, primarily flat concrete. This course is at least 80% dirt path, possibly more. Hard packed dirt, which is nice, but dirt. And, it is almost constantly rolling up or down! If I were to pick a course that played to my strengths…. this is not one that I would pick.
The run was hard. It kicked my butt. I still managed to pull off a 28:36 for the 5k, but I don’t know how that happened. I think the only reason I was sub-29 is because I had seen one girl on a turn around, and knew she was close behind me. As I approached the finish chute, I checked over my shoulder and she was maybe five feet behind me! I kicked it into gear. Based on results, she also kicked it in to gear, but fortunately I was able to hold her off (barely).
Finish: I was so. happy. to. be. done. This was a lot of racing in not a lot of time. It was an early wake up and long drive. It was hot and my legs were dead. But I had raced hard and had a great time! Oakland Tri Club was crawling all over the site. And, by the time awards came around, I somehow sneaked in to 3rd AG in a Regional Championship to round out the podium as a 1 and 3 OTC sandwich.
End of the day, I had a great time racing with friends. Thanks, Topo and USAP Events!!