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Sentinel Triathlon Results

santa_cruz_wharfI wasn’t exactly ready for a race today, but I had missed the Triathlon at Pacific Grove a couple weeks earlier and wasn’t ready for tri season to end, so I decided just a couple days ago to do the Sentinel for a second year in a row. It helped a lot to have my friend Doug who raced with me last year encouraging me to do it again with him. This was my 5th race of the season.

Part of me didn’t want to do the race unless I had a chance of beating my not so impressive time of 2:49 last year. I thought my swim had improved considerably this year, but I wasn’t spending as much time as I would have liked on the bike and I’ve been going to physical therapy for three weeks now to help loosen up a really tight external rotation of my hip flexors. Geez, that sounds like an old guy thing.

Conditions were about perfect. 60 degrees at race time and about the same water temp. I felt comfortable throughout the swim but my wave (45 – 49) seemed to thin out rather early and I felt like I was swimming almost entirely on my own as we turned around the end of the Santa Cruz pier. Stepping onto the beach I glanced at my watch to see I was nearly five minutes ahead of my split last year. I was stoked.

I have never perfected the art of getting out of a wetsuit. Even with the wetsuit peeled down to my waist, it’s like trying to get out of a straight jacket in a bad magic show hanging from a burning rope. T1 just sucks.

I kept my bike computer on my average speed. I knew the course well, so all I had to do was equal or beat my 18.6 mph last year. On Hwy. 1 we were met with a brisk headwind. All I could do was hammer the downhills at 30+ mph and look forward to a tailwind on the return. The loop through the parking lot toward the end is a bone jarring ride. It felt like either my back or my bike would snap as I rattled through that section.

I finished the bike in 18.5 mph, so I knew I had a better overall time going than last year. Now if I could just run 8-min. miles like I did last year, I’d finish with a decent time. But less than two miles into the run, my left glute and right hamstring started cramping. I was ready to quit but I have never quit. I stopped for 10 – 15 secs. to stretch my legs, and that seemed to help. Still, I struggled the entire run. Both feet were numb and I wasn’t going at the pace I wanted just to avoid injury.

I crossed the finish line but was so delirious I couldn’t read the time on my watch. I finally figured out I finished in 2:45, exactly my goal time. That meant I improved dramatically on the swim this year. I’ll have to tell my swim coach all the work is paying off.

All in all, I’m really pleased with my tri season. Two full Olympics, two shorter ones, one half ironman, and Aluminum Man in Maui. I feel like I have put some experience under my belt to tackle a bigger prize next year.


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