OrangMan Half Iron Triathlon Date: 9.25.11
Location: Dana Point (that is in Orange County)
This event was fairly local, a two hour drive north of San Diego, so it was a no brainer race to do. The timing fit pretty good with my schedule, giving me two weeks rest after my Rev3 Cedar Point iron distance triathlon (10:32). The two week recovery consisted of about 5 hours of training which included a hard work out as part of the November TCSD Club race. I did the full swim (approx 700 meters), five hard miles of the12 mile bike, and a fast 2 miles of the 4 mile run. Everything felt good, seemed to be fully recovered from the iron race and ready to race OrangeMan.
I have to thank the guys at Finishline Multisport/3rd Transition for their assistance with race entry. The event promoters ended up offering a 50% off coupon on groupon.com to attract more athletes. Besides the triathlon, they offered an aquabike and swim only divisions. The more people the merrier. OrangeMan promoted itself to be a fairly challenging course. The bike course had 10 mile of rollers and then another 15 or so of consistent climbing before the turn around and heading back. I did review the run map on line and it seemed to be pretty typical.
Driving up to the expo the day before hand was very easy, missed out on the traffic. I was kinda drifting off (woke up pretty early) as I drove up there so I was looking forward to a power nap after checking in. The check- in process was very easy and quick. Only a few venders at the expo, my friend, Sebastian from SLS 3, was there with their race apparel. After my power nap and listing in on part of the course talk it was time to grind, as in eat. I met up with a couple who were in the area, Andy was getting his USAT official recertification. We went to one of their Italian favorites, I ordered some very tasty eggplant parmesan. Since I carbo loaded the previous evening, I did not need lots of pasta again. After dinner I headed of to Salt Creek Beach Park where the transition was set up. I wanted to get a preview of how thing were laid out, so I knew what to expect when it opens at 5am race day. I discovered there were to be a few hills right off the bat. I was still kinda hungry and head off to find a grocery store. Found some nice mango sherbet and a turkey sandwich and Powerade. Also got a couple of bananas and bagels for the am. Being on the cheap I usually sleep in my car at away events. There was parking available at Salt Creek Beach parking lot but not free, so that was out. The nearest parking was an mile away, so I parked the car and got a good night’s sleep.
Up at 4:45 to get things together and ride over to transition. Gotta arrive early to get that “prime” spot. Transition racks were organized by wave/age starts and I chose a spot one in from the end, giving me plenty of room for changing and not being in the center of all the activity. After setting up transition, I had plenty of time to relax, chat with fellow athletes (several TCSD members) and PPP Lab clients. Transition closed up a half an hour before the first wave’s start time, so headed down to the beach, which consisted of a 60 foot 5 degree dirt trail hill, 300 yard concrete walking path and the beach. Swim exit to transition totaled to be a touch short of a quarter mile. Ocean temperature felt a bit chilly at first then once acclimated it felt perfect. The surf was very calm but then out of no where some nice shore breakers appeared, three to four footers but only a couple at a time and then calm again. They came out of no where. Swim warm ups are important to get one’s heart rate up, become acclimated with the surf entry depth and water temperature.
Now it time to race.
Swim My wave was the fifth to go off for a 7:13 start, three minutes between each wave. Relays and gals in the first two waves then the “younger” guys. The first wave got hammered but two shore breakers and then the remaining waves just happened to be timed without incident including mine. There may have been 125 in my start wave. There was plenty off room heading out to the first buoy, no bumping, banging or dunking. If participant entry doubles for next year there may be a bit more contact. I wish there had been more markers between the long straight aways of the swim. Sighting was not the easiest, however I think I swam a pretty straight line out to the second and third buoys. The fourth buoy had no reference or anything to sight off of. It was just follow the mass of swimmers and hope they were correct and then when the marker came into view head straight for it. I know I did not swim the straightest line on that section. There were not any in between markers to follow, just a handful of lifeguards on surfboards to aid in direction. Swimmers were very spread out so when overtaking slower swimmers from the earlier waves there weren’t any issues, no climbing over anyone as I initially anticipated. There was a massive swim exit arch to aim for on the last section heading back to the beach. Unfortunately, no waves to catch or aid in the surf exit. No watch on swims for me, but self-judging I felt I was possibly in the top 10 out of the water of my age group. Results show 16th. Ended up with a swim time of 32:50, nothing to write home about.
T1 As I mentioned above the distance up to T1 was a bit of a hike, which allowed time to get my wetsuit half way off. Upon entry of the transition zone I stayed clear to remove the rest of the wetsuit. Nice and grassy to clean off any rock/sand from my feet from the run up. Yep, there were a handful of bikes already gone from my my section but a lot more remaining. My T1 time was 3:16 for the 2nd fastest split in the age group.
The Bike The Lab (PedPowerPerformLab – my business) is a retailer of Rolf Prima wheels and I had to experience first hand how these wheels performed. I did a combo set up with a Tdf58 front and a Tdf85 in the rear (carbon tubulars). The right tire choice aided in the ride comfort and speed, the Lab uses (and recommends) Tufo Elite 23mm tires. I received the rims Friday and stretched and installed that evening. I was able to ride for a few minutes on the trainer to verify the gears were lined up. I do not recommend installing new equipment the night before unless absolutely necessary.
I digress… to the bike. On paper the course looked pretty straight forward out and back course with one solid climb.
Immediately out of transition (leaving Salt Creek Beach Park) we faced a Cat 5 climb to get out of the park. Road surface for the course was pretty smooth and very fast in sections. The Rolf wheels made for a stiffer and more solid feeling ride. The rim/tire combo also were darn quiet and smooth. About seven miles into the bike course my chain started to skip when applying power and my left cleat was loose. Not a good combination to have. I had to hold back and be cautious on my pedaling effort. I swapped pedals the night before also and should have completely tested/verified cleat tension… my own fault. It really effected my confidence and limited my power production. I wanted to go faster and harder but could not. The chain skip was sporadic and only occurred in the last two small cogs. I figure I lost about 3 to 5 minutes going up the Ortega Highway. The climb was steady nothing overwhelming or taxing. Most of the time it was upright riding and sitting back on the saddle to produce power in the most effective way….aka a road bike.Coming back down Ortega Highway, I lost a lot of time. I prefer to be cautious on down hills but not that cautious. The chain skip and cleat problem was a real problem here. I was playing leap from with a very fast 51 year old lady on the declines. Were were cruising at 19 to 22 mph but I know I should have been going 23 to 27 mph on the flats. Of course on the steeper declines sections we were rolling over 30 mph. I know I lost another 5 to 8 minutes. My chain for some reason pop off the big ring so I had to cautiously slow down and reinstall. That was a big momentum killer. On the last eight miles of flat I was able to catch up to some of the competitors who blew by me on the steep decline sections.
The whole bike course had well maintained surface, often I found the shoulder to be even smoother and I took ever advantage of it. With in the last three miles of the course we were greeted by a Cat 5 climb. Fortunately it was only 1.5 miles long. I serpentined it to take off a few degrees. Entering the park we coasted down the Cat 5 hill and I performed an awesome flying dismount right on the dismount line… who says slowdown! My bike split just missed the magic three hour mark, ended up with 3:01:58 (I believe I could have been six to eight minutes faster had it not been for those darn mechanical issues). The following day, I discovered the cause of the chain skip. It was not an improper chain length but one of the links was just about to “pop”. Sure glad It did not happen during the race and I wisely keep off the power.
Up and out of T1, on course, getting ready for a flying dismount.
T2 With one of my best flying dismount, I dashed into transition for a very fast transition. Got my Avia Bolts on and my grabbed my TCSD hat full of Gu energy packs. 56 seconds, the fastest in age group.
The Run I did not review the run course in depth before hand. From the online course map and profile it looked pretty tame with short climbs and I did expected it to be a little harder than the average course. In actuality it was quite different. The run course followed a walking path along and thru the Salt Creek Corridor Regional Park. Up and down. steep up, steep down only a few sections that were flat. Below is the course profile, green chart. I have also attached my pace chart, in blue. Notice the masive fluctuation in speed. My first mile was a bit slow, it tool a bit longer than usual to find my running legs.
Soon after, my legs and turn over were there when opportunity allowed. Those short steep hill pretty much brought everyone to a crawl… baby steps and lean forward to keep the momentum going. And on the down hills, watch out, let those legs go with long strides. Take the free speed gravity is offering. I was pretty much on “fire” and flying compared to everyone else. Yes, I did get passed by a couple of athletes, but they were relay runners. I had such a “slow” bike, I had to make up as much time and pass as many athletes as I could. The run course was a two looper, out and back, so I was able to see and judge where I was in relation to the leaders. I was picking the competition off left and right. I did not over tax my heart rate or legs, it ended up averaging154 bpm which is right at my anaerobic threshold by a point or two. Plenty of aid station on course and fortunately the weather cooperated, think it was slightly overcast and a mild low 70’s is my guess. I had the 2nd fastest first loop and the fastest loop in my age group. I think I passed six in my group. Ended up with a time of 1:44:49… for 14.2 miles. That’s right, everyone got to run one extra mile! Not sure how that happened since it was an out and back course.
Final Thoughts I was happy with my effort but a little frustrated for not looking over my bike and making sure everything was in PERFECT working order. That will never happen again. With a finish time of 5:24:27that put me in 28th place overall (out of 458) and 6th (out of 60) in the age group. Missed the top three by four minutes.
This was a inaugural event and they did a very good job. The past couple of years I have participated in several first time events. OrangeMan did a very good job with race logistics, set up, organization etc…. The only bugger was the lack of markers between the long straight aways of the swim. The long run was ok since I do enjoy running and was not suffering. After the race, I do not know if there was an official massage tent but it would have been nice to have more than one. Pasta and pizza were offered as part of the finishers buffet which is more than many races have to offer.
I did not hang around for the awards ceremony but I am sure it was very festive for all hte finisher had smiles on their faces. Just enough volunteers on hand to make the event operate very smoothly and assist athletes with their water and other goodies at the aid stations. I will say this event probably had the most USAT marshals on hand. Think that was due to the certification program held the day before. Fortunately no time penalties were “awarded” to me. Looking over my results from previous half iron distance races (40 in 12 years), I noticed this race was the 3rd ” slowest”. So, if you are looking for a challenging race this is one to do. Wish I did not have to wait 12 month to improve that bike split.
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