a wonderful 4 days camping and mostly “doing nothing” until yesterday
with great friends at the Lake San Antonio for the Wildflower tri.
lake is barren; it’s eerily empty and dry so it is more of a desert
than a lake. There is a small section at the end of the lake that holds
just enough water for the swim. But because of the lack of water, this
year’s race features a two part run; from the swim, run 2 miles to the
bike transition, bike, then run the remaining 4.2 miles to complete the
As a side note, I’ve been running a lot this year but
recently sprained my calf muscle. I hadn’t run for the past two weeks,
hoping to heal it up. Derrill and I did do a short run on Friday, and in
particular, we ran the last critical hill to figure out the best
strategy to finish the run strong. Luckily,
I didn’t have any pain and that strategy turned out to be very helpful.
any case, my age group (45-49) started at 10AM and we took off with
adrenalin and excitement. Jimmy and I are in the same age group and we
shared a towel and transition area; he’s a very fast swimmer and I was
hoping to try and keep up with his pace.
Anyhow, gun goes off, normal
kicking and chaos but the group strung out pretty quickly. I’ve been
swimming a lot so I tried to focus on keeping the effort as high as in
hard training sessions. I got out of the water in 21:41 (a PR by over 1
1/2 minutes) and was surprised to see Jimmy at our transition area (he
was 16 sec faster).
Anyhow we ran up the steep boat ramp and out on
to the trail. I stopped to tighten my laces and another guy in my age
group ran by. He was flying and I never caught him.
The run had a big climb then we dropped down into the dry
lake bed. The trail was dusty and in some places it
was like running through sand. We finally came to the
second transition area, which includes a steep climb up that boat ramp.
ran through the transition area to the bike exit; right in front of me
was legendary Pete Kain. He is in the 50-54 age group, which started 5
mins after me. But he had swum 3 minutes faster, ran faster and caught
me in the transition area. He took off on the bike but was riding sort
of erratically. The bike exit includes this very steep and long climb
yet Pete was in his aerobars forcing his way up the hill. I put it in an
easy gear and just spun up. I passed him before the summit and tried to
say “Nice swim” but the words didn’t come out that well because I was
heaving, heart rate over 172.
The bike course rolls out the exit and
then there is a very fast descent. I was using a disc wheel in the back
and it was very gusty on that downhill. Needless to say, I was gripping
the bars and even hitting the brakes. Well,
Pete caught and passed me. Incredibly, he wasn’t a crazy descender and
he didn’t gap me that much. As it flattened a bit, I tried to catch back
up to him. Suddenly it seemed like a car was hurtling by. Jason
Campbell (who went on to win the 50-54 age group and 3nd overall) blew
by me and then Pete like we were standing still!
Regardless, I was still motivated to try and pass Pete or, if anything, try to work with him.
road flattened again and I simply motored by; the new BMC with the disc
wheel were now just humming along. I never closed the gap on Jason (who
turned in a 1:09:24 bike split) but I did beat Pete (1:13:40) with a
second fastest personal time of 1:11:05.
I raced out of transition on
the run sort of feeling in no man’s land. I was hoping that Pete
wouldn’t catch me but was struggling for something to pace against.
Suddenly people are yelling “good job Murphy!”. John Murphy is the
another famous “semi-pro” who
dominated the 45-49 age group but who has now aged up and is in the
same AG as Pete and Jason (all three of them swam 18:45 by the way).
Needless to say, Murphy was closing in on me fast. We hit Beach hill
which is a brutally steep climb. I kept ahead of John and put in mild
surges while trying to pick the shortest line. We were going by lots of
people who were simply walking.
At the top there was a water station;
I suspected Murphy would need water so instead of stopping myself, I
sprinted ahead up and over, coasting on the descent on the other side.
John wasn’t there..for a few minutes. I probably relaxed too much
because I heard footsteps fast approaching. I said “You are a tough old
bastard!”. He exchanged a similar pleasantry and, to be frank, I was
going to back off and let him go. But I realized he was actually working
with me; we were pacing each other. So I dug in. We traded off the
Finally we were approaching the last
hill—the same one Derrill and I rehearsed. I got water at the aid
station, poured some over my head, John did the same. We then took off
on the last final hill; he was right there. Then I sort of sprinted and
gapped him. I heard his cadence change; he had snapped and started
walking! I raced ahead and down the short section that would lead us to
the suicide 1 mile descent to the finish line. I was going as fast as I
could. 1 minute, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 4 minutes, no John! Unfortunately
with a few hundred yards to go, I heard feet coming quick—and he simply
went around me. I couldn’t respond and he put about 10 seconds into me
in the end.
It was by far the most intensely difficult run I’ve ever
had in a race—and though he beat me, it was great to give it that kind
of effort. Kind of weird to be hugging a sweaty 50 year old dude at the
end of a race but we were doing it.
In the end, the guy in my AG
Darren Baker, who I never caught,
turned out to be quite a stud. He was on the US Postal Team during the
“Lance Era” and still quite a good cyclist, turning in a 1:08:38 bike
He got 1st place in my age group and 2nd overall beating me by a staggering 10 1/2 minutes.
However, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I still got 2nd place for the age group.
Derrill also ended up on the podium with 5th place in the 50-54 year AG.
Really intense to race that hard for each section of the race!
Just a quick race recap on the Cat 5 Mt. Hamilton hillclimb today -- and encouragement to never give up!
Last year, Dave, his brother-in-law Bob, Derrill, Eliott, and I did the Mt. Hamilton hillclimb.
Dave, Eliott and I signed up again this year.
One of the main incentives of the race is to try and get top 4 in your wave; if you do, you get a t-shirt.
usual, I arrived a bit late at 9:30 but figured I had plenty of time;
the race was supposed to start at 10. I got my race # and started
getting ready. Dave called out--he was in my wave of riders but they
were lined up and about to go; Eliott was in the group, too! WTF?
out the web site was incorrect. So Dave and Eliott left at 9:40. I went
out in the wave after at 9:45, completely flustered and at the back of
the pack. This was a mixed wave (men & women) with a fair amount of
newbies. I was caught in traffic on the way out. As we turned on to Alum
Rock road, my adrenalin got the best of me and I sprinted around the
pack and, suddenly, was at the front, right
behind the motorcycle lead out.
turned right and the road pitched up. Suddenly I wasn't alone at the
front. It got steeper. Then 4 young studs (3 of them ride for
Specialized it turns out) jumped and gapped the pack. I went from 1st to
4th just like that. Then I proceeded to get swallowed up, eventually
sliding to 10th place. My heart rate was banging off the limit, sitting
at 180, hitting 182; I was heaving and snotting up.
wasn't going to be able to keep up. Incredibly, the road flattened for a
bit and I got down low on the bars and proceeded to mow by those 6
riders. Unfortunately, they just got in my draft as I pulled everyone up
#4 kid. Then the road pitched up. "Nice Pull" a guy said.
And then I was dropped -- shelled, done. It was devastating. I entertained just turning around and going home.
tried to calm down, bringing the heart rate down to around 172, just
trying to spin and not blow up again. I was in no man's land, way off
the front and no one pushing from
behind. Finally got to the first real downhill section and got caught
by this 200lb crazy descender. Fortunately, was able to pass him back on
the uphill. Kept turning the gears at high cadence, just trying to
focus and keep the tempo up.
as it got steeper and longer, I came up on one of the guys that had
dropped me. Then another. And another. Caught the #4 kid. And another.
Incredibly, crossed the line in 4th place ahead of all of the "real" competition (there was no way I
could ride with the 3 Specialized kids).
Time was 1:28, 4 minutes faster than last year. Average heart rate of 174, max 182. And I got a t-shirt!
the way back down, Eliott and I enjoyed a glorious descent capped off
by the final 5 miles drafting behind cars. It was likely fortunate that I
didn't go with Dave and Eliott because Dave went 4 minutes faster but
also placed 4th; their wave was tougher.
In any case, awesome day! And NEVER GIVE UP!
Summer Scamper 10k, June 22, 2014
41:40, 6:44 pace Results
Last November I tossed the idea of
racing at Nationals around with my wife. Surprisingly she got excited about the
idea and we decided to make a family vacation out of it; her sisters live on
the East Coast so it would be convenient for them to fly out to Milwaukee.
Needless to say, this idea had become “a big deal” and the pressure was on to
try and do well so I was training a lot more than in years past.
Fast forward and I thought it might
even be possible to place high enough to then compete in World's next year. But
that would be a significant challenge; last year the top 18 qualified for
World's though it rolled down to the top 30 in my age group.18th place finished
in a blisteringly fast 2 hours and 5 minutes and 30th was 2:08, so I’d have to
go approximately that fast. I did a 2:08:45 back in 1991 when I was single and racing nearly every weekend.
But how the hell would it be possible at age 47?It would mean a swim of 22 mins,
bike 1 hour, and a 42 min 10k run with 4 mins for transition. The swim might be
doable, but I've never biked that fast; 1:03 would be more realistic. I ran a
41:45 open 10k a few months ago so, in theory, at least that part was possible.
In Milwaukee, the race
vibe was surprisingly mellow. There didn't seem to be as many tri-dorks or
freaks of nature walking around even with nearly 5000 participants (3065
Olympic and 1734 Sprint). There were a ton of lines, though, and rules and
regulations. There was also a lot of walking to and from the hotel, which was
about 2 miles away. This is significant because, pathetic as it sounds, my
Achilles was getting worse.
Anyhow, race day, had to
be out of transition by 7:30 but my wave didn't go off until 9:40. Nothing to
do but wander around (more walking) and go to the bathroom about 10 times. We
finally got in the water; 215 of us 45-49 year olds. Everyone was spread out
horizontally and suddenly, the energy was huge. We're nervously waiting,
treading water but chomping at the bit. We were over 100 yards wide and about 6
people deep; I was in the second row and in the middle, thinking it was a safe
spot. The gun went off and it was the most intense swim I've been in. A
horizontal wall of swimmers just mowed forward. I tried to break free but there
was nowhere to get around; swimmers were packed to the side, front, and back. I
was swimming as hard as I could without hyperventilating. Just 400 yards out we
had to pass through a narrow choke point and I could see swimmers stretched out
ahead. How had they put in that much distance so quickly? Regardless I kept
digging in, completely focused and remembering "what it feels like to swim
fast" from hours in the pool. The group did not string out as in a normal
swim; we were still tightly packed throughout the course. The finish became
visible and I finally kicked free and found an open area.
Popped out of the
swim in 21:57, my second fastest time ever, and on pace. Incredibly this was
just 46 fastest in the age group. My God what a bunch of studs.
On to the bike. The bike
felt great and I quickly got up to 25mph, blowing past people. The pressure was
on to keep the cadence high and try to maintain that pace. The course was fast
but we then climbed a (closed) freeway overpass. It had lots of expansion
joints and was extremely bumpy; something to keep in mind for the descent back.
In any case I rode harder than ever before; hammies and quads were burning and
I could feel the friction; it was getting uncomfortable. And descending down
the bumpy off-ramp was nerve-wracking. Along the course, it was really impressive
how there were no "idiots" swerving around. Most everyone kept to the
right; very different from typical tris, no offense to team in training. There
were also two monsters who came by that I just could not catch, however, I
still had my best bike split ever; 1:00:28 or 24.7 mph. So I was right on track.
As with the swim, my PR was just 22nd
fastest in the AG. Again, what a bunch of studs!
Finally the run. It was
painful from the start. I crossed the one mile mark at 7 pace and just couldn't
believe how slow I was going. I tried to pick it up and focus on consistency
and being smooth; my arms were tight and feet were just slapping the ground.
Meanwhile guys in my age group were coming by--some of them just flying. I
realized my heart rate was down to 160; I really wasn't pushing that hard.
Finally had a few good miles but finished in a disappointing 44:43, a woeful
7:12 place and 103rd in the age group!
In the end, the swim and
the bike weren’t strong enough as the run netted out to 2:11:15, 40th place.
This year, top 25 go to Worlds; the 25th in the AG did 2:07:15. He did a 23 min
swim, 1:01 bike but a blazing 38:47 10k. The AG winner went 1:56 -- 20 min
swim, 57 bike, and 35:19 run!
I didn't make World's but I sure as heck want to try it again next year. It was
an incredible experience to race with so many talented people.