Monday, November 5, 2012


The Marin County Triathlon 

Despite a late dinner on Saturday in the south bay, I headed out the door to the Triathlon at 6 am Sunday morning.

Lots of bustling activity at the entrance to McNear's Beach when I arrived. I had to drive back over a mile to find a place to park. Put on my backpack loaded with gear, and then biked back the 2 miles to the start of the Triathlon, along the SF Bay shoreline.

Beautiful, sunny morning. Having prior picked up my race packet, all that remained was getting my gear laid out for the 2 transitions, and having my body marked with my race bib number on my left shoulder and left hand.

But what I also got a kick out of was everyone's age being marked on their left calf. During both the bike and run segments, you'd therefore know the age of anyone passing you or those you were reeling in as you passed them!

Next was getting into my swim gear (blueseventy wetsuit, 2 caps, goggles, etc). The swim starts began at 8:00, first with the top tier athletes, followed by several male-age-groups, the female swimmers, and my group being the 4th and last start.

Each start wave had their own swim cap colors, 10 minutes apart. My wave (orange caps) started 30 minutes after the first. A high school girl beautifully sang the national anthem, followed by a bagpiper in full dress playing on the beach, prior to the swim start. Way cool.

Being in the last starting group at 8:30, I could clearly see the route the best swimmers were taking around the 5 buoys floating in the sunny calm bay waters.

Even with a wetsuit, there's a moment of chill that hits you when you first get going. But soon I found my rhythm, and made sure to constantly watch where I was heading. The first of 5 buoys was soon just ahead, and the turn in direction after the 2nd was soon nearing. A few swimmers bumped into me from behind but no big deal.

Rounded the 2nd buoy, aimed for the third, and soon the 4th. Once I passed the 5th it was time to head straight for the finish (where we started). My Garmin watch showed that the 1.5 km swim (0.96 actual distance) took me almost 36 minutes, faster than I though I'd do.  Nice swim, felt great. Hey, I even passed a swimmer from the wave just prior.

The regulars in triathlons wear a swimsuit & bib outfit that they can wear swimming, biking and running, resulting in faster transitions, as all they need are biking or running shoe changes. It took me nearly 8 minutes to get out of the water, changed and on to my bike.

Off I went, up the steep hill to the main road and then east toward China Camp State Park. The bike course was a winding, hilly road with spectacular views of the bay. As all competitors had to do 3 loops of the bike course to complete the 22 miles, it was crowded in both directions at first, much less so on my last lap.

Several bikers flew by me with encouraging words, perhaps viewing the '65' on my leg. All such spirit lifts were welcome. A challenging course, but I attacked it technically (e.g. changing gears constantly to leverage the conditions) and pushed hard. Hey, I even found time to check out many of the ages of those I passed or of those who passed me. Funny, but no one older.

The bike leg of 22 miles (with nearly 1,500 feet elevation gain) took me 1 hour 26 minutes, or around a 15.1 mph average. Also on target per my estimate.

Rolled in back to the transition area, dismounted, and ran with the bike back to my running gear.

5 minutes later I was off running the 10K (6.2 miles). Unfortunately, I immediately felt the pulled leg muscle from 2 weeks prior, so I had to shorten my stride and jog rather than race the course. Which is why it took me just over an hour to run the 10K.

One guy passed and yelled out he hoped to be running anywhere near the pace I was when he reached 65. Yes, I checked, he was only 39!

Nearing the Finish Line
I crossed the finish line 3 hours 16 minutes after the start (including 13+ minutes changing).

Hey, I even came in 2nd in my age group! OK, OK, there were only 2 in the 65-69 group, myself and a 66 year old -- who swam faster.  :)

So far, 5 starts and 5 finish lines. No complaints.

More importantly, I have now passed the half-way mark on my '10-event tour de force' (words of Marin IJ).

Assuming the muscle that caused me to conservatively run the 10K leg recovers OK, next up is the Woodside Ramble 50K (31 miles), a hilly,   l-o-n-g trail run in the south bay.

Schedule Remaining 

P.S. If by any chance you are among those still just 'thinking' about getting fit, get started today or tomorrow. You owe it to yourself.