Tuesday, July 21, 2009


I am writing this on Tuesday, 60 hours after the race, and still my legs barely work. Lets go through this sequentially though, because legs are a topic all to themselves.

We (Tessins and Crokers) stayed at Bodega Bay on the California coast for the 4 day race weekend. Temperatures were in the low 50's to the mid 70's all weekend. How hot can it possibly be hot 25 miles to the east of here where the race is?!?

The race is a tad unique in that it has two separate transition areas. The first is a rocky beach on the side of the Russian River. The beach is not particularly large, and once you put 2200 bikes there, its even smaller.

SWIM (1900 meters) - 37:00 minutes (top 36%)
Dave and I swam in the same swim wave, which is only the second time that's happened in 2 years. My goal for the swim was to complete the swim in around 35:30, and finished slightly slower than that. During the swim (which got pretty boring, apart from the woman who I mistakenly slapped on the butt during the swim), Dave and I swam literally next to one another for the first half. He eventually pulled away, and finished about 30 seconds quicker. One odd thing about swimming in a shallow river - you sometimes have people running in the shallow water next to you rather than swim. And yes, your hands do hit the bottom of the river every now and then. I had some slight calf cramping at the end of the swim, but wasn't alarmed by it due to achilles problems recently. Coming out of the water and the first transition area, I was about 1:30 behind my goal.

Here is a picture of our swim start:

Picture of me coming in from the swim:

BIKE (56 Miles) - 2:54:00 (top 38%)
The bike ride was incredible. Very scenic, and moderately hilly. Coming out of the water, it was a cool 60 degrees, and slowly warmed up over the next 3 hours. I rode most of the race with the same group of people, and had a running joke about passing them on the downhills, and they passing me on the uphills. Definitely broke up the ride boredom. My goal was to average 18mph, and actually averaged 19.1mph. The ride has 2 major hill climbs...the first one was pretty unremarkable, and Chalk Hill was harder than expected. Chalk Hill is the signature part of the ride, and there was ONE person spectating there. One. And he wasn't even clapping. He just said "you're at the top." Thanks dude.

At the top of the hill, and for the next 5 miles, I had a quad cramp, which was a first for me on a ride. I rode the last 10 miles pretty easy, knowing I was way ahead of my goal and trying to save my legs for the half marathon approaching. And it was getting hot.

Coming out of the 2nd transition area, I was around 8-9 minutes ahead of my goal. Both Dave and I expected an exceedingly hard ride given the terrain, but both of us believe that our training rides were quite a bit tougher than this route...most notably the Chappell Hill routes west of Houston.

Some pictures from the ride from the Crew:

Mile 27 (I about hit that guy in front of me while paying attention to the fans!)

Finish line for the bike

Caroline waiting on Daddy!

End of the ride - feeling very good for the run.

RUN (13.1 miles) - 3 hours 50 minutes (top 80%)
No that isn't typo. And no, it wasn't a full marathon distance! Yes, I ran the 13 miles at a 17:45 pace per mile. I'll go through this in order. Coming out of transition, I felt better than I have EVER felt going into a run in a triathlon. My legs felt amazing, my heart rate was low, my hamstrings were fresh....

Here I am passing the Crew at around 300 yards into the run.

At around 350 yards (as in, like 30 seconds after passing them), my race started to unravel at a pace that was very alarming. I immediately started cramping in both quads, bad enough that I had to stop and stretch for 2-3 minutes for them to release. After that, I tried to run for about 2 minutes, and walk 1-2 minutes for the next 3 miles or so. My original goal was to run without stopping to mile 6.5, and survive the rest. My first mile was a 12 minute pace, my second mile was a 13 minute pace, and at mile 3, the run started getting hilly. For most people, these hills were a joke. For someone from Houston, they felt massive. My running is basically a thing of the past, and I am facing walking almost every inch of this race.

Around mile 5, I was running for maybe 30 seconds, cramping in some leg area (you name it, it cramped up), and walking for 3-5 minutes. Cramping was now in my quads, calves, and hamstrings, but subsided everytime. I saw Dave around mile 5.5 (he was at mile 8), and he looked pretty dang good (though he said he was really struggling). At this point, I was also trading places with a 55 year old man, who was only walking. He was outpacing my jog-walk-jog-walk strategy, which was pretty demoralizing!

Its worth noting here that it was hot. DAMN HOT. 95-98 degrees hot according to weather.com, and the run route had minimal shade. It was blistering out there. And I forgot to take my salt tablets during the race (big mistake I think).

After mile 6, running was no longer an option. Now I was speed walking like a fairy. In spandex. I think around mile 8, my overall goal of 6 hours passed, which was pretty funny to me at the time.

At mile 9.5, both calves and both quads totally locked up on me. I fell over immediately on the road screaming words that I can't repeat here. A couple people tried to help me stretch the cramps, but it was so bad they couldn't move my ankles or feet. Totally locked. And I was sitting on a 100 degree piece of road. They rolled me over into the dirt in the shade, and left me for dead. And thanks to the runners who ran over me while laying in the road. You guys were great. Really.

I stayed in the dirt for 10-15 minutes until my leg muscles released, got up, and started progressively walking more and more. 2 steps. Stop. Stretch for 2 minutes. 4 steps. Stretch. etc etc. Everyone who passed me on the run asked why my back was covered in dirt. "Did you pass out?" "Did you crash?" "Were you wrestling a cow?" "Were you helping repave these roads?"

The back of the race is full of great people, all fighting various problems (mostly cramping this day). Very encouraging people, and all in a lot of pain. But all positive. Very positive. It was definitely the highlight of the race for me. I eventually walked all the way to the finish line, having walked 90% of the 13.1 miles. I figured my cheering Crew had left and gone home by this point!

The finish line was pretty funny, as Caroline and Landon both walked across with me. The announcer was making fun of me, because neither kid would hold my hand since I probably smelled so bad. I did trot across the last 5 feet though.

Here is a picture of the finish:

Walking over to the tent after finishing...

I finished in 7 hours, 34 minutes....you know, roughly 94 minutes slower than my goal (top 76%). Would I do it again? Of course (but not anytime soon). I really need to be another 20-25 lbs lighter to do this again, and that will become the next goal. Overall, the race was easier (through the bike) than I expected, and significantly harder than I expected on the run (obviously). I think the running injuries in the past 5-6 weeks didn't do me any favors, though none of that seemed to have crept up during the race. I think the majority of my problems were race-nutrition related...and things that are easily solved. We're planning on doing the Austin Triathlon in September, then concentrating on strength and speed through the fall.

Dave had an awesome race. I was blown away by his pace. He averaged 20.5mph (2.5 above his goal), and bought enough time on the bike that his slower-than-expected run didn't keep him from beating his goal by 3 minutes (he finished in 5 hours 40 minutes). He fought some cramping at the end as well, but nothing too bad. He really had an incredible race, and at the end said he had hit hit endurance limit for these types of races and wasn't interested in going further or doing it again. The next day, he was already plotting the next 70.3 race.

Picture from beginning of Dave's run

Picture of Dave finishing:

The CREW!!!
We had an incredible support crew made up of Mom, Dad, Candice, Caroline, Landon, Jennifer Tessin, and Paige Tessin....all wearing custom made yellow shirts (turns out there was a DJ crew from Sacramento called "Phil and Dave" who were racing too, and some thought they were cheering for them). They were super easy to spot on the course (partly due to the shirts, mostly due to their loud cheering). It was also a ton of fun with Landon and his "code word". Everytime we saw each other, we yelled "SALAMI!!!!" to each other. The word ultimately was appropriate, because the race turned me into fatty, cooked meat. The crew was awesome, and made the race WAY more fun and was something to look forward to over the 70 miles. They endured a LONG day in the heat, and I think I would have rather been out there racing than corraling kids!!! Candice also deserves a big thank you for allowing me to train for this big event, as it took a significant amount of time away from the family.

Here's a picture of everyone at the finish, and other pictures of the Crew.

Jennifer, Paige, and Caroline

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