On Sunday I competed in my third and final triathlon of the year at the Strawberry Fields Triathlon in Oxnard. After winning the Breath of Life race three weeks prior, my goal heading into this one was to back that up with another win. Unlike Breath of Life, Strawberry Fields had an elite field and I was lucky enough to start in the same wave with them — giving me a great opportunity to compete against my competitors as opposed to time trialing against the clock (which, to be honest, seems rather silly considering every course is a slightly different length, especially the swim leg).
I started the day at 5:05 AM (because 5:05 sounds a lot better than 5:00) and had the usual breakfast — oatmeal with dried cranberries and some brown sugar, a whole wheat bagel with butter, and a banana — but added a SaltStick in hopes of combating the cramping I battled last time on the run. I was out of the house by 5:30 accompanied by my mom and dad. I made my way to the transition area just before 6:30. Each person had their own space in transition marked for them, which meant no fighting for the perfect spot. I set things up, got a 5 minute jog in, and then took the ~0.75 mile journey to the swim start.
19th 23:35, 4:56 off fastest
I have done two beach starts before this one, but never with much surf. On a normal day at the beach these waves would be unremarkable, but racing in 2-3′ waves is a different story. If you watch the video, you can see that I need to work on getting off the line. This should be a SPRINT to the water, and I am treating it like it is the beginning of a 6 mile tempo run.?? Even with my timid start I still managed to go down in a 2′ deep trench. I was quick to get up, but a gap to the front had already formed. I made it through the rest of the surf without too much trouble and swam the rest of the way more or less alone.
37th 1:11, :30 off fastest
There was a long run to T1. I was thinking, “8th row on the left” as I came into the transition area so I could find my bike and be on my way quickly. Then I tripped. Yep, fall #2 came in transition of all places. The transition area was on grass so the only thing that I hurt was my ego. Of course after I quickly stumbled back to my feet I had lost count of which row I was at. I wasted another 5-10″ looking around. Finally spotted my bike and ran out of an all-too-eventful T1, putting an exclamation mark on it with a terrible mount.
5th 54:15, 1:40 off fastest
A couple weeks ago a family friend, Dave Willard, offered to let me borrow his TT bike for the race. He rode an ironman a few years ago on a 2003 Quintana Roo Ti-Phoon. I took the bike out for a couple rides before the race and it felt much faster. I slowly got my feet into my shoes and charged on. The course was two laps and advertised as 23.2 miles total. With sprinters starting before the Olympic distance races it was difficult to tell if I was passing people that mattered. The bike computer stopped working the day before the race and I screwed up my splits on my Garmin so I wasn’t too sure how fast I was going. In the end it turned out to be a great bike split with the 5th fastest of the day. If the course was accurately measured, that works out to 25.7 mph, 2 mph faster than my last two races!
19th :45, :15 off fastest
T2 was better than T1. I was still 15″ behind the fastest split, but I was right in the mix with most of the top guys. Racked the bike, changed the shoes, clipped on the race belt and out I went.
1st 32:15, 2:44 ahead of 2nd
Out I went ready to chase down the front runners. My parents and friends told me I was about three of minutes behind 1st place — that’s doable. The course was two pancake-flat loops with three 180?? turns which allowed me to measure how much time off the leader I was. At each turnaround I chipped away and finally made the pass at around 4 miles. I felt pretty good, but was slightly worried about the cramps that I battled with last time. “I’m in the lead, so why not just enjoy the last couple miles?” I cruised in to the finish and was greeted with a lively crowd and the cheers of my friends. I’m not sure on the distance, but if it was a true 10k that would work out to 5:09s.
2nd 1:52:06, :06 off fastest
After the race I went to the transition area with my friends to collect my things. As I made my way back to the finish line area, my dad told me the posted the results and I was actually 2nd place! Because I started in the first wave with the elites I had forgotten about the other waves, thinking the fastest would be with the elites. In actuality,?? Andrew Haberkorn started in the 2nd wave and ended up beating me by 6 seconds! Boy did I feel dumb. I took the win for granted and should have gone all out to the line. This race will serve as a lesson that I won’t soon forget.
In my never-ending quest for knowledge and statistics, I looked up Andrew Haberkorn and was happy to find that he is a pretty damn good triathlete. Last year he finished 11th place at the ITU Age Group World Championships in Austrailia. This year he finished 4th at the competitive Wildflower Olympic distance in May.
Results | Photos (coming soon)