Octogon's Nautica Malibu Triathlon
September 15th, 2002 $80
.5m swim, 18m bike, 4m run.

Swim - 24m worst split ever. Was it the fog, or me?
Bike - 1:06 was decent for me, probably ~18mph.
Run - 31m back was tight, walked a few 15 second bits. Still under 8.

Earlier in the year my mother was thinking about running more, but was concerned about the strain on the knees. I suggested triathlon as a way to do a decently long race but with substantially less abuse on the joints. Next thing I hear is: 'okay, what race are *we* going to do?' After the Huntington Beach event was cancelled (water quality issues?), we selected the Malibu event. It was a tad longer than the typical beach sprints events, but it benefited the Glaser Foundation, working in pediatric AIDS research, the field my mom worked on when she was at UCLA.

The race is said to have 2000 slots, though it never seems that way in the results. It also has a considerable celebrity contingent, with David Ducoveny, Ian Ziering, and Stephany (Alexandra Paul) and Newman (Newman) of Baywatch nearly always showing. This year the man my girlfriends loved, the unlucky Hunter of Survivor, came in.

Preregistration was held the day before. As typical, there was no way in hell someone else, even my mother, could get my packet, so I left SF in the morning to get there before 5. I don't like to deal with registration on the morning of an event. So I motor down, pay my $6 to the County Park, and pull up just at the same time as my mother. There was no line, really almost no people. The Pavillion was set up, but empty of anything in retail. There was to be a sand building contest - there was one entrant. The wind was blowing pretty good, but the surf was nothing terrible. 1-4'. I was hoping to get a water bottle to mount on my aerobars, so we left hoping to catch a bike shop, or perhaps at the event in the morning.

The goodie bag comes with the usual paper inserts, a Men's Health magazine, and a Supergo catalog. The timing chip is a bit different from what I've seen - this one is mounted on a surfboard leash type velcro strap - much thicker, but not possible to overtighten like the thin strap type. The swim cap (royal blue for me, an unfortunate hot pink for my mom) has the nice nautica race logo, but unfortunately that's all the oversized shirt has. A very nice Nautica baseball cap was the key prize in the pack.

We left Santa Monica nice and early - somewhere abouts 4:45, and with almost not a single red light, got there in half the time it took to leave the day before. 5:05 we enter the park (no entrance fee today, or already part of our fee) and get a reasonably close spot. It is extremely foggy. We can hear the ocean waves, but can't see the sand. We find it's hard to work on the bikes in the dark - no working interior lights on the truck, and no working flashlights. Instead we use the headlights. Add one more item to the race kit.

We walk over to the pavillion and find registration to be just as bare as the day before, and no more vendors (ie, none) than the day before. Guess it will be just a regular water bottle for me. No gels either. For that matter, no coffee! Just water. This is not a TriCal production. The Tzone has organized racks - 24 riders to each set of 3. I'm *way* in the back, my mother has a spot pretty close to the front. We prep everything, then head out for the urgently announced pre race meeting which was remarkably brief, with a short description of drafting rules and little beyond.

To the swim - the fog is still ridiculous. Every now and then we can see the giant swim buoys, but most of the time, that 150yards is well out of range from shore. The waves aren't too rough, but every once in a while a good one rolls along. The first wave got it particularly bad, entertaining the heck out of the rest of us. I'm in the 4th wave so I warm up as the 2nd one heads out. The water is decently clear, enough for me to see a stingray scurry off right in front of me. The rest of the warmup was done with me staying on top; it wouldn't do to get nailed right before the race. I'd hate to think how those buggers would do if they happened to be sitting in the race zone. When my wave goes, we hit a remarkably calm spell and other than swimming over some forming swells, hit nothing bad. But...we still can't really see where we're going. Sometimes I thought it was my goggles, but mostly it was just low viz and I wouldn't want to see my course plot. When we pass the middle buoy I have absolutely no sense of direction, nor did I when we turned in from the last one to head to shore. Only as we get close do I see lights. I stand up at the first sand bar and start to strip down, only to find myself in 7' deep water for a bit. When I exit the water, I logged my slowest split of any yet, at 24:14 for a 'half mile' swim. Lots of people complaining in transition.

The bike starts nicely, with a mile or so south along the parking lot before a turnabout onto PCH northbound. I stay to lower gearing to spin up and am happy to see the computer reading at 20+. However, this didn't last as I got on the highway. Later I realized that there was a decent headwind coming from the north. Also, the outward leg trended slightly uphill with a sudden drop at the end at Leo Cabrillo Beach where that nice speed was lost to a sharp turn. They had guys with bullhorns calling out the warning, but the wind in my ears drowned them out as I exceeded 30. After the nasty climb out, it was a much faster return as I was able to boost my speed considerably. I'm still not climbing well though, and my back tightened up a bit for the run. Still, it was a decent bike course. The outer lane was blocked off for us and there were CHP at the intersections. Car traffic wasn't much of a concern. I did see the officials motor by a bit to catch the drafters with some success, but not total. 1044 (that's you, ) was sucking wheel for the couple miles I saw as he and his host slowly cruised past me. No penalty for him, sadly. The ride ends on the flat parking lot, but heading north again and I can't keep up 20 there. The clock time for me was 1:05:55 for the 18 miles, however it appears that this includes both T1 and T2, so I did much better than the estimated 16.38mph. I'm guessing close to 6 minutes in transition (I didn't rush today), so likely was at 18. I should be doing better, but I need to log more riding miles to do it.

Now, the run. For once I don't have those side cramps, but instead I do have a back that is a bit wound up. There are no hills so it's not critical, but it does keep me from doing a short sprint to bump up my speed. I just try to keep going. The fog is still there, and it's impossible to see far ahead. With a full view, I might have been able to keep plugging, but instead I space 3 15 second walk breaks along the course. I knew heading out that I needed a 30 minute 4 mile to finish under 2hr, but I'm just not able to put that out. I do come much closer than I would have guessed, at 31:22, and an overall time of 2:01:29.

Food at the finish included water, gatorade, cut oranges and apples, a decent pasta dish, and oreo cookies. (Unfortunately the food supply did not last for my mother's finish - punishment for being in the last starting wave) I ran by the Paul Mitchell tent and got myself on the list to get a badly needed trim - they were happy to deal with my race worn mane. I then went over to the transition zone to see my mother come in from the bike. She did well on the ride, but came into a T zone seeing a lot of people packing out for the day, including a couple laying gear out across her aisle. I stretched protocol a bit here and took her bike so she wouldn't have to deal with them and talked her through the transition. Unfortunately, I was in no shape to do the run again. She went off, and I headed into the water to rinse down, then changed into warmer clothes that covered more skin.

I was getting my hair cut while they were doing the celebrity awards. Those who came did very well. Ducovney did his typical 1:53 time - he's been within a minute of that for four years running. Others were even faster, centering around the 1:45 point. Oddly, more of them opted for relay options. I feel much better with that hair removed - usually I like to do this a week before a race, but work being so busy killed that. It was done in time for me to head to the finish and find Gary, and then I go about a quarter mile up the course to find my mom and run in with her. She did a 5 minute on, 1 minute walk routine and had no trouble finishing up, and having a great time doing it. She probably could have pushed harder, but you don't know that without doing some racing and as far as I know, it's been a very long time since she did a timed race. (for a few years now she's done the MS150 ride)

This should be my last race of the season, and good riddance to it. I never got rid of the Achilles problem, and aside from not running, didn't do much to help. Time to pay for some good help, and hope it's an easily solved mechanics issue and not need to spend another 6 months not running. In the meanwhile, I'm going to amp up the swimming, and if possible the cycling. I think I have some new biking buddies, but we'll see how it works out with the upcoming winter.

In this race, I would have liked to be about 2-4 minutes faster on the run, 5 minutes better on the bike, at least 4 better on the swim, maybe one better on the transition. Or a 1:48 time. But I don't know it if will be tested. The Malibu race was decently designed and run, but it was a bit spartan for the price. I know it was a charity event, and it raised approxiamately $100k, but I also know I've seen full page ads for it in numerous magazines I read. Huge promotional costs. I ended up driving 11 hours this weekend to spend 22 in Malibu. Worth it to do with my mother, but otherwise I would pass. In hindsight, I also wouldn't bother with registering the day prior. I'm going to suggest they build it up somehow.