Wildflower 2005 Race Report

I successfully completed my first triathlon on May 1st! Below is my race report for the event, the Wildflower Triathlon at Lake San Antonio. Photos from the event can be found on my site at Smugmug.

2005 Wildflower Triathlon Race Reportwildflower.gif
May 1, 2005
Olympic Distance (1500m swim, 40km bike, 10k run)

Final Results:

Bib #7289
Total Time: 3:05:28
Overall Rank: 965

Swim: 0:24:52 (0:16:34 Swim Min/Km, Swim Rank 288)
T1: 0:03:17
Bike: 1:38:54 (15 MPH, Bike Rank 1727)
T2: 0:02:34
Run: 0:55:51 (0:09:00 Min/Mile, Run Rank 1263)


Wildflower 2005 was a sight to behold. Located in the central California valley at Lake San Antonio, it had three events over the course of 2 days. Saturday held the Long Course and Sprint triathlons, and Sunday held the Olympic distance triathlon. Over 7,000 athletes competed in the events, including 4,200 in the Olympic race on Sunday. This was my first triathlon, and I trained for the event with Team in Training (and raised $6800 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society as part of the program.)


Though most athletes camped at the race site, because Michelle was pregnant and Kristin was visiting from Seattle, we spent the night at a hotel in King City about 45 minutes away. In the end it was probably a good choice – apparently the camping was a bit noisy and hard to get sleep. The morning of the race held the standard small jitters, but I was surprised at how calm I actually was before my first true endurance event. As we drove to the lake, I got more and more excited as I saw all the cars with bikes on their racks, headed the same way.

The Olympic distance race officially started at 9:00. My wave (all TNT men) would leave at 10:05 (waves were started every 5 minutes.) Setting up the transition area took far less time than I expected, so I had plenty of time to just hang out with the TNT teammates and coaches. I had no real concerns with my transition area setup and remembered everything I needed to bring. Of course, anxiety set in, and I ended up putting on my wetsuit WAY too early, only to take it off again for another 15 minutes (I started to overheat!) and then put it back on.

Swim (0:24:52)

At 10:00 they sent the wave off ahead of ours, and let us into the lake to warm up. I actually took the warm up rather seriously and spent nearly all the time in the water, to get my body acclimated to the wetsuit again.

The swim itself went exceptionally well. One key: I had purchased brand new goggles and worn them only a couple times prior to the race. I had no fogging issues whatsoever on the race which (for me) is a big confidence booster. I had no problem with sighting, and after about the first 500 meters, I ended up sighting every 8-10 strokes. My main focus on the swim was to not overswim it and kill myself in the first leg of the race. I hit an excellent pace and had a great swim time, coming out of the water well ahead of the rest of my wave. The only challenges I had in the swim were passing some of the waves ahead of me – I hit a few pockets of congestion in the water. I was kind of surprised how wide some people took the swim – some folks were clearly zigzagging, but others really seemed to just want to stay way on the outside. I basically kept my line right along the buoys.

T1 (0:03:17)

I came out of the water and jogged up the boat dock. I was worried I would be pretty wobbly, but felt rather solid. I think I could have moved faster up the dock and across to my bike, but I was a bit winded. One lesson in transition – they have these paper cups of water/Gatorade there for you. I took one in the transition areas, but it’s very hard to drink from a paper cup while running, so I’d end up stopping to drink. Definitely killed quite a bit of time, both entering and exiting the area. Next time I’ll just stick with what I’ve got in my bottles – and having one extra one (not on the bike) that I could put on my towel at the transition is key to this strategy.

All in all, T1 went ok, but the biggest issue I have is knowing when I have gotten enough sand out of my feet. I spent most of my time sitting wiping my feet with my socks. I put on my right sock, felt some grit, and took it off again. Definitely killed some time there. In the end of the race, I didn’t have any blisters or notice anything bothering me from any grit, so I wonder if I could have done a more basic job and still been just fine. Hard to say.

Bike (1:38:54)

The bike went well but was clearly my weakest leg. The suckiest part (which really didn’t affect my race) was that my first gel packet exploded as I tried to squeeze and eat it, and then proceeded to ooze all over my glove and shoulder. I had to lick my glove and shoulder to take it, getting some Body Glide along the way (yuck!) Stickiness then ensued. A pain in the butt more than anything else.

The main thing I learned on the bike was about how to manage the water/Gatorade stops. What everyone seems to do is just grab water/Gatorade from the volunteers, drink as much of it as they can within about 100 feet, and then toss the bottle into the garbage bins on the side of the road. (I had thought that I’d have to throw out one of my own bottles and replace with one of theirs.)

All in all, I went relatively hard on the bike (for me) but continued to get passed. Physically my legs felt ok, but in the last 5 miles my lower back really started to get sore, which definitely affected my pace. I had to stand on the pedals and stretch every once in a while, and clearly felt myself slowing as we turned in toward the last 4 mile stretch to the lake.

I managed to avoid any drafting penalties, though in a race this big it’s really quite difficult to be that spread out – the uphill climbs really bunch people up, and it’s hard to spread out on the downhills.

T2 (0:02:34)

T2 was relatively uneventful. Coming in through the gate someone nearly took me out with her bike, but I managed to avoid it. Came in, switched shoes, helmet, hat, etc, and I was off. I had a spare gel there, which I decided not to take before the run – something I would later come to regret. All I did was grab a gulp of Gatorade. I should have taken the gel with me and eaten it, and grabbed water on the run course entrance. Certainly I didn’t need 2 ½ minutes for what I did, but I was trying to make sure I didn’t miss anything. After T1, it seemed like I should have had more stuff to do at this transition, which made me stop for a few seconds to make sure I wasn’t forgetting something dumb, like taking off my bike helmet…

Run (0:55:51)

I started out feeling really good on this run, actually, running the first couple miles at an 8 minute pace. At this point I was thinking “ok, if I keep this going and push the end, I can make sub-3 hours for this race! The first couple miles are on trails with rolling hills.

Then I crashed.

After mile 2, you take a sharp right turn, and there are two NASTY, long climbs that just took everything out of me. This is when I really wish I’d seen/done the entire race course before – on practice weekend, I didn’t do the run. I think this psychologically hurt me, and by the top of the first hill, my legs were starting to feel pretty rubbery. Not sure if it was all mental as I looked at the next hill, but I really was wishing I’d taken that gel back at T2.

Between miles 3 and 5, I took 3 stops to walk 2 minutes apiece, and clearly recognized I wasn’t going to be sub 3 hours. This mentally hurt as I tried to climb the last hill before Lynch Hill’s 1 mile steep downhill, but I made it and turned the corner.

The downhill on Lynch was actually quite nice – those muscles hadn’t been used in a while – though some racers clearly seemed to have figured out better how to run quickly downhill (at least faster than me!) As I rounded the corner to the finish line, it was amazing to have been able to complete. We came down the chute, and I saw the time on the clock as they announced my name on the loudspeaker – what a great feeling!

After the run I got my Wildflower finisher’s medal, and they put a towel that had been dunked in ice water over my shoulders – god bless whoever thought of that! And that was the end of the race!

Total elapsed time: 3:05:28


~ by Nathan on May 9, 2005.

One Response to “Wildflower 2005 Race Report”

  1. […] or Bust! As some of you will recall, two years ago I successfully completed my first triathlon with Team in Training. Completing the race was a big personal accomplishment, but I was mostly […]

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