Wildflower 2007 Long Course Race Report

wildflower.gifLast weekend, I successfully completed my first half-ironman event, the Wildflower Long Course triathlon. Officially billed as the “most difficult long course triathlon in the world,” it would certainly live up to its name! Overall, the word of the race would be “WIND.” Further details on my race are below… and photos are available on my Smugmug site (thanks to Dad & Michelle for taking all the great pics!)

Thanks to everyone who donated to Team in Training on my behalf. All total, the TnT team raised over $1.7 million in funding to go toward the fight against blood cancers for this single race!

Wildflower 2007 Long Course
May 5, 2007
Long Course / Half Ironman Distance (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run)

Final Results:

Bib #699
Total Time: 6:36:41

Swim: 0:35:51
T1: 0:03:26
Bike: 3:38:29 (15.3 mph average)
T2: 0:02:06
Run: 2:16:49 (10:26 min/mile average)

Total calories burned during the race: 7432

Wildflower 2007 was, once again, quite a sight to behold. Over 7,700 athletes would compete in three different triathlons over 2 days, most of them (like me) camping in the hills around Lake San Antonio for the weekend. My race, the Long Course, was run on Saturday morning, and started at 8:00am with the professional triathletes. My wave (they start you off by age group) started at 8:30.

The swim has always been my strong suit in a triathlon (which is why I consider it such a shame that it’s such a SHORT part of the race, overall!) This year would prove no different – we got off to a great start, and had a fun ~500 meter sprint to the first buoy. I particularly loved wearing the bright HOT PINK caps they gave us for our wave. Quite a fashion statement! The water condition was great – not too cold – and, for me, the swim was fun because there was actually a fair bit of chop due to all the wind. We didn’t really feel it until we got all the way out to the turnaround, but swimming back in to the transition area felt like we were in the ocean!

Wildflower Memory #1: THE WIND

We set out on the bike ride, and all in all, I think I had one of the best long rides I’ve ever done, particularly in these conditions! When we set out on the bike, all seemed reasonable. But after about 10 miles, the wind really started to pick up – and as we neared our first right turn onto Jolon Road, we were facing some very stiff headwinds! Of course, when we turned right, then we had crosswinds to deal with – we were getting blown all over the road. The poor guys who put disc wheels on their bikes were in far worse shape. A couple competitors were actually completely blown over on a steep downhill section when they got hit by a particularly nasty gust. Ouch! Apparently they were fine, but that was the end of the race for them.

Wildflower Memory #2: THE ENERGIZER BUNNY

As I mentioned before, the most memorable landmark on the bike course starts at mile 42. It’s called “Nasty Grade,” and for a good reason – it’s a 5 mile climb of over 1000 feet – and you’ve already ridden through 42 miles of rolling hills. I chugged my way to the top, and saw my 2nd memorable sight on the race. As I was rounding a corner on my way up, I heard a “boom boom boom boom boom” and some cheering. I rode around, and there on the left was this guy in a full-on Energizer Bunny costume, banging his big bass drum! Apparently he’s a fixture on the course every year, but I have to admit the laugh I got out of that helped me get all the way to the top!

Wildflower Memory #3: THE NAKED WATER STOP

I came in off the bike and transitioned into my run gear. The first few miles of the run are flat with some hills, and then at about mile 3, you really start to climb. There’s about a mile and a half of some seriously steep hills, and just when you’re ready to call it quits, you hit an aid station that’s become another Wildflower fixture: the naked water stop.

First, let me back up: Most of Wildflower’s aid stations are run by volunteers from Cal Poly in nearby San Luis Obispo. They were fantastic – I can’t say enough about how great everyone was and how helpful the volunteers were. But just to top it all off, every year a group of Cal Poly women decide to provide some extra incentive to the athletes, and staff an entire water stop topless! I had thought it was all just a rumor, but sure enough, just as you’re really starting to swear at the stupid hills, you round the corner and SURPRISE! There are about 10 topless college women cheering you on! They actually crowded around the trail and gave all the runners high fives, laughing all the while. Now that’s what I call a water stop!!

After that, it was just 8 more miles of running to the finish. I have to say that I never thought it would be that hard to run at a 10-minute mile pace… but I gutted it out and soon enough was running down the finish chute! I’d really hoped to break the 6:30 mark, but given the conditions I’m really happy with my 6:36! Even the professionals were about 15-20 minutes slower than last year’s pace, so clearly there were some tough conditions out there! All in all, a great race and a good time.

Last but certainly not least, I want to send out a huge “thank you!” to Michelle. She’s been such a trooper for the last 4 months – putting up with all of my long weekend workouts, when all she wanted was a break from being mommy. Dealing with my Thursday night track practices. Putting up with my alarm clock at 5:30am for my swim practice. And for coming down to the race and cheering me on, louder than any other spectator out on the course (and yes, I’m serious about that! Her voice really carries!) Thanks for all the wonderful support – I couldn’t have done it without you! And if you ever want to go out with friends in the next 4 months – the answer is “of course!” šŸ™‚

Total elapsed time: 6:36:41!

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~ by Nathan on May 7, 2007.

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