Race Report: Laguna Niguel Triathlon

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Today I competed in the Laguna Niguel Triathlon! The race venue was literally four miles from my neighborhood, though I never took the time to check out the course beforehand. This was a “reverse Triathlon”, and thus the event breakdown was as follows: a 5km (3.1-mile) run, a 17km (10.6-mile) cycle, and a 150 meter pool swim. I picked this event for the convenience of its location and for the fact that the swim leg was almost negligible in completion time relative to the run and cycle legs.

Pre-Race

I woke up at 4:40am, and honestly could not get out of bed without a friend making me get up. Waking up for these events (especially on back-to-back days) is oftentimes as difficult for me as the events themselves.

For breakfast I ate 1.5 cups of applesauce, a bagel with cream cheese, and a protein bar (700 calories total), drinking 1 liter of water. I got all my stuff together and hopped on my time trial bike at 6am to cycle to the race venue, arriving just twelve minutes later.

I picked up my race packet, put on my bib and timing chip, got my body marked, and then proceeded to set up my transition area. It was FREEZING cold, such that I was wearing four layers on my top and a pair of BMX gloves. I did a quick 2km warmup with strides, removed (most of) my clothes, and made my way to the start line.

Run

I was running either right at or just faster than my threshold pace throughout the first leg, so it only took a few minutes for my toes and fingers to defrost. We came through 800m (half mile) at 5:50/mile pace. I remembered what happened at the TCSD Duathlon the day prior, so I made the difficult decision to slow down to a 6:10/mile pace even though I felt relatively comfortable. This was a little frustrating because I knew I could be dropping 5:35 miles over this distance, but I also knew it would ruin my chances at posting a competitive bike split.

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Making up the back of the first chase group

I ran the three miles in 5:59, 6:15, and 6:20 (average 6:11/mile) and finished the 5km in 18:54, posting the 8th-fastest run split of the day.

Transition #1

Unlike the event yesterday, I didn’t need my running shoes anymore in the event, so I just ripped them off my feet and grabbed my bike to run out of transition. I actually had the 9th-fastest transition of the day, moving into 8th place.

Bike

The bike course today was just as hilly as the Duathlon yesterday, with a net ascent of about 600ft over 10.5 miles. The course was two 8.5km loops on closed roads in Laguna Niguel. I made sure to check the elevation profile before the race, so I knew there was a descent about half a mile into the bike course. I used this descent to slip into my cycling shoes while tucked in an aero position. I felt like as soon as I got in my cycling shoes I was able to out out some good power. My legs were certainly sore from the run leg, but I still felt relatively fresh (much more so than in the Duathlon the day before).

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Coming up on one of the sharp turns

The first loop was pretty uneventful. The faster runners had the luxury of cycling on a relatively empty course for the first loop. I got passed by two cyclists on the flat sections, but I was able to stay close to them by making up time on the hills. Being such a small person (~62kg) puts me at an advantage on any uphill sections but also a disadvantage on the flats. There were a few tight right-hand turns that you had to slow down on, but other than that I felt like I was flying on the flats and downhills.

The second loop is where things got fun. There were now 200+ cyclists on this five-mile loop, so I spent most of the time to the left passing athletes who were on their first lap. There was the occasional athlete who was all alone in the left lane that I had to pass from the right and shout “stay to the right”. But other than that, I didn’t have too much trouble maneuvering around other athletes and was able to stay in my aero bars for 95% of the flats and downhills. I was able to re-pass a cyclist from earlier on the steepest hill of the course (2.5% grade) and I managed to open up a ten second gap on him by hammering on the flats that led us back into the transition area.

I completed the 17km cycle in 30:49 (16th fastest bike split for the day, after considering athletes who skipped the second lap), averaging 20.6mph. This seems quite slow, but given the difficulty of the course I was very happy with my result. In comparison, the fastest cylclist of the day only averaged 23mph.

Transition #2

The dismount line came up A LOT sooner than I expected, so not only was I not able to do a flying dismount, I couldn’t slip out of my shoes in time. I had to run through transition in my cycling shoes, then sit down and take them off. I also has to remove my socks to prepare for the swim leg. I grabbed my goggles and ran out of transition with a much slower time of 1:25 (37th for the day).

Swim

The swim leg first involved a super long run (500m or so) to the pool. I made up a bit of time and jumped in the pool in the 8th place position. Naturally, after the first 25 yards my goggles were full off water and I had to readjust them. Then, I just put my head down and tried to minimize the time I would lose in the final leg of the race. Somehow, I got passed by three other athletes, dropping from 8th place back to 11th.

Conclusion

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Podium for Men 15-19

Time: 0:57:29
Place: 11th/218 overall, 1st/5 Male Under-25

Overall, I was very happy with my performance! I think racing twice in one weekend ended up working well. Next weekend I’ll be competing in UC San Diego’s Triathlon on Fiesta Island. The swim is longer and the bike is completely flat, so it will be interesting to see how I do.

Complete results: http://racewire.com/laguna_results.htm

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