Category Archives: Triathlons

David Hancock Quarter Ironman (modified) – 2013

August 4, 2013

The David Hancock Tri is one of my favorite events, even though I am a slow swimmer and a horrible biker.  I think my bike issue is similar to my issue with a kayak – nothing fits me… and I am not about to buy a custom made bike just to compete in triathlons.

I was in conversation with Dave Hancock for a week or so about the possibility of borrowing a bicycle… or finding someone to relay with me (as I did last year).  As the date got closer, it seemed unlikely that I would have a bike OR a teammate, but he said, “Show up anyway, and we’ll figure something out.”  MY idea of a solution was to forgo the bike portion entirely and just do the run course twice.  I figured that the speed at which I swim combined with feeling pretty tired on two runs, I should finish relatively close to the other competitors, rather than an hour after like I usually would.

When I got down to the start, Dave seemed flummoxed that I had not come up with a usable bike within a few days, but agreed to my modified version of a triathlon, where I ran twice.  (Someone might be tempted to call this a duathlon, though they typically eliminate the swim to do the run twice (and not do the run twice in a row).

My one-kilometer swim took me 37 minutes (including the transition), and most of the rest of the competitors were long gone.  David’s dad offered me a ride to the bike-run transition area (aka their house), because it was about a mile-and-a-half from the swim area, but I said I would walk myself.  I did a modified race walk, both because there were a lot of street crossings and also because swimming often tired me out and takes a significant time to right myself (usually I would gut it out on the bike or wait while my teammate biked the 28 miles).

Once I got to the Hancock homestead, I started out on the 6.5 mile run course (Woo Hoo, I am in the lead!).  I tried not to overdo my pace as I have another ultra next weekend.

Around the time I was returning from the cul-de-sac at the end of Appian Way (around mile 5.1), I saw the lead cyclists descending down the off-ramp of the 2nd Street Bridge.  Bye bye, lead.  I finished my first loop of the 6.5 mile course in 69:40, around 10 minutes per mile.

I didn’t run nearly as well on my second loop, took the hill easier, walked most of it and I was passed by much of the crowd.  On the positive side (as I mentioned above), I was running around or with the other runners in the race.  My second loop took 75:00, closer to a 12:00 pace.

You know, it’s funny to get upset about a particular pace.  In an ultra, I would be ecstatic with 12 minute miles.  In a shorter race, there has to be something wrong with me!

My total running mileage for the day was nearly 19 miles, due to the fact that I walked to and from the race from my house, did 13 miles IN the race, plus 1.5 miles walking from the swim to the run transition.

After the race was the usual socialization period, with the Hancocks, the volunteers, me and Wolf.  The beer ran out early because the Tribe folks drank it all (also, I am working on drinking less, even though I never drank much to begin with).

Even if I end up not running the event in 2014, if I am in town, I want to volunteer or hang out afterwards.  That is my extra motivation in doing a race – the social aspect.

David Hancock Triathlon – 2012

August 5, 2012

Last time I did a triathlon was, well, last year.  My bike is still unridable, due to a squirrel eating the bicycle seat.  It also doesn’t help that I rarely ride the bike.  Little interest.

I worked it out that I would get a teammate and he would do the bicycle section (and if he wanted to swim, we could both swim, but he said that he didn’t like swimming or running… perfect).

The swim is 1 kilometer, and I managed my usual 32:03 (good enough for last place, easy).

Then I walked over to the bike/run transition location, which is about a mile away and waited for my teammate to come in.

When it was my turn to run, I had a bit of a surreal experience.  Tim Hickok, who can kick my butt any day of the week, has a heart arrhythmia and is struggling (I’m not sure how he got through the swim!).  He left just a bit ahead of me on the run, and I passed him up.  In fact, I did the 6.5 mile run (which is NOT flat) in 54:21, or about 8:21/mile.

Too bad I was unable to overtake the 3rd place team in the relay… but it was nice for once not to be at the very end of the pack.

David Hancock Triathlon – 2009

August 2, 2009

As I mentioned with the Kayak Run Relay, for David Hancock Triathlon, I have not been on a bicycle or in the pool (well, I mean, I’ve swum a little bit, but not for exercise) for nearly a year… probably not since last year.

For the swim, I do what I’ve always done, which is swim breast stroke (with my glasses on) and alternate between swimming with my head out of the water and mostly underwater (because real breaststroking should have your head completely under the water).  This is similar to my kayaking technique, which is paddling hard and then gliding.  Swimming (mostly) underwater propels me faster, but is more exhausting than just planing above the water.  I have pretty good endurance in swimming; I’m just not fast.  The swim takes me 30 minutes and I am definitely the last person out of the water.

On the bike ride, it is mostly about just getting through it, because cycling long distances is no fun for me.  I did get my friend Jimmy Lewis to help me replace my old knobby hybrid tires with “racing” tires, and this helped me a little bit… but I still have a seat extender, but no handlebar extender, so I am still stooped over in an uncomfortable pose.  The 28 miles take me about 2 hours and 15 minutes (about the same pace that I can run a lap around the track).

When I get off the bike, there are still a dozen people on the run, and not all are out of reach.  At mile 4, I catch one competitor, who is running with his young daughters (I don’t care; I’ll take it) and I pass a few others who are not that great at running.  I finish the (fairly hilly) run course (6.5M) in 59 minutes and finish overall in 3:45.

Hard to believe that I have completed over 50 multi-sport events in my “racing career.”

David Hancock 1/4 Ironman Triathlon – 2007

August 5, 2007

I suppose a terrible idea of tapering would be to do a quarter Ironman 5 days before a 50-mile ultramarathon… especially given that I have not cycled or swum in exactly one year.  I always treat the race like a nice challenge… basically not to come in last place… since I am a terrible cyclist and so-so swimmer, but good runner…. a better runner than most of these folks.

My swim is typical – 31:30 for the 1K (including my super-slow transition).

My bike is not bad – 2:20, including the quick transition (dumping helmet for hat, and taking off bicycle shorts).

And… I am satisfied with my “run.”  I feel I should be under an hour, but I did 60:30.  I’ll take it.  The point is not to kill myself before my race… and I didn’t come in last place!

David Hancock Triathlon – 2006

August 5, 2006

A fairly hot day, but I am a bit more familiar with the course (I don’t run a mile off course as I have done in the past) and I seem to do a bit better on the bike.

My past best time was 3:59 and today I did 3:42.

Of course, as I have said in the past, my favorite part about this event is the people, and the more years that I participate, the more familiar I am with those who regularly race and with the volunteers.  We stay and gab for hours AFTER almost everyone else has left.  Wolf and I will converse “auf Deutsch” just for fun, or maybe because we are a little drunk.

David Hancock 1/4 Ironman Triathlon – 2005

August 6, 2005

Back to my favorite small triathlon.

I always have a good time, but I am a terrible cyclist and swimmer… and by the time I get to the run, I don’t really have a chance to catch up to anyone… so I most often finish in last place!  (Plus I got lost on the run!)  I borrowed Tim’s wife’s bike because it is a road bike (as opposed to my hybrid, which goes slower), but it is also awkward because it is a ladies’ bike, and I am a “giant.”

The best part is afterwards.  Not just the brunch, but the fact that I usually stay from 10am (when I finish) until about 6 or 7pm.  Usually I have to leave before I have to roll myself (and my bike) home… at least I live only about 1.5 miles away.

David Hancock 1/4 Ironman Triathlon – 2004

August 7, 2004

My semi-annual / annual triathlon.  Technically, I have done a multi-sport event just a couple of weeks ago.

It’s always funny to me, because basically when I do the event, the last time I swam or biked… was the event one year ago.

Strangely enough, though, I feel like I do reasonably well given that I haven’t practiced any of the disciplines for a year.

In the swim, I do a kilometer in 26:30 (breast stroke), and in the bike ride (28 miles), I do 2:16.

I am somewhat disappointed with the run – 61 minutes for 6.5 miles, but swimming and cycling does something to your legs that prevents you from running normally (much like running for 6 hours on trails can do something to do…).

Even though I typically come in last at this race, I really enjoy all of the people and the downhomie fun attitude of everyone (even the really competitive guys).  And then afterwards, there are those of us that stay after the event and talk and drink beer.  If I leave before 5pm (for a race that lasts from 6am to 10am!), then I have somewhere to be and don’t have time to talk with Wolf, David, and some of the cooler volunteers (like David’s mother, sister, wife and the others).

David Hancock 1/4 Ironman Triathlon – 2001

August 4, 2001

A few months prior to this event, a TRH friend, who I saw occasionally at the workouts, and infrequently at races (and at a triathlon) mentioned to me that he thought I might enjoy this event, which was by invitation only (but now I was invited).

This race was started about 15 years ago when a couple of high school buddies in Long Beach (David Hancock one of them) decided to put on their own fun triathlon for themselves and their friends.  A pretty standard distance is the Olympic, which is 1K (0.6M) swim, 40K (24.6M) bike and 10K (6.2M) run.  To stand out, they made theirs a 1/4 Ironman – 0.6M swim, 28M bike, and 6.5M run – slightly longer.

Since it was an informal event and roads would not be closed, the race would not be as expensive as most comparable triathlons.  For the most part, this race has been $30-40, and includes a cotton t-shirt with that year’s design (usually more expensive, if you only print 40), a swim cap, transfer of items from transition areas, and a post-run brunch.

The swim starts at “Horny Corners,” which is an inland beach on the Peninsula (Ocean Blvd and Bayshore).  Swimmers swim around the pier into the swim lane and go all the way to the (little) 2nd Street Bridge and back.  The water is salt, but is quite still.

After my difficulty with previous triathlons and blindness, I wear Croakies and swim with my glasses on.  I find swimming freestyle almost impossible, both because I have to kick so hard to get my feet above the surface, and because the glasses move quite a bit with side breathing.  So, I swim breast stroke the entire way, and that is pretty slow going – 27:00 finds me behind everyone.

The bike ride starts from the end of the swim, goes East along 2nd Street, over the big bridge and onto Marina Drive (to avoid the chaos at PCH/2nd), turns on Studebaker, and then quickly on PCH south towards Seal Beach.  You continue down PCH through Seal Beach, Sunset Beach and Huntington Beach, turning around at Magnolia.  The course back is nearly identical, until you get onto the big 2nd Street bridge.  Instead of continuing on 2nd Street, you take the offramp down to Appian Way, paralleling Marine Stadium.  At the stop light (Nieto), you turn left and then right on Vista, and then right on Roycroft, go about a half block and it ends.

Any drop bag stuff is transferred from the Swim Start to the Run start, which is at David’s parents’ place.

My bike ride isn’t great, but consider that the last time I rode my bike was at a triathlon about a year ago, and I am just not built for the bike.  I am actually pretty grateful for a plethora of stop signs and stop lights, because I am not sure I could bike nonstop.  I can keep only one other participant in sight, and that is only because his chain keeps popping off – I am THAT slow.

On the return (after Magnolia), I am having some pain in my thighs – at one point, blood is running down my thigh (from chafing).  I actually pull the protective duct tape off of my nipples (I have more in my transition bag.) and put it on my thighs (better than bleeding).  I can see why you would want bicycle shorts on the long rides – padding and protection.

As I get off the bike to transition to the run (in my case, remove the helmet and go), I ask if anyone is still out on the run, after my bike portion (2:22) was a longer time than some people took for all three disciplines.  I am told 3 people are still on the course, but while we are talking, one of them comes in.  So, naturally, I ask, ‘How long ago did they leave?’

The guy with the chain problem left 10 minutes ahead of me, and another tall guy (6’9″, I think) left 25 minutes ahead of me.  Hmm… I think I will resign myself to finishing in last, since a minute per mile (or 4 minutes per mile for the other tall guy) is a “tall” order.  Also, I have some pretty sore thighs.

At mile 3, I catch the first guy (amazingly).  I think he is surprised to see me, and I don’t really pick up any extra distance on him.  At Mile 4, we both pass the other tall guy.  He later tells us he doesn’t run at all (so apparently picking up 25 minutes in 4 miles isn’t so amazing).

For the last 2.5 miles, I am strategizing.  I don’t know what I have left and I know that there is another little hill that will be devastating (short, but sucky, when you are tired).  My goal is to be repassed by the 10-minute lead guy, so I can pass him at the end.  Short of walking, I slow down considerably, so as to give him motivation to catch me, but he isn’t really catching up (not surprising, since I picked up 90 seconds per mile to catch him).

Finally, just past Mile 6, he passes me.  He turns to me and says, “Nice try, pal, but I will take it from here.”  This is right around the little hill that sucks so badly.  I spot him about 10 yards, with two blocks to go, and then go into my full-long-legs-extended sprint, and beat him by 25 yards.  I get a bit of admiration from everyone, despite coming in 25th of 27.

Afterwards, I stay for the awards and brunch (bacon, egg white frittata, fresh fruit, bagels, toast…).  Some of the people and volunteers are hanging around the hot tub and pool, but I had promised a friend that I would come to her party later in the afternoon, so I opt to go home, rest and then go to her party.  I would definitely come back again and David Hancock himself (he’s my age) says I’m welcome to come back again.

Wild Rivers 2M/5K – 2001

June 23, 2001

Ed Villalobos and I carpool down to participate in the Wild Rivers 2M Challenge and 5K in Irvine.  Wild Rivers is a waterpark next to a former wild animal park, which is right across the freeway from when I worked for Western Digital back in 1999.  Both of us are intrigued with this event (and at least for the first year, you can do two events for the same registration fee).

The first event is a “triathlon.”  I put that in quotes because technically a triathlon is a Swim-Bike-Run, or sometimes a Run-Bike-Swim, but there is no biking in this event.  The “middle” event is Water Sliding.  (Middle, in quotes because there is no beginning, middle or end of a specific activity at this event.)

This event is SERIOUS.  How serious can you take a Water Sliding race?  Very seriously, if the winner gets $500!  In fact, there are a few nationally ranked Triathletes here, including Julie Swail (who later competed at the Olympic Trials (maybe the Olympics, too) in the Triathlon).

The event begins at the deep end of the wave pool.  People start in 15-second increments.  Anything other than a “wave” start would be disastrous, because 200 people shouldn’t be jumping into 8′ deep water all on top of each other (and 3 at a time is bad enough).  The trick, by the way, if you want a chance at the money, is to be near the front.  Our problem is that people have begun lining up very early; I probably didn’t cross the starting line until the race was underway for 10 minutes.  Don’t get me wrong; they did time people based on their start times, but certain sections of the race get crowded.

So once you struggled out of the wave pool (not so bad for me, because I was able to get my feet earlier than everyone else), then you followed a prescribed route up some stairs and down a waterslide.  This is where the bottlenecks come in.  If you started in the early groups, then you were one of the first people to the slide.  If you started later, a line forms because they have to maintain safety standards on the slide.

There are a few more loops around the poolside to different slides, with different heights of stairs, and all of it is slippery.  Finally, the piece de resistance, the Lazy River.  This is probably a 1/2 mile long and about 3 feet deep.  If you are just enjoying yourself at the waterpark, you are sitting in an innertube and lazily gliding slowly around the circuit.  If you are in a race for $500, you are trying to figure out how you can move rapidly around this river.

For me, the water comes up to just below my waist, so technically I can “run” through it.  If you have ever tried to run through 3′ deep water, you know that it is exhausting and not particularly efficient.  My best bet turns out to be doing a modified crab walk, a sort of combination walk/swim through the water.  With most of my body submerged, I can move more efficiently than just walking or just swimming.

I finish in about 19 minutes and change and Ed does a few minutes slower, but in his case, it is enough for him to win an age group award (a towel).  The winner of the challenge turns out to be one of the professional triathletes.  Who knew that they would be good watersliders too?

About 40 minutes after the start of the Challenge, there is also the 5K, through the old Wild Animal Kingdom (which closed before I moved to SoCal).  The course is a combination of trail and street.  It is also unusual for me particularly because I am so wet, having done the Challenge in my shoes, shirt and shorts.

I run a non-impressive 23:12, and Ed does about 29 minutes.  I guess I shouldn’t be too hard on myself, because in this particular back-to-back, it is almost like having done a triathlon, and then doing a running race.  Having done a few triathlons, I know how tired I am after I swim, so to manage sub-8:00 miles is not too bad.  Ed wins another towel.

The fun aftermath of this race was first some problem with the trunk on Ed’s car.  It wouldn’t open.  My dry clothes (and keys) were in there.  We did eventually get it open, but it was a little frustrating.  Also, we did not plan to stay and enjoy the park, and the race did include a free ticket – we may have received 2 free tickets each since we did two races.  The pass was only good for that day, so I ran around the parking lot trying to find someone to give the ticket to.  I found a nice family that was very happy to receive 4 free tickets!

Distance Derby 10M – 2000

August 12, 2000

A momentous few weeks since the ThomBob Relay…

First, about a week later, Mike Lynn (my teammate) and I are running hard on the TRH Sunday Fun run in El Dorado Park.  (Racing, almost.)  Mike trips over a cement parking block and fractures his leg.  (Yow.)

A week later, I am at my 6th hash… I keep going back to try it again.  The 6th hash is when you get a “Hash Name.”  While they are working on it, the cops come and break up the run.  I don’t get named.

The following week, the naming is tried again, and I am called “Pillsbury Blow Boy.”  (Usually, the names have some kind of filthy connotation…)  The name results from the fact that when I moved to Long Beach, I would bring bread or some kind of baked goods to AREC every Wednesday… the people naming me are mostly my friends from AREC, thus the “Pillsbury” moniker.  At this same run, they ask if I want to “hare” a run (this means to lead the run and control where people go) – I have some interesting ideas and Laura and I work on this trail (usually people get a few months to figure it out and we have 2 weeks and have never done this before).

Several times during the next week, Laura and I meet to work on our trail.  A typical Thursday night trail will be 3-5 miles long, only because it gets dark and people don’t like to run a lot in the dark.  Our preliminary run is 9 miles long – too long, I’m told.  Isn’t it supposed to be a 90 minute run? (It’s near impossible to run 10 minute miles, while drawing chalk arrows and throwing flour.)

After one of our scouting expeditions, we go to cheer people on at the Huntington Beach Triathlon, which has one of the more unusual starts – not unusual in how it is done, but in what happened:

The first group – M25-29 – heads off into the water.  The current is so strong, not a single swimmer makes it out to the buoy, and by the time they swim back to shore, they are about 3/4 mile past the exit point.

So… the second group – M30-34 – runs 1/2 mile down the beach, and then goes in the water…. not a single swimmer makes it out to the buoy, and they are swept at least 1/2 mile past the exit point.

The third group – M35-39 – has Tim Hickok in it.  He says, “Look, I know this beach and the current.  Follow me, if you want to make the buoy.”  Some run with him 1.5 miles down the beach… a few of them make the buoy (with some effort) and pop out at the exit point.

For most of the rest of the competitors, they swim out a little and swim back (and not the distance they are supposed to do) because it is just crazy!

The following Thursday is the “Blew Dress” Run with the Hash, to commemorate the Monica Lewinsky fiasco.  Fun.  (But you will never see me wearing a dress!)

The Distance Derby is after all of this nonsense, and so I decided not to push the pace, because we will probably go run our course again tomorrow.  I finish in 1:17:56 (7:50 pace), and then we go do a (horrible) 4 mile Orange County Hash.

A few days later, we “hare” our first hash (assisted by Neva “Alouette” Higgins, a friend from AREC).  Success!  Though I have logged nearly 50 miles in the past week…