California International Triathlon was another USA Productions race, and I'm definitely liking their style. They are the perfect west coast complement to Race Day Events in Wisconsin. With a focus on the local triathlon community, they have a festive atmosphere which comes complete with generous contests & giveaways, a race director named Ryan, and best of all, a post race burrito. Who doesn't love a burrito?!
The venue in Pleasanton was excellent and all the morning logistics were stress-free. The parking area was right near transition, the lake was available for pre-race swim warm up, and there were even real bathrooms with no lines!
Shadow Cliffs Lake was a comfortable, mild temperature and I had a great swim! The water was smooth, and the sun was already up for the day, so no sunrise glare in my eyes.
I zipped up a smoking fast T1, a transition record for the day at 41 seconds.
The bike course was reasonably flat -- at least there were no beastly climbs. It was very well marked and well staffed, which I appreciated (at 22 miles per hour it's hard to thank the volunteers in person). The course was an out and back, so I got a good look at all the guys ahead of me. We started in different waves, but I was 13 back from the lead guy, so I focused on holding that position.
About 3/4 of the way through, the international course joined the sprint course and things got a lot more congested.
The entrance to T2 was a bit crowded, but I managed to slither through the herd of Sprint racers and close the deal on another record fast T2 time, handily beating all the women. Two of the guys completed transition in less than my 27 seconds, which there is no excuse for, since I'm not aware of any physiological advantage bestowed on males when it comes to putting on shoes. I will have to try harder next time.
I must have missed the memo on the run course description because I didn't realize it was a trail run until I got out there! I enjoy trail running, so I rolled with it, even though I was definitely in the wrong shoes for the job. My race flats are paper thin, so I felt every rock and pebble underfoot, and for some reason they all wanted to impale my tender arch in the same exact spot.
I like the challenge and variety offered by a hilly rocky trail, and it certainly takes my mind off of the exertion of racing (and perhaps also the pain in my foot), but I generally prefer flat pavement for running my fastest.
... Or do I?
I felt like I was having a decent run, and without any women ahead of me, I decided to see about closing the gap on some of those men who had passed me on the bike. Volunteers and aid stations were plentiful on this two loop course, and the water was delightfully cold. My spectathlete team found places along the course to pop out of the underbrush and cheer me on.
And I got to careen down the hills at top speed. I was having fun!