IronBruin 2013

This shall be the first race report of Brittfuel …That means freedom:  No formatting rules. No protocol.  No expectations to fall short of.  It’s a good feeling.

Actually, the whole “free” feeling is ideal in racing as well, as I’ve seen in the sport of triathlon.  It is good to come into each race anew.  No pressure.  No feelings of “well, last year, when I was more in-shape, I smoked that guy on this course.”  No thoughts like “uh oh, that girl is racing today.  I better go home.”  Don’t go there.  When those thoughts try to sneak in, ignore them.

When I start worrying about how I did last year, or four years ago, or how fast everyone else looks, and how expensive their bikes must be, etc., it doesn’t do anything but steal my enjoyment from the race.  I also don’t like to expect a specific result, time, or ranking from myself.  I think of races as a life parallel: things will unfold strangely, unexpectedly, or horribly wrong.  People will swim on top of you. The waves will force themselves into your mouth.  The water station guy will completely fail at handing you a water cup.  Your digestive system will go to pots.  You will forget your lucky shoelaces (do you even have any?). So what?!  Dust it off.

[In case you are thinking “you make triathlons sound like the worst thing on earth,” please be encouraged:  you will also have good days.  People will surprise you and help you fix your flat tire.  The weather will be breath-taking.  You will finish strong.  The post-race food will taste like the best thing since sliced bread–even sliced bread with peanut butter on it.]

So, now to…

The Race: IronBruin, 2013
The Pre-race meal (s): 3:30am, plain bagel, toasted w/ almond butter, banana & strawberries, green tea, coffee. water.
The Venue: UCLA campus
The Course: 400 m “snake” pool swim/13.5mi bike of 4 loops/5k run
The Check-in: I did race day packet pickup, and it was smooth.  The team/helpers were good about getting to people quickly and even walked out into the line to check multiple people in at a time.
The Bathrooms: (this is important!) I used to swim at UCLA’s Sunset Rec Center pool (where the race swim is), so this is a bit nostalgic for me.  But, it is great for everyone to have full-on toilet-shower-changing room facilities.  This is not common in triathlon events, so it’s a real treat.  The bathrooms at the pool have 4-5 stalls (can’t remember).  Also, there are 4-5 more toilets at the bathroom near the small warm up pool just a stone’s throw away!  A++
The Transition Set Up: This is interesting because there are 2 separate transitions: one for the swim-to-bike, near the pool, and one for the bike-to-run, near the finish line.  It’s never fool-proof to have two transitions.  People don’t always think straight at 5am.  Lots can go wrong (e.g. helmets at T2 instead of T1, having to wander around/warm up without shoes if you only brought one pair and had to leave them in T2, mass confusion and chaos, etc…).  Nevertheless, if you are aware of the whole two transition area deal before race morning, it’s a non-issue.  I have finally learned this after 4 years of competing in/helping with this race (I won’t lie–I still confuse myself and others sometimes).  But, just read the course map and the race organizer’s emails!  Ask questions if you must!
The Warm Up: My warm up consisted of:
a. put shoes on bike and make sure that I can get on my bike, shoes on, before the big downhill at the bike start. check.
b. get keys from dad and run to the car to store my extra stuff/clothes that I don’t need.  run back to the start are. check.
c. find cap and goggles and jump in the 90*degree warm up pool.  float around for 100yards. check.
d. try to get in on a pre-race bruin 8-clap. check. boom.
The Uniform: My charming parents drove me to this race because they are the bomb.  We stopped by my coach’s house to pick up my Pearl Izumi uniform at his porch at 5am.  (I had left it with him to get it pressed with logos. Unfortunately, the uniform guy hadn’t gotten to it yet. But, I really wanted to race in it anyways!).  My onesy is perfect for sprint/olympic tris– it’s comfy, has the non-slide rubbery material on the legs, and looks legitimate because it has the Pearl Izumi logo 😉
The Time Trial Start: The head timer started us about 5 seconds apart.  We jumped in feet-first and pushed off the first wall.  I went in 4th–I am pretty sure this is because I overestimated my swim speed at registration, but what-evs.  I don’t think I caused too much trouble, and only got passed by a couple of fast dudes right near the end of the swim.  I like the TT style, because it feels more like a race against the clock–against yourself–than a race against other people.  It’s fun.
The Swim: 400 m snake…no flip turns.  I wish there were flip turns because it’s actually sort of hard for me to not flip at a pool wall :  Butttt I can see how people could–and would certainly–get hurt with other people obnoxiously flipping all over the place.  This is a great swim overall, and would be a good first triathlon swim.
The Bike: Starts off downhill.  Has some sharp turns.  Technical.  Some short, solid climbs. 4+ loops. Goes by faster than I had expected.  I think the race organizers (past and present) have done a good job utilizing their resources.  It’s not easy to put on a big event involving street closures in Los Angeles.  While the course is definitely a little dangerous for inexperienced riders, it’s also very doable if you are willing to exercise some caution.  Chill out and don’t get too competitive by trying to race someone around a sharp corner at the bottom of a steep hill.
The Run: One loop through campus.  Lovely.  I don’t think I could have handled more than one loop–it’s mentally exhausting to run the same thing over and over.  Much better not knowing exactly how far you have left.  I could do without the little semi-boxes…you are running, looking straight ahead, and you see other runners just there, and then you look down and see that the course actually turns off for a segment and then takes you to where that guy up ahead is at…gah!  It’s especially tough at the finish, because you are booking it, thinking, there’s the finish line!…and then you have a left turn, right turn, longish straight-away, right turn, and another longish straight away…finally!  Anyways, I’m just saying this because I was in a lot of pain out there.  My legs definitely felt like bricks on the run.  It was a good challenge.  The water stations were excellently-placed.  The course was well marked (I did witness a couple of guys go pretty far off course, though…their fault).  The campus is gorgeous (though, I am partial).
The Race Fuel: I sipped a 16 oz bottle of water w/ 150 cal (1.5 scoops) of Citrus Fluid on the bike, and had 2 small cups (about 2 tsp. each. Jk. But seriously…considering I spilled most of it on my head) on the run.
The Finish/Post-Race: hoppin.  The team brings T-1 bags back to the finish area, so that you don’t have to go get them!  The environment is fun.  There’s good food, liquids (mango lemonade), free stuff, good people, music, and sweaty finishers.
The Results: These were posted pretty much before we even crossed the finish line.  The women’s splits are here.  Some very fast ladies out there yesterday.  Men’s splits here.  Nice job guys, especially my old UCLA tri buddies!
The after-Meal: We ate at a cafe in Malibu called Coogie’s.  They have fresh-squeezed juices, yummy breakfast, good-looking lunches, and a beachy vibe.  I got a Brazilian acai bowl, and I don’t regret it at all.
The Visuals:

my cool dad and I at the swim start, pre-race
swim start, ready to plunge.  Brian O’neil’s bubbles straight ahead of me.

Not sunny.  Shouldn’t have brought the hat…extra weight!

good food at the race.
Brazilian Acai Bowl at Coogie’s


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.