Practice Weekend - Wildflower Long Course

It was a very grey and cold Saturday morning down at lake San Antonio when started out our very first open water swim. The previous weekend we had test out our wet suits in the swimming pool (75F) so we were indeed very warm in them. However someone had forgot to switch on the heater in lake! This meant the lake was around 48F, if your going to swim in open water for the first time to get the best possible experience the water should really be as cold as possible :-)
I walked into the water and soon lost all feeling in my feet and then my hands, the only thing between the water and my head was a thin swimming cap, not a neoprene cap (which I later found it was essential in this conditions). I found it all most impossible to swim with my head in the water, which meant I had a very slow pace. To complete the experience the water was nice a choppy :-) I was in the water for about 45minutes or a lifetime depending on how you look at it.

After the swim it was time to get dried off and onto bike for the 56 mile bike course that takes you around Lake San Antonio. Up until now are longest bike ride had been 35 miles, so this was to be a jump in mileage also this course has about 4500feet of climbing, which a fair bit.

The first taste of climbing is early on in ride, the climb up Beach hill is not without it's challenges, but then there is a a couple of rolling hills lead out of the park. From there you continue north going clockwise around the lake. Unfortunately while I had just got a new cycle computer for my bike, I hadn't yet fitted it so knowing how far long I was in the ride was going to be difficult. It turned out there was the occasional mile marker on the road, but they could be easy to miss. I just kept going at the pace I could, the road was mostly rolling hills which made for a fast ride. When I had gone about three quarters of the way around the lake the climbing really kicked hard as I approach the famous stretch of the course called "Nasty Grade", this is the 900feet of climbing that occurs at 40 miles when your legs are good and tired.

By this point in the ride everyone was very separated, I could occasionally see someone head in the distance or far behind, but at the hill I felt all alone. There are many turns going up and around each turn is more climbing, there was a bit of wind to keep things interesting also. Without any way of gauging my speed I it seemed it would be quicker if I got off the bike and walked up the hill, but I stuck it out on the bike not admitting defeat. Finally I thought I had reach the top instead right around a sharp bend was the steep part of the course an 8% grade climb, this was luckily short and ended the toughest part of the ride. Mostly down hill from then on and oh what a decent to start with, it is possible to get over 50mph going down this hill if you don't fear for your life. As I had no cycle computer, I'm not sure whether I feared for my life or not. :-)
At Mile 50 I was definitely feeling tired, but luckily there was only a couple miles to go at this point, one final hill entering the park on which I drop my chain so had to get off to fix it, apart from that is was smooth sailing. The final descent down to lake on "Lynch Hill" is a nerve racking experience, last thing you want to wipe on final corner.

Ride Details (Click here to view on Google Earth):
3hours 46minutes
3200 Calories (approx)
Heart Rate unknown
14.9mph Avg Speed

Sunday morning it was time for run course, 13.1 miles with a few more climbs of course :-) We started at 10am and unlike the previous day the weather was gorgeous and not too hot for the run either. The first few miles of the run were flat and I kept a good pace going, at mile 4 to 5 the real climb begins. Shortly after that we had a water stop at mile 6, that is when you realize your not even half and there is a still another 7.1 miles to go. The course goes through the campsite and then on to the road, a quick out and back into what is called "the pit" and then it is straight with a nice steep downhill to finish it off. I completed the run in approx 1hr 55mins.

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