Rancho Seco Tri for Fun – Old Friends and Crossing the Line First

Gloria (a.k.a. “Dr. G”) are back racing. Two weeks ago we did the Olympic distance Sacramento International Triathlon (you can read my report about it here), where Gloria finished first in her age group (and second woman overall) and I finished second in my age group. We opted for the Tri for Fun, because neither of us had done a sprint race in a couple years. The race is also a major race for our old tri club, the Chico Triathlon Club. The CTC is like a second family for us, so in addition to racing, were were looking forward to seeing old friends. I was looking forward to a simple and fast race. However, I had not run for two weeks, because I finally decided that after dealing with endless niggles after Ironman Texas, I needed to take a couple weeks off of running. I wasn’t sure I would go especially fast, but at least my foot no longer hurt.

TBF Racing has been doing the Tri for Fun/Tri for Real series at Rancho Seco Park every summer for thirty years now. Rancho Seco Park is built around an old nuclear powerplant. The powerplant ceased operating in 1989 and has since been decommissioned. The surrounding area, however, is now a public park operated by the Sacramento Municipal Utility District. The park includes a lake, which once served as a backup waters supply in case of fire emergency. The powerplant’s cooling towers remain and are visible for miles. TBF really has the organization down solid for these races and, even though they don’t use chip timing, electronic result come up as soon as you finish. The Tri for Fun is a series of sprint races and excellent for beginners. The Tri for Real is a series of Olympic distance races that draws some very fast athletes.

We arrived shortly after the transition area opened. This time I checked our wheels and tires the night before and it was a good thing I did, because Gloria’s front tire was flat. It was much better noticed and fixed the day before than upon arriving at the race. Still, as Gloria set up her transition area she noticed her bike computer was not working and that here goggles were missing (probably left at the Sacramento International two week prior). Fortunately, some old friends from the Chico Tri Club showed up, Tony and Karen English, and they had an extra pair of goggles. Unfortunately, we could not get Gloria’s computer working in the time we had. Gloria is good at racing by perceived exertion, but she still likes to know here speed and distance. She remained focused on the present though, without letter the computer issue distract from racing. She is very good at using this mental skill to respond, but not react, to race day curve balls (it’s well-worth learning and I highly recommend getting in touch with her so you can learn it to). While Gloria saw the bike tech, I went for a quick run (about 15 minutes) to warm up. I downed a PowerBar gel, got into my Custom Wattie Ink. Blue Seventy Helix, then went down to the lake to warm up. Short course racing is fast. I like to start fast and open a lead in the swim. It helps, especially after 35 years of swimming, to warm up and loosen up my shoulder first.

Old friends, Tony and Karen English, part of our second family.

Old friends, Tony and Karen English, part of our second family.

I lined up with my wave, which was wave 2, and started with the horn. I sprinted hard out from the pack, veered a bit to the right to get around another athlete, and kept pushing. The swim course is essentially a triangle and I rounded the first buoy (a white Redbull buoy) with a healthy lead. Big orange buoys made sighting easy. As I neared the second buoy I started passing athletes from the second wave, swam around a few as I rounded the second buoy, and continued pushing to the swim finish. As the bottom came up, I dove under water, took 3 or 4 “bronco butterfly” strokes, and ran out of the water easily leading my wave. As it was, there were probably only 4 athletes from the first wave ahead of me. Swim time 10:24 (for 0.52 miles), about normal for me for a sprint race.

TBF Ken Swim

First out of the water.

I quickly transitioned, easily pulling up the zipper on my Helix, peeling off the sleeves and, upon reaching my transition area, rolling it down to my ankles and pulling my feet out. I am constantly amazed at how easy it is to quickly get out of the suit. I got on my bike, strapped my shoes on, and rolled out.

The bike course is fairly flat. There are some long rollers that make you work your gears and about 4 or 5 speed bumps on your way out (and then back in) to the park. While not the fastest course around, it’s still pretty fast though (I think the Sacramento International course might be faster). I haven’t been out there fore a while and thought the course was 12 miles. When I didn’t see a turn around, I figured it was maybe 13 and when I still didn’t see a turnaround I figured it must be 16. I kept pushing and finished in a little over 42 minutes. Although it was nowhere near as hot as it was a couple weeks earlier, when we were into triple digit temperatures, it was still pretty warm and the Speedfil A2 made it easy to hydrate, while maintaining my aero position and my pace. As I got off the bike, quickly donned my sub-6 oz. K-Swiss K-Ruzz, and downed a PowerBar gel as I ran out of T2, I only had one person ahead of me. I could hear the announces commenting that, although I was second, I had started in the second wave and was actually leading. I was making up time on the athlete ahead of me. I didn’t feel fast, and I could tell from my pace that I was not going especially fast, but at least my foot didn’t hurt. I caught the athlete ahead of me shortly after the turn-around, ran hard back to the finish, and, for the first time ever, crossed the finish line first.

Crossing the line first was pretty exciting and it gave me an opportunity to chat with the RDs and other athletes about Wattie Ink. and the Elite Team. I ended up finishing second overall when an athlete from the wave behind me finished a little over a minute faster.

Ken podium

Second overall, first 35-39.

Gloria soon crossed the line, winning her age group and finishing as third woman overall.

Gloria podium

Gloria, third woman overall, first 30-34.

We had a lot of fun. We’re enjoying our-post Ironman Texas racing and showing the Sacramento area what Wattie Ink. is all about.

Winning couple.

Winning couple.


One response to “Rancho Seco Tri for Fun – Old Friends and Crossing the Line First

  1. Pingback: Testing My Limits, Rising to the Challenges | Life With No Limits·

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