Duel in the Desert - Recap

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Here’s my crack at this great event that took place between TCSD and the LA Tri Club on March 7th, 2010.  I learned about the Desert Triathlons in La Quinta in 2006, when I signed up with TCSD.  But I had never heard anyone mention it for all this time until just last year.  I had planned on doing it, but other races seemed to take precedence with each year.  The race should make for a memorable personal best, whether you are doing the Sprint, Duathlon, or International Distance.  The location is highlighted by golf courses and winter get-aways on the east side of Mt. San Jacinto on the way out to Phoenix.  The backdrop of the stark, rocky mountains is awesome.  The course is very flat and well-coordinated and planned out.  I can’t recall any complaints about the races themselves.  The weather on the other hand, was another story that I’ll delve into later.



In October 2009, TCSD had gotten into contact with LA Tri Club to throw around the idea of getting an inter-club competition going for 2010, culminating with some yet-to-be-determined race at the end of the year.  The Desert Triathlons in La Quinta (near Palm Springs) ended up being the first race to try this out on.  Some time sorted out that I would become nominated to head the event organization instead.  I was cool with that – it would become a little hectic, I was sure.  I was also planning on being a volunteer captain at Cal Half as well.  Good for me that I’ve done some organizing in the past and my job has me coordinating action plans on a daily basis, so I had the basics of what I needed to do.  I just ran it kind of like our engineering changes at work – get a plan laid out, have people review it, and put it into play.  It gets to be fun juggling a busy job, training, and two volunteer gigs – especially when your home computer gets shut down by viruses in the last two weeks before the event.  So my communication got slowed way down.



The Desert Triathlons put on a club competition with point rewards to top finishers in each of the three events, by top finishers and age groups, and for club spirit.  We threw around a few ideas for spirit including car flags for the way out and t-shirts with a sword fighting theme or other “duel” concept.  After talking to Chris Lieto at a recent club meeting, he informed one of our volunteers that he might be available to race for us.  Then it turned out that he did ask, but the race director actually turned him away saying that to treat everyone fairly, he would have to decline the entry along with all the other celebrities!  Bummer.  The keg, water bottles, and temp tattoos were what made it.  I collected an excellent group of volunteers who helped me pull together the event details nicely in the days leading up to the weekend.  There was a little mailing fiasco with the water bottles and where they were sent + we were short for the event, but we are currently getting that all resolved.


The first sign of adversity came with the weather reporting from the area (and ours) for wind and cold rain for Saturday.  So I’m sure we all made our own preparations to get ready for the wet stuff.  Lots of us chose the camping option.  The race was on Sunday and on Saturday, most of us were heading out.  Gerry, one of our volunteers, was directed to head out to “Registration” to set up the club tents only to find out that “Registration” was taking place indoors at the host hotel.  We hoped that other people didn’t have the same message in their heads.  Still being in San Diego and the club van just packed up, I headed my non-computer-having self to the UCSD library to send a message about the correct location of the TCSD tents at the park where the race was to take place.  Then I finally got on the road.  Yet another volunteer chose a travel route that turned out to be too slow, so he alerted the rest of us that we should go the longer, but faster way.  I arrived in town almost exactly when I had intended before some last minute changes to plans the day before and ended up running into the event organizer from LA Tri Club (though I didn’t know her by face yet).  We were both getting ice at the Circle K and she commented that we both were needed ice and asked what kind they had.  We didn’t want to get the big blocks since they aren’t good for keeping canned drinks cold.  I got to the race site after getting my registration and met the lady again in the parking lot.  Here I finally found out through her talk with other LATC members that she was one of their organizers.  Introduced myself and then went to find that our tent was already up and ready to go while LATC equipment had not yet arrived!  Excellent.  I hoped that the race people had noticed that.


It’s really good when you can anticipate the unexpected and have alternate plans in case things go awry, but it’s even better when your volunteers essentially smoothly work out the little nuances for you as they come along.  My roster attendants Naomi and Gerry got everything going and were filing in the entrants shortly after I arrived.  I think I got two questions from them, so things went great.  That Saturday afternoon opened with both club tents side by side and a Meet / Greet session where we checked in for a raffle / dinner of pasta and salad and got a chance to cross over and meet a few of the LATC members.  They are a really nice group of people and the rivalry taunts were all in good fun.  TCSD members won several of the raffle items including myself, Tom Johnson, and some of our volunteers.  One LATC member won one of the TCSD t-shirts, so I’m sure she will warmly wear it!


Towards the end of our get-together, the temperature began to noticeably drop and the wind picked up.  We took the hint and broke the tents down and got everything loaded indoors for the night.  Then it would turn out that hardly a drop fell overnight – it wanted to wait until race morning, which came fairly quickly.  I have a typical routine down for race morning and things went without a hitch besides the long hike to get from my car on one side of the lake to the other; but the International started at 8:30, so I had enough time to get in.  I hadn’t gotten into open water for this year yet, so my swim was a bit challenging.  Just cold and not used to it – otherwise, I think I would have been happy with it.  The rain began as the Sprint race and Duathlon were finishing up and while the International riders were on the road.  I think for a lot of people, this proved to be the coldest / rainiest race they have ended up doing.  I took about 5 minutes off my best time, which was from a hilly course with a lot of up and down so I’ll have to think about that.  I came in on the bike and just had to get something warm on; I could hardly open my transition bag and fumbled getting my arm and leg warmers on.  I had reserved dry socks for the run, those that was helpful too.  I could only feel half of each foot for the first 1.5 miles of the flat run that looped twice around the lake.  I had a nice little pull at the end with three LA Tri-Clubbers on Les Shibata’s and my tail as we crossed the finish line practically evenly.  My finish time ended up comparable to other 10k’s I’ve run in an Olympic distance and I ended up getting a personal best that took another 4 minutes off my best, thanks to the bike leg.  Good for a season opener.


There were lots of troopers out there – I remember after we had finished packing up and I was almost back to my car sometime after noon, there was a woman who had already gotten her finisher’s medal on loop 1, but still was determined to complete the whole event even as the finish chute was being disassembled on the other side of the water.  Lots of cold, tired people looking for any way to get warm again by leaving the race site for their hotels.  We had a keg set up at our tent, which helped liven up our spirits while we waited for all our people to come back in.  Pretty soon we resolved to get it all torn down and head out.  Thanks to everyone who helped in the effort!


As the race was winding down, I already had word that some of Sergio Borges’ X Training crew had claimed some points for us.  So had he.  Brian Wrona, my coworker in TCSD equipment transport, got 3rd place for M25-29 International and Gerry Forman, another of our great volunteers claimed first for M70-74 Sprint.  I don’t think we had anyone have to drop out of the race.  The return trip was rather quiet as most people had run back to their cars and made out of town with their own plans.  Late Tuesday, we were informed by the race director that LATC had claimed the competition between our clubs.  It was evident from the numbers that we had made quite an awesome effort despite how many more racers they had.  Here’s the basic results –


International – 1st: LATC at 90 points, 2nd: TCSD at 75 points, T3 Performance Multisports at 35 points.


Sprint – 1st: TCSD at 77 points; 2nd: LATC at 67 points, 3 Sports Brasil  at 35 points


Now the thing about “3 Sports Brasil” – this was a single racer.  The situation turned interesting mid-week after the race when Sergio Borges informed us organizers that his 17-year-old prodigy from Brazil had incorrectly entered his organization affiliation.  In his mind, he was racing for us and got first place in the Sprint race for M15-19.  Unfortunately for us, the results standings were upheld.  We stand a really great chance for future competitions, so don’t hang your heads by any means!  Our next competition with L.A. Tri Club is yet to be determined, so keep your eyes on the club messages for our next shot!