The Desert Triathlon, La Quinta March 5th 2017 - By Dave Groom

Who on earth came up with the idea of a triathlon in the beginning of March? I don’t know but whoever it was it was a good idea. It doesn’t get much better than La Quinta in the Coachella Valley in early spring. The lake at Lake Cahuilla Recreation Area was calm and inviting, the air at 6.30am had a distinct chill, and the few hundred triathletes were assembled and ready to take on the course and the day. But I’m jumping ahead of myself, which also described just about all the athletes competing that day.

I’m not sure when it was but a few months earlier Liz and I were talking to the, ever cheerful and very positive, Sam Sosa who told us how much fun training in the cold and rain would be for an early triathlon. So we signed up. Training would have been fun but who needs to train? It was only an Olympic triathlon, and the last one I did was the Sprint at Santa Barbara so those 50 minutes were plenty of preparation. Sam, of course, was totally ready as was Liz, and our newest Tri Club member Lori ‘The Real Deal’ Travis. More about her later. Rounding out the presence from the Club was Aero Johnnie and our favorite attorney, Brian O’Connor.

And this guy!

He’s the famous La Quinta Road Runner, and provided a great incentive to run as fast as we could once the bike was over.

Liz and I first met him when we headed over to register on Friday afternoon, an easy process, with very few Olympic peeps there at that time. He is the face of La Quinta as he is the only thing visible other than stone walls and private entrances to very expensive golf courses. At the Lake we saw Jon Martin registering for both the Saturday sprint and the Sunday Olympic so he confirmed that his training started Saturday morning for Sunday’s race. Brian was doing the Aqua Bike on Sunday, which sounded like a great idea, particularly when I got off the bike the next day.

Once registered we headed back to Palm Springs where we were staying with friends from San Diego at their new little house downtown. Hang by their pool, dinner out and chill for the evening. We had all day Saturday to relax and prepare for the race. Lovely!

5am came around very early the next morning so we packed up and headed out for race day.

This race has a very interesting pre-race protocol. Before you enter the lake you have to sit in a cold pool and be decontaminated for the Quagga Muscle to make sure you don’t introduce an unwanted muscle into the water. Once done we were safe to start. The 1.5 K swim was in the Lake, a lovely 65 degrees, flat with good visibility. Unfortunately for me the swim was long, measuring around 1950 yards, so the time was slow. Now it was time to hit the bike. The course was very similar to both the Ventura and Oxnard triathlons. Once out on the road we did two rectangles around the local countryside before heading back to T2. It was a fast course, but windy, so a little challenging against the wind. The run was a two loop run going out and back around the lake. It was fun because we got to see each other a couple of times. Getting my ass slapped by Sam Sosa was an added bonus.

So back to ‘The Real Deal,’ Lori. She finished first of the 4 of us racing Olympic. She is very humble about her past, and actually hasn’t raced a triathlon in 3 years. However in her career she has completed 15 Ironman races including 4 in Hawaii, along with a large number of races at other distances. She did a 30:17 swim, 1:15:22 bike and a 54:34 run giving a finish time of 2:43:46. Trying to chase her down were Jon Martin and Lizzie. Jon just edged Liz Groom with a 29:56 swim, 1:15:05 bike and a 58:19 run for a total 2:47:37. Right behind him was Liz with a 2:48 flat. Broken down into a 29:50 swim, 1:24:15 bike and a 49:21 run for third in her age group.

Sam Sosa came next with a 29:44 swim, 1:26:36 bike and a 51:19 run for a total of 2:53:17. The slap on the ass had me down for about 2 minutes recovering from the shock and searing pain but I managed to recover. I will give you my finishing time but remember to subtract the two minutes in recovery. Swim 33:06, Bike 1:11.09 and a 1:03:46 run for a total 2:55:09. But taking off the 2 minutes that leaves 2:53:09. 8 seconds faster than Sam, for second in the old guy’s age group.

Jon Martin had a 1:18:09 on Saturday in the Sprint and Brian O’Connor had a 1:56:15 in the Aquabike Sunday taking third place in his age group.

A fun weekend and definitely a race I would recommend. Just make sure you finish before the wind really picks up, which it did as we were getting the awards.