2012 Malibu Nautica Triathlon Race Report

Nautica Malibu Triathlon – Herbalife International Distance
Malibu, California
United States
Michael Epstein Sports Productions
80F / 27C
Total Time = 2h 07m 3s
Overall Rank = 8/1143
Age Group = 35-39
Age Group Rank = 1/155
Pre-race routine:

Before starting off this race report, I wanted to share my brief but significant history with this race. Going WAY back, like 3 years lol, I first saw the Malibu Tri when I made a visit to Zuma one morning for a friends birthday. This was before I even really knew what triathlons were. I remember seeing someone walking through the parking lot with one of those giant “Happy Gilmore” checks and thinking that must be the winner of whatever this gigantic event was. At the time, I didn’t give it much thought. Fast forward six months and I had just taken up the sport…well as I started learning more and more about the sport, the first thing I wanted to do was find out the info of that event I saw. I found out all about it and the fact that it sells out right away. So I looked up the website and looked at the distances…YIKES! At the time, I wasn’t sure I could even do a sprint (which was sold out) let alone the International Distance. So I signed up Ashley, Corey and I to do the relay. We had so much fun and that began our short tradition of doing the relay every year. By the time the event rolled around I had already done several Olympic distance races and I was a little disappointed I didn’t sign up for the individual race. I would get my chance the next year as I signed up to do the individual race Saturday and the relay Sunday. For some reason, I really wanted to win this race. It’s pretty much the largest and most local tri for me so it really is like a home event. Last year was going perfectly until I was passed with ~1/4 mile to go on the run and ended up losing by 12 seconds. That was a tough one to swallow. Losing in the last few meters really hurt.

You can probably see where this is going. I really wanted to win this year. So back to the present. Most already know that I suffered a pretty annoying stress fracture late last year that I only let start healing in about March of this year. This took all the tri’s and running races off my schedule until Malibu, assuming my healing went ok. I started running very very small amounts late in May and early June and have been slowly bumping the runs up over the past few months. Being ultra careful to not re injure the stupid thing. That meant coming into this race I would only have a tiny bit of run fitness. I will say that the injury did give me the opportunity to really work on my swim/bike combo.

Talking the race over with my coach, and looking at the Santa Barbara Aquabike I just completed, we decided the best way to race this race was to get to T2 as fast as possible. That meant, hammer the swim and hammer the bike. I would be mindful that I still needed to run but not make a concerted effort to protect my run. Use my strengths and hopefully that gives me a big enough lead to hang on till the end. Let’s see how it played out.

Event warmup:

Before the start with Nancy Reno from CVMM

I was solo for this race and I arrived at the parking lot at 5am on the money and parked fairly close in the main lot. Made the walk down the path and got right in transition. I really didn’t have anything to do when I got in there. I’ve got my routine down and all I have to do is pull my shoes out of my bag and put my wetsuit on. So I stood around transition and talked to everyone I knew. As I mentioned, this is like a home game so I knew lots of people. The racks are really uncrowded because they use the same number of racks on Saturday as they do on Sunday and there are way less people racing on Saturday. That makes things so much easier.

Left transition when it closed at 630am and walked down for the pre race meeting and the National Anthem. Then made the long walk down to the swim start. Got in and swam around for a few minutes. Surf was not big but not small. I always look for big surf as it gives me an advantage over those swimmers that are a little timid in the ocean. After years and years of surfing as a kid, it doesn’t bother me at all. I only swam for about 5 minutes and then made my wave over for the start. Felt really good while I was swimming around though. Overall energy was good and my arms didn’t start to get sore at all. We were all systems go.

00:20:07 | 1640.42 yards | 01m 14s / 100yards
Age Group: 4/155
Overall: 15/1143
Performance: Good
Suit: blueseventy Helix
Course: Same course every year. Out, right shoulder, 6 buoys, right shoulder and in.
Start type: Run Plus: Waves
Water temp: 70F / 21C

Thoughts before the swim were to take it out strong but hardly a sprint to the first buoy. Canon went off and I made an aggressive run to the water. Tide was high which meant deep (thigh deep) water right off the bat. Making it tough to run more than a few steps. Dolphin diving was the best way. Did a few of those and spotted someone to my right keeping pace, if not moving in front. Hit it hard to the first buoy and got into a group of about 3-4…it was hard to tell even though I was making an effort to keep tabs. I like to keep tabs so I know approximately how many people I need to pass on the bike till I’m in the lead. For about another 100 yards it was pretty rough. One guy kept forcing me towards the inside and I was trying to swim straight to the next buoy. I tried to get to his left side and when I dropped back to move around..WHACK! I got a kick straight to the face. That felt fantastic! 😦 I was ok though and I dropped back just behind them. Once that pack passed, they got about 10-20 yards on me and stayed there. I was totally ok with this and decided not to make the effort to close the gap. I would just keep them in sight.

This strategy worked right up until we started making our way through the previous wave. Their caps were so close in color to ours (dark blue vs blue??) that I had trouble telling who was who. The only thing I knew for sure was that I wasn’t passed throughout the swim. I also decided on a slightly wider line around the 4 interim buoys. This gave me clean water with no previous wave congestion. It also got me a little further away from the surf line. The buoys were pretty close to shore and the larger sets of waves would rock you pretty bad if you were in tight to the buoy line. I was able to get into a great rhythm out a little further. Made the last turn tight and headed back in. Goal for this swim was in the 22 minute range. I popped up and was happy to see ~19:30 when I started the run to the mat. Crossed the mat just over 20 minutes and knew I was in a great position.

Exiting through the surf

What would you do differently?:

Nothing…no major mistakes here.


I’m actually coming into T2 but we’ll use this pic as coming out of T1…ssshhh;)

T1 went great. Suit came off without a problem, helmet buckled just fine and I was running with my bike before I knew it. Jumped on and got up to speed without incident.

What would you do differently?:


01:01:08 | 24.85 miles | 24.39 mile/hr
Age Group: 1/155
Overall: 4/1143
Performance: Good
Wind: Little
Course: Out and back along PCH. Rolling course with a couple short climbs.
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence: 90
Power: 256AP/267NP VI 1.04

Plan for the bike was to go hard…plan within the plan was really to go out, through the parking lot and just get up to speed. Nothing really hard until after the intersection by the market…probably about 3-4 miles in. Then hammer. On the way back shut it down when the course turns downhill for the last 4-5 miles. Not a lot to be gained hammering that section and you can use it to get ready for the run.

I got into my shoes just fine and took it easy getting out of the parking lot. I didn’t want to get forced into one of the “infamous” speed bumps that have ended many people’s races over the years. Got through that fine and made the turn onto the highway. Again, not really laying the power down. I’ve found that it takes me about 10-15 minutes to really get warmed up and up to speed. If I try and hammer out of the gate, I get fatigued really fast. On the way out, I spotted one 37 yo…one down. Looking for a couple more at least.

Leaving the parking lot

Once passed the intersection for the market, I put my head down. Hard on the uphills and slight recovery on the downhills. Now, when you read that you are probably saying, wow, his VI for this ride must have been huge. Well, it wasn’t. It is almost ingrained into me to ride with smooth power. Even with a strategy like this, my VI was only 1.04. If you remember back to Santa Barbara Aquabike, the plan was the same on a hillier course and my VI was only 1.06…It’s really just a reflection of the type of training that I do. Not so great for cycling, but awesome for TT’s and triathlon.

I was moving up hard through the previous waves. About 1/2 way to the turn around or 1/4 through the ride, I picked off another 37yo…two down. Not sure where I stood now. I knew I was riding well though and the power was coming easy. No undue fatigue and pace was really good. On this course as you approach the turn around there is a no passing zone. There are two more no passing zones after the turn around. They are fairly short at about 1/4 mile a piece but still long enough to mess you up a little. I got stuck behind someone in all three zones. For a very very brief moment I started to get mad….but then I thought, hell, this is forced rest. Nothing I can do about it and it’s giving me a chance to recover so what the hell. Maybe it’s a good thing. At the turn around, I was just under 30 minutes which was great. On course for right around an hour split as the course is a little slower coming back.

There are two climbs on the way back. I hammered those pretty hard and sort of backed off the power a little after the second one. This is when the course starts to head back down to Zuma. At this point you have about 4.5 miles left and it’s all downhill and flat. I dropped about 40 watts in this last section. I came in just over my goal of one hour at 1:01:17. Knowing what my swim time was, I knew I was on track to have a great race even with a mediocre run. Dismount was a breeze and I was headed for the last leg.

Coming off the Bike

One note on nutrition. All I used was 20OZ of First Endurance EFS Drink in the Shiv bladder. I drank the last of it right before shutting the power down a little bit to get it digested before the run. Worked very well.

What would you do differently?:



Exiting T2…always a good sign when no bikes around.

T2 didn’t go lightening fast because I decided to wear socks. Two reasons: 1. I haven’t been running all that much and haven’t broken my feet into running without socks just yet. 2. I didn’t want to develop blisters that would inhibit any recovery or training as I am racing next weekend and the following weekend….so, better safe than sorry.

What would you do differently?:


00:42:51 | 06.21 miles | 06m 54s  min/mile
Age Group: 5/155
Overall: 50/1143
Performance: Below average
Course: Flat, basically an out and back on the beach path and parking lots.

Ah, the run…I have been dreading this run for the past month. The reason? Because it was a complete unknown. I had nothing to gauge it against so I had no idea how I was going to perform. I was also afraid of getting re injured on this concrete hard run course. If I look back at all the runs that “could have” caused my stress fracture, or at least exacerbated it, Malibu last year comes to mind. My run fitness is really really low right now. I have been able to get the frequency up over the last few months but I have no real volume. This become very apparent later in the run.

So I took off and decided not to look at my watch for the first mile. I wanted to settle into a pace I thought I could hold and not chase a number and wind up walking with 2 miles to go. This would be my longest run since returning so I wasn’t too sure of the last couple miles. I had the normal spaghetti legs getting off the bike. Not too bad though and I wasn’t tired at all. I felt really good. As I was leaving T2 I kept hearing people say that there were only a few people on the run course. I think there were physically like 10 people ahead of me…something like that from previous waves..,or at least I hoped from previous waves as I still wasn’t certain I was in first although I had a pretty good feeling. First mile clicked off and the pace seemed a little hard…6:39…rut roh…lol. That’s not good because I could sense I wasn’t going to be able to hold that. If I felt I could hold that pace, I would have been fine with it. That would have given me roughly the same split as last year. Not great, but doing some quick math, adding in my swim and bike, I knew that would lead to a very fast overall time for this course. It wasn’t happening so I decided to back off now…again, as to not lead to walking with one or two miles to go. I knew that 7:05 pace was much MUCH better than 15:00 pace walking.

On the way out I saw a few people cheering me on. The course was rather lonely at that

Off to the run

point. I saw Chris Foster fucking hauling ass back to take the overall win. At this point I just had my head down, praying no one in my age group caught me. But some good stuff happened along the way.

I’m through 3 miles and no one is near me, I’m catching a female in front of me and things are looking pretty good. After the turn around which is actually passed halfway because of the way the course snakes around, My friend Tyler Olson was on the side of the course doing a training ride. He told me I was doing really good but I needed to run like I have a quarter between my butt cheeks! Now, I know I run with my butt out. I know I should try and suck it in or whatever…but I’ve got two miles to go and I’m just trying to not walk. So, take your quarter and stick it between your own butt cheeks! (Don’t tell Olson, but I did think about that for the rest of the run and it did help….hehe)

I finally make it back to the concrete path and from there I had about 1.5 miles to go…it was the longest 1.5 miles of my life. Not because I was in so much pain or really tired but because I knew, if anyone passed me, I was done. I would not be able to respond. I simply didn’t have the run fitness to do anything but what I was doing. Two guys passed me but I was fairly confident they were 30-34 AG’s. I remember passing them on the bike and they didn’t look like swimmers. Their age’s were not visible as one was wearing calf sleeve’s and the other was a hairy monster with no markings. Didn’t matter though as again, I was doing what I could. There was nothing left in my running legs. I felt like I was running with weights on my ankles…lol. It took forever, but I made it to the finish chute, made the tight left hand turn, made sure not to eat shit as everyone does there, and through the finish line. So thankful to be able to stop running. I think I actually walked across the mats…lol

Finish Line

What would you do differently?:

There was nothing more I could do. This was all I had based on my fitness going in. Now it is time to start some serious run training.

Post race
Warm down:

Not much. I just waited for official results and walked around and talked to everyone.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Run training…pure and simple.

Event comments:

Now, my run split was ~2.5 minutes slower than last year. My overall time was ~5 minutes faster. That gives you a great indication as to how far my swim bike combo has come. I couldn’t be happier with this result. I know my run will come back fast. I know I’m going to be able to be a better runner than I ever was come next year. I know, because I did it with my swim and bike. Since my improvements over the last year in my swimming especially, everyone keeps asking me, “How did you improve so much.”…and I tell them, “I swam my ass off.”…the response is the same, “I mean, what did you fix or change?” They are always looking for you to tell them the secret. The magic bullet that improved my swim by 4.5 minutes in one year. I tell them again, “I just swam a lot”…they look at you perplexed. Rather than taking it to heart, it seems like they are pissed you won’t give them the secret. Here’s a clue….THAT IS THE SECRET! The secret is, what you think is a lot, probably isn’t. What I did, compared to professional athletes isn’t even considered “a lot”. If you wanna be better at swimming, swim a lot. Two or Three times a week isn’t going to cut it. When I was cycling a lot, it was everyday. When I was swimming a lot, it was everyday…sometimes twice. When I’m running a lot, it’s everyday…sometimes twice. That’s where improvements hide. Not in a DVD or seminar…but in the day to day work. The day to day “specific” load that each discipline gives you.

Now for the best part. My leg didn’t hurt. It didn’t get sore one bit. I saw an podiatrists after I was healed about a month ago and he fitted me for some custom orthodics that have been great. My feet and lower extremities have never felt better. I’m really excited to start building up the run training starting in about November.

I have two more races left. Leadman 125 in Bend Or this weekend and LA Tri the weekend after. It’s funny but the goal for Leadman will be the exact opposite as it was for Malibu. At that race, I’m really going to do everything to protect the 10 mile run. I can’t get away with what I did at Malibu on a ride that is 3x as long. LA Tri will be much the same as Malibu. Haul ass to T2 and hang on.

It feels great to be back racing Tris. I want to thank all my sponsors..Wattie Ink, 101 Pipe & Casing, Kurt Orban Partners and Wins Wheels. My coach Brian Stover from Accelerate 3 for guiding me back from injury and all he’s done to make me the athlete I am. I’m also thanking him in advance for the athlete I know I’m going to be 😉 My Training friends and partners at CVMM and Tower 26. Best masters groups around. Nancy Reno at CVMM and Gerry Rodrigues at Tower 26 are an invaluable resource for us. All my teammates at Wattie Ink..we truly have the best team in triathlon. We have all grown so close in the last year. I race to make you guys proud. Sean “Wattie” Watkins especially for giving me the chance to race under his banner. Also a shout out to my tri clubs LA Tri and CV Tri…and everyone else out there. Thanks so much. Oh..and thanks to all the people that took photos! Off to Bend on Thursday…looking for another “W”!

Glad it’s over

About Dusty Nabor

I'm an Age Group triathlete out of Southern California...
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7 Responses to 2012 Malibu Nautica Triathlon Race Report

  1. Elliot says:

    Great job Dusty… and sweet kit! I wish we were racing each other at SOMA.

  2. jwade1313 says:

    Awesome report man and a very impressive race!

  3. Ryan says:

    Great read buddy. Thanks for the intel. Very helpful and insightful. Hope to be climbing up the charts too over the next year even more.

  4. Bob says:

    great info- thanks. what’s your feeling on TT bike versus road bike (racing) on this course?

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