Wondering if you should participate in the LA Tri Series at Bonelli Park? Or trying to find a good triathlon for any level? Good! I wrote this blog to help answer those questions and explain what the course is like to help you make a decision about competing at this race.
What you can expect in this article:
- My triathlon experience with my times and nutrition notes.
- Overall review of the race – support, organization, race course, etc.
- Would I recommend it?
Pre-Race Planning and Nutrition
Itching to do another triathlon, I chose to compete in part three of the annual LA Tri Series at Bonelli Park in San Dimas, California as my second triathlon of the 2019 season. I chose it because of the timing (May), it was very close to home, and because a few friends had mentioned it as being liked and well-known. This race offers both Sprint and Olympic distance, and I would be racing the Olympic.
The day before the race, I made sure to take some beet root powder for endurance (it takes a bit to kick in but can last around 12 hours in your system). I also had electrolytes to help my body to be well-hydrated. (If you want to understand more about these supplements, you can watch the video below to explain their importance). Then I made sure to get to bed early!
I took these supplements again the morning of the race, and ate a bowl of rice with some PB, jam, and bacon, same as I’d had at my previous race in April – the PlayTri Desert Triathlon. It may sound weird, but don’t knock it ’til you try it! It provides lots of carbs, with some fat and protein for all of my energy needs. Plus coffee (of course!) which I had a bit later, closer to the start of the race.
Similar to my previous race, I feared this one would be cold and miserable because the weather leading up to it was chilly and gray. On our way to Bonelli Park, the weather still looked that way, but while setting up transition, the sun popped out and the whole race day ended up with perfect weather!
Set-up in the transition area (just one) was a breeze. Parking was close, and the crowd wasn’t too big so there was plenty of space for everything. The transition area was small, so not a lot of running to get in and out. The race seemed well organized and easy to find, making it easier to stay calm during pre-race jitters.
The swim was in a lake, in the low 60’s, making it comfortable with a wetsuit. It was one big loop with calm waters. The group I was in wasn’t too big, so I was able to get out into the front of the crowd fairly easily at the start. What I didn’t expect was a panic that set in just a few minutes into the swim.
This panic came out of nowhere! I got this sense that I didn’t know if I could make it and a fear of being too tired, and even of just being in the water. I was already thinking “Why am I doing this? Can I just quit? This is a terrible idea!” Not normal thoughts for me, but luckily it only took me a few moments to remember that my thoughts have power, and whether they were from me or from Satan for me to rebuke them. So, while swimming in the lake, as odd as I felt, I began telling the lies to go. I told them they had no power and that I was able to do this swim just fine as I had done before in my training. Almost immediately, the panic and unsubstantiated fear subsided. Who knew spiritual warfare could be needed in a triathlon?! I laughed at the idea, then mentally pulled out a training tactic from The Brave Athlete book. I began counting each stroke as I swam – a technique that can help calm you down and keep focus. I thought about my form as well, paying attention to my arms and cadence as a distraction to keep myself calm and focused.
From there, the swim was a breeze. My sighting wasn’t great, but there were enough neon pink and green swim caps around me to keep an eye on for direction. I mostly followed the crowd, looking for buoys as I went to make sure I was on track. About 2/3 of the way through, I tried to pick up my pace a bit since I knew I could now survive at my pace and was ready to hustle. I came out of my swim at 35:32.
Transition 1 (T1)
Coming out of the water lands you onto a sandy area with a short uphill trek to the transition area. The hill is a tad tiring after the swim, but it does give you time to get the top half of the wetsuit off. In transition, I finished removing the wetsuit and got myself ready for the bike leg which was a quick shot out of transition onto the course. Transition time took about three minutes.
By this point, the sun was fully out and the weather was great for cycling. I’d previously ridden this course, so I was familiar with what to expect as far as directions and terrain – such as one sharp turn into an uphill. In my opinion, the bike course at Bonelli is far from spectacular. It’s a three-loop course, so it definitely gets monotonous. It’s open to some traffic at parts, and the scenery is quite blah, much of it near businesses and industrial looking. It’s mostly flat though, with a couple moderate hills. By round three, I was over it. But hey, that also makes you want to finish faster!
For this race I decided to do all of my bike nutrition in my bottles, so I sipped on Vitargo carbs, BCAA, and some electrolytes throughout the bike to keep me fueled.
Transition 2 (T2)
My time here was much better than the first at 2:03 minutes. I again had a small water bottle holding my calories with MCT oil and some BCAA. The run out was quick, not too long of a transition, right into the park along the cement pathways.
The run course is a bit more scenic than the bike, since you’re in a park with lots of greenery and people hanging out and kids playing. I started out hot as I tend to do, and just ran my best with the speed tapering off the longer I ran.
I was pleasantly surprised to realize that a section of the run goes through a trail, much of it shaded. I always enjoy running on trail and through nature more than just cement or pavement, both for ease on the joints as well as distraction from the nice views. On the flip side, much of the run goes through a trailer park, which is a strange place to run through. There was one short uphill section in the paved area, but otherwise it was a pretty flat run.
When I saw the turnaround point for the sprint triathletes, I felt so jealous! The run already felt long and tiring, and my knee was bothering me. Luckily, I ran into my fiance (now husband) near our turnaround point, so we were able to give a quick hug and cheer each other on. That gave me a great boost of motivation!
As a side note, I would say that a race is always best done with either 1) your significant other 2) with friends or 3) with those really good supportive friends who come just to cheer you on. The boost that they provide can be so helpful. Funny how much we need someone to just tell us we’re doing awesome and to keep going. Not just in triathlons, though – this is life stuff!
I tried to push it harder as I neared the end as I saw other girls who looked like they could be in my age group. What can I say – it’s that competitive side of me! I tried to push with whatever I had left in me at this point, despite my knee telling me it was about done.
Finish & Results
I happily ran under the final arc after 54 minutes of running to secure my 3rd place finish! In total the race took me 2:51 to complete.
I stayed around until the end, of course, to receive my medal and stand on the podium!
Overall Experience and Race Quality
This triathlon, in my opinion, was…good, but not amazing. Of course, racing is always a cool experience and I did have lots of fun. But compared to my previous triathlon that had been scenic, energetic, and great for beginners with tons of communication, I felt this was lacking a bit. Here’s a quick summary and rundown of my thoughts:
- Race Course: The race course was pretty easy and pleasant. Nothing that made it amazing, but it was easy to navigate and mostly flat.
- Organization: The day seemed well-organized and put together. No confusion or issues with anything. It also wasn’t a huge race, so nothing about it felt overwhelming. Not tons of communication from the event, just one of those races where you need to know what you’re doing unlike the Desert Triathlon which was very beginner friendly.
- Atmosphere: I think the race could be made much better through things like people cheering you on, signs and chalk writings on the ground for encouragement and directions, etc. The staff seemed minimal and there wasn’t a very exciting vibe about it. Pretty plain and to the point. There were very few booths or anything like that to stick around for or create a sense of community.
- Awards: This was my first time on the podium, so I have nothing to compare it to, but there were very few people sticking around for awards. It was all off to the side away from the crowd and fairly anti-climactic. As you can see in the picture, the first place girl didn’t even show up – not sure if she didn’t know where it was or just didn’t care?
Would I Do it Again or Recommend it?
If you haven’t done this race before, and especially if you’re new to triathlon, then yes, I would recommend this race.
Would I do it again? Probably not, unless to see if I can beat my time. I’d rather spend my money on a new course and new challenge – ideally one that’s more scenic and less repetitive.
What about you? Have you done this race, or are thinking about it? Share your thoughts down below, and share this article with a friend who might be interested!
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