My first Triathlon
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Ironman 70.3 California - Triathlon1/2 Ironman
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I'm of the mind that people primarily want to read race reports to figure out if they want to attend said race. To that end, I'm dividing this one up into sections, each progressively less relevant to that purpose and progressively more about me.
Logistics and Race Support
As with any M-dot branded race, signup was pretty straightforward, if one is well ahead of the curve. I don't know when this race sold out, but it did. Being proactive, perhaps as much as a year in advance, would certainly get one in easily. My wife got interested 6 months from the race, and wound up signing up for a Carmichael Training camp which came with a race signup so she could join me in Oceanside for her first 70.3.
We drove to this race from Tucson, so I can't comment on air travel/car rentals. I rented a Zipp 808 Firecrest/Disc combo from Race Day Wheels. I'd hoped to get them sent to me at home before the race, but there was some confusion about shipping, mostly generated by me. They put them on the bike the day before the race at an offsite location. Finding them after the race to return the wheels was not as simple as they had intimated, but they sent me a label so I could ship the wheels back to them. There were hitches on both ends, but the wheels worked well.
Like many folks, we pre-rode the run course. Pre-riding most of the bike course was not possible, unless one is a US Marine
) stationed at Camp Pendleton, where much of the beautiful bike course takes place. Map descriptions of the run course were a little unclear--the ramp up/ramp down that one has to do to access the Strand on the north part of each run lap in particular. But it was well marked on race day, as was the bike course.
Setup involved putting our stuff in three bags--bike, run, and daytime clothes. All material had to be deposited in bags after use, which made transitions slower, but uniformly so for everyone. Dropping stuff off on race morning involved finding parking near T2
(not too tough, but we were about an hour early
), biking a little over a mile by headlamp to T1
(this was all well covered in a race briefing video
), and getting ready for the swim.
Body marking, porta-potties, and other assistance--including mechanics out in the field--were eminently available. The bike course could have used another aid station or two, IMO, but OTOH, cool coastal weather keeps fluid requirements pretty low. Food, post-race massages, and burrito wrap blankets to fend off the chill for finishers were plentiful. I've heard M-dot races were well done, and this one was certainly no exception.
The Family's Experience--Most Relevant If You Have One, But Still Fairly Relevant If You Don't
We stayed at a Motel 6 in town, all 5 of us in one nicely large room with a kitchenette. This was a pinch-penny move that drove us all a little nuts. But in our previous experience, we haven't necessarily improved our sleep by springing for 2 rooms. Warning for those who don't know--Oceanside ain't Monterey Bay or Carmel By the Sea. When I took the kids out to breakfast Friday morning at Denny's while my wife slept in, we got to meet a local woman who had a yelling fit at the management, flung silverware on the floor, glared at me and the kids as I hustled them out of her way, and stormed out of the restaurant, presumably to return to her meth lab. Always a parenting opportunity, though:
"So, kids, see what drugs will do to you? That's why she's acting that way."
A fellow triathlete at the restaurant smirked at that one, but I was serious, and--having worked with drug addict and delinquent kids prior to med school--99.436% sure that I was right.
Our kids are 11, 9, and 4, which is to say, almost old enough for the oldest
(who has taken CPR/First Aid
) to manage them. This creates a need for babysitting, which no race I've yet attended has managed to provide. My wife called the race director and actually got a referral that worked out well, and, for $10/hour, dang cheap for CA.
Dining in the area, including both Oceanside and Carlsbad, is packed to the gills on race weekend. There seemed to be some other event in Carlsbad as well. I'd recommend that you make dining reservations ahead of time, unless your race strategy involves carbo loading on Der Weinerschnitzel hot dog buns. We missed the kids' 1-mile fun run because it took us so long to find somewhere to walk in and eat the night before the race. This is not to whine, but to inform.
At the race itself, the kids were welcome in the post-race athletes' section with all the choice grub. There was also a jumping castle to entertain them, which for our hyperactive offspring, was more than sufficient. Burrito wrap blankets were available but in short supply, and massages were available with little wait.
My Race Experience
I came in pretty well rested, with an easy week, B-race taper behind me. I felt as ready as I could be for the swim, which is to say, I couldn't wait to have it done. The water was cold, as expected, but after an hour of waiting in the chute for our wave to start, I was good and ready. Temperature was quickly a non-issue, likely to some extent due to the silicon earplugs I was using for the first time. Challenge #1 came within a few strokes of the start. Arm-to-arm contact with a heat-mate knocked off my Garmin 310xt, and it was immediately lost in the cloudy green depths below. I kept swimming, but started wondering if I could rent SCUBA gear the next morning. My regular stopwatch was running, and I had the Edge 800 on the bike, which I would now use on the run as well. Problem solved, but not cheaply.
I settled into a passable but somewhat choppy rhythm. My goggles, which I'd worn only once before, began to leak. Challenge #2. This was irritating, but I knew I just had to cope. So several times, I rolled quickly onto my back, emptied them out, squeezed them back on, and pressed onward. Passing folks in other waves required a good amount of extra sighting and maneuvering, and I began to entertain the mildly insane notion that a mass start would have been a good thing.
When we reached the outer buoys near the turnaround, Oceanside's promised calm and flat waters disappeared, replaced by challenge #3: 3-4 foot swells. The swim was now a bouncy, heavy traffic situation, which was not exactly the most compatible with speed. But it's the same for my whole age group, I reminded myself. Keep the arms moving, and it will end. And eventually it did. 29:09 was not my fastest 1.2 mile open water swim, seemingly slow for someone who spent his adolescence chasing a black line on a pool bottom, but good enough for today. On to better things.
T1 seemed to take awhile, not so much due to the obligatory gear bags, but due to my shaky hands fumbling while rolling up compression socks. Transition times for everyone were slow, but 5:00 was pretty dang pokey for me.
The best part of my race by far was the bike. I did a flying mount, slipped my feet in, and pedaled away. Challenge #4 was re-threading the cinch strap that got unfastened as I rode at 20+ mph.
I was also humming the Star-Spangled Banner while Integrating a Hyperbolic Function in 3-Dimensions
A little anxiety, but not much of a problem. The course started flat and fast. The report from race officials was that the Marine Layer
(fog and drizzle, not a column of amphibious troops
) had settled onto the course and the roads were wet
). Ambulances, flat fixes, and wrecks were all over the course. But between the beauty of the ocean and hills, the easy speed of the first part of the course, and the humming of the disc wheel, I really started to enjoy the ride. I'd planned to be conservative on the bike to make sure I had a good kick on the run. But given the speeds I was holding with marginally more effort than expected
(240 instead of 230 average watts
), I decided to burn it just a little harder than planned.
There are three significant hills on this course, and the first is the biggest. My strategy was to spin up them easily, without making excess lactate or ripping quadricep myofibrils that I'd need later. My lowest
) gearing didn't really permit spinning per se on a 10% grade, but I still took it pretty easy, and stayed seated the whole time. It certainly helped to be a disciple of Mt. Lemmon, AZ! Some folks were standing and cranking, but I wanted to avoid "burning a match" if I could.
Bike NP 257, Avg. Pwr. 245. Pretty steady, given the course.
I knew as soon as I hit the descent on the last hill that this was going to be my best HIM bike leg by quite a bit. On the way back into town after the hills, I repeatedly caught myself racing a young 30-something and a fellow 45 year old with whom I'd been trading passes. It really took some work not to overextend myself
). When pro Jordan Rapp spoke recently in Tucson, he claimed, and I paraphrase, that every stolen minute on the bike leg will cost you two on the run. It was a fast bike leg, yes, but I wondered how many stolen minutes were involved. So I added two expresso gels in the last few miles of the bike, along with the scheduled remainder of the Perpetuem/Carbopro/Endurolytes brew that is the centerpiece of my bike nutrition. This would turn out to be imprudent.
Even though the ride into town was a bit tortuous and slower than I would have liked, T2 was easy. Bike time was 2:35:07, averaging 21.66 mph. Volunteers directed me to my stuff, and I was off the bike, in the shoes, and running out the other end in 1:47, which was pretty solid given the size of the T2 area.
I found my legs almost immediately, and settled into a solid pace between 8 and 8.5 mph. The 45 year old biker dropped quickly behind me, and I looked forward to running down a few more members of my age group. I grabbed a sports drink and a water at each of the first few aid stations, letting myself get a little faster, then a little faster. . . Then challenge #7, and the worst of the bunch, struck. I started to feel a little bloated. Then a fair amount more bloated. Then a little nauseated. I was likely done running folks down, but hopefully not done with the race. . .
Slowly, I backed down my pace, and only dumped water over my head at aid stations. The course was generally flat with the exceptions of a few ramps and hills, which made it easier to find and sustain a tolerable pace that allowed the bloating and nausea to slowly subside. Around mile 10, the bloat lifted completely, and I started picking it up cautiously again. Retrospectively, I think I'd overdone the nutrition at the end of the bike.
Dip in HR corresponds with the Bloat
My wife was just getting started on the run as I came down Pacific Street for the last time. She looked fresh and strong, and I knew she was going to finish her first 70.3! We gave each other a cheer, then I ducked down onto the beach and kicked it into the end a little, making sure nobody with the numbers 45-49 on his calf passed me. Problems notwithstanding, my run was 1:34:50, exactly 10 seconds faster than I'd predicted, averaging 7:14/mile. Total time was 4:45:53, 7th in my age group, and 133rd out of 2903 overall, and almost 1/2 hour faster than my previous best. A pretty well executed and thoroughly enjoyable race, but far from perfect. Always room for improvement.
I waited around to see if I got one of two age group roll-down slots to the IM 70.3 World Championships, but none was forthcoming. In M 40-44, the slots rolled all the way down to the 20th or 30th place finisher, but our age group wasn't so indifferent. The first two finishers in my AG didn't want their slot, but the next two did. But the mere fact that I was in the hunt was exciting. Add 70.3 Las Vegas to my Triathlon Bucket List.
(Full disclosure: Due to "Race age" being that on Dec 31 of the year, I'm a 44-year old masquerading as a "45 Year Old" until May, when I become the genuine item.
Last updated: 2012-04-11 12:00 AM
00:00:00 | 2112 yards | / 100yards
57F / 14C
Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
00:00:00 | 56 miles | 0.00 mile/hr
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Shoe and helmet removal
00:00:00 | 13.1 miles | min/mile
Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5]
Lots of volunteers?
Plenty of drinks?
Post race activities:
Race evaluation [1-5]
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