Ford Ironman 70.3 California - Triathlon1/2 Ironman

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Oceanside, California
United States
Ironman North America
66F / 19C
Total Time = 6h 02m 8s
Overall Rank = 1014/1958
Age Group = M 35-39
Age Group Rank = 206/380
Pre-race routine:

I raced here in 2007 with a guy I've known for thirty years and a crew of BT'ers I'd just met. It was my second HIM, and I scored a huge PR (~30 minutes better than the previous mark) despite suffering through a painful ITB injury in the two months leading up to the event. When I moved to upstate New York last summer, I figured I had seen the last of Oceanside, but a conference in San Francisco gave me the chance to be on the west coast for another crack at this course. Spent the winter training indoors and rented myself a bike on location to avoid the hassle of transport. Very hectic trip, but worth it in the end. On a day where I really surprised myself, I notched another PR by shaving 20 minutes off last year's time.

Event warmup:

Up at 5 AM and out the door by 5:30. We stayed right on the run course, so getting to the venue was easy. I was much more deliberate this year about setting up my transition area. Had it all laid out in a very precise way (or so I thought), and pulled on my wetsuit in preparation for the swim. Caught up with WaterDog66 for a few minutes and then joined two friends who were starting in my wave and headed into the corral where they line up the athletes from each wave. When our wave moved into the pole position, I started rehearsing the swim in my head and going over some of my mental notes for the course. Energy level was low, but I felt happy to be outside and grateful to be healthy at the start this year. The wave ahead of mine got the horn, and we started to move down to the water. Just have to scan in at the chip mat, and it's go time. The chip mat. MY FREAKING CHIP! Still in my bag.

Screaming out a couple choice words, I launched myself over the railing and sprinted down the center of the bike racks to reach my row. Found my chip in my bag and got myself situated, then sprinted back down the center aisle (with two of the male pros who had come out of the water), hopped back over the railing, tossed my junk shoes aside, crossed the timing mat and splashed into the harbor. About fifteen seconds to spare before we got the horn. Inauspicious start.
  • 33m 17s
  • 2112 yards
  • 01m 35s / 100 yards

Didn't know the course very well last year, and got caught behind several groups of slower swimmers. This time, I busted out at the horn and powered my way into clear water. I was winded quickly (mostly from the chip debacle), so once I was in my own space I just concentrated on smooth technique and steady turnover. Mixed in a little bit of breaststroke to pick out buoys and other landmarks. Lost track of my friend, who was having some wetsuit difficulties, but navigated fairly well on the whole. Got slightly swept off course by the swells at the mouth of the harbor, but got myself back on track fairly quickly. Good work on the way back in allowed my to pass a lot of swimmer from previous waves. Did well on the ramp back out of the water and jogged my way in to the bike racks without feeling too gassed or overworked.

Improvement (vs 2007) = 1:25
What would you do differently?:

I don't think that the pre-swim foot race to retrieve my chip helped very much. I'll try to avoid that next time.
Transition 1
  • 05m 42s

I was surprised by how slow my transitions were last year. This time, I was better organized and more clearly focused on each task. Also made a few clothing/gear decisions which shaved off time: tri shorts under wetsuit, working race belt, no socks, nutrition pre-loaded.

Improvement (vs 2007) = 1:13

What would you do differently?:

I use the transitions to bring my HR down a bit. Probably could go faster through each step, but this is a pace that suits me for now.
  • 3h 11m 28s
  • 56 miles
  • 17.55 mile/hr

This was the first time I have ridden a tri-specific bike. Of course, I knew that it was unwise to rent and ride something new on race day, but I figured I would take a shot at it anyway and see what happened. Even though the rental reservation was totally botched (wrong bike, wrong size), I figured I might still have an advantage over last year, when I used my road rig sans aerobars. Went for a quick ride on Friday to figure out the bar end shifters and to make sure my computer was working.

Almost everybody I've talked to about the race has commented on the headwind. Honestly, I wasn't really bothered by it. I think riding in aero proved to be such an advanatge compared to last year that I just didn't feel like the gusts were adversely affecting me. Neck and back started to feel sore and cramped in the later stages, but I benefitted a lot from the TT setup, and I handled things pretty well, considering my total lack of experience.

What I didn't handle very well were the hills. Last year, my granny gear enabled me to spin up the hills and pass a lot of folks who had zoomed by me on the flats. No such luck this year. I had to stand out of the saddles and really mash the pedals to keep from falling over. There were a couple times when people were walking their bikes alongside me, which was a little demoralizing. Still, I recovered well at each crest, and modulated my efforts well on the back half to ensure that my legs wouldn't be completely zapped for the run. I was also very diligent with nutrition this year, which paid me back nicely later.

Improvement (vs 2007) = 4:24

What would you do differently?:

The course is like everyone says it is: flat and fast on the front; hilly and challenging on the back. The key is to reel yourself in in the first hour or so, when you're set to really fly. I think I did that for the most part, and while by second half was slower than I would have liked, it was still an improvement over 2007. Not bad for a dude who hadn't ridden outdoors even once since November. I guess the trainer gave me a reasonable base, and now that spring is coming, I can work to enlarge my T.I.T.S.
Transition 2
  • 03m 34s

Same story as T1. Faster than last year, but not blowing anyone away for sure.

Improvement (vs 2007) = 2:06
  • 2h 08m 9s
  • 13.1 miles
  • 09m 47s  min/mile

Weather helped me out here big time. I overheated last year on the second loop, and poor pacing early on led me to completely blow up at the eight mile mark. I was a total casualty coming in, and that was something I vowed to correct this year.

My goal was pretty simple. DON'T haul @ss out of T2. DON'T run 8:00 miles that can't be sustained in the first 5K. DON'T be a freak who is deluded about his winter training base.

Instead, I spent all winter on the treadmill, churning out 10:00 miles. This is what it feels like, I told myself. This is sustainable. This is the way to stay golden. Slow, steady, smooth, low HR.

For the most part, that's what I accomplished. I decided to walk one hill on the way out (short, but steep), where my HR spiked last year. Repeated the same on loop 2, which was also pretty smart. Otherwise, I just churned at a slow, controlled pace the whole way through. Things were definitely slower and more laborious on loop 2 (1:06:38) as compared to loop 1 (1:01:28), but I didn't melt down like last year, and splits were much more evenly distributed on the whole.

Heading down the strand on loop 2, I started thinking back to last year as I came up on mile 8, where it all went so wrong. Chatted briefly with a women in a Golden Gate Tri Club singlet. We talked about last year's Escape from Alcatraz race (both of us loved it) and about our day in Oceanside up to that point. Both of us were doing pretty well, but I told her that the jury was still out on my race until the last turnaround. She wished me luck, and just as I started to trot ahead, I noticed that someone had chalked the ground with "HTFU." That put a smile on face and gave me a boost.

At the last turnaround I looked at my watch and saw that I had a shot for sub six hours. If I could hold the pace I'd managed for the previous three miles, I might come in just a hair under six. I rolled that around in my head for a bit. Sub-six. That was something I had worked up as a "perfect race" scenario a few times in my head, but not something I thought was very realistic heading in.

I decided to focus on hyrdration and cooling and see what was left in my legs. Unfortunately, not all that much. There was one point down along the beach where my legs felt fairly loose, but when tried to kick it up a notch and find some speed, the rest of my body started to falter. I could feel my HR climbing and my breathing started to go to haywire, too. Decided to simply enjoy the rest of the run, and let the (timing) chips fall where they would. I even walked the last aid station just so I could kind of take it in and trade a few laughs with the volunteers there.

Didn't break six hours this time, but maybe I'll have a shot at Newfoundland in July. In any case, I'm looking forward to a great season. This was as a good a start as I could have hoped for.

Improvement (vs 2007) = 11:01

What would you do differently?:

Didn't have another gear in the late stages when sub-six was still a possibility, but I ran my race and stayed within my current limits. Hydration and calories were well timed, so there were no obvious lows.
Post race
Warm down:

Walked around for a few minutes, then hit the food tent to scarf down pizza and re-hydrate. A bit too hot in there for me, so I went back to the bike racks and stretched for a while, then walked back to the finish to wait for friends. So cool to see people coming across the finish and watching the accomplishment register on their faces.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

With the exception of one short run in March, training has been exclusively indoors since November. On the one hand, that made it a challenge to build up mileage. On the other hand, running on the treadmill proved to be gentle on my knees, and it was great to line up healthy this year. Obviously, I have to get adjusted to riding in aero this year, but not too bad for my first time.

Profile Album

Last updated: 2007-10-30 12:00 AM
00:33:17 | 2112 yards | 01m 35s / 100yards
Age Group: 0/380
Overall: 0/1958
Performance: Good
Suit: DeSoto Black Pearl Full
Start type: Deep Water Plus:
Water temp: 59F / 15C Current: Medium
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting: Average
Waves: Navigation: Average
Rounding: Good
Time: 05:42
Performance: Average
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed:
03:11:28 | 56 miles | 17.55 mile/hr
Age Group: 0/380
Overall: 0/1958
Performance: Average
Wind: Headwind
Road:   Cadence:
Turns: Cornering:
Gear changes: Good Hills: Below average
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
Time: 03:34
Overall: Average
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
02:08:09 | 13.1 miles | 09m 47s  min/mile
Age Group: 0/380
Overall: 0/1958
Performance: Good
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities:
Race evaluation [1-5] 5