Run with Eric + triathlon

2009 Oceanside 70.3 Triathlon

The first big race of the season is in the books. This is my 3rd year racing at Oceanside. It's a great event that I look forward to every year.

My weakness has always been my cycling so my goal heading into the winter was to really work on my cycling and with improved bike fitness, put myself into a position where I could be top 10 in my AG and go sub 4:30 on this course.

Overall, I'd give my winter training an 8 on a scale of 1 to 10. I certainly made some huge gains in my cycling ability, but I didn't get the mega-mileage that I was really hoping for. Most of this was simply less-than ideal time management and my other life commitments springing up from time to time. It was good, but not great.

On to the race report.

Swim - 28:01 (15th AG, 126th OA)
Oceanside is notorious for having a cold-water swim, there is always a lot of angst in the transition area with people wondering exactly HOW cold is it? The posted water temp was 58.5 and the race director was allowing booties, but in all honesty, it wasn't that bad. I wore two swim caps to help keep my head warm and I was fine. Once the gun went off, I quickly got into a pretty good rhythm. Unfortunately, there were no good feet for me to draft on, though I did feel the occasional hand on my foot. Someone was catching a ride off of me for a while... I hate it when that happens. Oh well. After the 2nd or 3rd buoy I started to catch some of the slower swimmers from the waves in front of me which forced me to zig-zag a bit to get around them. Before I knew it, I was at the turnaround and heading back into the harbor. There were some slight swells near the harbor mouth, but again, it wasn't bad at all. I do have to mention that I picked up some new googles at the Expo, which I absolutely love... the TYR TRacers. They are great... visibility was perfect, no leaking and no fogging. I usually have to clear my goggles at least a couple times during a race... these were perfect. Anyway, I made it back with no issues and climbed out the water feeling pretty good. My time of 28:01 is a PR for me, but not by a big margin. I seem to always swim close to the same time... (2007 - 28:31, 2008 - 28:59).

Transition 2 - 3:43
This race has a very long run from the swim exit to the far end of the transition area and around again. I was running pretty fast to get to my bike and probably pissed some guys off that were jogging slowly when I pushed passed them. Sorry dudes. Got to the bike and briefly considering putting on the arm warmers on that I had laid out. But, despite the fact that air was cold, the sun was out and I skipped them. Got the bike and got on the road quickly from there.

Bike - 2:35:39, 21.6 mph avg (34th AG, 158th OA)
New bike, new position and a focus on cycling for the winter... I had made the investment, this is where I was hoping to see the big improvement from last year. Nutrition on the bike was two bottles of my GuH20/CarboPro mix, 2 scoops of each which equates to approximately 325 calories. This is a proven mixture that I've used a lot in training which my stomach handles easily. One bottle on the downtube and one in my aerobar-mounted bottle cage. I also had a flask with 14 Thermolyte tablets in a small bento box. No solid food. Once out on the course, my legs came under me pretty quickly and I started to roll through the field, passing lots of guys right away. I race without a HR monitor, but I could tell that my adrenaline was pumping and I was being too aggressive. After the first little climb on San Mateo (about 4 miles in), I dialed it back and just kept it steady. The first 20 miles of the course is mostly flat with just a couple little rollers, its very tempting to hammer and put lots of time in the bank. But after having done the race a couple times, I know that it's the back half where the race can be made or broken. Even so, I felt really good and was keeping a nice pace... I hit the 20 mile mark in 52:32 (22.8 mph avg). After the left turn at around mile 23 onto Christianitos, the course gets more challenging with a series of rollers until the first major climb at mile 28. By this time, I had finished my first bottle of nutrition and at the first bottle exchange I swapped it for a bottle of plain water. I also took 1/2 of my electrolyte tablets. From this point on, I alternated between taking drinks of plain water and my drink mix. Just after the aid station, I caught up to a guy with nearly the same exact bike set-up as me (same model Cervelo P2C, same wheelset) in this section who I ended playing cat and mouse for about 15 miles. He would pass me on the uphills, I would catch him on the downhills and the flatter sections, back and forth. It made the time go faster and we ended up working our way past a lot of riders as we passed and repassed one another. I managed to get away from him on the final climb and that was the last I saw of him the rest of the race. Once over the final climb, I caught another guy on a black Guru and we did the same thing on the descent and on the final approach down Vandergrift. I passed him, he repassed me... I fell back to 10 meters... repassed, repeat. All the way back into transition. Rolling back into the Harbor, I finished off my second bottle of nutrition, took the rest of my electrolyte tabs and was feeling really good and optimistic for a good run. I was really hoping for a ride closer to 2:30, but after seeing how my relative performance improved this year, compared to prior years (2007 - 224th, 2008 - 386th ), I was pretty happy.

Transition 2 - 1:47
A pretty quick transition. I had my feet out of my shoes as I rolled in. Got the bike racked quickly and was into my running shoes. Grabbed a flask of TriBerry-flavored GU (w/caffeine, natch) to carry with me and my sunglasses and was off.

Run - 1:29:53, 6:52/mile avg (19th AG, 107th OA)
Last year at Vineman, I had my best run ever in an half-ironman (1:25) by running the first 5 miles very conservatively then slowing picking up the pace the back half of the course. My intention was to use the same strategy and I kept telling myself to take it easy, get the HR under control and let the legs get loose before trying to make any moves. The only wrinkle I hadn't really trained for was the 1/4 mile sand section which was re-introduced this year. We had to run over the sand section at the beginning and end of each loop, so there was about one full mile of running in semi-soft to soft sand. However, my first mile was 6:47 even with the sand section and I was feeling pretty good. Mile 2 was 6:45. I took sips from my gel flask and got some gatorade and/or water at each aid station and I kept the pace right around 6:45-6:50 range for the first loop. I tried not to pay attention to the other athletes or worry about catching anyone, I simply concentrated on keeping a steady, strong pace. Once out on the second loop and through the 3rd (of 4) sand sections, I tried to pick up the pace. I started looking ahead at the runners and worked on reeling them in, one by one... especially if they were in my age group. Despite my efforts, my pace was not improving and even slowing slightly. At the aid station just before mile 9, I started taking cola to try to get a boost from the sugar and caffeine. After doing some mental arithmetic, I realized that I couldn't afford to slow down at all if I was going to break 4:40, I needed to maintain nothing slower than 7:00 pace. That was my motivation the last 2 or 3 miles. Finally, once through the final sand section, the finish line and crowd was in sight and I even managed a slight surge to pass one last guy in my AG in the final straight.

Final time 4:39:02 (14th AG, 95th OA)

I'm happy with the performance. It's not the 4:30 I was looking for, but it's a solid improvement from previous years. Execution was solid, there isn't anything I'd do differently and it's a lifetime PR for the distance (though not by much... I went 4:39:4-something way back in 1999 at Eagleman, a far easier course). Both the swim and bike splits were PR's. The thing I'm happiest about is that my relative performance in all three sports was much more consistant than it ever has been. I still have a lot of work to do on my cycling, but now my ability on the bike is at least somewhat on par with my swimming and running.

Now onto to Wildflower.

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2009 Oceanside 70.3 Triathlon + triathlon