Ironman 70.3 Oceanside – 1 April 2017

This was my 3rd race of the season and first 70.3 (Half Ironman) of the year, and the first since Superfrog 70.3 in September.  I tapered quite well and came in fresh, but I didn’t perform as well as I would have liked, so I have considerable room for improvement both at this course and at this distance.

Game Plan – Here’s the original plan we put together.  Based on conversation with Coach Mike I changed up my goals to these:

Goal: Oceanside 70.3 – 2112 yard swim / 56 mile bike / 13.1 mile run

i. “A” Goal – Swim 33:30 (1:35/100y), Bike 2:34-2:37, Run 1:32-1:34: <=4:40-4:45

ii. “B” Goal – Swim 35:30 (1:41/100y), Bike 2:40-2:45, Run 1:35-1:37: <=4:50-4:57

iii. “C” Goal – Swim 36:30 (1:44/100y), Bike 2:50-2:55, Run 1:37-1:40:  <=5:00-5:10

I had set up a Best Bike Split (BBS) profile for this race.  I used 85% of FTP based on 270 here.

Link to BBS here

Pre-Race – I tapered quite well for this race and came in pretty fresh after the Solvang Tri Camp and my previous race at Superseal.  So well in fact that this has been the most rested I’ve been in quite awhile.  The attachment below is from Training Peaks and it’s after the race today, so the fitness and fatigue are higher, but the form is what I had going in today…which means I was pretty rested.

Thursday – I drove down early in the morning to pick up my friend Julia from San Antonio at the San Diego airport.  We grabbed some quick grub in Oceanside then headed into the expo to check in.  The check-in process wasn’t too bad and we got through pretty quick, then bounced and got some Thai food.  After that, we checked into the house and just relaxed and rested the remainder of the night.

Here’s some stuff from the expo:

Friday – We got up early and hit IHOP to start fueling up.  After that, we went to the expo to get Julia’s SMASH Kit gear, then met up with some D3 Teammates (Julie and Kelly) for lunch.

We then went back to the pad to get in a bike and run to test everything out.  We then went back to the expo to drop bikes off and dealt with that madness – what a mess.

We then hit up the Olive Garden for the Soup and Salad combo (pre-race ritual) and that usually does the trick.

**Update**  – We saw Lionel Sanders (he ended up winning this race) at the OG when we left.  It seems we’re doing something right if he’s also eating there 🙂

We then headed home and packed up the rest of the gear.  Courtney and Mike (SB Tri Friends) showed up after dinner to crash so they could sherpa and cheer for the race.  I managed to rack out around 2200.

Saturday – We got up around 0300L and started cooking (2x eggs, english muffin, almond butter, honey, almond milk, coffee) and gear up.  We were out the door by 0430L and got to the parking site pretty early, then took a shuttle and walked to transition.  We got there around 0520L and did all the prep-work.  I met up with some other SB Tri Friends (Yasi & Alanna) then dropped our gear off with Courtney and Mike while Julia and I ran into the line.  This was the first time this race has done a self-seeded swim instead of age wave groups so we had to worm our way up front.  I ran into Ivan, Samantha, and Christin (SB Tri folks) and self-seeded in the 35-40 minute wave.  I did a fast pre-swim just to shake things out and then I was ready to roll.

Swim – We jumped into the maelstom and got rolling right away.  The first part was a big battle as we had to round a buoy right away and make a sharp left turn.  I had to battle some congestion then managed to peel off solo.  I then worked to get back into a draft pack and keep the buoys close.  After the last set of turns, we started coming in to the finish.  The sun was in our eyes so sighting was hard but we managed to make it through.  As a side note, there are many folks who falsely self-seed and start up front to give them more time before swim cutoff-  there were a bunch of slow folks who didn’t belong in the faster wave groups so we had to battle them.  Additionally, a lot of swimmers can’t sight worth shit and snake all over the place, so that is always frustrating when doing a triathlon. I pushed hard on this swim but my overall time wasn’t too spectacular.  I wasn’t tired when I got out but I still need work on this swim.

Final Swim – 36:54 – Link here

**Note – My garmin times are different than the official times.  I stopped my watch as soon as I hit ground, but I think the timing chip portion was a little bit north of the swim exit.  My transition times and bike times throughout are the same, so the “official” times always stand.

T1 – This was a big goat-rope.  We have to run down a giant chute and go around transition then run back through to get to our stuff.  I managed to get my swim cap, goggles, and suit off quickly (Thanks Megan Tobin!) then squeezed on my shoes, helmet, and belt with bib and finally escaped with a bike.  This wasn’t technically hard, just annoying.

Final T1 – 4:18

Bike – This bike has always given me trouble in the past so I wanted to see what I could do here to improve.  We started off quite slow to get out of transition and away from the swim area.  We got onto Camp Pendleton pretty fast and I was able to start some work.  I managed to get around 22-23 miles in the first hour and I was quite pleased – I just focused on staying aero, tucking, and getting my nutrition.  After the first hour, we started to hit the hills and I slowed down considerably.  There are three hills that slow you down, and one which made me actually climb out of saddle.  I ride an 11×28  for races but I wasn’t too gassed by the hills (thanks to Camp and Zwift here).  Once you get to mile 38, you have to keep your speed under 25mph down a steep hill or you’ll be disqualified, so that was a boondoggle.  After mile 46, it’s a 10 mile flat TT all the way back, so I decided to hammer what I had left.  I got in all my nutrition and felt good, and managed to improve my bike split at this race by 20 minutes.

Final Bike – 2:44:14 – link here

T2 – this wasn’t as bad as T1, but the chute into bike dismount was god awful.  You have to snake in this long corridor and do sharp turns at a slow pace, then get to the dismount line and run in quite a ways to the racks.  Once I racked, I got shoes/socks on pretty fast and bolted out with my hat, glasses, and water bottle in hand.  On the way out, I stopped at the sunscreen station and had the helpers lather me up so much I looked like a ghost.

Final T2 – 2:07

Run – I felt pretty good starting out but my heart rate monitor wasn’t working, so I wasn’t too pleased.  I saw my D3 teammate Greg on the run right out of the gate and he was hustling.  We chatted for a bit then he dropped me and continued to push it hard (he ended up winning our AG).  I kept things going at a 7 min/mile for the first 5 miles, then I started to dip in the 7:10s.  At mile 8-9, the wheels started to come off and I faded pretty hard.  I had been taking in everything according to my nutrition plan, but the cokes the volunteers were handing out were barely filling the cup, so I was losing energy pretty quick (I need lots of caffeine and sugar on race runs or I eat it).  I started to take 3-4 cups of coke per aid station (swiped them off the tables) just to keep fueled.  I managed to rally and push it decently hard on the final straightaway.  I managed to get my fastest run at this course so far (barely) but I felt like I could have gone faster if i hadn’t crumbled due to the nutrition.  In the future, I’ll fill my hand water bottle with coke and just take in water/gatorade from the aid stations.

Final Run – 1:35:28 – link here

Overall Time – 5:03:01 – link here

Results – 36th AG, 229th OA – link here

Based on my goals going into this, here’s the breakdown:

Actual Swim – 36:54 – Lower than a C by a bit, so I give it a “C-”

Actual Bike – 2:44:14 – Solid “B”

Actual Run – 1:35:28 – Solid “B”

Actual Total – 5:03:01 – Solid “C”

I give this race an overall “C” ranking my actual times vs. predicted.  I improved my time at this course by around 17 minutes (previous best here was a 5:20) and improved my bike here by ~20 minutes. However, I failed the swim pretty hard and crumbled on the run, so I didn’t do too well on my objectives considering I was tapered up for this one as an “A” race.  I’ve had a “sub-5 hour 70.3 streak” going for the last 2 years, but that ended today, so I will have my revenge at this race in 2018.

Here are some takeaways and actions for the upcoming season:

  1. Pre-Race Nutrition – I talked to Coach Mike for a bit after the race and I need to clean this up.  He commented that “Need to put Super Ultra in the Lambo, not 85 grade fuel.”  He’s right so I’ll work to square this away for Santa Rosa.

2. Aero – I purchased the Giro Aerohead after Superseal and it worked quite well today.  The face shield let me have a wider field of view in aero and the tail is less noticeable when I have to pop my head up to scan the road ahead.  I replaced the sponge on my XLAB with a pop-on lid and it was both more aero and easier to pour liquids into.  I also shaved my legs.  I used to laugh at all the aero crap but I’ve learned that it does have a substantial savings to time if done right and conjunction with the proper training.

3.  Weight – Still coming down, but needs work.  I’m around ~162 right now but I need to be in the low 150s by September.

4.  Run Nutrition for 70.3s – I’ll be putting coke in my run bottle from now on, I need the caffeine and sugar that bad.

5. Swim – I have the fitness but I find that on races my cadence slows down towards the end, so it may be back to the metronome.  Using the metronome in the past has gassed me cardio-wise, however, I’ve usually had some of my fastest swim splits with the device.  I have good endurance but I just didn’t have the “oomph” I needed today.  My swimming has come along nicely but there’s always room for improvement.


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