Ironman 70.3 Superfrog – 24 September 2017

This was my 9th triathlon of the season and 4th 70.3 (Half Ironman). This is my third week in a row of racing (I raced the Santa Cruz 70.3 14 days prior and the Malibu Olympic Triathlon 8 days prior).  I was a bit tired going into this race, but the goal was to rip it and get revenge from last year’s attempt

Ironman 70.3 Superfrog – 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run

Game Plan – Here’s the original plan I put together.  Here are the goals:

      1. A” Goal – Swim 33:30, Bike 2:15-2:21, Run 1:37-1:40: <=4:40-4:45
      2. B” Goal – Swim 34:30, Bike 2:22–2:27, Run 1:40-1:43: <=4:46-4:51
      3. C” Goal – Swim 35:30, Bike 2:27-2:30, Run 1:44-1:50: <=4:52-5:00

I had tweaked Best Bike Split to account for different wattage levels, so these were at 85% / 83% / 80%.  I figured I’d aim for an aggressive top end, even though I was tired from racing over the last few weeks, but I figured I may be able to hold at least 80% or higher because the course suits me (flat and windy); the screenshots are below and the link is here:




Pre-Race – There wasn’t anything too special leading up to the race.  After the last few weeks of racing my overall fitness had stayed about the same but my bike fitness was on its last legs while my swim and run were still alright.  I was still nicely tapered and rested leading up to Sunday.

This is a screenshot of the PMC and the highlight is on race day.  Here are the stats leading into the race as of Saturday, September 23rd:

ATL – 49

CTL – 70

TSB – 17

These numbers mean I was rested and ready.

Saturday, September 23 – I slept in a bit then got up to shower, eat, and pack the remaining gear into the car.  I noticed an oil leak at this point (I’ll allude to this more later) and was out of the house and on the road by 9am.  I got to Imperial Beach around 1130am and grabbed my packet and other gear.  I put the stickers on my bike and did a pre-ride for ~15 minutes to test the legs and make sure the bike was in proper condition.  I dropped the bike off in transition then got in a 15 minute run.  Everything felt fine, so I grabbed some food by the pier and headed to the hotel.

After I checked into the hotel, I took a nap then got up to get to dinner around 6pm.  When I was getting more gasoline for the car, I noticed the oil was leaking more.  On the drive to dinner (Olive Garden), I noticed that the temperature gauge on the engine was starting to climb.  I made it to OG then ate (soup and salad combo, always wins!).  After dinner, I walked over to target to get more engine oil.  I topped up the engine and things seemed fine, so I started driving back to the hotel.  On the way back, the engine kept heating up and I was getting worried.

I made it back to the hotel parking lot and my coolant was boiling when I went to check on the engine.  I walked on foot from the hotel to an Autozone that was about 10 minutes away.  I grabbed some coolant and then ran back to the car to top everything off.  I kept the car at park and idled the RPM from 1000/2000/3000 just to test everything out and the temperature wasn’t rising.

I drove the beast around the parking lot and the temperature was still rising.  I figured that my best course of action was to make it to the race (13 mile drive) and then deal with the car later.  I went back to the hotel room to finish prep (make gatorades, lay out food and clothing, etc) then tried to catch some sleep.  I finally fell asleep around 1am and my first alarm was set for 3am.

Sunday, September 24 – I got up at 330am to eat and prep.  I wanted to leave the hotel early in case I had car issues and I wanted to be on-site right at 5am so I could lay out my gear and get in the restroom line before it filled up.  I was out of the hotel around 440am and on my way south.

My car looked to be alright, but on the drive down, the engine started to heat up again.  I knew I was almost to race parking, but when I got off the interstate to make the exit, my car stalled.  I made it up the short climb and barely turned (power steering and engine were gone) and parked on the curb with my hazards on.  I called my insurance and requested a tow truck come claim my vehicle.  I waited about 20 minutes and the tow truck came around 515-520am.  We tried driving the vehicle onto the tow truck but it was toast, so the driver had to use tow the beast up the ramp.  I then asked the driver to drop me off at the race site which was 3 miles away.  Once he dropped me off, I asked the driver to drop off the beast at the Toyota dealership in Chula Vista and I’d come to claim it later.

I managed to make it to the race at roughly 530-540am then geared up.  While still preparing, my insurance called me and told me that the Toyota dealer was locked up, so they had to put the beast into storage and that I would have to coordinate with them later to take it to the dealer.  I wasn’t too thrilled about any of this but opted to just focus on the race and deal with the rest later.

Both bikes next to me failed to show up so I had a generous amount of transition space yet again (same as Santa Cruz 70.3).  I had no issues preparing but realized I left the anti-chafe in the car so had to borrow some from another gentleman.  I warmed up with the StretchCordz, took a salt pill and gu, then rolled out to swim start.

The water was in the high-60s and the surf was negligible, so this was going to be a relatively easy swim compared to the previous year.  However, they reversed direction of the start/finish so we wouldn’t get as much of a current as last year.  We self-seeded and I started at the front of the “30-35 minute” sign and figured I’d attempt to roll with the big dogs.  Note that this swim is a 1 lap swim, followed by a run back to start, followed by another 1 lap swim, then a run to exit and off to transition.

Swim – this was relatively straightforward.  There were 3 buoys total – a red turn buoy that had us turn left, followed by 1 yellow sight buoy, followed by another red turn buoy that had us take a left towards shore.  I just focused on finding a good rhythm and draft pack.  The current was taking folks to the left of the first turn buoy so a few of us swing a bit wide at the start to angle in and it seemed to work.  There wasn’t much of a melee at the turn buoy but I thrashed a few folks who were bagging.  On the second turn, we had to swim east directly into the rising sun, so sighting was very tough.  I just followed feet and hoped they were angling straight.  We made it through the surf for the first loop and I had swam ~14 minutes, so realized this was good.  The run back to the start arch had me gassed, but I kept moving and then jumped through the surf to start the second loop.

The second loop was a bit slower than the first.  The run gaffed my rhythm so it took a minute to get in a groove.  On the final turnaround, the sun got me again and I lost all feet, so I angled more towards the pier until a lifeguard pointed me to the masses, then I managed to catch a draft pack and swim in.  I swam faster last year in harder conditions but we had a current then, so this was pretty much a full effort swim with no aids, and I was pleased with my time and the fact that I wasn’t too gassed when I ran out.

Final Swim – 32:23 – 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. The “official” times on the IM website stand, but these are what I have based on what I hit on my watch.**

T1 – This was a bit of a smokefest.  We had to wind down a snaky-chute past a bunch of the bikers so it was a bit chaotic.  I moved as quick as I could but wasn’t too fast here.  I got to my bike, ripped off the wetsuit, threw on socks and shoes, then helmet, then grabbed my bike and was out.

Final T1 – 4:44

Bike – This bike course was 4 loops which was mentally tiring, but these courses ultimately suit me as I can time the splits and calculate how fast I need to go to reach a certain time.  It took us about a mile to meander through town and get onto the Silver Strand Highway, so I just focused on making sure everything was working and started to wake up the legs.

Once we hit the strand, I started to let it rip and settle into aero.  My HR was in the 170s by this point so I knew that the last few weeks of racing were catching up to me.  I focused on keeping up with nutrition and maintaining a cadence that wouldn’t spike my HR too high.  I managed to lower HR in the mid-to-high 160s and figured that was good enough.  My quads weren’t fully 100% but since this course was flat with no climbs, I was able to tuck in and start laying waste to the field.  The rest of the bike was relatively tame.  I had no one pass me the entire time but I wept as I watched my watts get lower and lower after each lap – I couldn’t hold 80% so just opted to do what I could.  I realized I could hit a PR bike still so managed to push the last bit, but the bike was closer to 57 miles so I hit 56 at ~2:22 but didn’t hit the final mat until 2:25.  This was a PR bike for me but I realized I was under-strength here – I’d like to do this bike again at full strength.

Final Bike – 2:25:31 (PR) – link here

T2 – This was pretty fast.  My bike rack was right by the bike in so I leapt off the bike, racked everything, threw on shoes, grabbed my hat/run bottle/sunglasses and was off.

Final T2 – 1:33

Run – Based on last year’s race, I categorize the Superfrog 70.3 run as the hardest 70.3 run I’ve done.  This run is 4 loops, but there is a big stretch on the sand that adds up to ~7 miles.  My legs can handle the sand, but I can’t maintain much speed as there’s no rebound.  On the first lap, I followed the 1-2 guys that got off the bike with me (19 year old and 44 year old males) and we hit the soft sand right away.  We then swung a left onto the pavement and into the aid stations.  Once on the pavement, I booked it and dropped both of the guys, but once we hit the sand they overtook me and we played leap frog together for a few miles.  On the sand stretch back, we stayed as close to the shoreline as possible to hit the hard sand as this saves more energy and you can move faster.

The rest of the run was pretty miserable up to mile 7.  I just focused on sticking to my fuel plan and keeping and even pace.  This ended up paying off.  At mile 7, all the salt pills, gu, coke, and gatorade finally kicked in, and I was able to start really moving.

My friend Rebecca and her SOAS race team spectated and cheered on the course, so seeing them was a good boost of energy and they snapped several race photos, so I was grateful for their presence.

The other 2 guys I was jostling with faded and I started picking things up.  I got faster on the second half of the run so I was quite pleased.  Once we hit the final turn after the 4th lap, I sprinted through to the finish line as I had a guy right on my tail.  I managed to improve my time from last year but it looks like the run was a bit short…probably to make up for the longer bike.

Final Run – 1:44:52 – link here

Overall Time – 4:49:03 – link here

Results – 8th AG, 27th OA – link here

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

Actual Swim – 32:23 – A+

Actual Bike – 2:25:31 – Solid “B”

Actual Run – 1:44:52 – Solid “C”

Actual Total – 4:49:03 – Solid “B”

I’ll give this race a B based on my actual times vs. predicted.  My swim went very well, my bike was alright, and ran was about what I expected based on this course.  I was hoping I could go under 1:40 but I need more work on the sand apparently.

Here’s a breakdown of 2016 vs. 2017 on the same course:

2016: S – 32:32 / T1 – 3:53 / B – 2:34:22 / T2 – 1:30 / R – 1:47:33 / Total – 4:59:51

2017: S – 32:23 / T1 – 4:44 / B – 2:25:31 / T2 – 1:33 / R – 1:44:52 / Total – 4:49:03

I was able to improve my time at this course by ~10 minutes, so I achieved my objective of getting revenge from last year and getting a faster time.  This was also my second fastest 70.3 time, and considering I was a bit gassed going in, I’m happy with the result.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Don’t let “real life” issues interfere with your race – this is easier said than done.  The entire debacle with my car wasn’t ideal, and there will always be things that happen outside of your control.  However, you can control how you react to it.  I’ve seen very physically prepared athletes crumble because they lack the mental strength to deal with adversity when something bad happens.  I still struggle with this in training (tired from work, don’t want to train, etc), but when it’s race time, it’s time to throw down and focus.
  2. When you feel like crap on the bike/run, focus on your plan – I couldn’t hang onto my planned watts on the bike so I focused on fueling properly and keeping my HR low for the run.  I felt like trash for the first ~7 miles of the run until all my nutrition kicked in, then I started to negative split the back half.  When all else fails, stick to your plan.
  3. Have a plan to deal with real world events – I realized my car may potentially break down so I prepared everything even more carefully the night before and planned to leave extra early in case something did happen.  Since I left early, I had enough of a buffer for the tow truck to come.  In hindsight, I should have just took an Uber to the race and deal with the car later – this will be a good lesson learned for the future.
  4. I need to work on transitions.  I’ve gotten sloppy and it shows, so I need get some tri-specific shoes and get back to the good old “flying mount” like I used to do in my 20s.
  5. Bike – I’m starting to finally hit a point where my bike fitness / prowess is overtaking my run fitness.  All the time spent training in ERG mode on the indoor trainer has paid off.  I still have plenty of glaring weaknesses on the bike (hard for me to redline, hard for me to hold race watts for a long duration) but compared to a few years ago, my bike is leagues ahead of where I was in the past.  This is a combination of improved bike fitness and improved aerodynamics as I’ve found I’m quite slippery in aero compared to others.

Overall, I’m quite pleased with this effort.  I managed to deal with some unfortunate pre-race issues and almost PR’d at a course that negates my strength in this sport (run).  This was my last “major” race of the season and now I’m about to enjoy the off season.  However, I still have to deal with the car issue and move into a new apartment, so October will be a “maintenance” month until I can get back to real training in November.

I feel good going into the next block of training as Santa Rosa 140.6 will be my big race of early 2018 as I’m focused on qualifying for Kona.  I still have a lot of work to do and I’m slower than my peers that I need to compete against for a slot, but things are moving along.

Congratulations to everyone who raced!


Car Update – ignore if you’re a triathlete, this is simply for my own posterity:

After the race, I called the tow truck company to haul my vehicle over to the dealer.  However, they couldn’t move anything out of storage on the weekends (what kind of policy is this???) so I had to stay in San Diego for the night.  I ate lunch with the SOAS crew and made some new friends.  After lunch, my friend Mike picked me up from the race along with all my gear and took me to La Jolla.  I stayed with Colleen as she swam as part of a relay team with other SMOG swimmers for the La Jolla relay swim.

On Monday, I called my insurance and they instructed the tow truck folks to drop my car off at the dealer.  After we checked out of the house, we drove down to Chula Vista to see the dealer.  The car was there and the service folks were starting to work on it to figure out what was going on.

I roamed around San Diego a bit the rest of the day – I went downtown to the library, got a massage, ate some ramen, then headed back to Chula Vista.  The service folks then let me know what happened:

Evidently, the main cylinder head gasket wore down and broke (235,000 miles on my car) and the engine got flooded with coolant or other gunk.  This took out the radiator and thermostat.  The bill is roughly ~$4k for labor and parts replacement and probably would be more as I would just have them replace the timing belt while they were there.  After looking up the price of my car on Kelley Blue Book, I sadly realized that “The Beast” was not worth as much as I thought, and the cost of repairing the car was far more than the actual car itself.

I asked insurance if they could cover this but they told me they couldn’t (normal wear and tear), so I’m working with the dealer to see how much they want for this.  In the meantime, it looks like I’m getting a new car…I’ll be enjoying this new car payment for a minute.

RIP “The Beast”:  2007-2017



Malibu Olympic Triathlon – 16 September 2017

This was my 8th triathlon of the season and 2nd Olympic distance triathlon of the year.  This is my second week in a row of racing (I raced the Santa Cruz 70.3 6 days prior).  I came in somewhat fatigued and did this race for fun.  My goal was just to push as hard as I could and see what I could do.

Malibu Olympic Triathlon – 1500m swim, 40K bike, 10K run

Game Plan – I didn’t plan this race out like my usual 70.3s – I just go in for Olympics and redline the whole thing and hang on to the bitter end.  I had a rough idea of what I wanted to do – push the swim hard, push the bike hard, and push the run hard – there isn’t as much tactical planning for one of these compared to the longer distances.

I had played around with Best Bike Split to give me an idea of what I could possibly do – I put in 0.9IF and the goal was to see if I could hold 250 watts throughout – the link is here.

Pre-Race – I took the entire week leading to this race pretty much off after the smokefest that was Santa Cruz 70.3.  I swam Wednesday morning with the Equinox crew, then did an hour of Pilates Thursday morning followed by a massage Thursday night, and that was it.  Friday night, a sync’d up with some friends and was out and about, so I didn’t get to sleep until roughly ~1130pm local, then got up the next morning at 330am, so I was a bit tired.

Fitness wasn’t anything spectacular – the big peak was for Santa Cruz so I’m starting to get on the fumes of the summer build and can hold on for a bit longer.  The highlight above is for the night before the race, so Friday, September 15:

ATL – 48

CTL – 72

TSB – 18

These numbers mean that I was rested on paper, but sometimes what’s on paper doesn’t reflect how you really feel.

Race Morning – I was on the road by 0415am and off to Malibu.  I ate two bananas on the way as that’s my normal nutrition for an Olympic or Sprint.  I got to the Zuma parking lot right at 5am and made the long haul to the expo.  Packet pickup was quite smooth and I got my bike stickers on fast, then checked in.  I racked my bike and had plenty of room next to me so there were no issues.  Once I got situated, I made my rounds to the restroom and to see some folks, then warmed up with my StretchCordz for a few minutes as I usually swim better after I use these.  I had put anti-fog on the goggles and let it soak for awhile, then grabbed the goggles/swim cap/wetsuit and rolled out of transition by 0630am when it closed.  I met up with some of my fellow racers (Emily, Kristen, Christine) and headed to the pre-race meeting.  After that, we walked down the beach to the swim start.  I jumped in the water to test everything out and I felt alright – the water temp was in the mid-60s and the surf was negligible, so I figured this would be a good swim.

Swim – We were the second wave and we started at 0705am which was 5 minutes after the first wave (young kids and elites).  I hovered in the back and let the faster folks go in front once they blew the cannon.  I started off smooth then started dropping folks right away past the first turn buoy.  I got in a good rhythm and just focused on having a good pull and calm breathing.  I managed to draft with a guy who was my speed so we formed a duo and stayed together the rest of the race.  We started overtaking the slower swimmers from the previous wave and thrashed them pretty good (sorry breaststrokers) then kept moving forward.  My chest was hurting from the breathing as I hadn’t done much training during the week, and the buoys seemed to take forever so I thought that I was moving pretty slow.  We rounded the last buoy then rode a wave in.  Once we hit solid sand I checked the watch and was still with the other guy so we congratulated each other, then I ran past him into transition haha!  Overall, this was my fastest swim as I PR’d and I wasn’t too gassed, so the swim fitness is there.

Final Swim – 24:53 – 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. The “official” times on the IM website stand, but these are what I have based on what I hit on my watch.**

T1 – I was wobbly coming out of the swim and during the run.  Once I got to the bike, I was still wobbly and dizzy and it took a minute to get everything under control while I was putting on my shoes.  Once they were on, I threw on the helmet, grabbed the bike, and escaped.  This transition wasn’t too bad, no real issues.

Final T1 – 3:41

Bike – I hadn’t biked since the race 6 days prior so I figured this would hurt.  The first mile was spent getting out of transition and Zuma beach so it was a bit slow.  We then went under a bridge and rode onto a man-made plywood bridge that went over some water.  This was a hairy but luckily there weren’t too many people so I didn’t have issues, even though some other folks I knew did (congestion, etc).  Once we got onto PCH, I started to drop the hammer.  My quads were still wrecked from the week before so I just focused on staying in aero and doing what I could.  I had attempted to hold 250 watts at 0.9IF but that wasn’t going to happen, so I just hammered what I could.  I had loaded my BTA bottle with gatorade endurance so I made sure to stay on top of that as I knew I’d need some more gas in the tank for the run.

The rest of the bike was uneventful.  The course is a combination of flats and rollers so I just kept pushing.  I hit the turn-around in ~30-31 minutes with no real issues.  From mile 13-20, the fatigue started to set in and I was a bit gassed.  I had watched my heart rate on the Garmin and saw that I was in the mid to high-170s for the entire ride, so I was almost redlining the entire race at this point.  My cadence dropped and I kept the watts at ~80% IF for a bit.  At mile 20, I got my energy back and started pushing the pace for the final few miles as I wanted to PR.  The last mile was getting through the parking lot so I lost a bit of time, but still managed to PR.  No one passed me on the bike and I was pleased with the effort, even though I couldn’t crank out full watts and wasn’t at full strength, so I’ll take it.

Final Bike – 1:03:34 – link here

T2 – this was pretty easy.  We dismounted then I rushed to my transition area, dropped off the bike, ripped off my helmet, threw my shoes on, then grabbed hat/sunglasses/race belt and put them on while running – no issues.

Final T2 – 1:37

Run – I realized this run would be tougher than my normal Olympic runs because of the combination of the previous race and pushing the HR on the bike.  I started off fine and my legs actually felt quite good, so I just focused on form and breathing.  I held pace for awhile and took water in at the aid stations.  I was passed by one guy who was 35 (age on left calf) and I couldn’t touch him so he was gone.  The gaps in front of me were quite big and I figured I wouldn’t catch anyone unless they totally crumbled.  I saw the folks behind me and they were far enough back that I wasn’t overly concerned with them catching me unless I started walking.  The last 2 miles were pretty shitty as I was feeling it then.  I was pretty ragged on the last mile but just focused on form, technique, and breathing.  I crossed the finish line and I was spent – my legs were torched and I had redlined the race so I went and grabbed some snacks and just wandered around until they opened transition.  Overall, this run was pretty slow for me, but I was pleased to hang on and only let one guy pass me.

Final Run – 42:05 – link here

Overall Time – 2:15:50 – link here

Results – 2nd AG, 27th OA – link here 

My official time and Garmin time were a bit off, and I was bummed to not get 2:15 officially, but oh well.  The race results at the expo initially had me as 4th in my AG, but they took out the elites and put them into their own brackets, so when they announced the winners on stage, I went from 4th to 2nd – I was quite surprised.

My friend and fellow “Killa B” from our Equinox crew got 3rd in her AG and she knew the guy that beat me, so we all took a photo.

Key Takeaways:

  1. I may need to start experimenting with nutrition on Olympics.  Usually I just gun it and hold on, but I’ve found that if I don’t get my full sodium (I need like 1800mg an hour, insane), then I start crumbling hard.  However, taking in too much nutrition on an Olympic sometimes leads to stomach disasters on the run, so I need to play around with this.
  2. I was surprised I was able to move as fast as I could 6 days after a 70.3.  Finally getting down to race weight helped greatly here.

Overall, I was quite pleased with this effort.  I PR’d on both the swim and bike and my overall time (2:17 to 2:16).  I also PR’d when I wasn’t at my full strength and fatigued, so if I had focused on racing an Olympic as an “A” race, I think I could do considerably better.  I have one more big race left next weekend (Superfrog 70.3) so I’ll see what my body can do then.

Congratulations to all my South Bay, Equinox, and triathlon racers!

Ironman 70.3 Santa Cruz – 10 September 2017

This was my 7th triathlon of the season and 3rd 70.3 (Half Ironman). This was my first triathlon in 2 months and first 70.3 race in 4 months.  This was my “A” race for the year so I felt pretty prepared.  I’ve lost roughly 12-13 pounds since my last race in July and I’m down to ~152 pounds, so the nutrition and training are now in sync.

Santa Cruz 70.3 Triathlon – 800y swim (shortened due to fog), 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run

Game Plan – here’s the original plan we put together.  Here are the goals:

      1. A” Goal – Swim 33:30, Bike 2:22-2:28, Run 1:28-1:31: <=4:30-4:35
      2. B” Goal – Swim 34:30, Bike 2:29-2:35, Run 1:32-1:35: <=4:36-4:45
      3. C” Goal – Swim 35:30, Bike 2:36-2:45, Run 1:35-1:38: <=4:46-5:00

We tweaked the power around in BBS a bit and I was aiming for 85% or 0.85IF.  This is about the highest top-end that I would want to do for a 70.3 race…anything higher than this and I’d probably have to walk the run.  The link is here

Pre-Race – I got into a bike crash on Saturday, August 12 and that was the last long ride I had until this race.  I kept my bike legs alive on the trainer but coupled with the crash, missing some longer rides, and a wedding, my bike fitness was not at the point-end as it was in mid-August.  However, my swim and run were there and I was well rested and tapered, so this was the best I felt going into a race all year.

I forgot to grab a screenshot of my CTL / ATL / TSB from Training Peaks the morning of, so I’ve put the screenshot of my PMC above with the values for race day.  Here are the stats from Saturday, September 9th leading into the race:

ATL – 50

CTL – 73

TSB – 19

These numbers mean I was pretty rested and ready to crush it.

Friday, September 8 – I slept in and took my time to leave.  I was on the road around 9am and got to Santa Cruz around 4pm.  I went straight to the expo to pick up my packet and get some gu’s.  After that, I went to our VRBO house to meet Genn and her husband, then we had dinner downtown.  I prepared the bike by putting all the stickers on and swapping out race wheels, putting on the aero bottle and bento box, and testing out the bike computer.  I was in bed by about 10pm.

Saturday, September 9 – I was up around 7am so I could start my warm up bike and run.  I biked around the block a few times.  I hit a bump and my entire front end went down, so I had to pull over and tighten everything up and re-adjust.  I had gone into ERO Tuesday to make some tweaks because of the bike crash so I was a little spooked by this new development, but everything seemed fine after I tightened the bolts.  I got in a quick 15 minute run with some quick strides but nothing crazy.  Our friend Mike came by the house so we all had breakfast and were done by around 11am.

I then left alone to drop off my bike at the race expo and I was done by ~1220pm.  We had a D3 lunch I had to setup at one of the local restaurants so I was there by 1240pm.  We all met at 1pm and it was a good time.  We broke around 230pm so I headed straight home to rest and prepare the remaining gear.

Courtney, Mike and I met up at 5pm to meet Peggy and her crew at an Italian place downtown.  Dinner was good, then we were back home around 7pm and I was in bed by 9pm.

Sunday, September 10 – I was up by 330am to cook and gear up.  Normal breakfast and coffee, no real issues.  I was out of the house by 440am with Mike and Courtney to find a good parking spot.  I had scoped out a public parking area next to the race so we got situated and headed into the madness.

I was setting my gear up and tried to calibrate my power meter, but I quickly realized my PM battery was dead because of the red light.  I used my spare but that was dead too, so I ran to Mike to get his backup battery which worked.  If he didn’t have a spare battery, I would have had to bike by pure feel…and that’s always a crapshoot depending on how you’re feeling.  Once that debacle was cleared, I got the rest of my gear in place.  The two bikes next to me never showed up so I had plenty of real estate – the other athletes next to me remarked on how I was “setting up camp.”  They didn’t compalin when I offered them the real estate to store their bags though…

Mike and I warmed up with our swim bands then we all exited transition at 630am.

We headed to the swim start and got in some good warmups out in the ocean.  However, we were quickly informed that the swim would be delayed due to the intense fog – we couldn’t even see the pier that was a few feet in front of us.  We roamed around for a bit looking for some extra food and water.  When we got back to the swim start, the announcers said that the swim was being relocated to the other side of the pier and wouldn’t start until 8am.  All 2000 racers then started walking over to the other side of the pier, and we were all herded into a giant corral to wait.  I had to pee in my wetsuit 9 times before we finally started the swim.  In total, we waited around 75-80 minutes from when we were supposed to start the swim and when we actually began, so I had to do some nutritional math in my head to adjust on the bike.  Due to the time delay and fog, the swim distance was shortened from 1.2 miles to 800 yards…good news for average swimmers like me!  The race folks finally got everything going and we were in the water around 820am.

Swim – since this was only 800 yards, I slammed it as fast as I could.  I had deliberately chosen a bright pink swim cap and put purple KT tape on my calves so that Mike and Courtney could tell it was me so we could form a draft pack.  Mike and I stayed together and we proceeded to crush everyone in our path…it was glorious.  We hit 3 yellow buoys on our right then made a sharp right turn at the first red (right on red).  On the second right turn, Mike got on my right and we stayed together.  However, my goggles fogged up and I lots him – I just chased feet at this point.  I was also pretty gassed as I went all out and evidently I need work on my 800 yard all out efforts…whoops.  I was hoping for the whole distance swim so I could test out my 70.3 swim fitness, but we’ll have to wait another time.

Final Swim – 12:55 – 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. The “official” times on the IM website stand, but these are what I have based on what I hit on my watch.**

T1 – this was long!  We had a slog to get from the swim exit to the soccer field for our bikes.  I moved as fast as I could and ran by a bunch of folks.  I got the shoes on, then helmet, then grabbed my bike and rolled out fast.

Final T1 – 5:53

Bike – I was worried about being able to throw down and hold some real watts so I figured it was time to lay down the gauntlet.  It took about 4 miles to get out of town and on PCH because of the course setup, so I pushed it while staying upright.  I also took in my spare gu since we waited so long on the swim.  Once we got to PCH, I dropped the hammer and let it rip.  I just focused on pushing hard but keeping my HR under 170.  I knew that if I stayed in the 160 range it would be uncomfortable but I could hack it.  I passed everyone I saw.  A few people passed me, but I passed them right back and no one actually overtook me during the entire race.  I hit the first 28 miles in 1:10, so I realized that I could potentially go around 2:20 if I was having a good day, so I let it rip again on the back half.

However, not all was perfect here.  I dropped my salt container with all of my salt tabs at mile 15 of the bike right after the first aid station.  I was on a descent so there was no way I was going to recover it.  I did some more nutrition math in my head and realized I would hit the minimum amount of sodium I needed per hour, but my run was going to hurt.  I stuck to my gatorades and gu as scheduled then decided that I would get extra salt on the run.

We hit the final 4 miles into town so I couldn’t keep up my pace due to turns, people, etc.  We hit T2 and I was pretty pleased as I had finally PR’d my bike after 2.5 years.

Overall, this bike race course wasn’t too bad.  It was like riding PCH here locally – cold, flat, a decent amount of rollers, and car traffic surrounding you.  This bike course suits me because I can just hold aero the whole time and let it rip.

Final Bike – 2:25:59 – link here

T2 – this was fairly easy.  I ran in, racked my bike, slipped into my socks and shoes, then grabbed my hat, sunglasses, race belt, and run bottle at once and put them on while running out – no issues.

Final T2 – 2:00

Run – I knew this one would be tough because of losing my salt.  I started taking more salt tabs right away to try and stem the damage.  I hit my first 3 miles around ~6:50 and felt great.  I kept drinking my coke and took in gatorades at the stations.  As the run wore on, we hit some hills, ascents, and descents.  Around mile 5-6, we hit the trails that went around for awhile.  I was feeling the misery by this point as my pace was dipping into the 7s.  I just focused on holding on and kept taking in more salt tabs while grabbing more cokes and gatorades at aid stations.  There was no shade or wind on the trail section, and the sun was out in full force so the heat was building.  The last 3 miles were pretty miserable.  Luckily, we hit the pavement with the ocean breeze so it helped me to keep a stable pace.  The last mile was god awful so I just powered through it.  I finished and was glad it was over because I was about toast.

This run was surprisingly tougher than I expected.  I was told the run was “flat and fast” but I thought that the combination of hills, ascents, descents, trails, and heat made this run far more difficult than I had prepared for.  Coupled with the salt debacle, this run was not pretty for me.

Final Run – 1:33:27 – link here

Overall Time – 4:20:13 – link here

Results – 8th AG, 61st OA – link here

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

Actual Swim – 12:55 – no ranking (not comparable to real 70.3 swim)

Actual Bike – 2:25:59 – Solid “A”

Actual Run – 1:33:27 – Solid “B”

Actual Total – 4:20:13 – ?

I can’t really rate this race because it wasn’t the whole distance.  I’m pleased with my effort and training but we’ll have to see how I do on a full 70.3 course with no shortened swims/bikes/runs.  I’m bummed that I lost my salt and I think it cost me my run, so I took a note to have a backup salt canister with me on the bike (2 canisters total) in case this happens again.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Bring multiple CR2032 batteries in case the backup power meter battery fails.  Mike and I had just talked about this the night before the race, so good thing we did.
  2. Have backup nutrition on the bike if you can fit it – if it’s small enough and doesn’t add too much weight, bring it.
  3. Push harder than expected on a 70.3 bike – I had to push several times and hold way more than my normalized power to get the numbers for both average and NP up.  I include zeros in the calculation (coasting, no pedaling, such as descents, etc).  Therefore, I had to slam it decently.  However, this didn’t adversely gas me out as my fitness was decent.  My VI was at 1.05 and my TSS was way under the high point so I was able to get away with it.  If I went purely on feel, I would have either overbiked or underbiked…but the following the power made it just right.

Overall, I’m quite pleased with this effort.  I felt great on the bike and I was finally able to hold the right amount of watts (0.8IF).  My run, even though I struggled, was still a PR.  I PR’d on the bike and run and got top 10 in my AG, so it was a good day.  The old adage of “follow the process” is bearing fruit.  I have a few more races left this season so the goal is still to enjoy the process and continually become a better athlete.

Congratulations to all my fellow D3 and South Bay racers!