Oceanside 70.3 – 7 April 2018

This was my 2nd triathlon of the season and 1st 70.3 (Half Ironman).  I used this race as a check to see if my fitness is on track for Ironman Santa Rosa on May 12th.  I also wanted revenge on last year’s poor showing as I lost my 2-year “sub-5” streak.  Suffice to say, my revenge was complete and I managed a PR.  I made many mistakes but things are coming along.

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

Game Plan – Here’s the original plan and the goals I laid out:

      1. A” Goal – Swim 32:30 (1:33/100y), Bike 2:23, Run 1:24: <=4:30
      2. B” Goal – Swim 33:30 (1:35/100y), Bike 2:28, Run 1:27: <=4:40
      3. C” Goal – Swim 35:00 (1:40/100y), Bike 2:35, Run 1:33: <=5:00

I played around with Best Bike Split for different wattage levels and TSS (FTP = 290, Body Weight = 155, CdA ~0.23):

180 TSS:

80% FTP:

My goals were a bit aggressive but I figured I’d attempt it and crash/burn on the run if necessary.

Pre-Race – I didn’t really taper and still biked 100 miles the previous Saturday (March 31).  I took a few easy days before the race just to loosen up and rest.

Here’s the fitness leading into the race as of Friday, April 6:

ATL – 67

CTL – 87

TSB – 11

These numbers mean I was decently rested going into this race.

Thursday, April 5 – I slept in a bit, then got up and did a quick trainer workout on Zwift followed by a short run.  I geared up then rolled out around 11.  I was planning on stopping at a diner, but construction blocked it so I stopped at Denny’s instead.  I left South Bay around 1200 and entered Oceanside around 1330 (blazing fast for SoCal).  I checked in and got my packet, then roamed around the expo to get some gu’s.  I then got some groceries and met up with the AirBnB folks to get the keys.  I bummed around for a bit then met up with a fellow D3 teammate at The Privateer, which makes this my re-occurring ritual for Thursday night dinners since 2014.  I then went home and passed out.

Friday, April 6 – I got up around 0800, then jumped on the bike to do a quick spin around the block.  This wasn’t really for fitness, just to stay loose and see if everything on the bike worked (power meter, wheels, bike computer, helmet, clothes, shoes, etc).  Once I finished, I showered then threw the bike into the car and headed to IHOP.  This is also my Friday pre-race ritual at Oceanside – eating a massive breakfast.

I then went back to the harbor to drop my bike off.  I managed to get in line with some of the “old timers” at 1030, waiting for transition to open.  We formed a big enough line that they let us in early.  I racked my bike and quickly left.

I went back home but was still a bit tight, so I went to Massage Envy and had a light massage / stretch to get the blood flowing.  After that, I stopped to get some lunch (Pad Thai) and headed home to rest.

The roommates staying with me in the AirBnB started to filter in, so I just stayed home to let everyone in.  I usually eat at Olive Garden (The OG) the night before the race (soup and salad) but just opted to pick up a soup, salad, and bruschetta from one of the local “boojey” Italian spots around the corner from the house.

Once I ate dinner, I made sure all my gear was prepared, shaved my legs (terrible), then was in bed around 10pm.

Race Morning – I got up at 0300 then ate breakfast (2 english muffins with almond butter / honey + banana) and coffee.  I was still stuffed from all the food from the previous day, so I was a bit concerned.  I left the house at 0430 and was parked at the expo around 0445.  I then walked to the bus and shuttled/walked over to transition and was inside by 0500.  I geared up pretty fast and bummed around until 0600, then put on my wetsuit and went to find Mike, Courtney, Matt, and Jess.  Once I found them, I warmed up with bands (shoulders) and a band around my legs (glutes).

The chute started to fill up so I pushed my way through with a few other guys around 0640.  We made our way to the “30-35 minute” sign which had moved to the front.  I entered the warmup area and got a quick lap in, then got back in line.  I saw Christin and Camacho but they had already left by the time I warmed up.  I lined up with strangers and off we went.

Swim – The water was 61, but we stayed in the bay and didn’t have to deal with running into the waves.  There wasn’t much chop so this was a technically easy swim.  I just focused on staying steady and not surging.  By the halfway point, we turned directly into the sun, which sucked.  I realized I was swimming too easy, so I started to pick up the pace.  I felt fine as we got closer to the finish, but there was a lot of churn as everyone converged and the last bit turned into a giant “washing machine” of arms and legs.  I kicked hard the last bit to return the blood to my legs.  I stopped my watch right when my feet hit the ground, then ran through the chaos.  I wasn’t tired at all and saw my finish time, and I was quite pleased considering I took it easy.

Final Swim – 34:05 – 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 – as always, T1 at this race is a big cluster.  We have to run through the chute and it’s like a giant maze.  My bike was racked all the way by the bike entrance so I ran through the entire transition to make it to my gear.  I learned from Desert Tri and just put on my small running socks, so I was in and out pretty quick (not counting the run to/from).

Final T1 – 4:18

Bike – This bike course has traditionally given me trouble as I don’t enjoy the hills…I like staying in aero and just cranking out watts.  However, I felt strong so figured I could do some damage.  I held back in the beginning as the first 4 miles is just getting out of the harbor and onto Camp Pendleton.  Once we were on base, I started to crank it up and press.  My watts looked alright and HR wasn’t too high.

I wanted to experiment with some different bike nutrition.  On my long training rides, I had concentrated Gatorade Endurance, Nuun tablets, L-Glutamine, and BCAAs to the point where each bottle is roughly ~400 calories and ~1900mg of sodium.  This had worked well in training, both on the bike and running off the bike, so I wanted to see if this could work as preparation for Ironman Santa Rosa.  One of the reasons I wanted to try this was to avoid the logistical issues of having to take multiple salt pills and gatorades which adds more movement on the bike.

Over the first hour of the bike, I took in one full bottle (BTA) and kept cranking, so things were on track.  However, after the first hour, my gut locked up.  The combination of all the food the previous day (probably previous 2 days) and super-concentrated gatorade finally decided to act against me.  I realized what was happening and had to dial it back a bit.  I let the fast guys go as I had been burning through a lot of folks.

For the next hour, I just focused on keeping it steady but my watts and HR were starting to dip.  At one of the aid stations, I took in a lot of water to help flush out my gut.  I also was able to pee on the bike which helped ease pressure on my sit bones so I could hold aero better.  When I can’t pee, certain things swell up and holding aero is tough, but peeing seems to help relax everything.

Once we got past the big hills, my energy came back so I slowly sipped from my second bottle.  My energy came back towards the end so I cranked out the last 10-12 miles at what I should have been pushing the entire race.  We wormed out way through the chute and I was off the bike.

Final Bike – 2:33:01 – link here

T2 – We enter transition where we came in on the swim so it’s a boondoggle.  I made it to my gear, racked the bike, threw off my helmet, then put on my shoes and grabbed my hat/sunglasses/run bottle and bolted.

Final T2 – 2:04

Run – I had severely underbiked but was still clogged up and coming in low on sodium and nutrition, so I realized this run would prove to be tough.  I felt alright starting out, and just focused on keeping a consistent pace and holding good form.  This went well for the first 10K, but after the turnaround, I could feel the wheels starting to come off.  My stomach had settled enough to take in more cokes and salt pills, but I was still way off of nutrition.  My form also degraded and my back arches when this happens, so my quads take over and they were taking a beating.

At mile 9, I took my emergency gu and that seemed to save my run.  I started to pick it up slightly the last few miles while focusing on nutrition.  Once I hit mile 12, I picked it up and my pace seemed to come back a bit.  I managed to hold it together and come in fast on the finish, but couldn’t catch the last guy in the chute.  I was pretty spent when I finished and it was one of the tougher runs I’ve done.

Final Run – 1:30:55 (PR) – link here

Overall Time – 4:44:24 – link here

Results – 22nd AG, 96th OA – link here

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

Actual Swim – 34:05 – Lower than B but above a C, so B-

Actual Bike – 2:33 – Lower than B but above a C, so B-

Actual Run – 1:30 – Lower than B but above a C, so B-

Actual Total – 4:44 – Lower than B but above a C, so B-

I give this race an overall “B-” ranking my actual times vs. predicted.  I improved my time at this course by 18 minutes from last year (previous best here was 5:02) and achieved my goal of getting revenge.  I also improved my bike by 11 minutes and run by 5 minutes compared to last year.  Additionally, I set a new overall PR (previous PR was 4:48).

However, I still made several tactical mistakes, namely nutrition which had worked in the past, but I got greedy and wanted to see if there was a shortcut…but there ultimately are none.

Key Takeaways:

  1. I need to curb my gluttony leading up to the race and eat a bit cleaner 2 days out.  I usually carb up heavily, but I was so bloated it hurt.

2. Race Nutrition – stick with what worked.  What works in training under less duress may not work in race scenarios when the pressure is on.

3.  My training days are far harder than this.  Since I’ve been doing some monster training on the weekends, this race was relatively easy fitness-wise, and if I hadn’t botched the bike nutrition, I think I could have gone significantly faster.

4. Bike Fit – after Desert Tri, I had tweaked up the bike fit slightly as I was still using too much quad.  This paid off greatly and I was able to summon up my full power here.

5.  Mobility – my hips / hip flexors are absurdly tight, so mobility work is a top priority.

Overall, I’m pleased with my fitness leading into Ironman Santa Rosa.  I PR’d with little taper and gaffing up nutrition and even PR’d the run on fumes.

Congratulations to everyone who raced!



Desert Triathlon – 4 March 2018

This was my 1st triathlon of the season.  I usually open with a running race or sprint distance triathlon, but I was sick in February when I normally race the Redondo Beach 5k/10k.  My original goal here was to treat the bike as a FTP test and then just survive the rest of the race.  Things didn’t turn out that way but I still had fun.

Desert Triathlon – 1500m swim, 40K bike, 10K run

Game Plan – I just go into Olympics and redline and hold on for dear life.  I had come off a weekend of triathlon camp the week prior, so I wanted to use this bike as a FTP test.

I dabbled with BBS just to give me an idea of the course.  The link is here

Pre-Race – I had completed a triathlon camp the week prior so I was a bit fatigued.

Fitness – bit tired, here are the stats for the day prior (March 3):

ATL:  84

CTL:  78

TSB:  -13

These numbers mean that my fitness was high, but I’m racing tired.

Race Morning – The day before the race, we had a gaffe with the AirBnB so we left South Bay on race morning around 0300.  We got to the race around 0530.  I had 2 bananas and some coffee, then checked in, got my packet, and geared up.  The nice thing about this race (or bad) is that the Olympic distance didn’t start until around 0830, so we had ample time to mope around until the race started.  There was a slight wind but it had died down, so the conditions were very calm.  The lake was cold but not choppy.  The buoys were hard to see though and the sun had risen, so the sighting would prove difficult.

Swim – I was tired starting out, so I just kept this easy peasy and cruised.  There was a big stretch where it was hard to see any buoys, so I just followed feet as best as I could.  I got out and wasn’t too tired, just slow.

Final Swim – 25:41 – 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 dicked around with putting bike socks on after the swim, and it was a mistake.  I was still wobbly, trying to fit on socks and it cost me time.  This was one of my sloppier T1’s to date.

Final T1 – 3:54

Bike – I had only ridden aero once (the week before at Tri Camp) since October, so this would prove interesting.  We escaped transition and immediately hit a climb out of the lake area.  The road quality was a bit meh and we finally made it to the flats.  The first stretch had a nice tailwind, but some of the other sections had a huge headwind, so this bike was a bit tougher than I anticipated.  My quads were on fire here for the first ~38 minutes or so until my glutes finally kicked in.  I just focused on staying low and pushing through.  I had experimented with some gatorade on the bike in anticipation of pushing some decent watts (FTP test attempt), but it was a miserable failure.

Final Bike – 1:01:15 (PR) – link here

T2 – no real issues here – I was in and out pretty quick.

Final T2 – 1:05

Run – I started off well and felt great.  However, my gatorade bike experiment came back to haunt me and I had massive side stitches after the first mile.  I spent the next 4 miles with my hand in my rib trying to ease out the cramp.  I slowed down considerably, but was able to get another wind on mile 5 and pick up the pace.  My run here was pretty pitiful so I wasn’t too thrilled at the end.

Final Run – 43:13 – link here

Overall Time – 2:15:14 (PR) – link here

Results – 5th AG, 21 OA – link here

I managed to PR for a season opener while fatigued, so I’ll take it.  However, I was not too thrilled with any of the legs, so everything still needs work.

Key Takeaways:

1. My quads were on fire, so I went to tweak up my fit from Jim at ERO and we actually raised the saddle a little bit and moved my saddle back.  This helped tremendously and would prove crucial at Oceanside 70.3 (different post).

2. For Olympic distance events, I can’t take too much nutrition on the bike as it cramps me on the run.  However, depending on the race, I sweat a lot and lose a ton of salt an hour (~1800mg), so for hotter races, I still need to take something.  I’ll experiment with nuun and water for Olympics – it will have enough sodium but no carbs / calories to cramp me up.

Congrats to everyone who raced!