70.3 California - Triathlon1/2 Ironman

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Oceanside, California
United States
80F / 27C
Total Time = 6h 51m 21s
Overall Rank = 1741/2152
Age Group = M 30-34
Age Group Rank = 209/247
Pre-race routine:

My pre-race routine starts the night before the actual race. I make sure to open up my transition bag (thanks again coach Turner for giving me the bag as a gift!) and empty everything out of it. Then I put everything into 3 different piles for each leg of the race. Once I confirm I have everything I need, then I put it all back in my bag. I also, make sure there is nothing extra in my bag. This helps me when I unpack it at my transition spot. If my bag is empty, then that confirms I didn't forget anything in the bag, especially small stuff like gel packs.

I planned to be at the transition area at the time it opens, which was 4:45am. Thus I set my alarm to 4am and went to bed around 9:30pm. Usually I have a hard time sleeping the night before a big race like this one but, amazingly, I had no problems sleeping. Yay!

When I woke up, I took a shower, drank a small cup of coffee with 2 blueberry eggo waffles. Before I left the condo, I checked the air pressure on my bike tires so I wouldn't have to carry my bike pump. Luckily the condo that we stayed at was only a quarter of a mile away from the transition area. FYI, make sure your are wearing a jacket or sweater! Given the transition area is right next to the ocean, there is a pretty chilly breeze that goes through the transition area in the early morning.

Once I got to the entrance of the transition area, I got really excited and also a little intimidated given there was a little over 2,100 triathletes in the transition area...most of them, way better than me. I entered the transition area looking for my bike rack (they were marked by race number) and ended up walking all the way to the end of the transition area. Yup, my rack was the last one...right next to the bright yellow penalty box tent. What's up with that? On the bright side, that yellow tent was a great landmark to help me find my bike in the 40-50 rows of bikes.

I found a good spot on the rack for my bike and racked it. I put down my tri-bag and headed over to the body marking area. Here they write your race number on the side of your left arm and then write your age on the back of your left calf. Note: If you are wearing sweatpants or a jacket/sweater, don't put them back on right away after you get your body marked or else expect that ink to get all over the inside of your clothing. (I learned the hard way.)

After I got my body marked, I headed back to my transition spot and setup my stuff. I picked up this great transition towel that reads: "Pain is temporary, quitting lasts forever". So I laid that down and setup my stuff with my bike items in the front of the towel and run stuff at the back of my towel. I was done setting up my transition area relatively quickly and I still had about 2 hours to go till my swim wave starts, thus I decided to do my warm up.
Event warmup:

My warm up was jogging from the transition area, to the condo and back to the transition area.
  • 48m 13s
  • 2165 yards
  • 02m 14s / 100 yards

For the beginning of the swim, they broke up the field of 2,100+ triathletes into 20 separate swim waves. Unfortunately my age group was the last one...wave #20. At first I was upset and was wondering how they decided which age group goes in which wave. But then I thought to myself...self...that's okay because at least the transition area will be cleared out by the time I get done with my swim.

My swim wave walked down the boat ramp and waited our turn to get into the water and swim over to the starting line. As I waited on the boat ramp, I quickly spit into my goggles...(yes you read that right)...I spit into my goggles so that they would not fog up inside during the swim. Which worked perfectly! The starting line in the water was ~100 meters from the boat ramp. Se we were able to get somewhat of a "warm up" before the actual swim. Once I reached the starting point, I made sure to wade towards the outside back part of the group. My swimming skills definitely needs improvement, thus I let the faster swimmers go first.

Seconds before our swim wave started we all shouted out words of encouragement to each other like "good luck" and "have fun". Then BAM! the gun went off and our long day officially started. I took it easy for the first few 100 meters and then I found another swimmer that was about the same speed as me and I drafted him. It was great! I actually drafted him all the way to the turn around point. Unfortunately I couldn't see the next buoy after the turn around and ended up swimming really wide. After I got back on course, I had trouble sighting the rest of the buoys because the sun was reflecting off the water. All I could do is either look for other swimmers close by and follow them or just follow the harbor wall. I used both strategies through the return trip back to the boat ramp. It was really cool, there was a part near the end of the swim where I felt like I was zooming through the water like a fish! If only I could have felt that way throughout the whole swim. I knew I was close to the end of the swim when I could hear the Ironman announcer's voice over the speakers.

Once I finally made it back to the boat ramp, I was greeted by a line of volunteers! Some were helping me stand up in the water and the others were helping me walk up the boat ramp. Thank you volunteers for your help! Once out of the water, I unzipped my wetsuit and took off my sleeves as I ran down the transition area to my spot.

Other than a little chafing on the back of my neck from my wetsuit, I would say I had a great swim for my current abilities!
What would you do differently?:

I would put more Body Glide on the back of my neck to prevent the chafing.
Transition 1
  • 04m 44s

First of all, I want to thank the volunteer that offered to help me take off my wetsuit! (Even though I didn't let him help me.) It was the thought that counted and also I wasn't expecting any help, so it kinda surprised me when he offered.

Back to T2, luckily my transition spot was on the last rack, closest to the exit of the swim. Thus I didn't have to run far. I got to my spot and unfortunately or fortunately (however you want to look at it) my bike was one of the last ones still on the bike rack. :-( I first started taking off my wetsuit. As always, I have a hard time getting my wetsuit off around my ankles. Once I finally got it off, I sprayed myself with sunblock for the long bike ride in the sun. That is when I confirmed how bad the chafing on the back of my neck from the swim was. Once the sunblock touched the back of my neck, IT BURNED! Ouch! I did use some Body Glide around my neck before the swim. I guess I should have used more. Continuing on, then I put on my helmet, shades, gabbed my bike and started running with my bike down to the exit of the transition area.

Before this race, I have been practicing mounting my bike with my bike shoes already clipped in. I have been doing it consistently well so I tried doing it during this race. I was able to get on the bike fine and started peddling fine but...when tried to put my feet in my shoes, that's when my pace came to a full stop.

Like I said, I have been practicing the running mount technique with success outside of this race. The difference this time around which I didn't practice for was WET FEET! I learned the hard way that trying to put wet feet into dry shoes is really, really hard while trying to also balance yourself on a moving bike (~15 mph). But knowing me, I tried to play it off and not make it so obvious to the crowds of people watching that I was having an issue putting my feet in. I was able to get my right foot in finally. As for the left foot, I was trying and trying to slip it in the shoe and then it happened...the shoe unclipped off the pedal!!! DOH!!! My shoe was partly on my left foot, so then I finally decided to stop and get my shoe on right. It was kinda embarrassing but oh well, just another lesson learned...USE POWDER next time!
What would you do differently?:

Bring powder and put it all over the inside of my bike shoes so that my feet have an easier time getting in them. Also, I might look into the wetsuits that go down only to my mid calf instead of all the way down to my ankles. I heard those have a wider opening and thus will be easier to get off of my ankles.
  • 3h 23m 47s
  • 56 miles
  • 16.49 mile/hr

After my shoe debacle, I spent the first few miles getting into a good rhythm on the bike. I waited till about 30 minutes into the bike before I started taking in any calories, like energy drinks or gels. During the bike ride, I made sure not to get too excited and keep my pace below my functional threshold power level of 217. There were many points where I wanted to go faster but I knew I had to save energy for the monster hills there were coming up later on the bike course.

The first 25 miles of the bike portion were relatively flat. Even though I kept my effort below my FTP, I felt like I was flying! It felt great, I was making sure to take sips from my accellerade every 15 minutes and take a shot of hammer gel every 30 minutes. I love my Speedfil hydration system on my bike! It allows me to drink while I stay in my aero bars and not have to reach down for a bottle. Also, it was super easy to refill with water from the aid stations. It was a little pricey but I definitely recommend it to those triathletes that want to drink but don't want to take their hands off the handlebars. Also, for those that use gels, I recommend using a gel flask that can hold about 5 individual gel packets. For me, they are easier to use because you don't have to tear open the packet and also you won't have 5 or 6 of the empty gel packets sitting in your jersey or bento box (where ever you store them, please don't say "on the ground").

Back to the race, I reached the first major hill and boy did my speed drop to a crawling pace. The climb was not very long, it was just really steep! There were even some folks on the side just walking their bikes up this hill. I definitely contemplated hammering up this hill but I knew if I did, then I wouldn't have any energy left to deal with the next 2 climbs. So I was very conservative on this climb. Up, up, up...and...over the top. Once over the top, it was time to make up some time on the decent! I was jammin down the hill, topping out at 36 mph. What a rush!

The next two climbs were not as steep (thank goodness) but they were longer and another challenge was added which was the wind. We were getting strong headwinds and crosswinds. I felt bad for those triathletes dealing with the headwinds and did not have aerobars. The climbs were hard but manageable. Once I finally made it over the last climb, again I tried to make up some time by going fast on the decent. This time my top speed was 41 mph! I thought it would be all smooth sailing down this until...my bike chain dropped! It happened as I was peddling and just as I changed to my big gear, all of a sudden the peddling became very, very easy. I looked down and saw my chain fell off the cogs. Doh! Luckily I dealt with this mechanical issue before, it was just a little more dangerous this time because I was on a decent and was worried about the triathletes behind me barreling down the hill. So I pulled over, found a small branch on the side of the road and used it to put my chain back on the cog. The pit stop took me about 30 seconds, so it was no big deal. Also, I was on a down hill portion of the course so it was relatively easy to get back up to race speed.

The last 10 miles of the bike ride was great for me. There was a lot of headwind but I just tucked down into my aerobars and kept peddling. I was able to pass up a lot of other triathletes during this part, maybe around 15 to 20.

I must take this time to apologize to one of the volunteers. During the last aid station, I slowed down to grab one of the water bottles that they were offering. Once I grabbed it, I then started to quickly drink from it. I guess I drank a little too fast because...it kinda went down the wrong tube...and I kinda ended up coughing it all back out right on one of the volunteers. Oops! Sorry about that.

Back to the race and the end of the bike portion...
What would you do differently?:

I need to work harder on my hill climbing so I don't lose as much time as I did in this race to the hills.
Transition 2
  • 03m 4s

T2 was great. As I crossed over the final bridge and made that last right turn, I took my feet out of my bike shoes and continued to pedal into the transition area. As I came up to the dismount line, I stood up, pulled my right leg over the saddle, slowed down the bike and jumped off right into running with my bike. It was sooo exciting to do in a race situation. I was worried that I was going to be so fatigued after the bike ride that I would fall over if I tried the running dismount technique. Luckily...I nailed it!

So I ran with my bike back to my transition spot and racked my bike. I was talking to another triathlete next to me and he said he had 3 dealt with 3 flat tires during his bike ride...(and yet he still made it to T2 the same time I did. Ughh, I have a lot of improving to do.) So I

1. Took off my helmet off
2. Put my visor on
3. Put my running socks on
4. Put my running shoes on
5. Turned around my race belt so that the number is in front
6. Put on my hydration belt.

And I was off to the 13.1 mile run...

What would you do differently?:

Put more sunblock! I got minor sunburns on the back of my shoulders. Wear a running hat instead of a visor because now I have a funky tan on my head that stops right above my forehead. Now it looks like the top of my head is dirty. Yet another lesson learned.
  • 2h 31m 35s
  • 13.1 miles
  • 11m 34s  min/mile

After leaving the transition area, I made sure to run really, really easy for the first few miles. Just so my body has time to adjust to running mode. After the first mile, I felt both of my quads starting to cramp up. So rather than trying to run through the pain, I pulled over to the side and did a couple deep squats. Sure enough, that did it! My quads felt fine and I was able to run again. I guess they just needed to be fully stretched out.

For the next 3 miles or so I was flying! It felt so easy, given I just completed a mile swim and 56 mile bike ride. Unfortunately once that easy feeling left, it started to become very challenging. For me the challenge was not from any injury or pain, I believe it was the mental challenge and/or lack of fitness for this distance of race. A few things that challenged me mentally were:

1. Seeing more runners heading back towards the finish line, while I'm just starting to head out away from the finish line.
2. Being passed by triathletes that are older than me and not being able to keep up with them.
3. Being in constant motion for over 6 hours already, I'm still not done and still having about another hour to go till I finish.

These were some of the thoughts that I had to battle with during the last half of the 13.1 miles. The things that kept me moving forward (either running or walking) during the run was the great support that I received from my wife and best friend that were there with me in Oceanside. Also, the support that I received from all my other friends via facebook.

I had no doubt in my mind that I would finish the race. What I did question was how long would I take to finish it and would that be good enough for a new PR? I kept moving forward toward the finish...
What would you do differently?:

Include more long brick (biking + running) workouts in my training.
Post race
Warm down:

After I crossed the finished, I looked at my watch and even with all those challenges during the run, I did achieve a new PR! Woohoo! The volunteers awarded me with my finisher's medal and a Rhoto CA Ironman hat. I also got a congratulatory kiss from my wife! Then I headed over to the massage tent. After my massage, I hustled over to the food tent. There was only pizza available but, given I have been only eating gels and endurance drinks for the last 7 hours..., PIZZA WAS GREAT!!! I scarfed down a few pieces and then went back to my transition area to pack up my stuff. Lucky my wife and best friend, Ron, was there to meet me and help carry my stuff. We walked back to our condo. Ron pushed my bike and my wife carried my stuff. I was soooo tired after the race. Thank goodness they were there to help me!

What limited your ability to perform faster:

I believe the main limiter to my ability to perform faster was my lack of training (physically & mentally). I could have probably done a lot more brick workouts what would have helped me improve my run time. Also, if I trained more on climbing hills on my bike, then I definitely could have finished the bike portion with a faster split time.

Event comments:

This race is a great race in a great city! It so nice being able to do the swim in the harbor rather than in the actual ocean. Also, being able to ride the the military base is nice because you know they have traffic under control and you won't have to worry about drivers hitting you or cutting you off. And of course, being able to run right next to the beach and (this year) not having to run on the beach! I'd like to thank all the volunteers that helped out with the race! There were so many of them.

For those of you that are thinking about doing this race in 2011 as your first 70.3 distance race, I would definitely recommend it. It takes place early enough in the season so that it gives you a reason to start your training on Jan 1, if not earlier. Also, because it's earlier in the season, the overall race temperature is cooler than a July or August 70.3 event. Just one thing, make sure you get enough hill climbing practice on the bike prior to this event. The 3 major climbs could add a significant amount of time which might cost you not making your time goals.

Good luck in your training and I hope to see you in one of my next races. My next "A" race will be the Full Vineman at the end of July 2010.

Profile Album

Last updated: 2010-03-21 12:00 AM
00:48:13 | 2165 yards | 02m 14s / 100yards
Age Group: 232/247
Overall: 1993/2152
Performance: Good
Suit: USAT
Course: An out and back in the Oceanside Harbor for a total distance of 1.2 miles.
Start type: Deep Water Plus:
Water temp: 0F / 0C Current: Low
200M Perf. Average Remainder: Good
Breathing: Average Drafting: Good
Waves: Average Navigation: Below average
Rounding: Average
Time: 04:44
Performance: Average
Cap removal: Average Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Yes Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: Yes
Getting up to speed: Bad
03:23:47 | 56 miles | 16.49 mile/hr
Age Group: 200/247
Overall: 1719/2152
Performance: Good
Wind: Strong
Course: 56 mile loop from Oceanside Harbor, around Camp Pendleton and back to Oceanside Harbor.
Road: Rough Dry Cadence:
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Average Hills: Below average
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
Time: 03:04
Overall: Good
Riding w/ feet on shoes Good
Jumping off bike Good
Running with bike Good
Racking bike Good
Shoe and helmet removal Good
02:31:35 | 13.1 miles | 11m 34s  min/mile
Age Group: 211/247
Overall: 1758/2152
Performance: Below average
Course: A 2 loop course along the coast line next to the beach for 13.1 miles.
Keeping cool Average Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Average
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: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 5