Ironman 70.3 California - Triathlon1/2 Ironman

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Oceanside, California
United States
World Triathlon Corporation
60F / 16C
Total Time = 5h 18m 4s
Overall Rank = 464/2243
Age Group = M45-49
Age Group Rank = 57/239
Pre-race routine:

OK, this report got a little long, but there it is.....

I came into this race at 187# or so, about 18 pounds less than 2012, when I went 5:38, and about 48 pounds less than 2011, when I went 6:22. I wanted to hit 185 but didn't quite get there. I had also been working on my run, which was my weakness, and had also started working with a coach again, Shane MacLeod (gsmacleod) of Scotia Multisports since late January. Training was going very well and I came in fit and uninjured. My reasonable goal this year was to go sub 5:30. If everything went right, I thought maybe I could go sub 5:15, but that would be a stretch. Dream goal times were a :28 swim, 2:45 bike, 1:50 run (the last being the biggest stretch, and which on reflection was not really a reasonable estimate). With about 8 minutes for transition, that was in the 5:10 range. I had a good handle on the swim and bike, but honestly had no good frame of reference for how fast I could run following the weight loss.

Had a pacing plan based on HR as I have not yet migrated to power on the road. Even though I've been racing since '05, I can't really say I've raced by HR before, other than looking at it and thinking "gee, that looks high!" So this was going to take some discipline.

Drove down to Oceanside Friday afternoon with my wife and sister and checked in, and dropped off my shoes in T2 (debated, shoes in the bag? out on a towel? bag? towel? Decided to just hang the bag). Other than my wife, I have not had a lot of family at races, so it was nice to have the extra support.

Quick lunch, rest, dinner at the regular Italian place. At dinner met a big group of guys from Mexico City that travel all over the world to race, Team Vespa. Nice group of guys, a lot of racers from Mexico there.

A little Tosh.0 and then off to dreamland
Event warmup:

Woke up at 5, made my oatmeal, gathered my bags and bike and walked down to T1. The only way to carry the oatmeal was to put it in my helmet, hanging from the top tube, and hope that it didn't spill over and dump oatmeal all over the thing. At least my head would be warm after the swim!

Racks were relatively empty when I got down there abut 5:30, and a lot of guys had racked at the far end (away from the main aisle we all ran down), so I got a pretty good spot. Just racked the bike and dropped the bags. Walked back to the Nautical Bean while eating my oatmeal, like a salmon swimming upstream. Got a cup of coffee, and sat there watching all the racers and family walk by. Fairly relaxing for a race morning. Hit the nice toilets rather than the portapotties and headed back to set up.

5+ hour race with a long wait to swim. Run/bike warmup would be useless to me. Can only get in the water 3:00 before the start so would no be much of a swim warmup either. S tood around talking to other guys in my wave, and meeting a couple guys from ST racked nearby

There is a very long chute everyone stands in by wave waiting for the swim start. When the pros go off at 6:40 and your wave is 7:36, it could be a looooong wait. In years past they've been aggressive about closing T1, but last year they never said anything. This year was the same. A few of us hung out in T1, watching the pros come in. Andy Potts came right by, with several guys right on his tail. Usually he's got a good two minutes on the next guy. Not today, although he pulled out the victory in the last 1/4 mile. Also saw women's winner Heather Jackson come by. Very cool to be in a sport with such close access to the professionals.

Finally walked over to drop off the warm clothes bag, check out the swim course and count the buoys, and get in line.
  • 27m 39s
  • 2112 yards
  • 01m 19s / 100 yards

As the swim lineup was starting, the overcast started to clear, so I opted for tinted goggles. Decided to make a post-swim game time decision on arm warmers, as it was getting warmer and looked like most people heading out were not wearing them. Made my way up to the blue cap groups and got cap on, goggles on, took a gel.

Finally, after three times at this race, actually brought an old pair of flip flops because the asphalt is freaking PAINFUL to stand on. Actually, was wearing a pair of my wife's flip flops since I couldn't find mine. I promised her new ones. Totally worth it.

We stood at the top of the ramp waiting for the wave ahead of us to go. I had seen my friend Chris who came down to cheeer, but not my wife or sister. For seome reason, I looked up towards the swim exit, and there they were. Once the wave before us went, I ran down to get to the water first. I was raring to go, and wanted to get in. I also had to pee. Everyone looking on probably wondered why I looked so releived while everyone else looked nervous.

They only let us in about knee deep this time, unlike last year when we were thigh deep. I like to get the water on my face and head and down my suit, so did the best I could. Rumor was the water was pretty warm, and they were true. Low 60s ez, so the whole pre soak was really not necessary.

As soon as the horn sounded, I ripped into the water and stroked strong to the start line. Was the first one there. Previously I had lined up pretty far right to avoid the scrum, but had some time goals and wanted to get on some fast feet, so I stayed further left. A couple guys got to the line and just kept swimming, I guess they thought it started? Lifeguards brought them back.

I thanked the guard for bringing us warm water - seriously, never had any hint of an ice cream headache, a total non issue and very comfortable - and the horn went off.

Plan was to go fairly hard for the first 200 or so yards, or close to the left hand turn, and then find some feet to hang onto (but without blowing up the rest of the race). It was a little bumpy and elbowy but not too bad, everyone just trying to find their space. It soon cleared out a bit and I could see a few fast guys ahead of me, heading for the turn. I was working my way into getting with that group, but suddenly no one was in front of me.

The course followed 3-4 yellow buoys out to a red left turn buoy, 5-6 yellows to a red left turn buoy at the turnaround, then orange back to a right turn buoy, then back to the start. But the last red buoy wasn't really a turn buoy since you didn't have to go around it. In fact, the fastest line is as far from that buoy as you could get. This is a long way of saying on that first outbound leg, you had two red buoys in front of you, one near that you ignored, and one far that you turned left at.

The lead group in my wave ended up heading to the near red buoy. I breathe right, but I took some left breaths to see what was going on. Saw one guard, then another, start paddling fast toward that group, I assumed they'd tell them they had to go left around the turn buoy. As a result I was first at the turn at about 200 yards in, and as I turned I saw a few blue caps cutting the tangent to the buoy line, as in, cutting the course. I don't know what was said or who did what. I do know that one guy in my AG, on the podium nearly every year, but who every year has swam 1:00 slower than me, swam about :10 faster than me. Not sayin', just sayin'.

I got a little frustrated, but it actually put me in a good place, to just race my race and not concern myself with what others are doing, so long as it does not affect me. It did affect me, but only because now I couldn't find any fast feet because it seemed they got a slight advantage. Now, these guys are on the podium, so ultimately it doesn't affect my 135th or 60th or 200th place or whatever.

It's also easier to navigate prior waves if you are drafting off someone, so I lost that as well, and it was a mess out there. Saw a few folks treading and on their back and honestly just tried not to swim over anyone and not to get kicked.

So race plan adjustment number one. The original plan to go hard then find feet turned into go hard and then swim on your own.

Made the turn at the far end and was feeling good. Historically I start to get tired at that point but not today, felt good and steady. Was tempted to look at the watch, but didn't.

Had to pee and finally learned the value of the band drill, as I could not go and kick at the same time.

On the way back, stayed as far right as they would let me, as it's the shortest line. Kept drifting left as that's what I do, but made a point of heading right and aiming for the guards so I could hug the docks on the way in. Made the final right turn and soon felt my Garmin buzz a mile. Couldn't resist so I stole a peek. 24 minutes. Perfect, looked up and could see the buoys at the exit. Turned to the ramp and got out of the water. TON of volunteers, all grabbing for my zipper pull, LOL, I didn't really want the help.

Bill Bell, 90 year old that was doing IMs until a couple years ago, was helping people out of the water. Cool!

Saw the time on my watch as I got out and, finally, had swum (swam?) to my potential in a HIM. Honestly I have been at a loss why I couldn't break :30.. Some are reporting perhaps a short course, but hey, you take the course they give you. Long, short, perfect. Close damn enough

2011: 30:34
2012: 30:55
What would you do differently?:

Nothing. Felt good coming out of the water and ready to ride. Ambitious goal was 28, probable was 29, so I was already ahead of schedule
Transition 1
  • 05m 17s

Freaking T1 from hell. Ran the entire length of the carpet trying to get the suit off. Saw Wendy, my sister and nephew along the way, that's always awesome, but when I got into transition, suit stuck on Garmin, suit stuck on chip, tried to put left shoe on right foot, wouldn't go on, duh, switched them, wouldn't go on OH MY GOD get me out of here. Finally made it.

Shoved the suit, towel, cap and arm warmers into the transition bag. I thought my T1 time was going to be 8 something, it was that bad.

Good news is when I got there most all the bikes were still around, and only a couple guys from my wave heading out on the bike.
What would you do differently?:

Get better at T1. Thought it was WAY longer than 5 and change, and goal was 5 so I think it can be in the 4s
  • 2h 47m 7s
  • 56 miles
  • 20.11 mile/hr

My plan for the ride was 20' stupid easy, then settle in to a nice pace based on about 145 HR for the front side, then et the HR drift a little to 155 for the climbs but keep the average low, then back to 145 or so for the last 10 miles. Goal was to stay in aero for as long as possible and take advantage of every single opportunity to be in aero.

Problem was I was not picking up a heart rate while in aero. Sat up, got a number of 35, frozen, hmmmm not right. Was not coming up so I started thinking my coach's well thought out pacing plan was out the window, and I'd have to go by RPE. I knew I was probably ahead of schedule even with the cocked up T1 due to the fast swim, so I was not panicking. But still, race plan adjustment number two.

HR reading came around about :30 in, somewhere before Las Pulgas. I had pre ridden the course two weeks ago in addition to several races, and knew where the bumps were, where the flats were, where to push. When the HR came back on board, it was a little higher than I'd like, so backed off a bit. I felt fantastic, was getting passed by a few but doing a lot of passing, and getting a lot of slingshot (legal) drafting. People seemed to be riding mostly legal here, and to the right.

Broke the frontside into sections (las pulgas seems really short these days), and knew the hard part was from the Las Pulgas gate to the campground, just a gentle uphill grade for 3-4 miles, and held myself in check there. Hammered through the campground at the prescribed HR, knowing the hills were coming. Hit the trestles path and got in front of as many folks as I could before the no passing zone. Since I was wave 19 of 23, ended up behind someone going fairly slow but not horribly slow, so I used the opportunity to sit up, eat, get the HR down.

Hit the top of the path and then rode steadily along Cristianitos, knowing the hills were even closer.... Finally decided to pee as I had to go for several miles, and was not going to stop. Made sure no one was behind me in the Splash Zone and let 'er rip. Rinsed off but could feel it settling in my new shoes. Thank goodness I put extra socks in the T2 bag. Ended up peeing three times on the bike, I think. Harder to pedal and pee than you'd think.

Entered Camp Pendleton, no wind. Woot! Grabbed a bottle at the 2d aid station. Rode through the section before the bridge and the hill and soon it came into view. I literally smiled. I love this hill, it stands up before you and just dares you to climb it. And you do, you make it your bitch. I was very comfortable going up that hill. I tried to encourage and make jokes with people I was passing, and that passed me. Saw Roland on the way up, gave him a pat on the back. Lots of folks struggling up the hill but I just put it it in first and just cruised up. I remember struggling myself up this hill, so I know what it's like, and it's much nicer 50# lighter!!

I passed a lot of people climbing and I was feeling fantastic. HR was pegged at 155, climbed to 160 for just a second near the top, which was the high for the ride. Over the top, got back into aero as soon as I could and got down to the bottom

The left turn on Basilone to the second climb is absolutely the worst part of this course, and the hardest for me. Headwind, overall ascent in elevation, and leg killing rollers. It's a mental mindfuck. But I knew that going in and just worked my way through it. The good news is that the mile markers were coming to me, rather than me lookin for them. That's when racing gets really hard.

Recognized the right hand bend signalling the end of the climb, and honestly didn't notice it much. Was surprised to see people walking here as the climb is not bad, but I could see being cooked here. I've been cooked here before. And if you hadn't trained hills, I could see how this course could be considered very hard.

Made it to the no pass downhill, and again tried to get in front of everyone I could. I ended up behind a nervous nellie slowing down to low 20s. Could have gotten frustrated and angry, but was just patient to the sign indicating the end of the no pass zone, and just hammered my way around. I knew there was one more decent climb, and one more short uphill, and then absolute hammertime to the turn, so I was patient.

Once we hit the downhill rollers I turned it on and just went for it, within the parameters of the HR cap though. Felt great at the Vandegrift turn, and grabbed another bottle.

Saw some blatant drafting here, even one guy that would coast to stay in the draft. I didn't say anything, it actually took my mind off this section that always seems so long. I was preoccupied so it went fast, and I eventually made my way around the drafters, shaking my head as I went by.

I wasn't keeping track of my elapsed time as I didn't want to chase a time at the expense of HR, but I did steal a glance somewhere after the 40 mile mark, and saw 2:XX, and figured I was close to on pace for my goal of 2:45. I had also been getting 5 mile splits and saw a bunch in the 12 minute range, so I knew the pace was good, and would make up for teh couple 16 minute splits in the roller section. I still forced myself to back off a bit as I got towards the end, to get ready for the run. I tried to soft pedal the last little climb and road behind the commissary as much as I could.

Got down to the strand no pass zone and rode easy (peeing one last time) to the top of Seagaze. People going up this little hill to Pacific either didn't know about it or didn't care, and were going up in their big ring, slowly weaving back and forth. I had downshifted so pedaled up past them quickly, and at the top came around them and upshifted to the big ring, back in aero, and hammered to the dismount. Felt great!

Nutrition plan was one 2 hour bottle of Infinit, with a water bottle to be replaced as needed. I had a couple gels as well in case. Ended up drinking only about half the Infinit, taking one gel, and taking up two water bottles, so about 420 calories for the ride.

Funniest thing seen on the ride: Aero helmet with a mirror attached.

And I could not believe the number of people, from the start of the course to the end, just sitting up, hands on the pads, not in aero, cruising along. Poor fit? Tired? what? seemed epidemic to me, and on really expensive bikes, way more expensive than my $400 planet x frame.

2011: 3:13
2012: 2:55
What would you do differently?:

Not much, maybe go a little easier at the beginning. My ambitious goal time was 2:45 so basically hit that right on the nose given the length of the ride. And felt fantastic coming off the bike.
Transition 2
  • 02m 21s

As I ran in, the volunteers yelled out my number down the line, and they directed me right to my rack, two rows from the back. Ran to my spot, no other bikes were around me. Awesome!

Knew I had to put new socks on so sat down. Had to pee again so I figured, well, I am sitting here putting socks on, why not kill two birds and all. What a dirty sport. I've never peed my pants so much as on that day.

Got everything sorted and headed out to the run
What would you do differently?:

Not much, my goal was a 3 minute transition so all good
  • 1h 55m 40s
  • 13.1 miles
  • 08m 50s  min/mile

This course is good for OCD people like me, easy to break into bite sized chunks. Plan was to run mile 1 at 9:00 with a HR cap of 155, since I tend to go out too fast and BlowTFU. Mies 2-5 were to be settling in miles with a cap of 160 but ave 145-155. Then mile 5-10, bump to 165 but average 155 or so, then a 5K run. Nutrition was a gel at the start, then one at the south, north and south turnarounds, with water/gatorade as needed and coke after mile 6-7ish. That was the plan.

Started out feeling great. Didn't need to stop in the portapotty :) The course heads from street level down to the beach on a steep ramp, crowded 1.5 mile out and back on the beach path, back up the steep ramp over the pier, bak down to the strand for about .5 mile, then up to Pacific which is rollers for 2 ish miles to the turnaround. rinse and repeat.

Miles were ticking off easily and I was keeping a good pace and feeling very good. I hit mile 1 at 8:48, a little fast, but decided to hold that pace through 5. At 5 I decided to step it up slightly. But my HR had already stepped itself up a bit. So maybe not, effort level and HR rising, pace slowing. OK, step it up at 7. Hmmm. No. OK, just hold on. There were no mile markers for some reason, they've had them out there before, and with the garmin it didn't really matter. I wasn't really bonking, I just wasn't able to push much harder

The rollers on Pacific and to the turnaround took their toll on the second loop. I did my best to maintain a steady pace on the ascents, but regain form and make up lost time on the descents.

Was not a goal going in, but somewhere in there decided that I was not going to walk any of the run, even at the aid stations. I may have slowed slightly to grab a cup if it was crowded, but did not stop running. Something I have never been able to do in a half ironman or, frankly, in a half marathon. Last year, I ran most but walked the steep little hills. I am very proud of this run. And, while plenty of people passed me, I certainly did my share of passing other people, and only lost 11 places on teh run, which for me is phenomenal.

The no walking made up for a slight disappointment in my run (but I mean very *slight*), as I thought I should be able to go a little faster. But when I look at the Daniels Vdot calculator, it shows that for a standalone 10K of 49, I should expect a HIM half mary of 1:52 to 1:58. Bam, right in the middle at 1:55. And it's a standalone half mary PR to boot. I cannot be (and am not) dissatisfied with this run. And when I look at my splits, with the exception of mile 11, they were very consistent, which I think indicates good bike and run pacing. I'll let you know what Coach Shane says :) Not sure what happened at mile 11 other than the cramps, but i recovered the pace by mile 12.

I did not hae a running clock going so I had no idea where I was relative to 5:15. I knew the run was not going to pan out as fast as I might have hoped, but rather than cruising it in, I switched my goal to getting a half mary PR, standalone or otherwise, which was 1:57. At about 11.5 miles, I was at 1:45 or so, and knew I had a chance, but I had to keep pushing. Last year I knew I was beating my goal of 5:40 coming along the strand, so I kind of shut it down coming down the chute. This time I kept it going until the end.

Garmin shows a tad short at 12.9. Splits:
1. 8:48, HR 151
2. 8:50, HR 159
3. 8:48, HR 160
4. 8:52, HR 162
5. 8:51, HR 162
6. 8:52, HR 164
7. 8:58, HR 167
8. 9:10, HR 167
9. 9:04, HR 166
10. 9:06, HR 166
11. 9:21, HR 165
12. 9:03, HR 170

Didn't have any cramps either except for a slight twinge about mile 11 that I just worked through.

Although I was soaked, I get soaked on my morning runs in 55 degree weather, I never found this to be that hot. Took a couple sponges, but no ice was needed.

BTers saw and/or heard on the run
Melissa (mndymond)
Dusty (fastyellow)
did I leave anyone out? Hope not.

2011: 2:29
2012: 2:02
What would you do differently?:

Figure out how to pace better to negative split
Post race
Warm down:

Ran across the line and was happy to finish, but I was not destroyed as in years past for the first few minutes. Last year I had to wait several minutes before I could eat something. this time I was ravenous, I went right for the pizza, chips and cookies. And 4 cups of coke and ice.

Sat on the bleachers waiting for my wife to come find me, and frankly just enjoyed sitting in the sunshine, feeling nice and warm. After about 20 minutes, I got up and went to find her, headed up the stairs, grabbed my bags and took off. Overall, I felt pretty good, the worst was my shoulders from being in aero for so long, and I tend to scrunch them up when running. Other than that, I honestly felt pretty good.

What limited your ability to perform faster:


Event comments:

This really is an excellent race, and I finally feel like I was able to "race" it. Not competetively, as I am miles from the podium, but to feel as if I am in the hunt nevertheless. I know I can do more on the run, and look forward to seeing what may come of that.

Last updated: 2012-10-19 12:00 AM
00:27:39 | 2112 yards | 01m 19s / 100yards
Age Group: 14/239
Overall: 195/2243
Performance: Good
Course: counter clockwise loop in Oceanside Harbor
Start type: Deep Water Plus:
Water temp: 60F / 16C Current: Low
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Good
Breathing: Drafting: Below average
Waves: Navigation:
Time: 05:17
Performance: Below average
Cap removal: Below average Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Yes Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
02:47:07 | 56 miles | 20.11 mile/hr
Age Group: 46/239
Overall: 332/2243
Performance: Good
Wind: Some
Road:   Cadence:
Turns: Cornering:
Gear changes: Hills:
Race pace: Drinks:
Time: 02:21
Overall: Good
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
01:55:40 | 13.1 miles | 08m 50s  min/mile
Age Group: 57/239
Overall: 464/2243
Performance: Average
Keeping cool Drinking
Post race
Weight change: %
Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5]
Good race?
Course challenge Just right
Events on-time?
Lots of volunteers?
Plenty of drinks?
Post race activities:
Race evaluation [1-5] 4