Ford Ironman 70.3 California - Triathlon1/2 Ironman

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Oceanside, California
United States
Ironman North America
65F / 18C
Total Time = 5h 33m 18s
Overall Rank = 613/1958
Age Group = M40-44
Age Group Rank = 95/265
Pre-race routine:

This is my race report for Ironman California 70.3 and is my second year doing this event. The plan was to use it as a tuneup for my goal race for Ironman Coeur d'Alene in June. As everyone but the casual observer knows, I had Shoulder surgery in the beginning of December to repair a torn labrum. During the orientation with my ortho, he was doubtful that I would be healed in time to do this race and suggested I would be lucky to even be ready for IMCdA. The "Normal" recovery time for this type of surgery is 4-6 months. At that point, I would be free to train at full intensity. The experience of several friends who have also had labrum repairs confirmed this.

Given the severity of my injury, (Both a Bankart and SLAP Repair) I was very likely to be on the long end of the recovery spectrum.

I just tried to keep my options open but was willing to DNS this race if I was not ready. The Long Course events like the Marathon and the Ironman have no respect for hopes and dreams or even past performances. Those that show up at the start line less than fully prepared for the task at hand, are gonna pay and pay dearly.

As it turned out, I was only down from running at full intensity for about 4 weeks and off the bike for about 8 Weeks and out of the water for about 6 months. (I had not consistently trained in the water since Lake Placid last July) I was finally cleared to swim again on February 18th.

My recovery and Physical Therapy went very well and my recovery was complete after 11 weeks. I had very little pain from the beginning and my range of motion and strength came back very quickly. I did a 1.2 mile Ocean Swim earlier in March and felt really strong during the entire swim and decided that day that I would definitely do this race. Game On!

My training was not going to be optimal, but I felt like the benefits outweighed any risks. The goal was to run it with "A" race intensity and get a good measure of my current fitness level and find any weakness that needs to be worked on in the final 12 weeks of IMCdA training. Even though this was a "Tuneup", this is still a very special race for me.

For those who are not familiar with the 70.3 race format, it is a long course triathlon with a 1.2 mile open water swim, a 56 mile bike ride, and a 13.1 (Half Marathon) run. It is also known as a Half Ironman since the distance is exactly half of a full Ironman. A few years ago, the Ironman Brand was modified to include 70.3 and 140.6 moniker to diffentiate itself from non-branded events. (The number is the total distance of the race) This race was an Ironman Branded event and so carried the 70.3 name. It also has a few slots for the Ironman World Championships in Kona as well as the 70.3 Distance World Championships in clearwater, Florida.
Event warmup:

I had a full plate of pre-race activities planned. I recently joined a new Tri Club in my area (The Coyotes Tri and Cycling Club) and they are sponsored by Nytro Bike Store. I was committed to help set up the booth at the expo on Wednesday and also to tear down on Friday. My club was also hosting a warmup swim on Friday morning and being the local kid, I planned the Pre-race FE Lunch on Friday. I decided to take the last 3 days of the week off so that I could participate and still be relaxed on Race Day.

The Warmup swim was fun and got to meet quite a few BT Peeps and see a few others from Last Year. Of course, Hans came to show us all how it is done. (He is a former Olympic Class Swimmer) He quickly humbled the some of the fastest swimmers in our club. The lunch was a blast. We had a great turnout and was definitely one of the highlights of the whole event.

I know from experience that it is a huge deal to see people out on the course that you know. It always seems to happen at the darkest times out on the course and is a great way to bring things back into focus. I said something to this effect to one of my club mates and her response was "Are we gonna be racing in the dark???". This was her first Long Course Event. (She finished strong with a 6:07:01)

I had a blast at the BT lunch. It is my belief that enjoying a meal with friends is a fantastic way to spend an afternoon. Verna (Mixie), Dolores (DoloresM2), John and DW (Ballyard7), Kevin (KWFire), Hans (Devouahy) and DW, Yanti (TriAya), Monica (Yanti and Dolores Marathon Coach) met up and went to Vigilucci's in Oceanside.

Race Day

I woke up early and dropped by the Holiday Inn to pick up Paul (PGoldberger) on the way to the event. We parked at the Lots by the Pier and had to ride about a mile to the Transition Area. This is a quick test of how organized you are because all of your gear has to fit in a backpack.

We arrived in Transition at at about 5:15 (Still Very Dark) and I quickly found my rack and set up my transition area. Then I hit the Loo and the body marking station on the way back. Found Mixie who was volunteering for the race and she did my body marking. Race number on left arm and age on my left calf.

Then spent some time tracking down folks in transition to offer a quick good luck and a few pre-race photos. I eventually found everyone and then it was time to suit up and head down to the water. There were 20 swim waves and I was in one of the early waves.

I finally got to meet Donato (Enginerd) and Bryan (PoweredByfear). I first Met Donato online a few years ago on Runner's World and although we have done several of the same races, we never managed to meet F2F.

As I was running to the chute to get in the water, I finally found Yanti. I guess she had to move her bike because her assigned spot was taken. The racks were Jammed tight this year I guess. She looked great and ready to race :)

As I was standing there waiting to get into the water, it occurred to me that the rosy weather reports had a good chance of not matching with reality. I know from sailing that when a storm approaches the coast, the wind tends to shift around quite a bit and can be locally intense. In particular, it is usually a bad sign when you see flocks of seagulls heading inland into an offshore wind.
  • 36m 22s
  • 2112 yards
  • 01m 43s / 100 yards

The Swim is one loop in Oceanside Harbor with a deep water start. Because the waves don't have a lot of time in between, there is no opportunity for a warmup swim. Just get in the water and hustle over to the start line for the gun. I lined up in the middle back just because I did not want to put too much stress on the shoulder starting out.

The gun goes off and I did my best to avoid the whole Open Combat scene and mostly avoid being clobbered or swum over. After about 50 yards I found some free water and off I went. Sighting on the way out was really easy and things were going OK until I started to swim into the wave in front of me. Several folks were breast stroking and one was even back stroking. (More likely to get kicked behind someone doing Breast)

After some swimming around, I was able to get some clear water and even a couple of folks to draft off of. Just before the turn bouy, I started to feel a bit of swell coming into the harbor through the gate. No big deal for me since I usually train in the ocean. Made the turn and headed right into the sun. Sighting became much more difficult as it was hard to see the yellow bouys but I could see the jetty that we were swimming along back into the harbor.

Past the fuel dock and the bait dock and then up the boat ramp and I am out of the water. It was so serene out there swimming and as soon as I stood up, it was total chaos. Lots of folks running around, volunteers hollaring and crowds cheering. I glanced at my watch and probably could not hide the dissapointment in my swim time. Was by far the slowest 1.2 mile race time ever. (More about this later)
What would you do differently?:

Need to continue to regain my swim fitness after 6 month layoff.

As one of my friends pointed out, I should not be dissapointed; but rather grateful to have even been there at all.
Transition 1
  • 03m 42s

Out of the water I have to run the entire length of the Transition area to reach the corral entrance and then all the way back to my rack. (Right next to the Swim entrance) Got out of my suit, bike shoes on, helmet sunglasses, jersey and some extra nutrition into my pocket. Then I am off.
What would you do differently?:

Seems like I could have had a foot massage in that time but most of it was spent running through the transition area.

Probably nothing to do differently here. Just the nature of a big event like this.
  • 3h 04m 22s
  • 56 miles
  • 18.22 mile/hr

Hit the mount line and I am off on the bike. I am usually pretty disoriented and a bit sick to my stomach at this point from the swim but today I am feeling OK. (Probably because I kept the itensity pretty low in the water) My breathing is pretty normal and not racing from the swim or the long run through transition.

The plan is to take it easy for the first 5-10 miles and work on getting on my Nutrition/hydration plan. Just kept things low key for the first 5 miles and scarfed a Clif Bar and a gel right off the bat since I was feeling good. I also pulled on my arm warmers since I was starting to feel a little cold.

Mile 5: 17:05 - 17.57 MPH (A few rollers but mostly flat)

Decided it was game time and cranked it up to full race pace just after the 5 mile mark and flew along this mostly flat section of coure. Was feeling good at this point and race pace was feeling very comfortable. I am getting passed by a ton of folks on killer Tri Bikes but most are folks from my AG and the waves in front of me. This is usually the point in the race where I swear never to do another race on my bike.

Mile 10: 14:32 - 20.65 MPH (Flat)

Encountered a few rollers as we headed along through the roads of Camp Pendleton. This is one part of the course I am really familiar with as I regularly train here so I know how to manage things. Still getting passed by a lot of folks on speedy bikes and figure I will see at least a few of these people later on in the hills or maybe on the run course. This is a Triathlon after all and not a bike race.

Mile 15: 15:42 - 19.11 MPH (Rollers)

Now we are on the San Onofre Camp Ground and I totally have the home team advantage. I do many of my long rides and runs up in the part. We are on the old US Hwy 101 Road Surface that has since been replaced by Interstate 5. They turned it into a multi-use path and is a great place to train. No cars, traffic lights and usually not many people out this far. Best of all, it is pancake flat and I am cruising. I am no longer getting passed at this point. (Just a few of the fasties zooming by from the waves that went off after mine)

Mile 20: 14:35 - 20.56 MPH (Flat)

Now we are up by the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) and I feel sorry for the folks who are using HRMs to measure level of effort. I know from experience that riding past this point usually freaks out the transmitters in my HRM. (And from what I could hear, it was happening to a few folks)

Mile 25: 14:38 - 20.50 MPH (Flat)

This is the conlcusion of the "Front Side" of the course as we hit the turn at Christianitos in San Clemente. We head through the San Mateo Camp Ground and back onto Camp Pendleton. This is a part of the course that usually off limits to non-military personnel and so is much less familiar. (With only my memory from last year to go on)

Then, you can see it from about a half a mile away. "The Mother of all Hills" in this course. It is steep and long and I now it is time to start suffering. I ditch my arm warmers, take a few swigs of water and start into the climb. I know that I am going to suffer a bit more than most because I am on a road bike that is geared pretty agressively. My "Bailout Gear" is a 21/42 which means I am out of the saddle a lot sooner but also climbing a lot quicker.

This is normally not so much of a problem, but since I have to run after the ride, I need to work on saving the quads. The good news is I have a lot of bike course left to recover from this climb so I charge the hill and am over it pretty quickly. My pace slows but it was over pretty quickly and now I can recover.

Mile 30: 19:21 - 15:51 MPH (Big Hills)

The next bit of course is a series of rolling hills and was made worse by the wind that I am suddenly noticing. The dissapointment of my swim and now the wind is starting to get me down. This is the darkest point of the race for me mentally. Then, just like clockwork, I see a couple of folks I know ride past and Offer some encouragement as they ride by.

I just suck it up and try to maintain some sort of reasonable pace but I am really working hard now. I don't have a Tri specific bike and I am suffering more than most with the wind, especially when we are climbing into the wind.

Mile 35: 17:47 - 16.86 MPH (Rollers, Head Wind)

OK, not as bad as I had expected it to be and I think the hills are almost over. If the wind is not blowing down in the canyon too bad, I might be able to make up some time. I am feeling better and as I get to the last hill, I am actually feeling pretty strong again.

Mile 40: 18:47 - 15.96 MPH (Hills, Head Wind)

Now are charging down some steep decents and I am thrilled to be making up a lot of time but then I remember there is still one more hill to tackle. It is not nearly as horrible as the previous hills but can be a bitch if your starting to get fatigued. I am still feeling pretty good at this point and decide to start putting a lot of effort into my nutrition.

It seems like as the intensity increases, it becomes harder to maintain the desire to eat and I take every opportunity to force the food down. (I power down another clif bar)

Mile 45: 16:47 - 17.86 MPH (Rollers, Head Wind)

I have figured out by this point that it is time for damage control. I have worked harder than I wanted to get to this point and I know time goals (Especially a PR) is no longer possible. The trick is working hard enough to limit the effects of the wind while still saving something for the run.

I could start really hammering and turn in a great bike split but I will surely be walking the entire run if I do this. Last year, from here to the finish I made up a huge amount of time, but there was no wind. Today is a whole different story.

Mile 50: 15:05 - 19.87 MPH (Flat)

We are heading back at this point and I know it is flat and time to take advantage of the relative lack of wind. I am feeling good but still working hard to make myself eat. The intensity here is up again but that is OK. A few stretches and the legs still feel OK.

I know there is now about 6 miles left and as the course gets close to the coast, the wind starts to pick up and I actually feel pretty sorry for the folks behind me. The wind has now shifted and is blowing hard onshore. (They are gonna suffer way more than I did)

Mile 56: 20:01 - 17.98 MPW (Rollers, Turns, Ramps, Headwind)

The last bit is quick trip around the marina and long the transition area very a series of ramps. This is the same route I had to take at the swim exit and the volunteers warn us to go slow and not to pass.

Final Split: 3:04:23 - 18.22 MPH

What would you do differently?:

Bike fitness needs some work if I am going to be ready for a full IM. I was able to minimize the damage from the wind, but I should have been able to maintain a better pace.

Need more hill and/or wind training.
Transition 2
  • 02m 9s

Hit the dismount line and did my first ever flying dismount in a race. Last year I had to run the entire length of the transition area in my shoes after the ride and it really hurt. This year, I have Tri specific Shoes and practiced the flying dismount so that I could run through transition in relative comfort of bare feet.

Flew through transition, Rack bike, helmet off, running shoes on and stuff some nutrition in my pockets and I am off.
What would you do differently?:

Seems like I could have had another foot massage especially since I had a cramp in my foot that started about half way through the bike but again, most of this time was running the entire length of the transition area.
  • 1h 46m 44s
  • 13.1 miles
  • 08m 09s  min/mile

The run course is two loops of an out-and-back course mostly along the beach. A great course for seeing your friends out racing as you are very likely to see them going one way or the other and offering up High Fives.

Off I go and I start the legs turning over regardless of anything else that I was feeling. Quick swig of water and I am off. Then I see John (IRunForBeer) out shooting photos on the course and he hollers out. (A great boost to see him here) I feel good and after the first 400 yards, I know that I will be running the whole distance and that I did not totally burn up on the bike.

In the first mile, there are 2 groups of folks out on the course, Walking wounded on their first lap and speedy folks (Many of them Pros) doing Lap 2. I saw the race leaders pass me by for the men, and then the Women. I am running with quite a few pro women and even a few men. (Must have been a really tough day for them)

My goal for the first mile is to take it really easy and get the HR under control. Just keep the leg turnover going and don't worry about pace.

Mile 1: 8:31

Now I am running down the strand in Oceanside. A long very flat stretch of concrete along the sand and I start focusing on finding my pace. Am still trying to work on recovery but am starting to get eager to start pushing the pace to see what I have.

Then, I see Paul coming out of a Loo. He is in my AG and passed me on the bike way back at around mile 20. I figured he would already be back at the hotel having a bath given how quickly he dropped me.

Mile 2: 8:25

Course winds way from the beach a bit and now it is very slighly rolling up to the turnaround. As I head up the short bumps, I focus on maintaining even pace. Shorten my stride and increase by turnover. Still not too concerned about pace at this point.

Mile 3: 8:11

Here I start passing friends and then I see Blaize (One of my training partners) running past me. I saw him pass me on the bike early and don't remember passing him again but I must have. I see that he is not running too much faster than my pace and I try to pick it up a bit just to maintain contact.

Mile 4-5: 15:42 - 7:51 Pace

Now I am in a groove and feeling relatively good. While chatting with Blaize, I must have missed the mile marker so no split for mile 4. Seeing my avg pace makes me feel stronger and now the course is back on the beach and I try to step out a little bit.

Mile 6: 7:53

Heading back to the turnaround and the completion of the first lap and the cheering crowds here are great. I start chanting "Once more into the breach dear friends" and the crowd starts going nuts :)

Once More into the breach dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead.
In peace there's nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility:
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger;

Mile 7: 7:58

Just focusing on pressing the pace but not blowing up. Am feeling right on edge but it seems like my nutrition is still doing well. I see several folks I know out on the course heading back and it is very cool to see them.

Mile 8: 7:57

Now I am back in the houses again and the rollers. The steeper bumps are starting to affect me but this is my last lap and I just tough it out as it is almost over.

At the turnaround on the back end of the course, I start singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" as this is the 7th inning stretch. Some spectators get the idea and I start singing louder and much more boisterous. I paused to let the crowd sing out their favorite team and was suprised to hear quite a few non-Padre fans. (Brewers, Dodgers, Yankees)

Mile 9: 8:12

I saw Blaize at the turn and he said "catch me" and although I can see him, I am not catching up. I try everything I can to do and close the gap, but he is running just a little stronger than I am.

I start picking off a lot of other runners (Playing Roadkill). Then I get passed by someone in my AG (The only one to actually pass me on the run) but that is OK because I have run down so many of them already. Just keep picking off folks and I will be fine.

Mile 10-12: 25:03 - 8:21 Pace

Was too focused on finishing strong that I missed 2 of the mile markers. Just focused on the runners in front of me and picking them off. Now I am putting a lot of effort into my run and starting to feel like my nutrition is getting thin.

So, now it is time for Survival fluids; AKA Warm Flat Cola. It is not that warm, and still has a bit of fizz but it is still doing the trick. It almost immediately clears the fuzz from my head and I am ready to finish.

Mile 13 + .1 : 8:48 - 8:00 Pace

I start charging into the finish and pass a few friends who are hollaring my name and trying hard to catch Blaize and that one bloke in my AG that passed me earlier. I caught the AG guy, but missed Blaize. He finished first but I was ~10 minutes ahead owing to the fact that he started in an earlier wave.
What would you do differently?:

Bike fitness is the key to improving my run times. The run pace I held for the race is the same pace I intend to hold during my full IM. I could easily have gone a lot farther on this run. All I needed was more nutrition in my pockets.
Post race
Warm down:

Piles of Pizza, Water and cans of cola. (De-fizzed and warmed in the sun)

I hung around the food tent for a while and chatted with a bunch of folks about their race. There were a few of my training partners still out on the course and I wanted to see them Finish. Monica (From Coyote's) came in with a big smile and her first Half IM Finish.

I was happy to see Yanti's Bike sitting in the rack and knew that she would finish as the run is one of her strengths.

As I was packing my stuff up in transition, I ran into Verna (Mixie) and she gave me an update on Yanti. It turns out she had lacerated her foot on the boat ramp but had made it in on the bike before getting it patched up and heading out on the run.

We walked out on the run course and caught her just as she was finishing her first lap. We hung out with the rest of the cool kids and waited for her to finish. (And it was well worth the wait) But that is another show and I will let you read her race report :)

A bunch of us met up at Karl Strauss that evening and I was a bit late owing to the fact that I stopped off at home for a shower and some clean clothes. (It felt sooo gooood) :)

Had a very nice time hanging out with the cool kids and enjoyed a very satisfying dinner. Rachel (GymGirlX), Faeron (Faeron), Matt (Mattkempf), Yanti (Triaya), Keith (Krludwig), Melissa (BunnyB), Terri and DH (MrsUSMC), Andrew (ACGray22), Verna (Mixie), Dolores (DoloresM2)

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Bike fitness (Muscular Endurance to be able to ride hard for the duration and still have enough left to run hard)

I felt like I ran a strong race and made some very healthy decisions out on the bike course. I did get a bit rattled with my slow swim time but the wind mostly took my mind off of it. I was able to move up in the field consistently throughout the race and the run seems to have been the place where I made up the most time. From the Ironman Athlete Tracking:

TOTAL SWIM 1.2 mi. (36:22) 1:54/100m 798

TOTAL BIKE 56 mi. (3:04:22) 18.22 mph 772

TOTAL RUN 13.1 mi. (1:46:44) 8:08/mile 618

Event comments:

NA Sports puts on a first class event that all others are measured by. You can never go wrong here.

Two gripes that I have with the race are pretty minor. It seems that Gatorade, one of the title sponsors got cheap with the Green Water Bottles and we got plastic throw aways instead.

This is a safety issue as what they were handing out tended to not stay in bottle cages. (I saw several close calls)

The other gripe was that NA sports did not give out the black Ironman Shoulder Bags this year. I got one from this race last year and also from Lake Placid. (I use the hell out of them)

But it was a first class event that I will be back for next year :)

Last updated: 2007-05-18 12:00 AM
00:36:22 | 2112 yards | 01m 43s / 100yards
Age Group: 119/265
Overall: 796/1958
Performance: Below average
Suit: Full Suit + Squid Lid
Course: Out and back through Oceanside Harbor
Start type: Deep Water Plus: Waves
Water temp: 60F / 16C Current: Low
200M Perf. Average Remainder: Below average
Breathing: Good Drafting: Good
Waves: Navigation: Average
Rounding: Average
Time: 03:42
Performance: Good
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: Yes
Getting up to speed:
03:04:22 | 56 miles | 18.22 mile/hr
Age Group: 153/265
Overall: 861/1958
Performance: Average
Wind: Headwind
Course: 1 Loop with front side mostly flat along the coast and back side moderately hilly through the back side of Camp Pendleton.
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence: 85
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good Hills: Average
Race pace: Hard Drinks: Just right
Time: 02:09
Overall: Good
Riding w/ feet on shoes Good
Jumping off bike Good
Running with bike Good
Racking bike Good
Shoe and helmet removal Good
01:46:44 | 13.1 miles | 08m 09s  min/mile
Age Group: 72/265
Overall: 496/1958
Performance: Good
Course: 2 Loop out and back along the strand in Oceanside.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %2
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 3
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] 4