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Ford Ironman 70.3 California - Triathlon1/2 Ironman

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Oceanside, California
United States
Ironman North America
60F / 16C
Total Time = 5h 18m 22s
Overall Rank = 492/2113
Age Group = M40-44
Age Group Rank = 70/313
Pre-race routine:

Okay, another ridiculously long RR after a bit of a hiatus on RRs from me. If you want to skip all the pre-race stuff just scroll ahead!

Apologies in advance for minimal number of pictures. I'll add them as I get them!


I did this race last year and it was my first Ironman branded race. I'm a bit more experienced now being in my 4th season of tris and adding a couple more Ironman 140.6 notches to my racebelt last year. I was pretty sure my biking was in better shape than last year and my run was probably betters (last year I was coming off of a calf tear and bruised kneecaps). Swim I felt okay about for half IM distance, even though I did slack on it all winter.

The weekend before this race, our tri club had our annual Wildflower training weekend in Lake San Antonio. I'm doing Wildflower this year, so I went because it's a great weekend in a beautiful area and a chance to do some very course specific training (plus, these were my first and only OWS and brick training for the year to date) I trained at race pace during the weekend and I definitely paid the price for it - I was quite fatigued for the next week. That and a couple nights short of sleep and I ended up not doing any workouts other than my normal bike commute and one aborted swim workout in this week leading up to IM Cal. So, I was somewhere between recovery from a hard weekend of training and a mini taper from IM Cal. I managed to finally get a full night of rest on Wednesday night, so I felt better on Thursday. Thursday night I packed. Was I recovered and well rested enough? I was almost caught up on sleep, but I had no idea if my legs had recovered yet or not.

I flew down Friday morning (DW couldn't make it this time because of work). Poweredbyfear had driven down to sherpa for me (and visit some friends and family) and he also took my bike down for me saving my tribike transport fee. He picked me at the San Diego airport. We headed to the Guesthouse Inn, same place we stayed last year. It's kind of a dump, but it's close to the harbor/race start and at least this time I had booked early enough to get one of the cheaper rooms. We were able to check in early, but the room was pretty small, esp. after we squeezed in a rollaway bed for poweredbyfear.

We were going to meet the BT folks, but as I was checking out my bike, I realized my front brake cable was sticking and it would stay dragging on my race wheel. Argh. I had the rear changed last year before IM Moo, but didn't do the front. I called TriAya to let her know we were on our way, but running late since I had to take my bike. She generously said they'd wait for us. We got a bit lost on our way to the expo (ended up at the harbor), but finally made it and dropped off my bike. We met up with TriAya who was also with faeron, nevergivin, and jezzieswims - none of whom we had met, so it was great to meet all of them.

(picture courtesy of TriAya)

We walked over to Pasta Mia on Mission Street right across from the theater. At first, I couldn't even tell if the restaurant was open since we were the first ones there. Menu was pretty standard italian fare. Since I didn't want cream sauce or meat or cheese, that narrowed down my choices quite a bit and I went for the capellini pomodoro. We all wolfed down on the bread as we chatted and got past the I-know-you-online-but-I-don't-really-know-you-at-all phase. Food was mediocre, but served it's purpose well enough, but it was the BT company that was a pleasure. It didn't take long for the restaurant to fill up and mostly with other triathletes.

After lunch, I go to registration while poweredbyfear goes to the expo. I'm in the purple cap wave at 7:57am. After registration, I picked up my bike from service. We headed back to the hotel and I finished prepping my bike and all my race gear. We kicked back for awhile and even napped. We snacked a bit; one small benefit of being at this

Soon enough, it was time for 7:30pm dinner at Vigilucci's Osteria with our tri club (Golden Gate tri club). We just walked there since it was less than a mile from our hotel. rjl171 was also joining us, so that was good. We were a supposed to be a good sized group (20) although only 16 of us showed up. Better decor and ambiance than the place at lunch. I ordered the Farfalle Tri Colore (chicken, sun dried tomatoes, broccoli) which was decent, but overpriced. We knew it was going to be slow service with a party our size. After dinner, we walked back to the hotel. Fortunately, we're asleep by 10:30pm.


I wake up just before 5am before the alarms for 5:15, 5:20, and 5:30 go off. I make my coffee (brought from home, but I can't remember which beans I had roasted since it came in a sampler pack. Had to make this in the hotel lobby since they don't provide coffee machines in the room). I eat cereal and fruit. I'm wearing my Oomph tri shorts (they have the most cushion) and my tri club tri top. poweredbyfear helps me pump up the tires (went with the 999 wheelset) on my bike and I'm pretty much ready to go.

I roll down to the race start. It's still dark out, but there are enough lights on. It gets more crowded as I near the transition area. They check for wristbands as we go in. I'm a little surprised they didn't assign spots (just racks) for us, or at least that's what all the guys who are already racked say, so I need to make a little room for a spot for me. I go get body marked and then finish setting up my transition area.

I figure I better go the bathroom one last time, so I go try to find the bathrooms. The one in the transition area isn't open. So I exit transition and see the big line for portapotties. I hope the line moves quickly. I chat with the folks in line. We note that there seems to be a bit of a breeze which likely means a windy race. The line is moving, but not as fast as anyone would like. By the time I get to the front, it's probably about 10 minutes until my wave start.

I rush back to my transition area, throw on my wetsuit, and try to get to the water. I (and several other purple cappers) have to squeeze past tons of people already packed in waiting for their (later) waves. They don't know we're behind trying to get to our wave so no one is stepping aside until the announcer finally asks them to make room. I finally make it to the boat launch with about 20 seconds before they tell us we can enter the water (which is 3 minutes before our start). I can do without all of this before the race, but it certainly keeps my mind off of being nervous at all.

Event warmup:

none. I never really do a warmup for any race...
  • 35m 41s
  • 1931 meters
  • 01m 51s / 100 meters

After the harried rush to get to the start, I was able to just relax for a couple minutes in the water before the start. I'd say I was very calm before the start of this race. When they announce 10 seconds before the start, the guys in the water start hooting and hollering. The horn goes off, and we're off.

I started out pretty strong, which was a mild surprise. I didn't get winded and just had to swim past to avoid a few folks. As we get further along, the swimmers spread out. Contact was all minor and incidental; I didn't give or receive any major punches or kicks, so that's always a good thing. The right eyepiece on my goggles is leaking and is full of water. Oh well. I can usually barely see on the swim anyway. I don't try to draft and just try to keep the mass of swimmers to my left.

I end up zig zagging a bit, but that's fairly normal for me. At some point, I'm overtaken by the fish in green caps from the wave behind me, but I also am overtaking some of the white caps from the wave before.

After rounding the furthest buoy, the chop seems to really be evident. Not a problem, but just another thing to negotiate. The sun is straight ahead so I can't see anything. I just catch a tiny bit of the mass of swimmers and just keep them to my left and ahead. I'm getting passed by some, but I'm holding steady enough to pull ahead of some of my fellow purple caps. Rest of the swim is uneventful.

I can remember when I used to think a HIM swim was long, but this was pretty enjoyable and a nice warmup for the rest of the race.

As we all approach the boat landing, it gets a little crowded, so I need to avoid swimmers in front of me. I stand up and I'm out. Not wobbly at all.
What would you do differently?:

My swim was pretty much exactly how I always do.
Transition 1
  • 04m 45s

I have to keep my goggles on because they are prescription goggles and I have a very strong prescription (-10 diopter). It's a long run beside the whole length of the transition area, but fortunately, it's carpeted.

One guy in front of me is a bit slow, so I pass him. I pull down my wetsuit to my waist. I'm jogging at a good pace and I'm feeling pretty good.

I get to my transition area. Some of the folks in my rack have already gone, but many haven't yet. I put my sunglasses on first (I was still wearing my goggles up to now). I struggle with my wetsuit on my ankles, like always (I keep thinking I should trim these down a bit, but never do). Gus, energy bar, helmet and shoes and I'm ready. It's a little cool out, but I didn't plan to use arm warmers and don't use gloves when I race. I head out of transition and mount at the line.

  • 2h 47m 47s
  • 56 miles
  • 20.03 mile/hr

As I head out from transition, I get around to one of the first turns before the small climb up and I'm passing a bike with funky bar tape that I actually recognized. I look over and it's rjl171 and I call out him. I only knew that he had funky bar tape because poweredbyfear and I met up with him after the Solvang Century a few weeks ago and we saw it then. He tells me I'm looking good and I'm off.

I'm passing quite a few people early on. Not sure why, but I guess people are slow to warm up out of T1, but I'm feeling pretty good. It's a bit windy, but so be it. Of course, it doesn't take long before the really speedy cyclist start passing me (I always feel like I'm the slowest person with a disc wheel, but of course, I never see those who don't catch up to me) and some pass me like I'm standing still. There's a little out and back section before the first aid station that let's you see who's ahead and then on your way back, who's behind you, not that I could recognize anyone.

The first 20 miles just flies by. Up to this point, the course is pretty mild. I still can't feel my toes though from the wind chill. I decide to have my first gu. Some where along this stretch, my chain fell off. This happened twice to me last year. poweredbyfear taught me a little trick to just shift in to my large chainring and just keep pedalling until it catches. I kept pedalling but it wouldn't catch and I was slowing down. Just before I was going to brake and put down my foot to fix it, it caught and I'm back in business (thanks poweredbyfear!).

Every so often, I get passed by a pack of folks who appear to be drafting at least while they are passing me and as far as I can see them. Overall, I only saw course marshalls a few times on the course. never saw them penalize anyone or ever saw anyone in the penalty tents, but so be it.

I'm getting hungry so I eat about half of a Luna Lemon Zest bar. These middle miles until about mile 40 are mentally tough for me since the adrenaline of the start is gone and the pull of the end is not yet there.

The first hill comes. You can see it in the distance before you get to it. It's not as bad as a I remember from last year. Plus, I rode the Wildflower course last weekend so this is not much compared to Nasty Grade. Lots of folks pass me here and I pass a few. i never have to get out of the saddle (although I am running a 12-27 cassette). I can see a lot of the folks I'm passing are CAF athletes who started in the waves ahead of me.

There are a few more hills, but only one other major one. I pass one of the guys from my tri club. Around mile 40 my crotch is starting to hurt from my saddle. About mile 45 I have to pee, but I figure I'm cose enough to the finish that I'll just hold it in. There was a stretch where I didn't pass anyone or get passed by anyone for miles, which was kinda weird for such a big race.

I get my second wind and I feel pretty good as I return to transition.
What would you do differently?:

I knew my bike was stronger this year and I was 9 minutes faster with windier conditions. Can't complain about how I did.
Transition 2
  • 02m 48s

I remember from last year how well carpeted the area was and since I have to jog most of the length of transition, I knew it would be advantageous to have my shoes off. I loosen my shoes as I approach the dismount, but i don't ride with my feet on top of them (never practiced this), just in them loose. When I come to a stop, I pop my left foot out, but my right comes off with my shoe, so I run with my shoe in hand to my transition area.

I rack my bike and see I'm ahead of most in my rack, so that's good. I make a quick transition and head towards the run start, but stop at the port-a-potties first. I'm peeing for quite a long time, but it's such a huge relief. Once that's done, I'm off for the run!
  • 1h 47m 24s
  • 13.1 miles
  • 08m 12s  min/mile

I felt pretty good coming off the bike starting my run (esp. giving I had only done I brick this year and that was just last week). Legs felt a bit heavy for the first few miles before I warm/loosen up. There were quite a few runners already on the course and some of the pros were just finishing up already too. Course was a little bit different than last year and included the 1/4 stretch on the sand, which we had to do a total of 4 times (twice on each loop). Definitely took a bit of wind out of my sails trudging through the loose sand, but like the proverbial timex, I just kept on ticking.

I'm not a very fast runner and I do pass others, but I sure felt like there were a lot of speedy runners out there. I still hadn't seen anyone else from my tri club, which seemed odd. I take a gu fairly early on (usually don't need one until midway through) to pep me up.

The streets are lined with spectators and since we have our names on our bibs, we get cheered by our names which is nice. The route only has a couple of brief inclines, but is basically flat. Soon enough the turnaround comes. My legs are just starting to loosen up. On this return segment, rjl171 calls out to me and we high five as we pass. Great to see him out here. I finally see some of the guys from my tri club too, so that's always a little boost.

This return segment goes well although trudging through the sand still sucks, but sucks a little less going this direction because it is more downhill than up on the loose part. I hit the turnaround for my second lap. I'm feeling pretty good now. After the first aid station, I stop to pee (so I suppose I've hydrated enough). It's warming up so I'm dumping water on my head.

I'm getting my second wind now that I'm warmed up and loose and folks that I had been trailing for many miles, i'm starting to pass. I have to admit that it feels pretty good to pass 20-somethings. The rest of the run goes uneventfully (a good thing) and once I can see the finish line, i power through to finish strongly.

What would you do differently?:

I was 2 min. slower than last year. I was recovering from injuries last year, but we had sand this year.
Post race
Warm down:

I get my finisher's medal, shirt, and cap and drop off my timing chip. i'm feeling fine. I don't see poweredbyfear around so I head over to the food tent. I grab a couple pieces of pizza (cold little caesar's pizza, some cookies, and some water. I grab a chair and head outside the back of the tent where I can just sit in the sun and eat. I finish up and then head over my transition area. I give poweredbyfear a call to meet up outside of the checkout area.

I meet poweredbyfear and he offers to take my bike and by tri backpack...ah, such a good sherpa. He says he saw rjl171 finish, which is cool. We walk back to the hotel. I shower, clean my wetsuit, stretch, and eat up. We kickback for awhile and nap.

The whole reason I originally signed up to do this race was to get a spot for IM CdA. The slots are given out at 4:30. I'm still toying with this idea even though it's insane because I already have 2 IMs this year and IM CdA is 1 week after Alcatraz. i finally decide to abandon the idea and we go to Nytro instead to check out tri bikes for poweredbyfear. They sure have an impressive selection here.

After that we head to Sushi Ota for dinner, which had a 4.5 star rating from over 350 reviews on Yelp. It's located in a small strip mall (next to a 7-11) with minimal parking. We get there at 5:15 (place opened up at 5:00). The restaurant is already maybe 1/4 or 1/3 full already. We don't have a reservation so they ask if we can be out by 6pm and we say sure. We order miso seabass, tamago, and goldeneye snapper and deluxe chirashis (which has uni and toro) for each of us. By 5:30pm, this place is pretty much full.

We were served miso soup first and they gave us spoons, which had us questioning things a bit already. The seabass was tasty (I'm a sucker for seabass). poweredbyfear says that tamago is a measure of a japanese restaurant and he was very unimpressed with it. I think the biggest surprise was that the deluxe chirashi had FAKE CRAB in it. That's pretty shocking - high end items like uni and toro and then fake crab. Sad. Overall, the meal was decent, but far from the best sushi we've had (blame that on there being so much good sushi available in the bay area), but the meal did hit the spot.

We drive back to Oceanside and stop off at the rental house where folks from our tri club are staying and watch the basketball game with them. overall, a pretty good day!

Last updated: 2008-09-15 12:00 AM
00:35:41 | 1931 meters | 01m 51s / 100meters
Age Group: 123/313
Overall: 811/2113
Suit: blue seventy helix
Course: Swim starts and finishes at the boat ramp in the southwest quadrant of Oceanside Harbor and goes in a counter-clockwise direction. The course is one loop and begins by paralleling the west side dock, angles left toward the mouth of the harbor, and turns around where it meets the Boat Basin entrance. The course follows the same layout as it returns. Transition 1 is located in the parking lot that starts at the boat ramp and goes north.
Start type: Deep Water Plus:
Water temp: 60F / 16C Current:
200M Perf. Remainder:
Breathing: Drafting:
Waves: Navigation:
Time: 04:45
Cap removal: Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
02:47:47 | 56 miles | 20.03 mile/hr
Age Group: 77/313
Overall: 491/2113
Wind: Strong
Road:   Cadence:
Turns: Cornering:
Gear changes: Hills:
Race pace: Drinks:
Time: 02:48
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
01:47:24 | 13.1 miles | 08m 12s  min/mile
Age Group: 78/313
Overall: 539/2113
Course: Two loops on an out and back course along the boardwalk, pretty flat. Course is different than last year in that they added a 1/4 mile section of run on the beach in the sand which means we get to run this section 4 times.
Keeping cool Drinking
Post race
Weight change: %
Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5]
Good race?
Course challenge
Events on-time?
Lots of volunteers?
Plenty of drinks?
Post race activities:
Race evaluation [1-5]

2009-04-10 2:43 PM

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San Francisco
Subject: Ford Ironman 70.3 California

2009-04-10 3:47 PM
in reply to: #2076778

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Goodyear, AZ
Subject: RE: Ford Ironman 70.3 California

Another great race and race report! Congrats on all around great times. You seem so comfotable at the HIM distance, like it's no big deal

I want to do this race next year so I'll be coming to you for advice  

2009-04-10 3:59 PM
in reply to: #2076778

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Subject: RE: Ford Ironman 70.3 California
Good job on the race and interesting race report.  It was fun to see your finish time since you beat me by 10 seconds.
2009-04-10 4:18 PM
in reply to: #2076778

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Modesto, California
Subject: RE: Ford Ironman 70.3 California

Its always fun to read your reports! Fast pace as usual, I hope some day I can use the last lap of the run to get warmed up like you do!

I was great to finally meet you and PBF, even though the pasta was ok at best!

2009-04-10 6:54 PM
in reply to: #2076778

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Subject: RE: Ford Ironman 70.3 California
Great RR as usual, congrats!  Bummer on the sand running....ugggg. 

Now I am craving sushi!  BTW the new sushi place in Tiburon (Main street) IT IS AMAZING!!!!!!!
2009-04-10 7:42 PM
in reply to: #2076778

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Subject: RE: Ford Ironman 70.3 California
Great RR!  I was one of those 20-somethings you passed, probably way back on the bike though .  Congrats on a great race, it was fun getting to meet you before the race, sorry I didn't get to say hi on the course, you were probably just too fast!

2009-04-10 11:49 PM
in reply to: #2076778

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San Francisco
Subject: RE: Ford Ironman 70.3 California
Thanks for the comments everyone.

I finally added race photos.
2009-04-11 5:08 AM
in reply to: #2076778

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Melon Presser
Subject: RE: Ford Ironman 70.3 California
Super job, and as always, I love both the great storytelling and the pictorial. You did AWESOME, especially considering the tiredness and just coming off W'flower camp. Congrats on your smokin' bike split!
2009-04-11 7:05 AM
in reply to: #2076778

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Los Angeles
Subject: RE: Ford Ironman 70.3 California
Great report. It was such a mental relief to see you the couple times on the bike/run course. Congrats on smoking another HIM.
2009-04-11 11:38 AM
in reply to: #2076778

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The Redlands, FL
Subject: RE: Ford Ironman 70.3 California

Awesome Race Donato....WTG!!!  and  Super-Great RR!!!

I always enjoy reading your RR with all the details...It makes me feel like I racing with you...LOL

Nice Pics...I love them...!!!

2009-04-12 1:47 PM
in reply to: #2076778

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Sunny Southern Cal
Subject: RE: Ford Ironman 70.3 California
Killer bike and great race overall.  I agree with you on the drafting, I had a few small groups go by me and they were clearly working together.  I also saw much less officiating out there on the bike course this year compared to last.  I had some guys pass me on the do-not-pass descent, and they were probably going 10+ mph over the 25 mph limit.

2009-04-13 3:08 PM
in reply to: #2076778

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Subject: RE: Ford Ironman 70.3 California
Another great read Donato! You always make me feel like I was at the race with you...great job and awesome time!

As always i love seeing the day glo yellow race cap!

Fake CRAB......pfffff!!

2009-04-13 4:53 PM
in reply to: #2076778

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Wellington, North Island
Subject: RE: Ford Ironman 70.3 California
Great job on your race. Nice improvement on the bike too!
2009-04-19 12:23 PM
in reply to: #2076778

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Subject: RE: Ford Ironman 70.3 California
Congratulations on a fantastic race, Donato! And thanks for the detailed RR too!
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