Sunday, March 29, 2015

Ironman California Oceanside 70.3

The race does not always go as planned.  I will admit, I was a bit worried about this one.  Three weeks before the race I got a nasty case of the crud.  Missed my peak week workouts, and a total of nine days of training.  My return was much lower duration than planned, then I hit taper.  I was able to do the taper workouts, but fatigued much quicker than usual.

I mentally adjusted my plan from go for a PR, to have fun and finish.  If I feel really good halfway through the bike, then ramp it up. 

We had a surge of warm weather hit on Thursday with Santa Ana winds, and that brings heat.  Nearly 90 degrees at the coast, which is like a roasting pan.  Saturday was to be the start of a cooling trend, but you never know if the pattern lingers, then it could be toasty.

Race morning was downright pleasant.  I parked easily, ate my breakfast, pumped my tires and headed toward transition.  Took care of business, and started setting up transition.  I saw some friends, and we chatted.  One of the TCSD members had VIP credentials to be a photographer, so lots of shots were taken. 

With my friend Andrea at the TCSD section of transition.  Photo credit: Marcus Serrano

It really does not take long to set up transition, then the waiting game begins.  Pros start at 6:40, but I don’t start until 7:14.  We get into a queue by wave.  We hear the announcer call the male pros coming out of the water, in an amazing 22 minutes and change.  That is for a 1.2 mile swim!  Do these guys have gills and flippers?  Almost time to get in.  There are sea lions perched up observing us.  That was cool.  We get in and swim to the start.  Makes for a nice warm up.  The water feels good.  An unseasonably warm 67 degrees.  No booties, no extra cap.  The horn sounds and we are off.  Well, I had to yell at the knucklehead in front of me that was lying on his back, then we were off. 

I felt like I had a nice rhythm going in the water and was sighting well.  About 1/3 of a mile in, something bumped my leg and swam under me.  I am 90 percent sure it was a sea lion!  That is the second time that has happened to me.  Too bad he didn’t say jump on, and take me around the course.  I could have beat Andy Potts’ time!   I was sighting well until we turned into the sun.  Ugh!  I knew I was zig-zagging.  My 1.2 mile swim registered as 1.36.  Nice bonus swimming.  Even with that, I could see the finish, turned in, hit the timing mat, and clocked a 38:40 swim.  Not the PR of 34 and change two years ago, but a solid swim.  The biggest difference was two years ago I swam right on the tangents and recorded 1.21 miles.

The first test that I was still less than 100 percent was going through transition.  I walked most of the way instead of keeping a nice trot like I normally do.  Got my wetsuit off, bike shoes, helmet and sunglasses on.  Cruise to start the bike.  Yum!

The sun was out, and bright.  Even with my Rudy Project prescription sunglasses I had to squint a bit.  I start pedaling out of the harbor area.  I always start with my hands on the bull horns and upright to get my breathing regulated.  Then after about a mile or so, I drop aero.  That is exactly what I did.  And I felt okay.  A nice smooth pedal stroke, listening to the hum of the 85 mm wheel on my rear.  Some speedy dudes, and dudettes flew by, I went by some as well.  Most of the bike course is on Camp Pendleton, a USMC facility.  The first part is an area we can, and do ride on training rides, so I know it well.  Short steep hill, levels off, Slight downhill, another hill, killer downhill, and to Los Pulgas street.  Out and back on Los Pulgas, then up through the state park campground.

All is still well.  I’d like to be going faster, but this is where I am right now.

Then we re-enter Camp Pendleton on the back side.  We cannot ride back here except for events.  About 2 miles in is San Mateo hill.  Only about a half mile, but super steep.  At one point I looked at my Garmin.  I was doing 3.3 miles per hour.  Up and over, slight downhill, then more up.  Another summit at mile 37, then a sharp steep downhill known as dead mans curve.  The race has a strict 25 MPH speed limit here.  Going over is an automatic DQ.  Complete with radar guns, and timing mats.  It is a steep descent, and I am pretty confident in my descending, so holding 25 is not easy.  I work the brakes, mostly the front, as if you over-brake your rear you can skid out.  Finishing the final curve I hear BOOM!  Thunk, thunk, thunk.  My front tire blew.  Very scary on a steep descent with a bit of curve left.  As I am shouting expletives I am desperately trying to keep the bike under control.  It tips way left, I somehow recover, and now it is tipping right, another recovery, but it is angling right toward the volunteer tent.  Somehow I get it righted.  I have no idea how I kept the bike upright.  Someone was with me.  I thought I was down three times.  I came to a stop about 100 feet before the end of the controlled area, right at the volunteer tent.

Now for a bit of a vent.  I think the 25 MPH limit is ridiculous.  I have negotiated much trickier descents at greater speed.  Having to use that much brake over-heated my rim causing the blow out.  Grabbing the rim after I stopped it was super-hot.  Watching rider after rider descend I was really convinced that the speed limit is too low!  It would be far less dangerous to go 30-35 and lay off the brakes instead of fighting the bike to hold back.

The guy radioed in right of way for tech support.  Meanwhile my left leg shook for about 10 minutes.  While I had a spare tube, the blow out was so strong it knocked the tire off the bead on tore a hole in the sidewall, so a new tube was useless.  Now the frustration.  Tech support is about 30 minutes out.  40 minutes later they pull up, but they have no wheels or tires, just tubes.  What the heck?  It is easy to carry a tube, we should have those.  Every Ironman I have ever done, I see tech support with spare wheels, they swap ‘em out and trade back after the race.  Tech one calls in, only one of four tech cars have a tire.  1:19 minutes I am back on the road.  Thankful they had one, and the techs were all really nice.  But really, 1:19?  It seemed the tech support was under-geared to me.

If you read my blog on Ironman Arizona, and this sounds somewhat familiar, you are right.  I dropped my chain there, and it bent.  And while it took 45 minutes for tech support to get to me, he had a chain, and got me going.  By the way, he was on a moto, and had several wheels with him too.

I take off, with 18 miles to go on a new tire, and low confidence in my rim.  See, the mechanic noticed the rim took some damage too and he was worried about it.  So he let me go, waited about five minutes then caught me to make sure it was okay.  That was nice, and great service on his part.  It was doing okay, but I was a bit apprehensive.  And if you know me, I was frustrated and angry too.

Once I got going, I pushed it some to try and get some time back.  With some rollers and a head wind, probably not the best idea.  By the time I got off the bike I was pretty cooked.  1:19 minutes of sitting/standing around did not help matters.

Time to run.  I hit the porta john before exiting transition and I am off.  I use a run-walk strategy.  My plan for this race was 30-30.  Although I probably should have gone 30-45 with the missed nine days of training.  That was evident by mile four.  The weather was strange.  It was sunny and felt really hot on the first outbound leg.  It was kicking my arse.  But on the turnaround there was a good breeze, and it was cool, almost chilly, while the sun was still hot.  I kept trying to keep up with my ratio, however, I would often skip a run segment to try and get my heart rate and breathing back under control.

I can tell my run fitness is not only not where I want it, it is not where it was five weeks ago.  So I know that damn cold took a lot out of me.

(Forrest Gump voice) I ran from the harbor to the pier.  Then I kept going....Then I went back..Then I did it again...
Photo credit: Marcus Serrano

I trudge along, and I must give the residents of Pacific Avenue in Oceanside credit, as many where out cheering us on, music blaring.  I don’t care for the area around the pier, as all too often beach goers walk through and onto the run course without looking.  I guess it is just too much area for them to keep the people to the designated cross walks.

Returning to the harbor, and turning around, now almost 8 miles in.  I can feel a hot spot on my left arch.  Oh joy, a blister is coming!   Going through the pier area again, and then up to Pacific Street.  Yes, I said up to.  Oh, did I forget to mention this earlier?  To get from the beach area to Pacific street you need to go up, and nice STEEP ramp.  The quads just love that at this point in the day.  In fact, they like going down that steep ramp even less.  Try trotting down a steep decline with tired quads sometime.  It is a real treat.

Out the the furthest point on the course, the final turn-around, I am now headed for home with about 2.5 miles to go.  I am tired, sore, hot, cranky, out of it, happy, and a zillion other emotions all at the same time.

Here we go, the best part of the finish is it is near the pier, so I don’t have to go back up the ramps!  The Voice of Ironman booms out my name, and another 70.3 is in the books.

Too long, bad break on the tire blow out, but we completed the course.

Overall my slowest of the five 70.3s I have done.  Even without the 1:19 delay.  But without a Personal worst, the Personal Bests would not be as sweet.  A bit disheartening to go over 7 hours (moving time) when my goal is to break 6.  Then again, Take 25 minutes off the bike, and 30 off the run, and I am close.  Both of those are doable. 

I would be remiss if I did not thank all of the volunteers on the course.  Three bike aid stations, lots of aid stations on the run, plenty of nutrition available.  And of course lots of fellow TCSDers shouting support.  I really do enjoy this local race.

That was my day.  My friend Andrea also raced.  She did it last year, and dropped out at mile 43 of the bike.  She wanted to avenge that, she even did the Avengers run.  (See what I did there)?  So she signed up again.  Then had several bouts of the crud this year.  With six weeks to go, she had not trained much and was seriously considering not starting.

I offered and she accepted a six week training program to see how it would go.  I saw her on course go down dead mans curve as I waited.  I caught her toward the end of the bike, and was exiting transition as she entered.  I saw her on all the out/back portions of the run.  And I knew she would finish.  I could see she was sore, and deep in the pain cave, but very determined.  So about 40 minutes after I finished, she came across the line!  Her husband was thrilled, and ran along side her, so really despite my day not going the way I wanted it was a good day, as my friend finished her first 70.3. 

Swim:  X-terra wetsuit, Tyr Rx goggles
Bike: Specialized Transition 50-34 crankset, 11-28 cassette, Williams 58-85 wheels
Run: Saucony Kinvara 5 shoes

Next up:  Signed up for Chula Vista double in July and HITS 70.3 in December.  May do some local sprints as well.

Goals:  Get fitness back, drop weight.   Results of summer tri’s not important, just practice.  Get after it at HITS.  Help another friend have a great race at Vineman 70.3., and at HITS 

1 comment:

  1. Great recap! Man, I KNEW something happened! We got there early---just in time to see the first place finisher cross the finish line, followed by Mr. Potts---and waited and waited and waited.....I knew something bad happened to you on the bike. I"m just thankful it was your bike and not YOU that wasn't good. You always inspire, and you're right---we need PW to appreciate the PR. Good job, you fought through and never gave up.