April 2, 2016. Ironman 70.3 California – Oceanside. My third trip around this course. My sixth 70.3.
Last year was probably my least productive since getting into cycling, then triathlon. After a mechanical cost me an hour and twenty minutes at this race, I did the Chula Vista Challenge, when weather made both days duathlons. That was all I raced, all year. The late summer, fall, and early winter were challenging. Very busy at work, and my dad’s dementia requiring a lot of my time. I continued to train, but the volume was way done, and the quality was way down. I also put on some weight.
Around mid-November I had my dad in assisted living, and I started to get ready. First up was the Carlsbad marathon in January. No way I would be ready for that, so I dropped to the half marathon. I completed that, in a not so great 2:45. But, a fairly hilly course, and 2:45 should equal a half marathon of right around 3:00 for a 70.3.
my bike was slower than it had been, but I was starting to see some breakout workouts. My FTP went up seven watts on my last test. And I had a couple of rides were the intervals were strong. What I could see was the endurance was lacking. I would be strong for 30-40-50 miles, but then crack and really slow down.
I set what I thought were realistic expectations of about a seven hour 70.3.
I arrived in Oceanside about 4:45. Pulled into the parking lot and watching a freight train pass. It was chilly out, so I put on a sweatshirt and a windbreaker, gathered my gear and headed to transition. I saw my friend Andrea who was volunteering at the start of the bike handing out water, and SugarMagnolia who was volunteering at swim exit.
Photo courtesy of Sugarmagnolia
Set up transition, chatted with a few folks, and soon it was time to put on the wetsuit. The announcer said the water temperature was 62.2 degrees. Not bad, that temp usually means it feels cold to me at first, then I’m okay. Time seemed to fly by and soon we were on the boat ramp, next to go in. As we were waiting the pro men were exiting the swim. Impressive a line up of nine all about 22-23 minutes for a 1.2 mile swim. Damn.
Next we entered the water a short swim to the actual start which was now three minutes away. That water does not feel like 62, or 62.2, it feels like 66-67. Very pleasant.
And the horn sounds, we are off. A bit crowded, more than I remember for this race. And choppy. This is in a harbor, that by my experience is usually nice and calm. I got into a pretty good groove, and just kept swimming. The hard part was the sun was coming up, and sighting was a bear at times. Out of the water, my friend shouted out to me, and I was wobbly! I kicked the last 100 like I should to get some circulation into the legs but wow. After a couple of minutes I was able to start trotting in transition. The transition here is long, and on hard concrete/asphalt. With my tender feet, I never run well on it, and wind up walking most of the way around.
At my spot in transition, the wetsuit comes off, bike jersey on, helmet on, cycling shoes on. Grab the bike, and go. Ahhhh bike time. Nothing like bike time.
Out of transition and we roll around the harbor then head onto Camp Pendleton. To get to Camp Pendleton is a short steep hill. Up and over, and on base. I use this area to get my breathing regulated, get comfortable, then go aero and get to race effort.
About three miles in, I felt like my power was very low. My legs were like jelly. Usually at this point in a race with the adrenaline, I have to hold myself back some. I was really concerned at this point.
At times it was better, but I definitely did not have my A game. I think my nutrition was good. My Friday food was normal, soup and salad for lunch, pasta for dinner, didn’t overdue it. Bagel and hard boiled egg for breakfast. On the bike, I used Spiz which I’ve been working with for about six weeks now and it has done well. I felt like I was well fueled, just no power. It really showed on the hills. While I would never be confused with a skinny guy in polka-dots, I was really struggling on the hills today. But where I could really see it was the flats. I can normally put out a good pace on the flats, and I was a good 1.5-2 MPH slower than I should be.
Finally done with the bike, 30 minutes slower than three years ago, while it felt harder. I didn’t have a power meter then, but the feel was definitely easier three years ago while being faster.
Back in transition, bike racked, shoes changed, helmet off, hat on, and away we go. My strategy was a 30-45 run-walk ratio. I had trained to this the last few weeks and it was working well on tired legs. It didn’t take long though and I didn’t think I would be able to maintain this. At this point I really didn’t feel very good. Mile one felt like mile 10-11 usually feels. This run is going to be a slog! And it was. Mile two through six were just a death march. As I hit the aid stations, I didn’t feel like I needed much, so I just tried a little of this, or a little of that to see if something would get me feeling better. I realized I felt really tired, so I grabbed some Red Bull. I started to feel a little better. Not great, but a little. I was able to go to a 30-90 run-walk, which beat the almost all walk I was doing. I saw my friends, they hung out just after mile 6, and again about mile 8. It was nice, and a bit of a boost. Then the hardest part, going away from the finish until the turnaround at mile 10.5. Here I was back to feeling pretty cruddy. I final boost with the last turn around knowing now every step was toward the finish line. I tried real hard to run for at least 30 seconds every two minutes. Knowing at this point it would be my worst time in a 70.3, and my worst half marathon ever, I just decided to enjoy the beautiful day, the ocean, and the atmosphere. Soon I was in the finishing chute and 70.3 number six was in the books.
Disappointed in the overall time, the bike time, and the half marathon time. But as my friend Leo, who is on deployment in Afghanistan recently said, perspective. I get to do this, it beats the couch, and lots of people cannot or will not do it.
Nice of my friend Andrea to hang out. I’m not much to talk to after a race, and this was worse than normal. I was fried. She asked if I needed to go to medical, so whatever happened, something was off, she could see it. But, I still finished, and will get back on the horse and start getting ready for IMAZ in November.
Analyzing the data today, my Normalized Power on the bike was 77% of FTP, I was shooting for 80-85% so that should not have killed my run, but it felt like I was on the rivet the whole day. I took in enough calories. Just one of those days.
Swim: X-terra Forza wetsuit, Tyr Rx goggles, Tyr lycra swim cap under race issued cap
Bike: Specialized Transition Comp/Williams 58-85 wheels/50-34 crankset/11-28 cassette/X-Lab hydration set up/Adamo saddle.
Run: Hoka One One Bondi 4 shoes
Nutrition: Spiz, 900 calorie bottle on the bike, water. Spiz 250 calorie bottle on the run/shot blocks/water/Red Bull.
For endurance events, I do recommend giving Spiz a try. It's not available everywhere, but if your in San Diego, you can get it a Rev Endurance.