||Oceanside 70.3 Race Report
||Half - Ironman
Sharon's race report Oceanside 70.3
This was my third and best time at Oceanside, and I came within about 6 minutes of my "reach" goal time, so overall a really good day. I was shooting for 6:49 and finished in 6:55:36. A faster bike split and T1 would have gotten me there, but I'm very happy with the result, which is 17 minutes faster than last year's effort on the same course (minus the run in the sand).
What's nice about going to a familiar race is that it reduces a lot of the pre-race jitters. How cold is the water, how tough are the hills, what's the hotel going to be like - Those worries go away because you already know the answers. I also had good company -- Gail Gottfried was volunteering in the medical tent, so she was my roomie.
I managed to avoid some of the mistakes I made in past years. To revisit - I got shut out of transition at 6:30 in 2007 because I thought I had acres of time before my 7:25 wave start so I had to wait for the pros to come out of the swim before I could rush over and put on my wetsuit. I almost missed my wave that year. Last year, I put my wetsuit on both legs before I realized I was still wearing my baggy post-race shorts and had to re-do the whole process or cut the shorts off my legs.
Wetsuit went on easy this time, and I wore throw-away shoes to the waiting chute and brought a Clif Shot gel to eat, but I forgot to bring water. Luckily, some folks in front of me left half-full water bottles behind at the start. I'm not proud, I drank their leftovers. Once they let us into the water for our start, I decided to loosen the watch on my left wrist, and almost lost it in the water. But another woman treading water beside me grabbed it and I was able to get it fastened correctly.
Once it started, this year's swim was the single best long swim of my life. My goal was 43 minutes, which would be a five-minute improvement over last year's swim. I worried it was too ambitious of a goal, but thanks to two (yep, just two) swim lessons from Ian Murray and endless form drills, it was the best-feeling, most relaxed and fastest swim I've done in open water. In past races, I've had lapses of "sea horse" swimming, where the head pops up out of the water and the body goes vertical, but I had none of that this time. I managed to hit my time.
Better yet, I wasn't dizzy coming out of the water, so I was able to run, not walk, back to my bike. Once there, I still had a slow transition because my wetsuit is hard to get out of and I planned to wear a lot of clothing on the ride - arm warmers, bike jersey, lightweight zip-up jacket, head cover and socks. I was hoping for a 6-minute transition, but settled for 10.
The bike course is challenging, but riding the Santa Monica Mountains with the TriCHICKS for the past two years prepared me for the hills. I only stood down once on the first big hill to bring my heart rate down, and managed to take the other hills without too much difficulty. I had another brief stop for Les, a tri-clubber whose chain broke. The only reason I stopped for him was because he was wearing L.A. Tri Club clothing and was looking at people like he needed something. He needed a chain tool and I had one in my multi-tool. Darned if I know how to use one, but I knew I had one. So I stood down and pulled the tool out of my bag and left it with him to continue riding. Les, if you're reading this, you know where to find me now! Biking Karma in the bank.
It was interesting monitoring my energy vs. bonkiness on the ride. I tend not to drink as much as I should on these long rides, so I made sure to drink some sports drink every ten minutes and to eat something every half-hour. I would go from feeling tired before I ate, to feeling very energized afterward. Clif Bloks now come is a much more convenient pack, so they are easier to carry. I had four Bloks, two Clif shots (Chocolate and Apple Pie), half of a mini Clif Bar, a full bottle of Clif Cran-Razz, (I guess you can guess who sponsors me) two baggies of Yam-Honey-Almond Butter mix; and from the aid stations, one-quarter of a banana and most of a bottle of orange Endurance.
The worst thing I did on the bike was an accident, and if I knew the other person I'd apologize. As we saw the third and last big hill on the horizon, I mistakenly thought we had already done hill number three. I told this other rider, Susan, that we would be turning right before we got to that killer big hill. She looked really relieved that the hills were over. I rode on, and as I got closer to the hill I could see riders on it and I realized I had misled that other rider. So, sorry about that. My bad. That said, I was feeling pretty good about that point and passed a few people on the way up.
I finished the ride in 3:40, about three minutes slower than my goal, but I'm still pretty happy with that split, about 7 minutes faster than last year.
T2 was pretty quick, about 3 minutes, and I hit my goal time of 2:18 on the run, despite having to run through about a mile's worth of sand this year that wasn't on the course last year. It was great to see so many other tri-clubbers out there on the course, they really make racing a friendly experience, even when they are in my same age group and pass me a few minutes from the finish line. You know who you are....
Overall, a great weekend, thanks for being out there, and if you weren't thanks anyway for reading.