The short version. The weather was perfect. The race was a total blast. I'm already thinking about coming back next year. Really that about sums it up. If Oceanside isn't on your racing bucket list, it should be.
The boys and I arrived into San Diego late wednesday night and just stayed over night at an airport hotel before catching the Coaster train to Oceanside the next morning. The Coaster was a great option since we didn't want to have to hire a car. It's really convenient and much cheaper than a cab. There was plenty of room for all our bags and in about 45 mins we were pulling up right next to where they were setting up T2 in Oceanside.
We met up with Ken and Michelle and their kids and after a little grocery shopping we decided to go and pick up our race packets and then check into our hotel. There are plenty of great accomodation options in Oceanside but I think our condos were perfect. They were part of the North Coast Village Complex and were right on the beach within easy walking distance of both race transition areas. It was close enough that Matt and the kids could walk back there during the race to have something to eat and relax for an hour or 2 while I was out on the course.
Thursday night we we did some carb loading and I spent the evening putting my bike back together. Morgan, my bike mechanic back in Spokane will be very proud to know I managed to put it back together without ending up with any leftover pieces.
On Friday Ken, Michelle and I did an easy shake out ride on a great little bike path across from our condos and an easy 15 min run along the beach. We then headed out to scope out the swim start. Most of the buoys were in the water so we got a good look at the course and decided if the wind stayed away it was going to be a very nice swim. I continued some major carb loading all morning and then in the afternoon we decided to use the optional early gear check in at T2 and went and set up our run gear in the afternoon. I put all my run gear in a plastic shoe box to protect it in case it rained overnight and it worked out really well. I'm so glad we set up our transition the day before because on race morning there were all these paniced people racing to T2 trying to do it before the race. I'm not sure if they didn't realise that T1 and T2 were in different places but it certainly was one less thing to stress about the morning of the race.
Friday night I got all my gear bags packed and everything was ready to go. The week before my friend Phil and I had discussed my plan to be braver when descending on the bike. I have this fear of crashing when going 40mph and I tend to wear a hole in my brake pads coming down a hill. I promised Phil I would be braver and told him that I would write" Don't be a weenie" on my arm to remind me during the race. I decided to make it a little more condensed as " Don't be a weenie" wouldn't fit on my arm so I settled for this:
Fearless and ETJ "Enjoy the Journey"
Matt and Ciara arrived into the hotel at midnight on Friday night, and despite the fact they were being as quiet as mice I did wake up and found it hard to get back to sleep. No worries. I had to be up at 4:30am anyway. I was already awake when my alarm went off and I went through my usual pre race routine. At 5:20 I texted Ken and Michelle that I was ready to go, so we met up and headed over to transition. It was only a 5 min bike ride but we ended up walking nearly the whole way as it was very congested with bikes and the last thing I wanted was to crash on my bike on the way to the race start.
After finding our racks we went our separate ways to set everything up, then we met up again for body marking and the mandatory trip to the porta potties. My claim to fame from this race was that I managed to share a porta pottie with Mirinda Caerfree. Not while she was using it but I was the next in line after her so I was hoping some of her speed might rub off on me so to speak. Before we knew it, it was time to line up into our swim waves so we wished each other good luck, suited up and stood in line.
Lining up for the swim start I saw Matt and all the kids which was a great spirit lifter. They were all yelling and cheering.
Then we moved down the ramp and into the water. The water temp was supposed to be between 58 and 60F and after a bit of an initial shock I dunked my head a few times and then we had to swim out to the start line. I wore my full wetsuit for this race along with my neoprene hat and booties and I was toasty warm the whole way. By the time I got out to the start line the water temp felt fine and I was ready to go.
Right from the start I found open water and pretty much had a clear space in front of my during the whole swim. This is the only swim I can remember where I didn't have any body contact at all. None. But I couldn't find any feet either that were swimming straight so I just settled into my rhythm and sighted every 10 strokes or so. The water conditions were really perfect. There was plenty of cloud cover so no need for tinted goggles. I was never looking into the sun at any point during the swim. And there was no wind, so there were no waves or swell at all, sighting was easy and before I knew it I was rounding the last turn buoy and headed back to the ramp.
I forgot to start my watch until a minute or 2 into the swim so I didn't really know what my swim time was but I knew it was under 40 mins...that's about all. They had volunteers on the ramp to help you out and they unzipped my wetsuit on the way up the ramp. ( no wet suit strippers though) then there was a VERY long run through transition until I found my bike.
I decided to wear everything under my wetsuit to reduce transition time but it still took me a few minutes to get my wetsuit and booties off and put my arm warmers on. I already had all my nutrition in my pockets so it was really just throwing on the helmet and sunglasses and off I went.
I turned my bike computer on while I was coming out of transition which was a little disasterous. My garmin decided to not only detect my HR monitor and my powertap but the 20 people around me as well. As I headed out on my bike my power meter was reading 1700 watts...which is about 8 times my standard power so I had to turn it off for a few minutes and allow it to reset, so I missed the first couple of minutes of data from my ride. Next time I'll have to remember not to turn it on until I'm out of transition.
My legs felt great as soon as I was on the bike. Again, the weather was perfect....warm and no wind. So it was time to have fun. For the next few hours I just really put my head down and enjoyed the ride. The route took us through Camp Pendleton Military base which was very cool. All the soldiers were providing the traffic control and there were plenty of things to look at. Certainly NOT a boring bike course at all. Some of the road surface is kind of rough and I noticed water bottles that people must have lost on the bumps all over the side of the road. I thought all the bunps were pretty well marked with spray paint and on some of the bigger ones they had volunteers there yelling at you that there was a bump coming up, so if you were paying attention there were no real surprises
The first 20 miles or so are flat and fast. It felt like every man and his dog was passing me in those first 20 miles. At about mile 25 you see the first hill in the distance, and you can see people crawling up it at a snails pace. Its a short but steep one and certainly gets the HR going but I think that is the only tough part of the entire course. There are a few more hills and rollers after that but they are longer and less steep so much more manageable. The last 15 miles or so are flat and fast again. It seems to me that the last half of the course favors those who can handle the hills in the middle. If you are good at climbing hills the last 20 miles is a bonus and a good way to pass people who ran out of gas on the hills.
There are 3 sections of the course that are no pass zones or speed limited. I was really surprised to see so many people ignoring the rules on these sections. Passing in the no pass zone because they felt that the rules didn't apply to them. And yes, for all those people that know me it won't surprise you to know that I was one of the people yelling at those doing the passing and letting them know that they were breaking the rules.....sheesh...where are the marshalls when you need them.
There were 3 aid stations on the course. All offering ironman perform and water in squeezy bottles. I grabbed a bottle at each station just to make sure I had plenty of fluids as the sun had come out an it was starting to heat up
The last 5 miles of the bike I made a mistake by slowing down too much in an effort to get my legs ready for the run. I should have kept pushing as my legs were feeling great. Oh well, live and learn. The whole ride seem to really fly by and before I knew it I was coming back into transition.
I was determined to make it a quick transition so I dumped all my bike gear, threw on my running shoes, a visit to the porta pottie then it was out on the run course. The first mile it felt great to be running. My legs felt ready to run and when I looked down at my garmin I saw I was running faster than I planned and decided that I needed to dial in back a bit. I saw the kids and Matt and there was lots of hooting and hollering. I was having a ball.
The run course is a very complicated combination of out and back and up and down. From the course map I just couldn't understand it. I thought we were going to be running out on the pier but we actually only ran up and down the pier ramp. One thing I will say is that I had anticipated a fairly flat run but it turned out to be full of false flats and really short, steep up and down sections.
That made it a little hard to get into a rhythm and by about 3 miles into the run I was starting to feel the heat. I think the temps were only around 70 but it felt hot considering I had been running in 40F temps for the last few months. The aid stations were every mile and were awesome...fully stocked with ice, water, sponges and coke. I took only water and ice at every station...maybe I should have started on the coke. This middle section of the run was when the wheels threatened to fall off.
After the first mile I had slowed down but was having trouble finding a comfortable pace. When I looked down at my watch I nearly had a heart attack when I saw how slow I was running. When I picked up the pace my HR would spike so it was back down to a slower pace again. The miles 6-9 were such a mind game.
At the turnaround I was yelling out to Matt who was communicating with my coach to let him know I was in a hole. I was dreading the second loop and a second trip past the finish line to head to the out and back section. But in the end I decided to put my head down and just get it done. I'm still not sure what happened on the run. I just couldn't find another gear. I guess that is something I need to work on for next time.
My finishline photo says it all!!!
But of course you cross the finish line and its all over and it feels good to be done. Smiles return!
I meet up with Matt and the kids and we waited for Michelle and Ken to finish. They crossed the finishline together which was very cool. A much better finishline photo for them.
Despite my lousy performance on the run I will say that this is by far one of my favorite races. The location and atmosphere are second to none. It's exceptionally well organised and run. It's a fun, lively place to start the season and its great for people watching as ALL the big shot triathletes are at this race as a season kick off. After the race I told Matt that I'm ready for a rematch. It looks like Oceanside and I have a date next year.