Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Oceanside Race Report

Finally finished this thing up!  It was great to get the first tri of the year under my belt early.  I definitely felt a bit out of practice at some points, but I'm pretty happy with the results.  Here's how things went down.  Sorry, it's a bit long (in my defense, so was the race!).

This is a 2 transition race, with T2 (bike to run) located about a mile from T1.  I'd dropped my run gear off at T2 the night before, so in the morning I had a quick walk from the hotel to T1 with my little 4-person family cheering squad and my swim and bike gear.  Not having my run gear made things both more simple and more complicated: fewer items to manage on race morning, but I was also a bit more paranoid about forgetting something or having it in the wrong place (I ended up having to run back into transition 5 minutes before it closed to drop off my race belt, so I guess it's good to be a little bit paranoid?).

Oceanside Harbor is somewhat narrow and the point of entry for us triathletes was a small ramp, so the start was broken up into age group waves and there was no swim warm-up area in the harbor.  My female 25-29 group was combined with the 45-49 women into wave #15, about 45 minutes after the first wave.  I took the time between the close of the transition area and my wave start to get in a short run warm-up.  I wasn't in any hurry to go stand in a pen in my wetsuit and wait, so I hung out with my family as long as possible while getting into my BlueSeventy wetsuit.  I'd taken Holly's Team Rev3 uniform top out for a quick test run earlier in the week to identify any areas that might chafe so that I could try to prevent that.  I've been using Trislide as an anti-chafing product for a few months and had great results with it on my long runs, but this was going to be its biggest test so far.  I got a few stares from my family members as I starting spraying myself with the little can. ("What is that?" "Lubricant." "Maybe we shouldn't ask questions").  Then it was finally time to dash off and join the rest of my wave.

Each wave walked down the ramp into the water and the start was an in-water start at a buoy about 50 meters away.  The water wasn't as cold as it was originally expected to be, so I was one of the few people in a sleeveless wetsuit but I was comfortable.  The start was hard to hear and took me a little off guard, but after about 100 meters I found myself swimming stroke for stroke with one other girl and tucked in behind her to draft.  About 5 minutes later, we started coming up on the back of the previous wave's swimmers and I unfortunately lost her in the chaos.  From then on, I was swimming through steady traffic. I sighted a lot more often than normal to keep from running into legs, but did a pretty good job swimming straight.  My stroke felt ok, not great, but I just tried to keep turning over.  There was a nice tidal surge pushing us back into the harbor on the second half of the swim- a bit like bodysurfing!  Before I knew it I was rounding the last buoy and volunteers' arms were helping to pull me up the ramp.
time: 26:48, 2nd F25-29, 10th amateur F
Between the sleeveless wetsuit and a right arm that tends to fly high over the water, I was easy for my family to track
This was a pretty long run, down the length of the skinny transition area and then back down through it to my rack.  Aside from getting excited and starting to take my bike off the rack before I put my helmet on (doh) everything went smoothly.  The mount line was super crowded but I escaped without incident.
time: 3:28

I was fortunate enough to be able to pre-drive most of the course over winter break because my mom has access to Camp Pendleton.  I'd heard from past participants that first half of the course usually had a tail wind and the last 5-10 miles often had a fierce head wind, so I planned my pacing accordingly.  The middle miles of the course (~ mile 28-42) are very hilly with a couple of climbs (particularly the one at mile 28) that made me regret the all of cookies I'd eaten over winter break.  One steep descent even had a no pass zone with a speed limit of 25 mph. If you ever do this race, take this seriously, it's as scary as advertised- the turn kept tightening near bottom, and barriers lined the side to try to keep anyone who took it too aggressively from flying into the canyon.  Yikes! The day was turning out to be sunnier than advertised, which was not a good thing considering I'd been counting on sunscreeners in T1 and hadn't found them. But the temperature was comfortable, and I stuck to my nutrition and power goals pretty well.  There was one strong woman I went back and forth with a couple times over the course of the 56 mi, but I wasn't really getting caught by any women until close to the end of the hilly stretch.  This was expected- it seems like most triathletes at my level come with a solid run background and have the corresponding body type, while I still look more like a short rower, or a swimmer who lifts weights.  It takes a bit more power to get me up and over the hills!  Instinctively I checked calves for their ages as they passed, even though these days I really consider myself as racing against all women (well, ok, and men, for that matter) instead of just my age group.  These ladies were all a little older, so it was nice to know I was still doing well in my group at least.  I had saved a bit of energy for the head wind in the last 5ish miles but it never showed up, so my legs got a little bit of a break into T2. 
time: 2:47:09,  through bike: 1st F25-29, still 10th amateur F

Nice surprise to find my dad on the little hill up to T2
Pretty uneventful.  I scrapped the flying dismount because the chute into T2 was narrow, my legs were wobbly, and I was with a few other racers.  The volunteers were helpful in pointing me down the right row of bags, so I zipped in and out, grabbing my Rev3 visor and starting a watch as I left.
time: 1:24

I hadn't done many bricks in the weeks prior to the race, and once I started running I was immediately concerned that I'd overcooked the hills on the bike.  Thankfully, my stride started to loosen up a bit a mile or so into the run.  I'd been lulled into complacency pre-race by the course profile, which shows very little variation in elevation over the run.  In actuality, virtually flat stretches were punctuated by several very short, steep climbs and drops as the course hopped back and forth between sea level and pier or street level.  I ended up walking part of the steep climbs each time, knowing from past experience that it would do me more harm than good to run up them.  This served me well, and soon I was anxious to know how I was doing.  I always use mile markers to help break up the run mentally.  For this race, I also planned to use them to make sure I didn't start too quickly.  However, I kept looking and no mile markers ever appeared.  I wasn't sure whether I was blind (possible), delirious (less likely), or they were just missing (REALLY unusual for a half), but it appeared I was on my own.  With a twisty first part of the course that made it not a true out-and-back, I wasn't even sure enough of where halfway was to check on my progress. So I kept focusing on my cadence and plugged along, hoping it was enough.

The sun continued to shine, a rarity for Oceanside in spring, and the temperature climbed up to about 70.  For most people this seems to be fantastic racing weather, but it was a bit warm for this Wisconsin girl.  I made sure to get water and ice at every aid station to cool me down, and it was just perfectly enough: by the time I started to heat up, another station was up ahead.  I'd planned to take gels on the course, but like at my full iron last fall, by the time I actually got to the run they sounded horrible.  I kept popping salt tablets to combat electrolyte loss, and got my calories from sports drink and cola instead.  Unlike at my half races last year, in which I'd had to slow to a walk through most aid stations to make sure I got everything, I made sure to at least kept jogging.  A couple times this meant I missed one thing, but with the more reasonable temperature (instead of 80-85* and humid, typical for summer in Wisconsin) it wasn't disastrous and I made sure to pick up whatever I missed at the next station.  A bunch of women passed me during the run, but at that point calf numbers were wearing off and it was hard to tell who was on lap 1 vs. lap 2, so I just kept focusing on myself.  As I came down the final stretch and watched the pier get closer and closer, I realized I was on track to break 1:45 and gleefully tore towards the finish line. Bonus: absolutely no chafing, thank you Trislide!!!
run time: 1:42:54
Total: 5:01:43, 1st F25-29, 17th amateur F

entering the finish chute!

 My major take-home points for a good long course race:
  • learn as much as you can about the specific race conditions: course, weather, locations of on-course support, and make a plan accordingly
  • know your body, and be prepared to adjust your plan on the fly

Overall, I'm pretty happy with the way this race turned out.  If you read my pre-race blog post, you know that I'd been a bit apprehensive . I was expecting to finish between 5:05 and 5:15.  One of my goals this season is to finally break 5 hours. This was my 4th time turning in a half iron between 5:00:00 and 5:02:00, and actually 3 of those were between 5:01:40 and 5:01:50- uncanny!  It was a bit frustrating to be so close again, but 5:01 is pretty good for this course.  My finishing place was also decent- in the high teens is where I've finished in the amateur field at other big races in the past 2 years, but the field at Oceanside is deeper than most of those. Still, I'll be hoping for 5th-10th at big races a couple times this year.

By discipline: I think I swam about as fast here as my current fitness would allow: check!  My bike wattage was a little bit lower than some of my better races last season, but I know that will come back soon with more time outside on the road.  The run is the part of this race that makes me do a little happy dance.  It has lagged significantly behind my swim and bike in the past, and my half iron runs have been consistently ~1:50-1:53.  One of my other goals for 2013 was to break 1:50 in a half run leg and to get in the 1:45 ballpark.  To do so in my first race is a testament to how much effort I've put into cadence and form work with Coaches Jessica and Bill at SBR Coaching over the winter.  It looks like I'm finally bringing the run closer to the level of my other two.  It's not quite there yet, but this was a big step!  Next up: trying to find some speed for Collegiate Nationals.

Final advice: wear your sunscreen, kiddos.  If you guessed that my race number started with "19", you are correct...

No comments :

Post a Comment