Monday, April 4, 2011

Ironman California 70.3 - Race Report

It was a great weekend down in SoCal.  Broke a few un-official and official rules.  Got to see the parents, the girlfriend and old friends from Scottsdale and Pittsburgh.  Couldn't ask for much more.  Oceanside was my first Tri this year, so my excitement was beyond control.  With some good results in training, and Kaiser Half, I felt good about the race.  The final few weeks didn't go exactly to plan, but I'm happy I took advantage of what my personal life had going, and I wouldn't have changed it.

Friday was a fun day.  Got out for my Dad's mini-tri warmup we always do before the race.  Unfortunately he's injured from the marathon of races last year, but almost all fixed up.  Swam just off the pier watching the surfers catch a few nice waves.  Talked to a few Canadians on their way out who looked frozen, which scared me a little.  Dove in expecting the worst and it was perfect!  Got out and could feel my hands and feet, so no problem for race day.

Next up a little ride to try out the Zipp Disc and 808 my Dad let me borrow for the weekend.  The disc sounds so cool, but weird until you get used to it.  Smooth 7 miles with some accelerations and back to the hotel.

Short 2.5 mile run up and down the strand to cap off a great morning and then to the hotel to put the feet up and chill.  Feeling good, dinner and to bed by 9:30 for the earliest I've been able to sleep before a race ever.

As usual, early to transition and took this creepy picture with my camera.  Looks like we might be marching our way into the light!  Its a long way down into the Marina, but once down there, got my spot all set up and then of course time to do some "business". 

Wetsuit on, everything set and off to the starting corral.  I was amazed at the number of people running through the crowd, either hook sliding into their start, or completely late altogether.  Settling in with my start group (#2 of 3 for M30-34) I find some talkers in the bunch of over anxious nervous types. 

I said I was breaking rules, well there are a few new pieces of equipment I'm using and it almost bit me in the ass.  #1 saved me, my Garmin 310XT.  Using it with the MultiSport function to get all my splits, I was most worried about using it correctly, or having it display the right stuff.  Figuring the GPS would be nearly worthless in the water, but on the bike and run, having all the data after would be fun.  Yes, I'm a geek.

Seeing my family and Whitney put a needed smile on my face.  Milling down through my start group, nerves start up and when the group ahead gets their horn, we have 3 minutes until our start. 

People racing to the start buoy, I try to keep cool and surprisingly nobody is really nudging up to the front once there.  I miss what is said over the PA, but see people reaching for their watches so I figure its the start about to go off, and I'm right.  Firing off the line, I decided early to stay out of the packs for my first race swim.  Last year I had a few mini panics after getting throttled, and the swim is definitely not what I've been able to put much time into so far this year.  Cruising along, I see a red blob when sighting.  Its a little soon for the first turn buoy so I take a longer sight, its a feaking red jet ski with a dude wearing a huge red jacket.  Note to race organizers, no red jetski or red jackets on the race course!  Luckily it didn't take me too far off course, but once we got to the real turn buoy it was a little hairy.  #1 two guys I got to draft for a while completely missed it and out of necessity, and a little kindness, I had to bulldoze them in the right direction.  Not sure they took it this way, but that's what I'm going with.  #2 there was some serious chop making it into the breakwater and my turn buoy mishap caused a good deal of people to catch up, compounding the rough water.  Fighting off a slight anxiety moment, I get back into the groove and make some good progress back to transition.  Surprisingly my GPS kept decent track through the swim.  Pretty happy with a 32:25 for my first Half this year! (50th out of 305)

LONG transition run and out on the bike!  I've heard so much good and bad (flat and fast to massive bike walking hills) about this course, so charging out on the course was really fun.  Out on the course, the first 20 miles went FAST.  I didn't realize it, and I'm glad, but we had quite a serious tailwind helping out.  My computer wasn't working with the 808 on the front, so I was purely going off my Garmin's heart rate for pacing.  Every once and a while I'd switch it to speed and time, and couldn't believe it when I saw we were cruising along at 27 mph at times!  Finished with the flats, we hit the first big hill with a nasty headwind to boot.  This was the hill people sometimes have to walk up if they drop a chain or just die, and believe it or not I saw someone walking up.  That would just be demoralizing and everyone was grinding away in their easiest gear.  Not sure what the incline is there, but its steep!  A few more hills, and tank crossings (wish I had my camera, and back to Oceanside.  The downhills were somewhat of a disappointment since they had a radar gun and a referee monitoring for speeding.  REALLY!  I guess some people just get a little over anxious and can get hurt.  The one official rule I broke was at the bottom of a downhill, with a full head of steam and screaming at the top of my lungs "ON THE LEFT", two guys couldn't hear me to get out of the way so I had to pass on the right.  There was no way I was losing the momentum to two dudes chatting it up side by side and I went screaming by.  Luckily no referee's were around, but I do not recommend doing it again.  I guess I was lucky again when I dropped a water bottle using the new X-Lab wing I put on for this race, so that's two official rules broken.  Felt bad about that one.  It can get dangerous for whoever is behind.

Finished up with a 2:36 bike (18th out of 305).  Respectable, but needs some improvement.  All in all with the headwind and the work I've put in this year I'm happy, but for those who said its on par with Wildlfower's bike course, I'm sorry, no comparison.

2200 feet elevation gain
Jumping off my bike, legs wobbled a bit.  After racking, changing, and getting as much Powerade down as I could I flew out on the run course.  Wobbling over with, my legs felt great!  Thanks Focus and Fly and M2, the treadmill and track workouts did the trick.  This became very apparent when someone crept up on me in the first mile from the wave that started 3 minutes after me.  Harold was a cool dude and we chatted for two miles.  He's actually doing IM Texas as well!  This got me worried because he was holding the 6:15 pace I was doing.  After the second aid station on the run, he was nowhere to be found.  My parents, friends and Whitney were all over the course cheering and keeping me going.  Saw a lot of the San Fran tri crowd during the race and we all cheered for each other.  Coming around the first lap and realizing I was golden to break 1:30 run split, my thoughts went to going for broke and seeing what sort of pain I could withstand.  I wanted an even split or better and the only thing running through my head was "Put yourself in a hurt locker" and it was on.  Every time I looked down at my watch and saw 7:00 pace it was time to push again and again.  Two miles left and time for a final push.  In Kaiser, I didn't have anything left at that point, but for this race there was plenty.  Seeing my Dad at about a half mile to go always gets me going and a mad kick developed in my legs and no turning back.  Crossing the line, nearly collapsing, and I got my 1:26 Half Marathon with a near even split! (6th out of 305)

This was a great day out and it helped me learn what to work on for Wildflower and IM Texas.  I was hoping for a better day, but I'll take 13th against a pretty good field.  Thanks everyone for your good thoughts and wishes.  Now its time to get serious on the bike, but maybe a few beers with some friends first.
Nearly fell asleep into my Boddington's


  1. Congratulations on a great race!

  2. nice work brett. was checking your times while trying to recover after TN2R!

  3. Great job! It is so cool to be able to see what line you took on the swim. Never thought of that before as I don't have a GPS. Looks like you did a great job sighting on the return, not just sticking to the buoys. When I rode up that first steep hill there were many bike walkers, not to mention a few cheaters riding over on the right on the wrong side of the cones. Nice report, thanks!

  4. Congrats on a fantastic race! You are lucky to have some of your Dad in you - he's an inspiration to us all!

  5. Hey Man, I think I saw you on the course. I was with the GG Tri club and you said Hi (at least I think it was you). Nice race report and good job! I myself performed miserably for some reason but hey, with racing comes experience. See you at SF Tri at Treasure Island!