Monday, April 8, 2013

California 70.3/Oceanside

Oceanside California says it all when it comes to this race!  How bad could it be, it's Southern California; great temps, moisture in the air, ocean swim, along the beach, and fun people.  I truly had a great time at this race.

We all think, California, the pacific ocean, COLD water.  Well, there was the idea of cold, but freezing is more like.  I initially was thrilled because cold water meant wetsuit legal; that rarely happens.  I think I got to wear my Zoot prophet wetsuit once last year.  So starting my race season off with a wetsuit legal swim was a bonus.

To my surprise, after splashing my face several times with water before getting in, I never really got the "ice cream face" I had expected. Maybe it was also do to the fact that there really wasn't much time to think about it.  We jumped in, I took a few deep breaths in, in an attempt to drop my heart rate due to the shock of the cold water; kicked my feet and swam hard to the start line.  Fighting to line up in just the right spot without pushing others out of the way.  Before I knew it, the fog horn sounded, and we were off.  Arms slapping, feet kicking, and bodies bumping, all in an attempt to get a good spot amongst the group.  Trying to find the shortest and most direct route.  As expected, we all had the same idea, it wasn't until probably the first turn bouy before the group spread out a little.  Even then, I still had two or three girls in front of me; which I welcomed so I had some feet to swim on; and a girl on either side of me.  Trying my very best not to run in to them, apparently I wasn't doing a great job at that. By far, that was one of the most brutal swims I have been in a long time.  I'm referring to all the bumping and hitting of arms.  Nothing seemed intentional, but hard to avoid when a pack of 5 are fighting for that same spot out of the water.

I couldn't have been more thrilled during the swim.  I felt great, and I found myself swimming with the lead pack of women.  It was awesome to come out of the water an into T1 all about the same time.  When I realized where I was at in the swim and who I was swimming with, I kept repeating to myself, " I can race these girls".  Let me provide a little background leading into this race.  I knew the field was going to be stacked; it's the first US race of the season for goodness sacks.  So I mentally wrapped my head around having a good race for me.  I have always been a little intimidated by the top tier pros; the Rinny's, Heather Jackson's, Rachel Joyce's, Lindsey Corbin's, etc. of the triathlon world.  Don't get me wrong, there are several more out there, actually, I think they all showed up for this race.

So when I found myself coming out of the water with them and leaving T1 before several of them I was esthetic.  I even road with the top girls for the first 90min of the ride until I got separated a little bit by the hills.  During that time I was paranoid.  A million things were running through my head, most of which were the rules and the question of, "am I riding far enough back?  The last thing I need now is a drafting penalty."  I found myself erring on the cautious side.  It finally registered, that the motorcycles and officials were surrounding the top pack girls and not one of us were getting penalties, so I had to be within legal distance.  So my thoughts quickly turned to, "race your race but don't let those girls get too much of a gap on."  I did just that.  I was really having a great time, still star struck that I was out there riding and hanging with the top pack of girls, then the hills hit.

Several people told me California 70.3 was hilly on the backside of the bike course.  I looked at the profile several times and really wasn't too worried.  Well, reality was, the backside was pretty dog on hilly.  The two main big climbs were as expected.  What I didn't expect was the rollers and false flats into a head wind afterwards.  Those little hills and false flats just kept coming.  That was when I lost sight of the last person in the lead pack.  I didn't completely lose her, I could still see her when I crested a hill and she was climbing the next one.  It was like dangling a rabbit out in front of me.  Problem was, the hills were getting in my way; If I could have only moved them.  None-the-less, I really felt good on the bike and had a good time out there chasing the last hour.  With that being said, I also couldn't wait to get upright and run. I don't care how well your bike is fit to you, the last 30min or so on it, I want nothing more than to get off and run; a change in use of muscles.  If it weren't for my nutrition (First Endurance EFS) being so good, I also don't think I would have enjoyed that ride as much as I did.

T2 was as seamless as T1; in and out of there.  I hopped onto race pace immediately and quickly realized I felt great; fast turnover, good energy, mental state was good.  I actually kept thinking, "wow, I really do think this is going to be a great race.  If I hold onto this pace, I'm golden."  Keep in mind, I was racing for myself and a top 10 position.  I think I was sitting 9th at this point. No one seemed to be too close to worry abou,t behind me, and I could see what I needed to do to catch one other in front of me.  I slowly made more ground on her, until I passed her.  Again, more positive thoughts ran through  my head.  Then the second loop rolled around.  After running up the pier ramp for the second time, that took some steam out of my legs.  I could feel my stride length get longer and slow down.  I quickly tried to adjust, but didn't have it in me to continue to hold my pace.  Throughout the second loop, I gradually drop my pace and realized, I was going to have to work for the last 2-3 miles of this run.  Legs were just getting loaded and heavy, hard to keep them moving as fast as I wanted to will them to go.  I quickly resorted to my checklist of things to make sure I was doing everything I could, to prevent myself from falling off pace anymore; "am I bonky, no; how many calories have I taken on the run; I don't want anymore; am I drinking; yes; so on and so forth.  All seemed to check out.  The only thing I could think of was, maybe I should have taken in a few more calories at end of bike and earlier into the run so I would have had a bit more energy to carry me through.  In the end, I ended up getting passed by one girl and ended up 11th.

Overall this was a good season opener.  I had a PR swim, a really good bike (PR in power), and as I mentioned before, I faded a little more than I would have liked on the run, but still hung in there.  Most importantly, this race gave me the confidence I needed to know I can race with these girls.  I may need the best race of my life to win over the top tier pros, but I sure am going to try!  It also gave me the confidence that, even when I faded a little too much on the run, my bad run time is better than my fastest last year.  Moving onward and upward!

Thanks to all my sponsor for their love and support.  I couldn't be racing at this level without you!

Zoot Sports
First Endurance
Colorado Multisport
The Right Stuff
Pro Energy Towel