Welcome back, fellow triathlon enthusiasts! Today, I have an exciting race recap to share from my recent experience at the IRONMAN 70.3 Triathlon Race in Oceanside, California. I had high hopes for this race, but as the saying goes, “not all races are created equal.” Let’s dive into my eventful day on the course and see how I navigated the challenges that came my way.
Leading up to the race my training was not ideal. My wife and I had taken a vacation to Italy less than a month before Raceday and I didn’t do any training on the trip. That in combination with the massive amounts of pasta, gelato and other Italian delicacies I wasn’t really at race weight either. However, I did feel good going into the event and was confident I could preform.
As a seasoned triathlete with a passion for pushing my limits, I had been training diligently for months leading up to the IRONMAN 70.3 Oceanside. I had conquered countless training sessions, fine-tuned my nutrition plan, and dialed in my race strategy. I was ready to take on the race and achieve a personal best.
Lauren and I arrived in LA and rented a car the day before the race. It was cutting it a little close, but we didn’t have extra time off of work so we arrived early and drove down to Oceanside. It worked out well and I was able to check in before lunch. Oceanside was beautiful, but the weather was very chilly. It had been raining there before we arrived, and while the sun was out the temperature was only about 60° for the high.
At athlete check in they had a Vinfast EV that we checked out. It was really cool to see one in person. This is definitely a vehicle I would consider for my next car.
After check in we grabbed a bite to eat in Oceanside then went to check in to our Hotel. While there were many places close to the race we opted for a hotel a few miles away. It was actually not a bad location, because you pretty much have to drive no matter what. The Pier and the Harbor are not all that close, and those are the two locations where everything is happening. The Harbor holds transition and the Pier is the finish line, check in and the IRONMAN Village.
I assembled my bike at the hotel and then Lauren and I had dinner in nearby Carlsbad and a lovely Italian restaurant. I ate way to much and felt bloated as I awoke on race day.
As race day arrived, I was pumped with adrenaline. The atmosphere at the Oceanside Pier was electrifying, with athletes buzzing around, getting their gear set up, and mentally preparing for the grueling race ahead. My excitement was palpable as I lined up at the swim start, eagerly anticipating the sound of the horn to signal the beginning of the race. But it was cold, very cold.
The outside temperature was about 48° and the water temperature was in the mid 50’s. They changed the race from an ocean start to a harbor start because the water in the harbor was warmer. I was okay with this as I’ve not had many ocean starts or practice with waves.
I got everything ready and put my wetsuit on, then came the long wait to start. Normally I’m feeling a bit ambitious and I line my self up to the top of my ability on the swim. Raceday I picked a spot further back.
But as soon as the race started, things didn’t go as planned for me. The swim leg turned out to be much more challenging than I had anticipated. The ocean salt water surprised me, combined with the cold, made it difficult for me to maintain my rhythm and stay on course. While at first I didn’t feel so bad, by about halfway I was cold and lacked energy. Despite my best efforts, I found myself struggling to keep up with the pack, and by the time I exited the water, I was already behind my target time.
I heard the announce say swimmers coming out of the water were about 40-44 minutes. I’ve never swam that slow! I hurried into transition, but it was so long. I was cold but felt okay. When I got to my bike I took my wetsuit off and starred getting ready for the bike. My hands were so cold I struggled to get me socks on and I couldn’t tighten my helmet. I was another long transition.
Determined to make up for lost time, I quickly transitioned to the bike leg. The good news was I felt good on the bike and I warmed up quickly. I felt like I was back in the race. The first half of the bike course was awesome, I enjoyed the sites and sped along passing many.
However, about halfway though the bike my lower back on the right side started to hurt. At first it was intermittent, but then it became consistent. Frustrated and losing precious time, I tried to keep my composure and stay focused on the road ahead.
The bike course in Oceanside is known for its challenging hills, and I found myself struggling to maintain my pace. The combination of the back issue and the hilly terrain took a toll on my energy levels and morale. As I approached the halfway mark, I realized that my goal of a personal best time was slipping further out of reach.
At one point I pulled over on the bike at an aid station. I was going to try to pee and give my back a break. Unfortunately, the two bathrooms were taken and I didn’t want to wast even more time. While I wasn’t able to push in areo, I was okay sitting up and could get back to transition, albeit not as fast as I would have liked.
Despite the setbacks, I refused to give up. I pushed through the bike leg, finally making it back to the transition area for the run. As I started out of transition, my back felt better. Last year at IRONMAN Mont Tremblant, my back didn’t recover for the run. This was a big relief. I wasn’t expecting much out of myself at this point so I was just going to push forward with whatever I had and not worry about the pace.
I had decided to myself that I didn’t enjoy the cold swim starts and that I’m not going to choose those races anymore. I do this because I choose too, I get to, because it’s fun. Why do something I don’t enjoy. Yes, it’s hard and I enjoy the challenge, but not the cold. My body doesn’t like it and I have other options.
So after about a mile on the run, I was feeling really good. I looked down at my pace and I was running about an 8:00 minute mile. While I shoot for 7:30 and faster, I didn’t expect to see an 8:00 on this day. Then the crowds motivated me and I really had a great run. As a mater of fact, I actually negative split the run something I don’t think I’ve ever done in a 70.3. While it wasn’t my fastest run, it was about average and given the day I had I was very happy with it.
And I have to say the run course was amazing. There are a few steep ramps to go up and down, but otherwise it’s a nice rolling course along the oceanside which is quite beautiful.
I had a newish nutrition plan for this race and I took in more carbohydrate than I have in the past. I was able to stick to it and I felt great. I’m not sure if that contributed to feeling better on the run or not, but I’m going to stick to it for future races.
As I crossed the finish line, I was met with a mix of emotions. Relief, as the grueling race was finally over, but also disappointment, as I had fallen short of my goal. I reflected on the race, realizing that sometimes things don’t go as planned, and that’s part of the challenge of triathlon racing.
I learned valuable lessons from my experience in Oceanside. I realized the importance of being adaptable and staying mentally tough during a race. I also acknowledged that not every race will be a personal best, and that’s okay. Triathlon racing, like life, is filled with ups and downs, and it’s how we respond to those challenges that defines our journey.
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