Ironman 70.3 California
2011.04.02 – Oceanside, CA
It was just over a year ago, training for this race, that I got in my wreck, so making it to the start line, and closing out the day with a solid finish, feels like the closing of a chapter of sorts. As emotional as Arizona was, this was the first race where I really felt like there were no deficiencies, or remnants, or anything other than what there always is – the endless need to get faster/fitter/stronger. And so, with that sense of completeness, onto the race…
Well, some focused work in the pool on front end speed seems to have corrected my swim back to “normal” as I exited in the meat of the second pack on the swim, about 2min down off the front pack, who themselves found a big gap to uber-swimmer Andy Potts out of the water. It was quite choppy out there in the middle of the swim once we got out from behind the protection of the breakwater, and that made it tough. Not sure when the split happened between first and second pack. It was quite crowded at the start, so it was pretty crazy for the first 300m or so. Then it settled some, but it was a tough swim. Never really felt like I was in danger of losing the second pack, but I would have liked to have been closer to the front of it as opposed to the back of it. Also not sure when the elastic snapped between the packs, and that would have been nice to know as it helps for guiding improvement. I do think that start space is too small for 60 pro men though, which certainly influenced the swim somewhat…
SWIM – 26:05 (1.2mi / 1.9km)
Out on the bike, my legs felt very good, and I went with what my training was showing, which was that as hard as I rode in Abu Dhabi, I had more in the tank. First part of the ride was pretty quick. The back half was quite windy. It was a strong headwind coming into town for the last 12mi or so. Weather was good, though. Nice and cool. Let M. Weiss & M. Lieto gap me a bit coming into T2, which was a bit of a mistake. Would have been fun to get out of T2 with that group of five (Potts, Henning, Weiss, Schildnecht, Reed) to see how long I could have hung in. I don’t think I could have run 1:13:XX (or even 1:14:XX), but I certainly would have seen how long I could have stayed in the mix for better. Just a bit of tactical mismanagement there in the last mile or so. Learning experience. Been almost two years since I’ve done a race that fast…
BIKE – 2:13:45 (56mi / 90km – 3rd fastest of the day)
I said before the race I thought I was in top-5 shape, which turned out to be pretty much right. Also happy to outrun Mirinda. <1:17 is my best run on an accurately measured course. Still need to get it down <1:15 (or <1:14) to be in the mix at the very top, but progressing in the right direction. On the run, I was in a group with Matt Lieto, Kevin Everett, and Paul Ambrose. Matt relatively quickly fell off the pace, and Everett got dropped at about halfway. Ambrose and I had a good back and forth. At the 12mile mark, he gapped me pretty well, and I thought I was done for. But as I was also hurting, I just tried to maintain the gap and use him to pace me to the line. But then the gap started to shrink, and I thought that he had gone too early. I caught him just before a small rise at about 1/2-mi to the finish, and I made a push there to gap him. Once on the bridge to the finish line, I picked the pace up even more. Thankfully four years of training with ITU athletes has given me a decent kick for a long course athlete, and I was pretty well clear by the finish line and held true to my top-5 prediction.
RUN – 1:16:50 (13.1mi / 21.1km)
I would say that really felt like a solid performance minus a sloppy T1 and a bit of a brain fart coming into T2. But physically, no hiccups, which was really nice. None of the erratic swim of Abu Dhabi, and no falling apart on the late stages of the run like in IMAZ last year. Finally feel “back.” Now looking forward to Wildflower, which is MUCH more my course than this one. Wildflower is one of those courses where being 155ish lbs is an advantage the whole race. Oceanside, not so much.
OVERALL – 4:00:22 / 5th