Wednesday, April 18, 2012

2012 Oceanside 70.3

Ah yes, first race of the year… always somewhat of a cluster and a dress rehearsal before the “A” races get underway. It’s a good chance to dust off the triathlon gear, test where fitness has gone over the winter, and remember the ups and downs (mostly ups) that go along with racing.

Pre-race: Sydnie, Tesia, Alicia, and I flew out of Seattle on Thursday night after work and landed in San Diego pretty late. We were delighted to arrive at our condo where two of our teammates (Robin and Katherine) had already checked in. They surprised us with Easter eggs filled with GU packets, a Bonk Breaker bar, and sweet notes on our pillows. These types of thoughtful gestures absolutely warm my heart. Friday morning was filled with packet pick-up, an expo walkthrough, a little bike, a little run, and a little splash around in the ocean to get a feel for the temps and make sure my wetsuit still fit. Luckily, it did. Friday evening, I picked up a friend who had flown in from San Francisco, and then we headed back to the condo for some pasta, last minute race prep, and early bedtimes.

Saturday morning: Our condo was less than a mile from the finish, so the six of us racing were up early to bring our bikes to T1 to claim decent bike spots. We pumped up our tires and then strolled back to the condo to finish our breakfasts and stay off our feet until we had to head back to transition. By 6:45am we were slipping into our wetsuits (and by slipping, I mean the wedging, wetsuit workout dance). Katherine and Robin started in the waves ahead of us, but Syd, Tesh, Alicia, and I were able to line up together in the 7:33 wave. After a quick “Happy Birthday” announcement to Tesia by Mike Riley, we were plunging into the cold water and swimming out to the start buoys.

Swim: My plan for the swim was to try and push it more than I have in the past and simulate the tempo of swimming harder sets in the pool. I got on the feet of a girl in a sleeveless wetsuit and managed to stick with her. Sighting and swimming through the earlier waves was pretty rusty and at the first turn sleeveless wetsuit girl and I cut in too sharp. The paddle boards told us we were going to miss a buoy, so zigzagged out to the far buoy and made the correct turn. I’d say this mistake cost me at least 90 seconds. Finally I was headed back to the swim exit with a disappointing 35:38 swim split. Even after overcoming a shoulder injury that kept me out of the pool for 2 months, I’ve put in a lot of swim yardage this season and am very eager (close to the point of tears - like I did this morning) to post a good swim time. Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming.

Bike: After a bit of fumbling in T1, I was on my bike and ready to make up some time. Being in one of the later waves and also being a stronger cyclist, I knew I would spend most of the day passing people. Most people who follow the WTC circuit already know that Oceanside 2012 wasn’t the typical sunny, warm beach race that it should be. It was in the 50s, cloudy, and rainy. I was warm enough without arm warmers, but there were definitely a couple times when I thought, “this is not fun.” (This rarely happens when I’m on a bike.) It was also not fun during the 10 mile stretch when I lost my gel flask stuffed in my sports bra, one water bottle containing energy drink, and last but not least, my water bottle that contained both of my spare tubes and flat kit. When I lost my repair kit, I hesitated and considered stopping, turning back, and grabbing it. But it was on a fast descent and not a safe area to turn back. So, I rolled the dice and hoped I didn’t flat (spoiler alert: luckily, I didn’t). Lessons learned: if you put your spare tubes in a water bottle, tape the bottle to the cage.

I rode strong, but never had the “get up and go” pep that I normally do when I’m well rested. Considering my taper was quite short leading into this race, it was no surprise. I felt good on the hills and just okay everywhere else. I was hoping to ride under 2:40, but came up just short with 2:41:21. I was not a fan of the change on the bike course that moved T2 near the pier. Athletes had to ride single file for a stretch of The Strand to finish off the bike. I was cruising behind two guys at a measly 15mph when I wanted to be coming in hot.

Run: I started off with enough pep and ran strong through the first 7 miles. Coach K thought I was in maybe 6th place (I was in 9th – ouch) off the bike, so I had some major ground to make up. I was picking girls off, but with a two loop course and one of the later waves, it was hard to figure out where I stood. It was fun seeing so many friends racing and cheering for me on the course. I faded a bit at miles 8, 11, and 12. It was nothing disastrous; my slowest mile was a 7:26, but when you’re trying to run sub 1:30, anything in the 7:00s doesn’t help your cause. I think I passed the 4th place girl around mile 9 and held my ground from there. Looking back, I feel like I could have pushed the run harder in the later miles. I didn’t see anyone to catch, but in hindsight I shouldn’t worry about that. I need to focus on my own performance and summon motivation internally. I was pleased with a 1:32:01 run, but not ecstatic. More fuel for the next 70.3 fire.

Finish: After I crossed the finish line (and got my finish line hug of course), I knew it wasn’t the race of my life, but I did know it was a PR (by 5 minutes). Everything was just a little slower than I had hoped for or really expected. But there are a lot of days when you have to accept that some race performances are part of the process of a bigger goal. Oceanside 2012 was both a confidence and fitness boost. I know I’m stronger, fitter, faster, and smarter than I was a year ago. I’m also older; I had to age up to the W30-34 age group this year. So instead of the winning the W25-29, which I would have done this year, I was happy with a podium spot in my new AG. I finished in 4:54:20. I was 3rd in my age group, the 4th Amateur, and 20th OA female.

Post-race: After the race I ran into other friends who were finishing, stumbled around, ate some pizza, drank some chocolate milk, and then met up with Zach who acted sincere when he told me he had fun watching. The rest of the day was spent attending awards, lounging at the condo with my friends, eating Mexican food with my team, and then getting birthday cocktails for Tesia’s 32nd birthday. It was a wonderful day for our whole group and so much fun to have a girls’ getaway that included a race. How did I end up so lucky to have friends like this?

Sunday was spent sleeping in, napping on the beach, and going out to a fancy dinner in Del Mar where we consumed a couple slices of Jake’s Del Mar Hula Pie. Monday morning Tesia, Sydnie, Alicia, and I did an easy shake out run on The Strand before packing up the condo and heading back to Seattle. The weekend was filled with so many laughs and memories that it somewhat overshadowed race day, which was fine with me. It was a great way to start the 2012 season, a warm welcome into my new age group, and very promising for all of us. I think we are all now eager to focus on areas that need work and get ready for the next big race. For me the next big one is less than 3 weeks away when I toe the line at Ironman St. George (cue nervous panic).

Sorry this took so long to write. The two weeks after Oceanside were not so much recovery and downtime, but rather a pretty big block of training. Luckily, I survived my monster weekend and have started my Ironman taper. I’m hopeful that I will stop sucking at life, but no promises.


  1. Great writeup! I am sure that the extra minutes (and then some!) you are looking for will come with a full taper for the IM. Nonetheless a 5 minute PR has to feel good going into St. George!! Congrats :)

  2. You are such a rockstar Cath!! And really....everytime you think you suck at life, just think of me. I'm sure it will make you feel much better!!