Rain & Fighting Through Adversity!
I came into Oceanside feeling strong about my conditioning and ready to leave it all out there on the course. I flew in the day before to register and meet up with pro photographer Rich Cruse for a fun photo shoot. I’m never a fan of race pics, so after following each other on twitter last year we connected. This year was fun, as we got to try some new shots! I’ll get those later and share some with everyone. Just like last year, my new Team REV3 kit wasn’t ready for this early season race. So, I decided to wear my HTFU kit for this race. I then met up with Bas and his wife for a quick dinner. It’s pretty funny that we met for the first time at Oceanside, given we live just miles apart up in Northern Cali!
I was psyched that they flip flopped the wave starts, so I started in wave #5 this year versus last years 22nd wave! With that in mind, I set off early arriving at T2 around 4:45am. Here is where I made one of my smartest moves of the day, leaving an extra pair of Swiftwick socks and a pair of glasses. I always have that second pair of glasses, as I hate having sweat covered lenses when I start my run. Then I was off to T1, which was near the swim start. I was there super early and was able to secure a sweet spot right at the end of a row. By this time it was 5:15am or so and I had 90min to go before the start. I noticed a steady ocean mist, but felt it would just burn off by the time the sun came up…
Once my bike was all set up and my shoes covered, I was off to line up. I downed a quick Powerbar Double Latte gel and was fired up to race! This year I was psyched to break in my new Blue Seventy Helix wetsuit. I loved the suit and the extra buoyancy I felt out in the choppy water. The gun was off and I felt as though it took much longer than anticipated to find my groove. The water was 58′ and didn’t feel too cold for me. At the turn around point, I saw my split just under 17min and knew I had to speed up. It was pretty choppy out there at the mouth of the marina and I just put my head down and hammered. Luckily, sighting is never a problem for me so I wasn’t wasting all that energy like so many others. I was about halfway back when the leaders of the later wave came crashing through. I tried to grab on to some feet to draft to no avail. I just pushed hard and tried to leave it out there. I was disappointed to see 35:40…over a minute slower than last year and 3:30 slower than last years fastest. I tried to shake it off and sprinted into the long t1.
T1 is where I noticed the mist had turned into rain. I really need to streamline my transitions asap. It seemed I was the only one putting socks on, but at least I had no blisters!
I felt good on the bike right away, although my hr strap readings were all over the map. It was hard to tell how much effort I was pushing. The rain was pretty steady at this point and I was amazed that my Oakley’s did a good job wicking away the steady rain. I literally never had to wipe them! The first 26mi or so are all relatively flat with just some rollers. The roads are a little beat up to start, especially with puddles hiding the potholes. The biggest thing I noticed was the headwind. We definitely had a tail wind last year. I was just jamming along avg 21.5 by the 26mi marker and well suited to pr the bike. I wasn’t sure I could avg the aggressive goal of 22mph from coach, but I knew I had saved some energy to let it fly on the second half. I worked the first hill and according to strava, I beat last yrs time by 30 seconds there and my hr was a good 10bpm lower. On the second long hill, I was 3min faster than last year!
The rain by itself wasn’t that bad, beside making it pretty chilly out there. It was on the climbs where I noticed how much dirt had collected on by bike and chain. Even though we were riding on roads, it was a closed military base. That meant that every few miles you saw signs on “tank crossings” and then the dirt tracks across the road. This is what led to so much dirt kicking up on the bikes. At the very end of the bike, I could barely move outta my big gear with that last sharp climb! Being in the earlier wave, also meant that NO ONE was walking their bikes up the climbs.
It was at the very top of the last real climb where adversity hit for really the first time racing in years. I heard the front tire hiss and immediately knew my front tire needed to be changed. Once I stopped, I realized the back tire was now flat…TWO FLAT TIRES! There was still a steady rain and I just jammed through the change as fast as I could with my frozen fingers. Luckily I had two tubes and two co2 cartridges. 5:24 seconds later, I was off for the long 5mi freezing cold descent. My teeth were literally chattering the whole way down as I tried to rally myself. The flats were at mile 41.5 and I knew I would have to work hard to at least try to keep a respectable bike split. That is where I decided to hit restart and CRUSH the rest of the race. According to my data, right after the flats I was 4:38 slower than last year. By the end of the bike, I had cut that down to just over a minute! I was riding with anger and I wanted to leave it all out there. I finished the bike with a split of 2:54. Actual ride time was 2:49:25(19.8) and the tire adventure took 5:24. Here’s my strava link for the bike: http://app.strava.com/rides/6106234
Coming into T2, I knew I had made the right decision to have an extra pair of socks. My bike shoes/socks were soaked due to the rain. My T2 was slow, but at least I was ready to have a great run. I had hoped to run in my new Pearl Izumi flats, but I’m still getting used to the reduced drop and we played it safe with my go to Avi-Stoltz. The plan was to hit and maintain 7:55 for the whole run to get a PR. My fastest run split up to then had been 1:45:41(8:04). I really didn’t know how fast I could run and most importantly maintain. I nailed a 7:26 to start and saw my HR was fairly low, so I decided to maintain between 7:30-7:45 as long as I could. I felt great out there and was very focused on just clicking of the miles. The rain had stopped by then and I was enjoying my run. They changed the course slightly this year and it had us running two loops with lots of spectators near the pier. That was fun to be in the mix!
I loved my run and was psyched to nail that 1:40 run split for a almost a SIX minute run PR. I never once looked at my overall race time watch on the run, as I knew sub-5 wasn’t an option. I was finally able to finish a half/70.3 saying I left it all out there! I think coach really liked my HR progression on my run. Here’s my strava link to my run: http://app.strava.com/runs/6012463
Having survived adversity to pull out a run PR felt awesome! In my last four half/70.3’s I’ve finished in 5:18, 5:14, 5:19 and 5:08. Now that my benchmark is set, I know what I need to do to break the 5hr barrier. I will be hammering my swim over the next 5wks and heading out to Shadowcliffs to work on my T1 times. Knoxville Rev3 Half is up next on May 6th followed by Kansas 70.3 on June 10th. There is nothng more motivating than an early season race to motivate you!
Good luck to all my REV3 Racing Team peeps training and racing!