Years of racing experience has taught me that performance is gauged on 3 key elements, 1) Preparation, 2) Execution and 3) Body Response (simply how your body responds to the day). It’s amazing to me how if you could place yourself in a vacuum, repeating the same workouts, meals, sleep and prerace rituals, you still can’t guarantee how a particular pace or wattage is going to feel. This is most notable to me as I’ve been repeating the same training blocks leading into Oceanside for the last couple years, while steady gains haven’t always meant consistent outcomes.
It’s no lie I wanted this race, more than any other this season. I’ve been guilty before of using certain local races as a tune up for some A race in the middle of who knows where to compete against who knows who. Oceanside is unique in it’s timing and location to bring out all the best competition as well as friends and teammates to compete against and cheer you on. It’s a venue like no other getting to race “Ironman” on one of our beautiful SoCal beaches. It’s also an obvious advantage for the locals who can get outside and adapt while the rest of the country is indoors on trainers or doing long runs through blustery winter conditions. All of these elements – top competition, wonderful support, stunning venue and training advantage are why I look at this as a key race opportunity rather than a dusting off the cobwebs scenario.
In the month leading up to race day I gave up alcohol, mandated 8 hours of sleep a night, rode exclusively on the trainer and dialed in my diet to bring myself to optimal race weight. I was lifting more than before while responding well with great runs and rides, most notable from my large power gains at Desert Tri, the 2018 kickoff, suggesting I might be capable of a little more on the bike leg. This race has a history of getting me excited, no fear or apprehension, just immense eagerness to get out there and get it done. Everything up until to the start went flawlessly, leaving no excuse to do anything but PR the course, perhaps my Half Ironman time as well. But unfortunately, after a decent swim (sub 30) I wasn’t able to hold power on the bike leading to an unimpressive bike split and mediocre run.
People ask if I’m happy or upset about how it went. Honestly I’m indifferent. My effort was there, just not quite the output. It’s harder to justify the pain when outside of your sweet spot, but it’s also necessary. Any race is a roll of the dice and with triathlon just because you have a bad bike doesn’t mean you won’t respond abnormally well on the run. Even if you fall flat across the board there’s always purpose in pushing through (allowing you stay healthy). It’s what we do day in and out. I have two more races in the next month, Surf City Olympic and Wildflower. My only goal for these is to have fun, push deep and not be afraid to blow up. More practice on the road will be key to building familiarity with pacing and fit. When it clicks I’ll be ready and the pain that comes from 200bpm will be well justified.
Congrats to those who raced, especially Pat Redner who finished seconds behind first Amateur overall, Mauro for a nasty bike split and seemingly breakthrough performance, Seb for your Worlds qualification, Haley for overcoming early season injury to podium, as well as everyone else who participated. Big thanks to Sabrina and Mat for housing me 3 years in a row. Rachel, Craig and the Tower26 crew for spectating. Looking forward to being back again in 2019!
I’m honestly surprised with the pace per effort for this swim (29:51). Kept it comfortable throughout. When I split my Garmin I was more expecting to see a 35:XX than 29:XX. Though it was fairly brutal early on things got better as it progressed, not getting clobbered but still managing to find tiny bubbles most of the time. Helped a bunch spotting and keeping pace with my buddy Mauro for the second half.
No surprise as I pedaled out of T1 both glutes were on fire. I decided I’d keep it light for the first 3 miles and then aim for my 270 watt target after as the pain went away. As always there was a group of riders that formed making me feel very uncomfortable. I tried to get ahead to separate but my power was suddenly 300+ watts. Once I heard an official the only thing I could do was stop peddling for a good 30 seconds allowing the peloton to pass and collect their drafting penalty. Things stayed open enough from there on out.
Power was disastrous this race!! I don’t know if I ever hit my target in any of my lap splits. I’m led to believe, though my most recent fit had small adjustments, that I didn’t get enough time in the saddle to adapt properly. I am confident I had the strength needed and am eager to show it in one of my upcoming races.
Side note – smiling is so un-aero!
This is where I tried to pick up the pieces, and although my performance was lack luster (6:30’s vs 6:10’s) I should be thankful having seen so many accomplished athletes blow up on the course. I think being an early season race adds to the uncertainty. Above all else it was great to hear so many friends shouting my name coming out of T2.