Tuesday, April 3, 2012

2012 Oceanside 70.3

-19 minutes from the time

First off, the speedo would’ve been a great call had that race been 1/4th of the distance, not raining, and 20 degrees warmer; However, it seems like I have the best races when I don’t take myself too seriously. So, I have absolutely no regrets (as bad as my tan lines looked) #stuffthatworks. (Side note: it was definitely mud on the back of my legs, I’m not that bad at shaving. There’s always a little part of you that imagines your dream race the night before and you’re pulling off splits 10 minutes faster than you know you’re capable of. So when I was looking at my bike and run times while racing and seeing that I was not only breaking my 70.3 PR’s, but blowing them up, I was slightly surprised but not totally. I knew going into this race there wasn’t going to be any room for lollygagging. The caliber of competition in the 25-29AG was pretty thick; I believe there were at least 5 guys racing on Saturday that were at the 2011 70.3 World Championship. I went into this race knowing it was going to be a hard day.

A big step in seeing improvement at the 70.3 level started with Mitch Hall. Mitch isn’t one to jump into the spotlight so I’m going to at least shine a flashlight on him. Mitch is one of the stronger triathletes and cyclists that I know, and being one of my good friends, I asked him a while back if he’d help advise me on my training and racing. I can’t tell you how helpful he’s been and how much I’m learning (literally, I can’t tell you, this training plan is under lock & key.. sort of). It also doesn’t hurt to train with people like Lesley Paterson and pick her brain as well!

Every time I checked my watch
The Race:
I woke up dark and early, made some coffee and ate a grip of strawberry pop-tarts. Rolled thru a vacant I-5, bumpin a bit of this. Got up to the pier slightly behind schedule (standard Keith style) but made up time on my warm up ride to T1. Lucky me, my bike rack was almost completely full by the time I got there, so I had a snug little spot near the back. I met up with my buddies Chris Berg and Charlie Karstrom and chatted for a bit before the start. I was immediately made aware of 2 large holes near the crotchal region my wetsuit as soon as I touched the water and woke up real fast.

I don’t know why I even bothered, but I started right in the mix of Charlie, Chris and Max Biessman; all fantastic swimmers. When the gun went off I made the decision to let them go and not even try to hold on their feet. That was dumb because I hit no-man’s-land within the first minute and the few fellow green caps that were by me were quickly lost in the cluster of slow moving purple and white caps from the previous waves. I thought the conditions were pretty bad compared to years past. It was fairly choppy with a bit of swell, but nothing outrageous. I wasn’t having a good day in the water. Couldn’t find a rhythm and felt “cold” and out of breath for first half. My arms finally came around after we hit the turnaround and started on back. I definitely ran into a few people on the way back (I kid you not), straight up, floating in the water. Still trying to figure that one out. Glad I missed starting my watch for the swim because I’d have been pretty upset if I saw my time upon exit, a high 28 minutes, 12th in my AG.

The dude behind me.. just checkin out the view
"Is this aero,,,, or this?"
While getting out of my wetsuit, my dad told me I was a little over 2 minutes behind to the front guys. That wasn’t the end of the world, so I started off at a slightly pressing but steady and controlled pace, unlike many 70.3’s where I take off, out of control, at 20k pace. The road was pretty wet. Along with a constant spray of water and mud hitting the pistons (what guns are to arms, pistons are to legs. It sounds pretty cheese & that’s why I had to use this expression #PhilLiggett) and super soggy shoes, it felt like you were pushing thru a constant puddle. I got into a nice rhythm and didn’t even realize I’d already caught up to Max and Chris after 45 minutes, who were 2nd & 3rd at the time. Apparently there was some mystery dude in a blue getup (who I don’t actually remember seeing at all) along for the ride behind me. I’m guessing because I was FREEZING my bunz off, and it was raining/misting the entire time on the course, I’d hardly touched my nutrition/hydration until somewhere around miles 27-30 when I was cramping bad and slowing considerably. My rear bottle, which was 1/3 of my calories, had become victim of the notorious “mile 5 bump” along with many other water bottles. So I pounded the majority of my main nutrition and tried to “find my rhythm” again. Chris rode up to me and we chatted for a bit while climbing “the hill” (kind of comical thinking back to it) and basically talked me thru my bonk. After 15-20 minutes of staying at Chris and Max’s pace, I decided I felt good enough to pick it up again. There was a long steady grade around mile 40ish and I passed by this group of 30-40 year old AG’ers drafting like little bitches off each other. Funny… I dropped them on the climb and the rolling hills, then they somehow caught back up to my rear wheel in the slight headwind on flat sections back into town.. interesting. Those guys were real cool. With around 7ish miles to go I caught up to Charlie, who looked like he had been having a blast by himself out in front all day. We basically rode the same pace back into T2. I put a little gap on Charlie in the last 2 miles. I wanted a bit of time just incase I need to think about life a bit in T2. Bike Split: 2:24

I hit the run course feeling remarkably good despite not having my planned caloric intake on the bike. I ran out to an empty run course with only Andy Potts in sight. I quickly found out he was leading the race when people were yelling splits at me of how far back I was. I got a little enjoyment out of being in “2nd” for the first two miles. People were so amped some kid dressed like a dork was “chasing” the leader. Anyways, when I looked at my watch after the 1st mile I hit a 5:45. “Ah, cool” I thought, “I’m cruising, lets see how long this lasts”. 2nd mile, still feeling good, just over 6 minutes. At this point I’m thinking to myself “I might as well start pacing better, because I’m probably not keeping a sub-6 pace for the next 11 miles today”. So I tried to shoot for 6:10’s and see how I felt. Remarkably, I made it to mile 8 feeling pretty good and still had my ideal pace going. I didn’t know how far ahead I was from Max, Chris, and Charlie. They were running within a close range of each other, and all looked strong. I have to say, I apologize if I didn’t give you a nod or wave if you gave me encouragement on the run course. The “speedo” encouragement was constant, and though I enjoyed it for the first mile or two, everything became white-noise to me, whether it was attire related or not; I hit “the zone”. Somewhere around mile 10, poor Beth Walsh made it clear to me that she was getting tired of the view she had been enduring and passed me. I don’t blame her (huge day for Beth, by the way). After I hit the turnaround and was headed home, I got a high five from Charlie and kind of put it in cruise control for a bit. Mitch and Courtney caught up on their bikes and rode next to me for a good portion of mile 12 throwing out some encouragement to push it all the way back. I could tell my gas tank was on empty and was glad I didn’t have to battle with someone in the last mile. Rolled home with a 1:22 run time.

4:20:23 overall, 1st in the 25-29 Division, 2012 Ironman 70.3 World Championship Las Vegas spot claimed.

Max, Chris, and I at the awards
Congrats to everyone that raced. It was not the easiest course/conditions on Saturday. Good to see TCSD well represented on the course and in the crowd… by far the best aid station. The 25-29 division was, without a doubt, the most competitive division of the race, with 6 guys under 4:30. I have to echo what Chris said in his race report, racing with Charlie, Chris and Max is always fun and brings out the best.

A big thanks to my dog Kevin at B+L Solana Beach for figuring out how to safely and effectively reposition my aerobars on my Shiv to get the “preying mantis”/”Floyd Landis” position. If anyone has ever seen the front end of the 2010 Shiv, you have very little say in the aero position. Kev got creative and made it happen. I’d also like to thank my family, who are always at every big race and support me. Love you guys.
You're welcome ladies.

Next up: 
Wildflower Olympic… you’re on notice, that’s all I’m gonna say. The Encinitas Triathlon (http://encinitastriathlon.com/) on May 20, then Honu 70.3 on June 2 (Let the record show, I signed up WELL before Lance decided to race it).