Another solid weekend of racing, this time closer to home with a few Every Man Jack guys. It's always fun doing races with other EMJ guys on the course. It usually doesn’t help with overall or age group placing (these dudes are fast), but it’s super motivating to have teammates out there giving their all.
At Oceanside 70.3 you have to bring your A game. Competition is always strong. In the end, I had a decent race and I’m happy with where I landed in the field given some mistakes I made – both pre-race. One had me flustered going into the swim and the second kept me from riding aero for much of the bike leg. More on that below. Just part of the process with the first couple races of the season.
FINISH TIME 4:35:27
Swim 30:55 Bike 2:35:29 Run 1:21:54
10th M30-34, 26th Amateur, 68th Overall
All-in-all, a pretty decent day of racing and a good place to be with fitness at this point in the year.
- Beat last year’s times across the board. Faster swim. Faster bike. Faster run.
- I’ve covered this in a few posts now, but I got my ass kicked at Oceanside last year. I wasn’t fit and I executed poorly on the day. It served as a wake-up call to get my ass in gear. This year, I wanted some redemption.
- Top 5 in M30-34
- I wasn’t quite sure how I’d be feeling after Puerto Rico 70.3, but I felt like I had the fitness to get into the Top 5 in M30-34 if I executed well.
Having raced Puerto Rico 70.3 two weeks prior to Oceanside’s kickoff, my build up was mostly recovery based with a couple key sessions to help use Puerto Rico as a big training day. Per usual, I deferred to my coach (Justin Daerr; Endurance Corner) and here’s what he had me do:
- SUN. MAR. 19 – PUERTO RICO 70.3
- MON. MAR. 20 – 20’ SWIM (Easy)
- TUE. MAR. 21 – OFF
- WED. MAR. 22 – 1hr BIKE (Easy w/ a few 15” efforts), 1hr SWIM (Easy)
- THU. MAR. 23 – 1hr BIKE (MS: 10 x 30”Hard|90”Easy; 3 x 9’on|1’off @ low to mid-range HIM power, increasing with each of the 3)
- FRI. MAR. 24 – 1hr 15min SWIM (Hard Tower 26 session)
- SAT. MAR. 25 – 1hr 15min SWIM (Hard @ T26), 3.5hr BIKE (Chill), 15min RUN (chill)
- SUN. MAR. 26 – 1hr 45min BIKE (MS: 20’@Low HIM, 20@Just Above HIM, 20’@HIM), 50’ RUN (Two Rounds: 2mi@IM, 1mi@HIM)
- MON. MAR. 27 – 1hr SWIM (Chill)
- TUES. MAR. 28 – 1hr BIKE (MS: 6 x 90”@Just Below FTP|3.5min Easy), 20’ RUN (5’@HIM in the middle)
- WED. MAR. 29 – 1hr SWIM (Strong), 45min BIKE (MS: 4 x 90”@Just Below FTP|3.5min Easy), 16’ RUN (4’@HIM in the middle)
- THU. MAR. 30 – 1hr SWIM (Strong with mix of 25s, 50s, 75s, & 100s)
- FRI. MAR. 31 – 45min BIKE (5’@Just Below FTP in there), 20’ RUN (5 x 30” fast in the mix)
- SAT. APR. 1 – RACE DAY
I drove down Thursday afternoon, handled race check-in, and then had dinner with a few of the EMJ guys at Swami’s on Mission Ave. Highly recommend Swami's. Healthy options and lots of vegan stuff on the menu. (Sans-cheese pizza over at ZIGZAG was bomb too...) I woke up early on Friday and had my carb-filled breakfast at Naked Cafe down in Carlsbad, and then knocked out my bike + run. (I found riding on the San Luis Rey bike path to be perfect for the 45-minute session.)
Below: San Luis Rey bike path & a main stretch of the run course
I got up around 4am and went through my usual pre-race routine. I walked down to transition around 5:15am. I was about a mile from it over at the Oceanside Holiday Inn. I got my bike situated pretty quickly and then just sat down and tried to relax. It’d be another hour before I’d need to start my warm-up.
Below: Swim start photos from Triathlete Magazine / Competitive Image
It’s always nice doing races for the second time (or third, etc.) since you know the setup. Well, with Oceanside, the organizers had changed some things up making it different from years past. They now allow for a warm-up in the water pre-race & now have a rolling start (as opposed to age-group waves). Both improvements in my opinion.
However, I didn’t realize we’d start from a separate boat ramp from the one you use when warming up. 100% me being an idiot. So, around 6:35am, I got in the water and did my warm-up for about 10 minutes as the pros started their race. As it got closer and closer to the AG start at 6:50am, I kept looking up to the boat ramp wondering where everyone was. At about 6:48am, I was still in the water, doing my thing when I heard “2 Minutes!”.
At this point, I gave a more thorough assessment of the boat ramp and realized that I had been looking at the wrong place. Easily 200 AG’ers were lined up at a boat ramp next to the one I was staring at. (Just look at the picture above.) Oh shit. I’m going to be stuck behind all these guys. Realizing this, I swam as fast as I could to the non-start-line boat ramp, ran up, and started to make my way to the front just as the first AG’ers got in the water. What I didn’t realize is that they were sending them in one-at-a-time, TT style. Again, I’m an idiot and thought all 30-minutes-And-Under were sent in at once and already in the water. Panicking, I pushed my way to the front while yelling Sorry! and jumped into the water. (If I cut in front of you, my bad. Let’s chalk this one up under temporary insanity.)
My HR was probably 170 at this point, so not ideal. From there, I settled into a rhythm and chilled out/laughed about having been so dumb so early in the race.
Overall, the swim was pretty uneventful. I never really found anyone to draft off of, so just pushed it at my own pace and was happy to have some clear water in comparison to the crowds at Puerto Rico 70.3.
I came out of the water just under 31 minutes. Not my best, but also not bad. Also faster than last year's swim split. I felt pretty good as I ran through transition, so put the swim aside and started to focus on getting out on the bike.
The swim time put me in 21st in M30-34.
Setting out on the bike, I felt pretty good. Temperature was great – a little chilly even – and my legs were feeling the best they had since Puerto Rico. Given the layout of the bike course with turns and short descents early on, I wanted to ride above my target watts (215w, or w/kg of 3.34) whenever I was on flats or climbing. Similarly, the goal would be to have a 220ish NP by the 38-mile mark, since the race is a net downhill from then on.
The first 45minutes/15 miles went by quickly and I still felt strong. Soon after 15 miles, I hit a serious bump and noticed that my aerobar setup was not right. My front water bottle and Garmin were rattling and my right aerobar seemed off. I kept riding down in the aero position, but started to assess what the hell just happened. After a minute, it was pretty clear that my right aerobar had spun clockwise, placing my aerobar pad directly on my handlebar and making it so I had to lean to the right while being down in the aerobars. Not ideal. (THE CAUSE: User error. I didn’t properly tighten the screws at the stem after replacing them a couple weeks ago.)
After a few fruitless attempts to yank it into position, I decided to simply ride as much as I could in that weird position and not sweat it if I had to sit up. I also downed the fluid in my front aero bottle to stop the rattling. My power dropped a bit during this stretch, but I still felt strong. I also stayed positive, reminding myself that plenty of people have issues on the bike and things could be worse. (Like my buddy from Tower 26, former Formula 1 driver Jenson Button. His Di2 went out which had him running his bike up the hills. He still crushed the race.)
While definitely riding a good bit less aerodynamic than normal, all went well through mile 38. Looking at my file now, my NP was 215 up to that stretch. I actually would have guessed it to be a touch higher. In my mind, I figured it was closer to that target of 220.
As I started the net downhill portion at mile 38, the aerobar issue became more pronounced. I found myself pushing a little less on the flats and gradual descents since I wanted to be down in the aerobars but my setup wasn’t all that stable. Only myself to blame for that though. I think fatigue kicked in a bit here too and pushing a bigger gear may have been more of a challenge anyway. NP was just ~200 for these last 18 miles.
I came off the bike with a 2:35:29 and in 18th place in M30-34. 210 NP and 201 Average Watts for the ride. Happy with the power given my current fitness and inability to push the last 45-minutes. The time wasn’t where I wanted it to be though. While a faster than last year's bike split, 2:30-32 is where I feel I should have been. Maybe a cop-out, but I chalk that up to the bike issues. #triexcuses
Bike Data: A Look At The Top Age Groupers
While I'm not a huge data geek, I am always interested in what average power I'd need to hold to be with the top AG guys on the bike. Luckily, I'm on a team with a bunch of guys who can ride waaayyy faster than me. My man Greg Lindquist, who thankfully aged up to M35-39 this year, shared his bike file with me. He rode a beastly 2:22:48. Yup, nearly 13 minutes faster than me. It was the 3rd fastest AG bike split (I think) and it set him up well for winning M35-39 and placing 2nd overall among amateurs. Straight boss.
So, here's a look his file. He weighs 149lbs, or 67.59kg. That puts his race watts/kg at an 3.83. Again, mine were 3.08. (And 3.14 in Puerto Rico.) For me to ride at 3.83, I'd need to average about 245watts at my same weight. Damn. That'll take at least two more years of hard training; something to shoot for though. (Yes, this assumes similar drag and bike weight; but still useful for ball-parking.)
His VI 1.03 shows that he rode the course really well too. Consistent output of power. (From Greg: Regarding how I rode, I was alone and focused on just not hitting above 300 watts too many times except for on the first shorter climb on the backside of the course. I used all of my gears, granny geared it on all the climbs, and wasn't afraid to get out of the saddle when necessary.)
Greg, way to crush it out there bro.
But enough about Greg and how he kicked my ass; back to my race... I got off my bike in T2 and my legs felt good. Nothing like the blocks of lead I was working with in Puerto Rico coming off the bike. I think being unable to really push the last 45 minutes of the bike helped a good bit on this front. I came out of T2 hot and was ready to make up for lost time.
As I ran mile 1, I got some love from a few EMJ guys who came to watch the race. This was awesome. (Thanks Brandt, Greg, James!!) Around mile 2, I started to sense a lot stares and cheering coming my way. While I’m sure I was looking awesome in my rad EMJ kit and cruising, I didn’t get ahead of myself and figured the love was actually directed at a pro coming on my heels. A few Go Andy! shouts solidified that.
As Potts came by, I fell into rhythm behind him and my speed picked up slightly as did my cadence. I’ve learned this from doing long runs with JD in Boulder, but it’s wild how much easier it is to go fast when someone else is setting the pace. I went through maybe a mile with Andy. He was going 5:50/mile or so at this point while I was closer to 6:05. I still got a nice boost during this stretch. Soon after that, Joe Gambles came by and paced me through some of the back portion of the out-and-back of loop 1. Joe is the only pro that’s really said much of anything to me while racing. Most are so focused and in the hurt locker that they just grunt, nod or give a stare that shows the lights are on but no one’s home. As he came by, he said, Nice pace. I thought, Fuck yeah!! I'm the man. Ha. But seriously, that was a solid boost to help me keep the pedal down. I got through Lap 1 of 2 averaging a 6:10/mile pace.
While I felt 100% in control and very strong during lap 1, lap 2 required a lot more focus. No guys to help pace and my legs were starting to feel the pounding. As I started the last half of lap 2, I caught myself slowing down a bit. As anyone who’s run a race knows, it takes a lot mentally to keep going hard when everything is telling you to slow down. While the first 9 miles had me averaging 6:10/mile, I started to slow by 10+ seconds for miles 10 & 11. At this point I was running entirely on feel, just trying to push as much as I could. At mile 12, I heard my Garmin ding and I looked down to see the mile split. 6:24. Fuck. I snapped back into focus and reminded myself that there was just one mile left. Dig! I got back on 6:10 pacing for a long, long suffer-filled final mile.
I crossed the line with a 1:21:54 run (6:15/mile) and a 4:35:27 total time. This put me 10th in M30-34. The run, which had me averaging a 6:15/mile pace, was the fastest I’ve done in a half Ironman.
Every Man Jack
The EMJ guys kicked some ass. Greg smashed it with a 4:22:18 and was 1st in M35-39 & 2nd Overall Amateur. Wildly impressive. Fun watching him crush it and attempting high-fives on the run course. We totally air-balled a high-five at one point, which I think was me seeing double. David Cruz also drilled it with a 3rd in M35-39. Tim Reynolds looked strong and took 7th in M35-39. Mike Vulanich, who’s also in M30-34 and typically a contender for the AG win, battled cramps from early on the bike and suffered through the run. Even with the issues – which had him lying down at one point – he came in just 3 minutes behind me and took 17th in the AG.
Next race is likely Chattanooga 70.3. Looking forward to it!
Feel free to share any questions or comments below.