Well, I don't really know what to say about the Oceanside 70.3 last weekend other than thank goodness it's early in the season and there's a lot of time for improvement! The race itself is very well run with a great venue, and it was nice to spend a few days in sunny southern California. My homestay was TERRIFIC---thanks Felicia, Forrest, Gus and Laird!---and I had the opportunity to explore the area a little more than the last time I did this race. I also caught up with Tim Johnson (the WTC swim course director) who I know from my days at the training center in Clermont, FL, as well as some other athletes that I haven't seen in a while.
Race day itself was a mixture of ups and downs. It started off with an up: a great swim effort! I felt strong and comfortable in my BlueSeventy Helix wetsuit during the whole swim and was the fourth female out of the water, behind perennial top swimmers Leanda Cave, Pip Taylor, and Kelly Williamson (who I knew as Kelly Handel from our days as age group swimmers back in Indiana). It was a good indication that I'm getting my swimming groove back after the collarbone injury last year. T1 went smoothly, it was really great running up out of the water with all the volunteers and spectators fresh and excited!
Once on the bike I tried to settle into a rhythm and keep an eye on the other cyclists around me so as to stay in contact yet out of trouble. The ride had both highs and lows for me; I definitely felt stronger on the flats than on the hills...so guess what I'm going to be working on in the next few weeks?! I knew my bike fitness was just average going into this race, and it was especially apparent on the hills and in the windy sections. The hills were a bit harder than I had remembered and it took more out of my legs for the run than I had expected. One positive that came from the bike is that my shoulders and neck stayed relatively loose throughout the ride; in the past I’ve tightened up so much that I can’t wait to get off the bike and stand up straight! I think there might still be a couple of important positioning tweaks to make to be comfortable for an Ironman, but this is a step in the right direction.
Mentally I was prepared to run well, especially after the Canyonlands Half Marathon, and I started off running sub-7:00 pace miles. However, I quickly realized that I was low on fuel. I found myself slowing down significantly on miles 4 and 5 and gobbled up whatever I could get at the aid stations. The food helped and my second wind kicked in, only to sputter again just past the 10-mile mark. So my run split ended up being much slower than what I was aiming for, which is really disappointing after all the hard work I've put into it. However, as always there were good lessons learned along the way. First, EAT MORE! This goes for the days leading up to the event as well as the pre-race meal and on the bike. Nutrition is going to be key during the Ironman distance, and I need to get it figured out before then. PowerBar supplies me with all sorts of great fueling options and I need to diligently experiment with calorie intake to find how much I need to eat on the bike to be strong when the run comes around. Second lesson learned: you can have all the running fitness in the world, but if you haven't put in the time on the bike it's really hard to show off that run fitness!
I’ve got another 3.5 weeks until the next half ironman race in Galveston, Texas, to continue improving my fitness and race-nutrition. It’s going to fly by, so time to buckle down!