Ok, this is going to be a much shorter race report than normal. Hopefully I can just convey enough info for people doing this race in the future…
Swim: 34 mins (cold, salty)
Bike: 5:35 (including a flat which took approx 3 mins to fix. conditions = cold, salty!)
We stayed in Oceanside and this was a good idea. I stayed on the run course about 5 mins from the expo and T2, so convenient for checking in etc. but also for my family to support me on the run (they literally had a 30 second walk to the run course).
T1 and T2 are in different places. Bear this in mind for race morning – it takes at least 10 mins to ride to T1 from T2. I dropped my run kit off the day before, so on race morning I just rode easy to the start which doubled as a good warmup. The bike course is hilly but still quite fast. The run is flat 3 laps with a few very short, steep inclines.
My plan was to test out my full Ironman nutrition plan, which is basically 1/6th Clif bar every 10 mins interspersed with drinking Ironman Perform every 10 mins. My garmin beeps every 5 mins and I alternate bars then IM Perform. For the run, it’s liquid only. In terms of pacing the plan was:
Swim: just do what I gotta do to get to the bike
Bike: cap my power at 255 watts on the flats, 300 watts on the hills (note I said cap not average, that means I try to stay under that). FYI my FTP measured 2 weeks before race day was approx 306 watts.
Run: aim for 7 min/mile (faster 2nd half if feeling invincible)
Up at 3.30am, ate 2 x plain bagels with honey. Rode bike in the dark to T1. Some people were walking their bikes because they had so much stuff. Get a bag with all your stuff and ride your bike otherwise getting there will take forever. Alternatively I saw some peeps riding in their wetsuits… not for me but still an option. Got to T1, it was pretty chilled with plenty of space so it was quick to rack bike and get ready. The swim starts in waves, for which people line up in batches. This gets congested so make sure you leave your bike and head to the start with at least 10 mins to spare, to allow you to get through the crowds. There was a guy in front of me who missed his wave and had to start the swim alone. About 3 mins before your wave start, they let you jump into the water and swim over to the start line (it’s an in-water start). The water here is cold, salty and seemed to taste of 2 stroke fuel at times!
The swim start is pretty calm compared to a mass start like you get at Ironman races, and the groups are small. The water was cold and choppy but overall I had a good swim. The buoys are well aligned, highly visibile and you have smaller buoys along the course. It helps if you can breathe on the left since sighting will be easier (buoys on left). Despite the rough water I sighted pretty well, I swam a little further than expected according to my garmin (about 2100m rather than 1900m) but I was satisfied with a 34 min swim on this course. Most people were about 2-3 mins slower than expected.
It was cold and raining so I’d left arm warmers on my aerobars. This was a very good idea and really helped on the cold and wet bike course. When I did Challenge Henley last year, I suffered with uncontrollable shivering for the first half of the bike, in similar conditions, which took a LOT out of me physically. This time I was relatively warm for most of the ride. I started off riding pretty conservatively, not pushing much above 245 watts. About half way I heard the dreaded sound of a flat tire (another thing in common with Henley). This time I fixed it pretty quickly, in about 3 mins. I do practice changing flats and this paid off on race day. When I got back on the bike, I pushed a *little* bit harder to try and make up some time. There is a big hill on this course and I rode it steadily, conserving my energy for the return trip. The second half of the bike course, heading back to Oceanside, you are met with a headwind. A lot of people blow up on this part because they overdid the first section. I rode steadily into the wind, increasing my power to around 250 at times, and coasting on the downhills. I passed a lot of people on this section. In what felt like a relatively short time, we were heading back into Oceanside and into t2.
Time: 2:34 (2:31 if you exclude the flat tire)
Normalized Power: 239 watts
Average speed: 21.5 mph
TSS: 156 (TSS – Training Stress Score – is a measure of effort used by trainingpeaks.com based on your FTP – in theory for a full Ironman you apparently should not have a bike split of more than 300 TSS if you want to run well)
I had a really good T2. In fact my T2 time was faster than Andy Potts the winner! If this was a transition competition that would be awesome! However it’s not, so let’s forget about that and move on…
It was now hot and sunny, which was actually a relief after the cold & windy bike. I started off a little fast out of T2, at about 6:45 min/mile. I slowed to around 7 min/mile and then just ran steadily the rest of the way. I consumed liquids only on the run. I averaged 6:56 min/mile on the run and finished in 1:31. My brain still thinks in metric, and for some reason I thought 7 min/mile would get me there in 1:30. I was aiming for a sub 1:30 half marathon so I was a little bummed to miss it, especially since I thought I was on track with a little extra to spare. Anyway, that will teach me to next time brush up on my old fashioned measurement systems before planning my race according to them!
Overall – I really like Oceanside and will be back again next year!