Going into a race I generally have a variety of time based plans – my stretch goal, realistic, and worst case scenario. These are the plans I use to give estimates to my family and friends. Then, there is the goal I have in my mind that I am too scared to share with anyone because saying it out loud makes it real. This race was a little different for me in that I didn’t put together any plans. Joby put together my race plan, we reviewed it, and it looked good to me. The only part that was really time/pace based was the run. So, I figured if I could just pull out a swim and bike performance that was the same or stronger than last year and execute my run pacing by plan, I would have a solid race that I could be proud of. My second goal for this race, have fun and appreciate the accomplishment. As soon as I crossed the finish line at Oceanside last year, I immediately started to pick apart what I could have done better.
Prerace: I love racing, when I am racing. But, before, not so much. The waiting to start the race is agony. It makes me wonder if I would just be happier training and not racing, but I know I wouldn’t be. I was more anxious and nervous than normal this time. I had raced Oceanside the year before, so that created expectations for me to perform and my Dad was watching me for the first time in a triathlon which was exciting, but added to my nerves.
Swim: The water temp was comfortable – I am sure it helped that I had on booties and three swim caps, one of which was neoprene. Didn’t get kicked in the head which is always a plus but got swatted hard by wayward arms more times than I could count. For most of the swim I felt relaxed (maybe too relaxed since my swim was :40 seconds slower than last year), but I also felt like I was moving through the water pretty good and controlling my breathing which was the plan. Got out of the swim and looked at my watch – crap, slower than last year – WTF! Heard my family and friends screaming for me, which put a smile on my face. Running toward transition, I started to switch my Garmin mode and the key lock came on and my heart rate was no longer registering – seriously. Thankfully, the trek to my bike was long enough for me to reboot the Garmin. Why do these issues only happen during a race? The thing works fine when I train.
T1: Uneventful – just the way I like it and was faster than last year by a minute – Yay!
Bike: I have a love/hate relationship with cycling. I never feel ready for this part of any race. Based on my race plan, I was supposed to execute the first 20ish miles based on HR zone. It would have been nice if my HR was picking up on my Garmin. No HR or cadence – neither would pick up after the swim. I had my average pace and have cycled this area enough times that I could gauge my HR – or at least that is what I convinced myself. I felt really strong and controlled. I was passing a lot of riders, which generally does not happen. I am used to hearing “left” and not getting to say it very often. Ok, time to enter the back side of Pendleton. Right when I no longer needed to focus on my HR as much, it decided to start registering on my watch. The Garmin Gods have a funny sense of humor. Mile 29, oh mile 29. It was as challenging as I remembered, but I was able to pass up a lot of people on this hill even though I was crawling. I just kept singing Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” throughout most of the ride. Actually, it was in my head throughout the run as well. Then came the wind just like last year. The scenery was beautiful. Carol passed me and we chatted (briefly, albeit) passing each other back and forth. It was nice to have a familiar face out there if even just for a little while. Made it through the rest of the hills without losing too much overall, average speed. Had some stomach cramps for about 5 miles and switched to just water until it passed. Mile 42 – per plan, if I was feeling good I could let it fly from here. I was feeling great and knew the wind could pick up any minute, so I started to push the pace. I was chicking a lot of men, which felt great. The wind picked up a bit, but didn’t really slow me down. Stretched out my legs during the last part of the ride and heard family and friends cheering me in. Finished the bike 20 minutes faster than last year. I was pretty stoked but hoped this wasn’t going to come back to bite me on the run.
T2: I really don’t remember T2. Except that I glanced at my Timex leaving T2 to see what my overall time was at that point. This is the first time I looked at it since getting out of the water. Yes, I race with two watches because if the Garmin fails I have a back up. It was at this point that I realized I may be able to reach my goal that I couldn’t say out loud. If I could run a 2-hour half-marathon which was 4 minutes slower than my plan, I could go sub-6 hours, which would be a PR for me. I didn’t look at my Timex for the rest of the race. I just focused on following my run plan which Joby had laid out mile by mile.
Run: I am happy whenever I get to the run part of any tri because no sharks or other random sea life, wayward limbs or kicks, etc have attacked me. And, unlike the bike, there is no equipment to worry about. It’s just me and the road. However, this is not one of my favorite run courses – out/back/out/back – a bit boring. On the upside, it was so great and motivating to see family and friends spread all throughout the course. I could not slow down quite as much as I was supposed to for the first few miles. I was trying, but I felt like I was barely moving and my HR was really low. So, I went by perceived effort and HR for these miles which Joby and I had talked about me doing. I felt great through mile 8. I was smiling, joking, and waving. Nutrition was sitting well. The overcast weather was perfect. And then, all of a sudden with 5 miles left to go I started to really feel my quads. This is pretty much when Eminem picked back up in my head – “…feet don’t fail me now”. At this point, I was pretty certain I could have a sub 2-hour half-marathon, but I also wanted to keep each mile sub 9 minute, which would meet plan. Finished the run – all miles under 9 minutes, pushed through the pain and picked up the pace a bit during the last 2 miles. Final run time was 9 minutes faster than last year and my best half marathon within a 70.3. The only downside, the second half was 2 minutes slower than the first, which I am not so happy about because I really wanted to negative split.
Final Race Result: 5:45:46 – 31 minutes faster than my Oceanside time from last year and 17 minutes faster than my prior best 70.3 time.
This was an amazing day! I cannot thank enough all the FC team, friends, and family who came out all day and cheered me on. My training partners and teammates who listen to me obsess and freak out weekly. Joby for helping me to build my weaker areas, capitalize my strengths, and coach me to this success. Paul, for supporting me unconditionally through all my training and racing. I know this race was just a small stepping stone to Ironman in August, but I am taking it one race at a time.