On April 1st I raced Ironman 70.3 Oceanside. In many ways this was a trip down memory lane for me as 1 of my greatest triathlon accomplishments happened on this course in 2001. The race was a full Ironman back in 2001 and I earned a slot to compete in the Ironman World Championships in Kona.
I had never done the 70.3 distance in Oceanside. The primary reason I had avoided this race is the likelihood of the water and air temperatures being cold. They have had really good conditions for the past 5 years so I decided to give it a go in 2017. I am so glad I raced it this year because I had a blast!
The 1.2 mile swim took place in the Oceanside Harbor. The morning air was chilly, probably mid to high 50’s and it was windy which did make it cold. The skies were clear so it was sunny all day and the air warmed up to the high 60’s. Thankfully the water temperature was 62 so I was fine once the race started. In addition to my wetsuit, I also wore a thermal cap so I was plenty warm. Rather than starting each age group with its own mass start, the organizers opted for a rolling start where each athlete self-seeded themselves. By self-seeding, the sub 30 minute swimmers went first, then the 35 minute people, etc. This was an excellent decision because the harbor is pretty narrow and can be pretty physical when 200 people start at once. My swim time was 31:12 which put me in 8th place. I was very happy with that.
The 56 mile bike course is a single loop that takes the athletes up the relatively flat coast in Oceanside and into hilly Camp Pendleton. The winter rains we had made Camp Pendleton absolutely gorgeous. Typically we don’t have access to bike on the base so this race was a real treat. There were 2 short ¼ mile sections where the road is very narrow so those are no passing zones. And there is a steep, curvy ½ mile descent known as Dead Man’s Curve where there is actually a speed limit of 25 mph. They monitor that section with timing mats and this year they disqualified over 40 athletes for speeding. No warning. Everyone knows the rules in that section. Going over 25 mph earns you an automatic DQ. I fully support the organizers for enforcing this rule because an athlete died from a bike crash in this section back in 2001. His name was Perry Rendina from Ohio. I never met Perry, but I’ll never forget him.
The bike course was very challenging for me. My neck has limited my bike training the last 3 years so I really suffer on these long rides. The bike has always been my weakness and it is even more glaring now. My biggest week of bike training leading up to Oceanside was only 127 miles. 5 years ago I would have averaged at least 150 bike miles leading up to a race of this distance. I turn 55 later this year so I’ve come to understand that this is the new normal. I am pleased, though, that I have recognized my new limitations because the #1 goal is to get to the start line healthy. I had a 2:55:54 bike split (19.0 mph) which was 32nd best and it dropped me down to 21st place.
The 13.1 mile run is comprised of 2 laps primarily along The Strand right next to the Pacific Ocean. It really is a gorgeous run. The only downside of this course is that there is a lot of concrete so it led to some sore feet after the race. There are lots of spectators so it is a lot of fun. I had a great run as my split was 1:34:28 (7:15/mile). This was the 3rd best run on the day and it moved me up to 10th place out of 138 men in the 55-59 age group and 296th overall out of 2,375 finishers. My finish time was 5:11:34.
This was a great event and a lot of fun for me. Much of what made it fun was that my wife Laurie also did the race. She had a great time and was glad she did the race. Something that gave me a good chuckle was looking over the results in Laurie’s age group. She was edged out by 3 seconds by a lady named Janine Tampon. I’m proud of my wife, but can’t believe she got beaten by a Tampon.
One of the prizes at this race were slots for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Chattanooga. Qualifying for Chattanooga was one of my primary goals for this year, but I figured Oceanside would be too competitive and I’d never earn a slot at this race. There were 3 slots in my age group and I figured my 10th place finish would never get me a slot. Laurie had to coax me to attend the Awards where they give out the slots. You just never know. The slots seemed to get gobbled up pretty fast in all the age groups before mine, but I stuck around anyway. I’m so glad I was there. You must be present to claim your slot. Amazingly the slots in my age group went to 10th place, 14th place and 22nd place. I actually claimed the 1st slot!
This race was such a gift from God. They all are. But I had such a good experience at this race. God really was looking out for me. And He gave me that gift of the Chattanooga slot. That was the icing on the cake.
To see my race pictures, click on this link:
Living the life…