On April 7th I did my first race of 2018 at Ironman 70.3 Oceanside and it went very well. We had ideal conditions as the low temperature at the start of the race at 7am was in the high 50’s and by the time I finished around noon it was about 70 with very mild breezes.
The 1.2 mile swim was in the 59 degree Oceanside Harbor. They were hoping to make the race be a surf entry to put the “ocean” back in Oceanside, but the surf was too high to be safe for many of the athletes. So 2 days before the race it was announced that we’d swim the same out and back course as in the past. Once again we had a “rolling start” so that means each athlete self-seeds themselves based on the time they expect to swim. That leads to a much better experience for everyone as the faster swimmers start first. I seeded myself with the 30-35 minute group which was spot on as my swim split was 31:51, good for 12th place in my age group.
I was surprisingly warm upon exiting the water so I opted to just put on a short sleeve jersey for the 56 mile bike ride. That was the right decision. The route follows the coast for the first 20 miles and then we turn east through the hilly parts of Camp Pendleton for the next 25 miles. I love that section of Pendleton. It is a shame that the only time we can ride that section is during this race. They actually have 2 no passing zones for short stretches because the road gets narrow. And then there is a 3rd no passing zone at mile 39 on a steep, curvy descent where an athlete crashed and died when I did this race back in 2001. Thus, they also have a strict 25 mph speed limit for that ¼ mile section. The athlete who crossed the finish line 1st in my age group actually got disqualified because he exceeded the speed limit. We all knew the rules. He should have known better. The final 10+ miles of the ride are on a nice flat road. I thought I biked pretty well, but was surprised to see my bike split was 2:34 slower than in 2017. My bike split was 2:58:28 (18.8 mph). This was the 49th best bike split and it dropped me to 26th place.
The 13.1 mile run course was 2 loops along the coast. The entire run course is lined with spectators, many of them friends of mine. I had a lot of fun feeding off the cheers and support of the crowd. My favorite spectator, of course, was my wife Laurie. She is awesome! I had the fastest run on the day – 1:34:34 (7:13/mile). That effort moved me up to tie for 8th place out of 145 men in the 55-59 age group with a finish time of 5:13:12. This is a very competitive race every year so I am very happy with my result. I finished 10th in 2017 with a finish time of 5:11:34, so I slowed down by 1:48, but I improved by 2 spots in the rankings. I was 317th out of 2,397 overall finishers.
The highlight of my day, though, was undoubtedly the performance of an athlete I am coaching. In my opinion, Susan Powell had her best race during the 2+ years I have been her coach. Susan finished the 2016 race in 8:27 and she did not finish in 2017. She finished this year’s race in 7:42 and is clearly on her way to even faster times this year. I am so proud of her!
Living the life…