Second, Kirk, congrats on the PR even with the longer swim and our silly long T1. You would have easily been under 6 if not for those. And yes, there was a national anthem but I think it could only be heard towards the bottom of the ramp? I dunno.
So my race report has me coming off of two races that, unfortunately, were not great experiences for me. Oceanside 70.3 had me finishing about 15 to 20 min slower than I had hoped which included me not claiming an anticipated slot to Worlds 70.3 and then the Boston Marathon that had me finishing about 50 min slower than expected and without a requalification to which I was hoping so that I could run with Lynda next year. Sorry Lynda!
No matter the race, competition or placement, my goal is always to try to do the best that I can do at the time and feel good about it knowing the time I’ve spent training for that given event. That said, I was now in a place where I was in need of a positive raceexperience since I felt I had trained very hard for both Oceanside and Boston but subsequently had come up short on both. Heading into SR 70.3 I knew I had to do things differently in order to make a change for the better and it appears to have paid off. One difference for this race was actually setting ZERO expectation for myself, subsequently removing any kind of pressure from my shoulders. I wasn’t thinking about qualifying for worlds, I wasn’t going to try and set a PR and I was just going to do what I always try to do and that was just enjoy the race and have fun.
Race day morning was like all others for me. For those that are curious, food was oatmeal with brown sugar, one banana, a hard boiled egg, ciabatta bread with peanut butter, two blueberry muffins, coffee and a fruit smoothie from Odwalla. I had good sleep under my belt and felt rested. I was fortunate enough to be staying with the Gollers who provided me a lift up to the start along with two other VOLT team members. It was very comforting to not have to travel to town and deal with the shuttle bus (Sorry Kirk).
At drop off, air temps were chilly but not cold. I was able to setup transition very quickly (efficiencies are key in this sport) and got myself down to the front of the swim start before most made their way down the ramp. I hate feeling like I’m rushing so it was no problem for me to be standing all alone to wait. Soon the pro men and women filed past and before I knew it, I was also in the water with the first wave of AG swimmers.
With the new lake and course I wasn’t sure what to expect. I hadn’t even done a practice swim so this water was completely new to me. I found it to be perfect in temp and was quickly on my way through the swim. I did force myself a couple strokes on the back while heading out on the first leg, just so I could catch the spectacle of swimmers snaked up the ramp in queue for the swim start. It was an awesome sight.
The rest of the swim seemed to pass-by very quickly and before I knew it I was under the bridge again and heading towards the exit. Emerging from the water, I knew this was going to be a long transition (as Kirk mentioned) and I headed up the ramp. By nature, the bottoms of my feet are sensitive so I knew this run was potentially going to suck. The first part of the ramp was nicely padded but once at the first faux flat, the concrete heeds to the asphalt and the pain began. I slowed to a quick walk as I approached my bike and the pain became unbearable. Between numb feet and scattered pebbles, I was happy at the prospect of no longer being on my feet.
With my bike shoes and helmet on, I was finally on my way. I will admit that I’m notorious for hitting the first part of the bike harder than I should for 70.3 distance. The first part of the ride after the bridge is a screaming decent and near the bottom I managed to catch up with one of my teammates from VOLT. So instead of passing and hammering like I normally do, I decided to tuck in behind and see about trying to take it easy the first half while trying to stick to my coach-assigned wattage. And that’s what I did, for as slow as it felt, I stayed my 6 bike-lengths back and took it easy and I know it paid off for me in the long run. Eventually the two of us exchanged legal positions but at around the halfway point, I knew it was a good time for my to crank the watts a little higher and try to finish the bike as strong as I could.
I will say, even though part of the course is still the old course, I really enjoyed the bike course this year. Yes, some of the roads were absolute sh*t (which I don’t get why Ironman thinks this is ok for us to ride on) but they were so scenic and pretty. There were also sections that were smooth like butter and I love the speed you can feel from your bike when you are so connected to the road.
Before I knew it (which doesn’t happen to often) I was heading into Santa Rosa proper and heading into T2. Mind you, my feet had still not thawed totally out so the run from dismount ALL THE WAY to my rack (which was close to two blocks) was also very painful. I was happy to finally get my cushy Hoka’s (I was not paid for this comment) on my feet and head out on the run.
Coming off the bike I wasn’t sure what place I was in nor how I was feeling though I did know I didn’t feel poor. This was a major change for me from Oceanside. I started my watch but decided that I was actually going to try the run by feel rather than splits to alleviate the possibility of self-set pressure even more. I set it to the clock screen while it was recording and headed on my way. Miles one through ten were a blur and I knew things were going well. I started to struggle at mile 11 but this was the fault of my own for not having forced myself an extra GU in the previous 5 miles. Thank goodness for coke but miles 11, 12 and 13 could have been better.
That said I was still very pleased with my run as I know I had picked off a couple folks in my age group and hoped for the best. I also got to see some of the pro men and women’s race unfold in front of me. I also I loved this run course. The trails and paths were very shaded and very comfortable to run on all with minimal exposure to traffic or the sun. I was fortunate that I didn’t have to deal with much crowding too. I crossed the finish line and knew that I had put together a strong day. I was pleased.
I was also pleased to have had the chance to racewith my teammates and also be present to see a very close friend of mine cross the finish line of her first half ironman. Overall I finished 9th in my age group and 59th overall. I stuck around for awards with the hopes of seeing a rolldown for 70.3 Worlds but I also didn’t want to get my hopes up. My friends were nice enough to stick around as well and after waiting through every single age group award and then almost all the age-group rolldowns, we hit my age group.
Former Formula One driver turned AG triathlete, Jenson Button, was actually the winner in my AG. He took the first slot (there were 4) though he had actually qualified at Oceanside but was DQed since he broke the speed limit (go figure – obey the rules kids) in the safety-zone halfway through the bike of that race. I was so convinced, at this point, that the rolldown would stop right at 8th since he wasn’t even supposed to be at Santa Rosa! But low and behold, 2nd through 6th did not claim a slot and when 7th passed, I knew I was IN! 8th (who passed me with a quarter mile to go and beat my only by 40 seconds) took number 2, 9th (me) number 3, and 10th (Jenson’s friend who was going to travel to Japan to try and qualify if he didn’t get it. Rough life) number 4. And just like that, after forking over even MORE cash to WTC, I had a trip set for Chattanooga in September.
All-in-all, I really really liked the new course. Finishing in the middle of Santa Rosa was so much fun. The weather was perfect for us with some great tailwinds mixed in. The run course was a lot of fun and this was the preview for me for when I compete in the full there next July. I hopeful we get the same type of weather but I’m not holding my breath though I do look forward to racing there again. Here’s hoping I have another good report to provide when that race is complete.
Thanks for reading everyone and happy training!