Raced Oceanside 70.3 this weekend down in San Diego. This was my first real test on North American soil since being out with mono last year. It was also the most competitive race I’ve done in a long time so a good chance to see where I was at fitness wise. Mentally I felt more relaxed than I have in ages, great to be back in Oceanside after a few years. It’s an incredible spot, great race, great crowds, great energy.
It was a mixed bag and ended with a DNF which is never that good but the surface result is a bit deceiving. I actually came away from the event very positive. It was the first time in ages I actually felt like I was in the race and not somewhere out in left field hanging out by myself looking at the daisies.
I swam well, got myself into a good position on the bike and was in the right place to do something productive. I ended up in one of the smaller main groups on the bike and fought tooth and nail to stay there. The pace on the bike was a bit too rich for me at the moment. I lasted 45 miles of 56 and proceeded to blow myself to smithereens trying to do it. When I popped I really popped and lost 6 minutes in the last 11 miles of the bike- to be honest I’m surprised it was only 6 minutes- the legs were jelly-fied. A few miles into the run it was apparent I wasn’t going to be doing much running and that was that.
It’s a good sign things are on track- sometimes to stay in there you have to take a risk. I took a risk and I paid the price but I would do the same thing again to be in the hunt.
Huge respect for the guys up front- they are moving so darn fast these days- it’s a punishing pace and incredible to witness. I’m at a loss for their capacity on the bike. I was in a small group with strong cyclists and spent all my time at the back of the group. 70.3 racing has become almost like a draft legal event. This does not mean that people were not racing clean- on the contrary- people actually were racing very clean but there is no question that even when you are legal distance back there is a massive benefit. For weaker cyclists like myself this is a huge benefit if you can hang in there. I would love to say I did some work to help our group but I did not, I hung on and off the back fighting just to stay with them. Anytime there was a terrain change or a surge in effort it was everything I could do to hang on. Forty-five miles of that and I was totally cooked.
These days if you want to be in the mix at the end you have to be there from the beginning unless you can bike like Lieto, Rapp, Weiss and get yourself into contention no matter where you come out of the water. The bike is too long and too significant a portion to steadily lose time on and if you lose too much time there’s not enough pavement on the run to make it up. It’s also too short to exploit the massive physical explosions people get on the run like in Ironman. I think this makes half ironman so interesting and such a great balance between short course racing and Ironman. You have to have a perfect balance between speed and endurance and you have to also nail things like nutrition which ads another factor of preparation, planning and smarts into the mix.
Andy Potts and Mirinda Carfree are incredible athletes. Potts was so strong across the board closing with a 1:12 run split. I consider myself a great runner in this sport and I would struggle to do that on a good day. Add to it the fact that he can swim and bike with anyone and I’m in awe. Mirinda is incredible too- tactically she has the kind of race I need to have to win she just doesn’t dig such a big hole on the bike. She is awesome to watch running, like a little pocket rocket. Not to be overlooked however are the rest of the field near the top- it was a close race on both the men’s and women’s side and not really dominated by anyone. Potts and Mirinda had enough to make it work but it was close.
And so now onto South Africa to support one of the athletes I coach. Crazy trip really, flew out of Oceanside the day of the race, home at 1am and flew out that same day for South Africa- 24 hours of flying time and I’m about 20 hours in as I write this.