Progress at Ironman 70.3 Oceanside

Ironman 70.3 Oceanside Race Report: April 2, 2016

To boldly start this report, I assert that this was the best race of my career. There was a similar sense of accomplishment felt after beating my goal time of 2:55 at the Honolulu Marathon in December, but this race, a long course triathlon, 1.2 miles of ocean swimming, 56 miles of hilly bike riding (+2000’ net-elevation gain) and 13.1 miles of running, required much more precision and strategy than any of my foot races ever have. I executed my plan almost 100% and ended up finishing the half marathon with a negative split on the back half. It was a dream-race scenario to end up unlocking my true potential as evidenced by my second best half marathon time ever, 1:21:33.

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My buddy Allistair Eeckman stayed with me and my family in San Diego at the house I grew up in in Mira Mesa. Allistair was offered his pro card at this exact race, one year ago at the ripe age of 20. He’s always been an inspiration to me. I wanted to copy his performance from last year. My run was close! But I still have a lot of work to do on the swimming and cycling. I hadn’t seen him for many years so it was a fun reunion and great way to prep for a big race, by yucking it up with a new pro.

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Allistair Eeckman, my old buddy from Oakland Triathlon Club

Let’s use a constructive feedback structure, we teachers like to call ““Grow’s and Glow’s,” to dive into the details of my race.  There were quite a few areas for improvement. Let’s take a look at the grows:

1. Allow for more than one hour to set up the transition area (even with a bike pre-checked!) Rushing to wait in line for the bathrooms, making sure the brakes were aligned, tires pumped, and bottles filled, somehow takes longer than one hour. The starting corral for this race was insanely long and I had to run through 2600 people to get to my corral of 18-29 year olds. It all worked out, but the added stress was surely unhelpful.

2. Ensure race stickers and bibs are all on and will stay on:

  • Tape race stickers to the bike and helmet. These things never stay on it seems. Especially with the ambiguous liquids everywhere. During the ride, I was too frequently checking on my stickers on my seat post to make sure they were not going to fly off. One was flapping drunkenly in the wind and I kept reaching down to slap it down harder. That definitely slowed me down.
  • Using a couple of safety pins on the bib number and race belt can give some peace of mind. Especially when one of those little buttons decides to fly off at the start of the ride and you realize that if the other button goes, so does your race number, and so possibly does all of your hard work and preparation go with it. Losing one’s bib could be a disqualifying offense (at least at this race since it was in Camp Pendleton).

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    Repping the Hilo Triathlon race belt!

3. Scope out the swim course in person before the gun goes off. I was sighting all over the place on the swim and following any bubbles I could. This was not my straightest swim, but had I checked it out before hand, I think it would have been pretty easy. However I didn’t wear my Garmin for the swim, so only the fishes will know how crooked I was. Oh and a manual input on Strava is such a bummer.

4. Bring two towels you ding dong! One for transition to wipe your feet (good job!) but another one to have for after the race to shower and change with (oops).

5. My transitions were slow, yo. Granted the transition area was huge and we had to run at least 100 yards just to get to our bikes. Competitive transitions need be done with vigor and a quickness. I was a little too conservative. On the way to the run, I remember singing out loud “Hey hey mama/ Said the way you move,/ Gonna make you sweat,/ Gonna make me groove! {insert guitar sound effects from my mouth}.” I felt cool. But that probably slowed me down.

6. Tighten up your hydration man! My X-Lab aerobottle mount (Torpedo Mount) on the aero bars was all wiggly! What grade am I in? Also, my quick tool that was stuffed in my bento box with my Gu’s started rattling like a baby rattle once I finished the Gu’s and it was left to bounce around.

7. I got a blister on the run at about mile 8. These shoes are broken in and they’re the same model I’ve been training and racing in for the past 3 years, Mizuno Wave Riders. My socks were slightly cushioned, but perhaps a little more cushion would better protect my balls (of my feet).

That’s it for the grows. Pretty petty complaints eh? Things could have been way worse. This is why my race went so darn well—because nothing really went wrong (what a revelation).

Now for the glows:

1. My family, #famillesauvage, my number one fan, was on point. They’ve done this so many times now with me that we had the wake up call, lite breakfast situation, transportation, coordination, rendezvous points all mapped out. This provided me with such a rock of a foundation psychologically, emotionally, and logistically, that so much stress was removed. Mahalo to my ohana. Even my cousin Colleen and her family from the Bay Area who were in town, came out to cheer me on! That was a huge highlight on the run seeing and hearing them cheer for me.

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Pops Norbert Jr., Mama Kathryn and Big Sis Lani
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My cutie cousin’s boys! Matthew, Phillip and Todd! This was their first triathlon they’ve seen. I think at least one of them caught the bug!

2. That run. Let’s cut to the run. Brah. I’ve only ran a faster half marathon once, and that was at the Berkeley Half Marathon in 2013 in which I ran a 1:20:54. That course was downhill and was just a run. Fast forward three years later, turn the course into a rolly-flatish course after three hours of focused intensity on a bike and in some cold water, and I flourished. I came into the run with a well-stocked calorie intake in me and a half a shot of my Noni Energy from the farmers at Hawaiian Ola.

I wanted to blast off, but I kept my heart rate a low zone 3 (155bpm) and remained patient at a 6:20-6:30 pace for the first few. I ran next to the stellar pro, Steve Mantell for a couple of miles and realized I had it in me to step it up a bit. I let him go of course because I ain’t no pro! So I just kept it solid in between 6:15-6:20 while I saw my heart rate slowly climb as expected. A mere sip of Gatorade and water at every aid station and I made my first six out of six baskets when tossing my used cups in the trash cans. Yes I kept track. The volunteers loved that.

I took my second half of the Noni at mile 9 and kept the Gatorade and water going sip by sip. My momentum was building and I was feeling happy. Grinning ear to ear, I kept upping the pace and planned on a fast final 5k. I took in a couple red bull cups and flat coke for the last 5k and skipped an aid station or two on my way in. See the power of the female pros ahead of me and the support from the crowds got me in with a negative split ending with a 5k faster than my previous 5ks to total a 1:21:33 half marathon (the exact same time as Heather Wurtele, the female overall winner. Her and Trevor are my secret tri-couple-crush. OK, not secret.)

3. So how’d I start out feeling so darn good? Calories. Good clean calories and noni! I took in 800 calories on the bike using these items in this order: Picky Bar, non- caffeinated Gu, non-caffeinated Gu chomps, Roctane Gu, caffeinated Gu. My X-Lab Torpedo bottle was filed with just water. My X-Lab aerobottle ( down tube mount) was filled with double dose of Glukos electrolyte mix. So the food was 600cal and the Glukos was about 200cal. I refilled my water bottle once.

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I ate all of this before the finish line

4. My bike was set up pretty darn well despite the grows above. I love checking in the bike the night before and just pumping up the tires one last time in the morning. Stress-relief goes a long way. My hydration set up, nutrition storage, and flat-repair kit was efficiently set up and pretty aero looking.

5. My swim was not anything to write about other than that I am feeling confident and stronger than ever. I have a lot of room for improvement, but despite a holey Xterra wetsuit, I am still proud of my pacing. I took in a caffeinated Gu and some Gatorade before the swim.

6. Decent sleep that week in general. That was key. I had a good 6.5 hours of sleep the night before. Yes I could have used more, but I had a nap the day before too. So I was feeling fresh that morning. Throw in a banana, Clif Bar, water, Bioastin, and half shot of Noni Energy for a continental breakfast, and all systems were a go that morning.

7. My pacing on the bike was what I would call mature. I wanted to throw in more power. I wanted to get into the 23mph average range, but whenever I saw my 10 second average power spike above 280watts, I reigned it in. I ended up passing four guys in my age group at the last 10 miles that I knew were going to fall back due to their explosive bursts up this hilly course. Although I wanted to go faster, and could have—I allowed myself to have a killer run, so I can only be proud and optimistic for more growth to come. The crazy thing is is that the morning after the race, my rear tire was completely flat. Was there a slow leak?!

8. Race happy. I was a little disoriented on the swim (as usual) and a little stressed on the bike (also usual), but I had to smile. This is vital for my runs. If I run happy, then I run fast.  Smiling helps my breathing and my emotional state as well. So I just do it, even if I’m not feeling happy. Maybe not the entire race, but definitely near the end. It helps me remember that this is all for fun anyway!

The course itself was near flawless. There were no unexpected buoys on the swim, robust volunteer and official presence throughout each discipline and the bike course was well marked at all the necessary points with ample aid and signage. The transitions were massive, but with the space available, Ironman did a great job. The run course was super fun and lively throughout the entire race. There was no room for error on the runners part, the water and Gatorade cups doth runneth over and the layout was really exciting in that we got to see our competition multiple times. It was an incredibly spectator-friendly run course.

My only gripe is that the transition area to go pick up our bikes afterwards was a 40 minute walk away and the shuttles were out on lunch break or something. That’s super minor though and it pales in comparison to everything else that made that one of my top two favorite Ironman 70.3 courses out there.

Oh yeah and the best part? I qualified for this year’s Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Mooloolaba, Australia, September 4! My 2nd place in my age group was good enough to get me there and I couldn’t be more grateful. This was my mission after all. With such a competitive field, I actually had major doubts! This will relieve some stress (and financials!) this summer.

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Thanks for the roll down slot, Carson McDaniels (1st M25-29)! And Christine Cross (1st F25-29), Kona is stoked to know that you’re moving here. Congratulations to all these athletes.

Thanks for supporting me even if this is the first time you ever even have heard of me. You’re reading about me, and I appreciate you taking the time to learn more about the sport of triathlon and/or about my progress into this electric and highly competitive universe. Thank you especially to my mom Kathryn, dad Norbert, sister Lani for the red carpet treatment since I arrived in San Diego a few days ago. Thank you to all of my training buddies from the past and the present out in Kona. Bree Wee, Mikey Brown, Malik Mariano, and so many more of you—thanks for pushing me to new limits. Thanks to all my friends and family for sending me good luck messages, Facebook comments, little thumbs up on my triathlon posts that actually really do inspire me to keep going and to keep striving to achieve my best. Finally thanks to my sponsors who have helped me so much in a tangible way. The crew at Bike Works Kona (and Waikoloa) has been nothing but classy, informative, supportive, and just good people. Thanks for hooking me up with the best bikes, kits, gear, and with Oakley! These sunnies actually make my eyes less tired and therefore give me more energy to use my smile muscles. Hawaiian Ola is doing big things with farmers and educators of Hawaii and I’m eternally grateful for their dedication to sustainable food systems and local, healthy Hawaiian food that organically fuels me in racing, training and in my day-to-day wild life.

Here are some fun photos of friends I was lucky enough to see after the race, pros I admire, and a friend I only knew from Strava and finally got to meet in person!

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An old friend, Kelly, happened to be in town and came out to say aloha!
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Heather Jackson (3rd Female) is such a rad person.
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The pro, Joe Gambles made me really regret shaving my beard.
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Jan Bretschneider and I have never met in person until after the race. We have been friends on Strava for years though! He said I was the “King of the Selfie.” And that’s how he recognized me! See! It pays off.
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