My #1 fan and head of my support crew and I just got back home to FL, already missing the great state of CA! I’ve been gone since 6 March and now it’s time to get back to the grind. Of course by “grind” I mean the same stuff as always but at home instead of across the US....and with more clean clothes! But the hat says it all....
After a few days of tough training, I jumped into the “Pendleton Ride”(the weds ride) that hits the front side of the Oceanside 70.3 bike course. This ride is notorious for brining the best talent I’ve personally ever seen. I think Chris Horner favorites this ride from time to time, not to mention most of the pro cyclists in the area. Needless to say, despite being on a TT bike, I gambled that my odds of completing this ride were pretty solid. In reality, my odds for success were probably like 30%. After the first 2 minutes of sustained 420NP climbs…I knew it was going to be a blow out. The surges were relentless and after the ride I noticed my abs hurt in new places, like I engaged hidden abdominal muscles for extra strength. Either way, I’m not afraid to limp it back home. I did what I could on the day.
After that ride, it was a good idea to take some easy days. I headed up to Fontana, CA to watch Lesley race about 6 former Olympians for a UCI points Mountain Bike race. This was a big deal! There were helicopters, pro teams warming up on rollers and tons…I mean TONS of intense riders. Lesley ended up nailing down 10th on a very technical course (I know because I ran some of it). Go figure, she wins her next XTERRA race despite having to swim with one-arm after a pre-race crash. How could I ever complain after that type of grit is displayed? Anyway, after a few days and a 24-hour week of training, it was time to taper a bit. Which leads me to my Oceanside 70.3 Race Recap!
The Rookie Pro Perspective…
As I wandered to the pro meeting, I knew I would soon be amongst some serious talent. Naturally, I show up wanting to ask for autographs, almost drooling over the champions who sit plainly before me. The truth is, everyone is really cool and casual but making very little eye contact. It’s an atmosphere just friendly “enough” but there aren’t any college fraternity vibes going around. No one is giving high fives or grab-assing. Logistically, this race was very well executed, especially for the bike course “speed zone”. Camp Pendleton required age group athletes to maintain 25mph (35mph for Pros) during a fast downhill section of the course where a man had died during this event’s second year. Last year, there were supposed to be radar guns that would disqualify anyone who sped…but that certainly didn’t happen. THIS YEAR, they had a timing mat at the top and at the bottom…clearly showing the speed of each athlete within this zone. I was very pleased to see this method of control. It totally kept it legitimate and fair for everyone competing for the big $$. It’s tough to rationalize at times but yes, I’m most certainly racing for experience and fitness. Looking around, I know I’m not a top 10 guy ...yet. Luckily, I’ve aligned my life to allow for this type of lifestyle until I’m a contender and a driving force within this sport. It’s tough at times but even the Pro Football player who sat on the bench gets his Super Bowl ring. All I’m saying is, this type of fitness take a long period of physical and mental evolution…something I’m most certainly dedicated to earning…from the ground up, baby!
- Race Morning and Swim Start-
I woke up feeling the same as I always do on race morning...tired, not looking forward to the ritual and waiting around for the cannon. I ate my breakfast 3 hours before start time, wait for the morning “movement” and then mentally relax a bit, remembering that no matter what…today is what it is and I’m not going to give up at any point. After a few last minute checks, Brittany Pierce and I make our way down to transition with our bikes and gear. It’s perfect temperature and very hazy and as we approach transition…the heart beat picks up a few beats. It’s race time baby!
Personally, I need every minute of pre-swim warm up that is offered. I always feel better when the wetsuit is soaked! So after a quick jog, I suit up and get ready to hop in the water. No looking around, no wondering what will happen…just knowing I’m about to hit 9000 rpm’s and will hold it for the whole swim! BOOM...and we’re off! Lost the 1st group (duh) and trailed somewhere between the second and third group…knocking elbows with a few fellas. I swam 3 minutes faster this year, which was GREAT and I came out with a few athletes I look up to! MOST importantly I DID NOT get chicked on the swim. Hey…every battle counts during this war! Lastly, if you’re not sure if the sun is going to blind you or the fog will keep it low visibility, get some ZOGGS Predator Flex with transitional lenses. This way you don’t ever have to guess. They stay clear until the sun hits them…totally great for the Oceanside swim because it’s either foggy or the sun is directly head on when you turn to come back!
- BIKE –
So let me warn you, built in visors should NOT be used on foggy days. I couldn’t see very well for the first 20 minutes, which made me ride a little conservative until we were out of the bumps and tight turns. I had to use the tip of my pinky to try and squeegee when I could but it didn’t really help. Finally, the sun broke through and I could see. The power meter wasn’t registering, my hips and back felt like rubber bands stored in a freezer. It’s the second time I’ve felt this way on the bike…last time was my first DNF…but that was NOT going to happen again. Despite feeling like garbage, I managed to ride up to the second group…but then the climbs started and the group was gone…sigh. I felt the fatigue of the previous week in my legs for certain and was often frustrated. None-the-less, I wanted to beat some of the other newer pros I knew I’d beaten out of the water…so I motored on, finding some speed on the back half. I rode 5 minutes faster this year…marginal gains baby! Rode some Zipp 808’s this year VS the American Classic Disc…felt much, much better going up hill!
- What's next? Oh wait...RUN -
At a few points on the ride I couldn’t fathom how my legs would feel off the bike. I imagined a giraffe on ice but refused to accept that fate. At the dismount line, I felt decent enough…even with screaming hip flexors. Let me tell you, I ran the first 2 miles exactly how I wanted to run the whole race…right around 6 minute pace. It was at that point where my legs felt exponentially heavy and I felt that initial “spring” fade away…like many races before, I hit survival mode. In survival mode, you really have to keep your mind right. Quitting isn’t an option so you just get from aid station to aid station…slamming water, Coke, water, Coke, Red Bull!! I didn’t get "wings" though, just burps that tasted horrible. I was in a decent position but was passed by 6 or 7 athletes…so then I didn’t really care about the position, just knew I had to hold off a few dudes that I’d previously raced with. Survival mode…it’ll get you to the finish line feeling great because when it’s finally over, you’ve earned some serious grit and mental toughness. I’m super happy with my attitude and attack given what I had to work with. Plus, 2 athletes I know had some mechanical issues and waited for 45 min on the side of the road for tech support…but still finished the run! I LOVE the courage and dedication this sport carries. Next 70.3 is in St. George!!! That will be another humble experience for certain, but getting out of your comfort zone is the only way to improve!