Dede G’s Oceanside Race Report

Posted: April 3, 2011 in KestrelBlog

California 70.3 Race ReportSunday, April 3. 2011It feels good to have the first race of the 2011 season done and dusted. To say I had some apprehension going into the race would be a gross understatement.

Obviously the end to my 2010 season is something that I’d like to forget. But the fact is, the only shame in racing poorly is to not learn from it. So Coach Jesse and I did the best we could, thru the month of December, to hatch a plan to keep the good, and fix the bad of 2010.

While I/we felt good about the plan, you never quite know. Training metrics would suggest that the changes we had made have been successful. Just about everything we track at QT2 Systems (and we track EVERYTHING!) was at a level equal to or better than where I was a year ago at this time; some even better than my peak fitness in all of 2010. Encouraging? Yes. But all the training metrics in the world don’t mean jack-poop unless you can execute on race day.

I arrived in Oceanside on Wednesday; uneventful. Oceanside is a familiar race for me; I’d raced it at least 3 times before and the course suits me well; a cold water swim (perfect for a hearty New Englander who is coming off a winter and is used to being freezing cold!), a hilly, fair bike course, and a pretty flat, fast run. I’d raced well in Oceanside in the past and frankly, it’s part of the reason we chose it. We decided to start 2011 on a course that I knew and on a course that suited my strengths.

Had an awesome carbo breakfast at one of my favorite breakfast places EVER (I’d tell you, but then I’d have to kill you) with ginormous pancakes. Couldn’t quite get the whole thing down, but did the job loading up.

Took care of last minute details to get race ready, hit the pro meeting, early dinner and BED!

My slim shady hotel didn’t offer a clock in the room, so I had a somewhat fitful night sleep, worrying that I’d oversleep! You know it’s a dirt cheap hotel when they don’t even offer free shampoo and that a clock in your room would appear to be a “luxury”. I was particularly fond of the “Motel6 logo bedspread”. Might have to get one of those for me and DaveyG’s bed at home. Screw that wicked expensive 600 fill goose down comforter we have to keep us warm in Boston. Mmmmmm, Motel 6 polyester!

I was up early for pre-race breakfast and out the door to roll to transition around 5:15. The weather was surprisingly good! I’ve raced in Oceanside where it’s been 48 degrees and rainy on race morning. So I was bundled up like Nanook of the North as I headed out the door. Totally not necessary!

Water temps were even pretty warm at a “toasty” 60 degrees.

I swam hard from the gun. My swim fitness is good, but speed is not my thing. However, I can hold a pace I consider “all out” for a good long time, thanks to many a 1 x 4000 swim workouts, more than a few “Monster Sets”, a couple “Big Sets”, and a healthy dose of “Miles of Misery”. The field was void of any ITU specialists, so the pointy end of the swim was a familiar pack for me; myself, Kelly Williamson, and Hillary Biscay off the line. At the front, I had my stand up paddle board escort, and to my left, my agent Wingnut on a surf board. Now THAT is support! (she technically wasn’t out there for me, per se, and I must say, I didn’t know it was her until after, but good to have some company to help reinforce my sense of direction!)

I held the lead thru the swim and exited first thanks to a lifetime of swim training and my TYR Hurricane wetsuit! I made my way thru T1, careful to keep my HR below redline. I need to be careful, coming out of cold water, and skyrocketing my HR – in the past it’s led to an asthma attack, so for me, just below full throttle makes more sense. Kelly passed me before we got to the bikes, but as we both went to unrack, I heard a nasty crash. Kelly went down hard; tripped on her wetsuit. My knee jerk reaction was to stop and offer help, “My gosh, are you OK? What happened?”. NO DEDE! I reminded myself that this was a race! And as much as I worry about my friends out there (and I did worry about Kelly for the entire bike, hoping she was OK), I need to remind myself to stay focused.

I had a race plan in mind, but plans are always mixed with blasts of the hypothetical; what if she goes by? Do I go, or do I hold to plan? What if I’m pulling a string of women behind me and not really getting away? Do I let someone else do the work and hold a legal distance behind even if it means not hitting my target wattage? Racing the race vs racing the plan is always a dilemma. You can’t let the race get away from you, but at the same time, you can’t do anything stupid too soon, because even at 70.3, it’s a long day.

Magali Tisseyre came flying by me at mile 5 and before I could even read the name on her bib number, she was gone in a flash. Not much debate there; stick to the plan.

As we settled into the middle of the ride, I was in touch with Heather Wurtele and Rinny and a pro male who seemed content to ride with the women instead of seeking out the men up ahead. Most pro men who find themselves amongst the women do so because they are pretty weak swimmers, but they often don’t stick around long. This one did.

So the 4 of us rode in touch for several miles until “the big hill”; I lost touch with Heather and the male pro, and not long after, Rinny fell off the back. Something told me I’d be seeing her real soon though!

I rode out the rest of the ride, riding to plan with no one to key off of; fine by me. My SRM keeps me honest and the numbers don’t lie. About mile 40, Heather Jackson came thru as Magali had. Heather would ultimately turn in the fastest bike split of the day. I had mixed feelings; I knew I was riding pretty darn solid, but these women were flying thru! Great for the sport…..bad for the confidence! Race the plan.

I came off the bike with a PR for wattage in a 70.3. Time was a little off due to some higher than normal winds on the back side of the course, but power is power, and I was pleased with how I rode; smart and steady and within myself, giving me the best chance to run WELL off the bike.

Now I knew I had the runners behind me; Kelly, Rinny, Kate, Linsey….all phenomenal runners. Had I put in enough time on the swim and bike to hold them of? My mile one, there went Rinny. I pressed on, feeling surprisingly great. Thru the first loop, I was still in 6th, but holding off Kate, Kelly and Linsey. One by one, though, they came thru, but I was running well and staying positive.

I had some tummy flip flops around mile 10 and had to make an emergency stop in the portopotty. Coach Jesse and I still have some tinkering to do with the nutrition. This happens more than I’d like. My pit stop wasn’t going to cost me a spot in terms of place and it was pretty darn urgent. I exited, feeling much better and as one spectator cheered, “Get right back on” and I did, finishing out the ½ marathon with a couple of my best miles of the race. Minus my portopotty stop (I did stop my watch so I would know “unofficially” what I’d run), a run PR. The stop cost me exactly 1:00.

While it’s hard to look at the results and be “pleased” with a 9th place finish, and while I will never accept making excuses, I am not dissatisfied with my performance. The field was stacked. STACKED. It was my first race of the season and those can sometimes be a little shaky. I executed well, my numbers were good, many of them bests, and my relative performance for a 70.3….not too shabby.

We’re on track, and now back to work to get stronger and faster, with at least some of the nightmare of the end of 2010 behind me. A big shout out to my sponsors: Saucony, Kestrel, The University Club of Boston, Rev3, TYR, Fuel Belt, Shimano, Cobb Cycling, Vineyard Vines, Infinit Nutrition, Oakley, Racer Mate and my friends at SRM. The best products made by the best people. We are officially off and running in 2011!

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