I've almost felt guilty for taking 24 hours away from my computer - a whole 24. I was tired of nearly everything by the time I got home.
Stuff I learned:
- even though you think you'll complete the race before the sun really gets out, you should use sunscreen
- 59 degree water isn't really that cold
- blisters will not heal in 5 days, expect to see them appear again in the form of pain during a half-marathon
- race plans are really good to follow but hard to do
I left for Oceanside about 8am on Thursday AM - I avg about 75mph on the way down until I hit LA where I drove 15 miles in 1.5 hours. Total drive time was about 7-8 hours max. It wasn't too bad - I drank lots of water, stopped to stretch, and listened to: Led Zepplin Remastered, Motley Crue's Greatest Hits and some massive playlist from the 80s which had a disporportionate amount of Ace of Base songs. It went by quickly and I amused myself by calling Greta to share some of the local sites and observations: I saw a truck's motor explode in a cloud of smoke and fire at 60mph, I saw a PT Cruiser roll over into the median, there's a town called Pumpkin Center - nary a pumpkin in site but they had a Sizzler, and San Juan Capistrano which is only funny if you've seen Dumb and Dumber about 200 times.
I got into Oceanside and immediately went out for a 30 min run as per the race plan. I knew I was close to race day since the slight 'efforts' I made had my HR in the 197 range.
After showering and unloading the car - I headed south a few miles to meet up with Scott and Darcie Fairchild. Darcie is my wife's cousin and is an incredible cook - steak, twice baked potatoes and salad were all fantastic. Scott and I spent the next few hours boring his wife to death as we chatted about triathlon for hours. After dinner I was shown the sponsorship shrine for Macca - where all of his sponsors send stuff. The booty in that room was amazing - carbon everything, Dura Ace, frames, helmets, food, clothing, you name it and there was a bunch of it. I think the highlight was getting to mess with one of the 'pro's only' Specialized TT helmet that you saw Macca struggle with in Kona. Scott offered it to me for race day and I jumped at it. After all, I had to try SOMETHING new on race day. I got home around 11pm or so - not very tired but I knew I had lots of time to sleep. I also now own about 200 more water bottles in case you need one or a dozen.
Below: Darcie, Scott and Riley Fairchild
On Friday I went out as per the plan to do 45 mins of efforts on the bike followed by a 10 min run. I saw 197 again on the bike and 202 hr on the run - I was definitely ready to race. I finished up my efforts and went down to the expo where I ran into Jim from Beyond Fabrications and Steve from Kestrel where we had a great and lengthy conversation about sponsorships, marketing, etc... Grabbed lunch and ran into Ty from TriBike Transport where we had another good conversation about racing, marketing and sponsorships (it's a good thing I don't dare drag my family to these things). I also went and picked up my registration kit and went through all the required steps - made all very efficient by the US Marine Corps who essentially staffed the entire event. More on that later...
Because I had such a bit and late lunch - I didn't think I'd be going out for dinner, so I got my bike together, put all of the nutrition into the various nooks and crannies and laid in bed for basically the next 12 hours.
I woke at 3:18am, not on purpose but that's how my head wanted it to be. I ate around 4am and was at the race site by 4:30 and into transition at 4:50am -about a 1/2 mile walk from the parking lot. I wasn't really ready to set up my transition in the pitch black but made due since I had 2 hours or so to get it all done. I walked the transitions to ensure I wasn't one of those people searching for their bike for 3 mins. Also got a few mins to chat with race winner Andy Potts who is simply the nicest guy I've ever met - especially for a pro right before the race!
My wave started about 30 mins after the pros left -so they were done with their swim before I even got my feet wet! It was pretty chilly but not freezing -it helped having about 2,000 people around you - all wondering how cold the water would be. Turns out, 59 isn't that cold. There were 3 mins in between waves and you had to swim about 100 meters from the ramp to the start line. All of my concerns about freezing were gone as the 2 caps I had on were plenty warm - even too hot towards the end.
It's a narrow harbor - so not much need for sighting - if the boats are next to you -you're going straight. The course went out of the harbor and towards the ocean. After about a quarter of the way into the swim -the swells began to pick up and I found my hand grabbing air more than a few times. I hit the 1/2 way point with not a single yard swum off course - but my goggles were fogged beyond use - so I took 10 seconds to clear them. Turns out I should have done that sooner and I was able to swim a bit more confidently. I wasn't sure how I'd survive the swim since I only swim 2,000 yards max. I could have gone a lot harder and been just fine. In the end, I had a good swim (no issues) and know I can push it a LOT more. Courtenay would have been proud! I also wasn't last and even passed a bunch of people in the 2nd half - but not enough, I'd soon see many of them on the bike.
After getting out of the water I had to run down the length of the transition area which was about 100+ yards long. Since I didn't know how cold it really was, I erred on the side of warm and put on my SS bike jersey and arm warmers. The goal for the bike was to stay settled and ride in my Z3 for the duration - saving it for the final 10 miles and then the run. So much for a plan.... (more later).