Despite the best well-laid plans, there can still be a few things out of one’s control on race day. That’s what happened to me yesterday at IM 70.3 California. Despite a couple of things I could not control, I’m pleased with my race results and time with my third 70.3 race, 5:27:29. Though it’s not a 70.3 PR, it’s close to my PR, which I set on a much easier course at Vineman 70.3. For this race, I was very well-prepared to execute my race plan 0:35 swim, 2:30 bike, and 1:40-1:45 run.
Setup: As usual I woke up early and was one of the first people in line to enter Transition. I claimed the end spot on my rack, set my stuff up, talked with other Breakaway athletes, and hung out with Eric. I ate a second breakfast at 5:30 AM for more calories since my first meal was at 3:30 AM. I used the porta-potty four times. I even had to pee right before the swim, and peed in my wetsuit while waiting in the swim corral. I’m sure the woman next to me knew that was my pee on the ground, but the transition area was closed and I didn’t feel like undoing my wetsuit to pee in the porta-potties inside the corral. Oh well, hopefully she didn’t step in the puddle of pee I left behind.
Swim (0:38:45): Water temperature was 62°F, much warmer than last year’s 54°. I didn’t wear my thermal cap underneath my white race cap. Other than the 10 minute ocean swim Eric and I did a few days ago, this would be my first long ocean swim of the season. I dreaded it. I met up with Maria and friends at the dock as my wave entered the water. I dunked myself underneath the water and allowed the water to fill my suit. As the wave before me left, my wave then swam out to the start buoys where we waited for our 7:36 AM wave start.
As per my plan, I started mid-pack and to the right. I’d let the ambitious swimmers fight for position near the front while I’m content to find my own space and avoid the initial bump and grind. When it was all said and done, I took two minutes off my swim time as compared to last year’s race.
If there was one thing I would have liked to change about the swim it would be my attitude. All I could think about was: “I can’t wait for this swim to be over.” The swim out to the turn around point seemed to take forever, which only aggravated me even more. The highlight of the swim was when I bopped some woman in the head with my right arm/hand. I kept swimming and she stopped. “Nice!”, she said. I wish I could have stopped to laugh out loud, but all I wanted to do was get this swim over with and on to the good stuff. In my mind, I thought: “Get over it, lady. Swim faster next time so later waves won’t catch you.”
T1 (0:5:24): The run from swim in back to T1 is long. So I started peeling the top part of my wetsuit off while running back to T1. My struggles with removing the wetsuit from my ankles continue. I think I wasted about 40 seconds struggling with it. Finally with the wetsuit off, I put on my race number, helmet, and shoes and headed out for my 56-mile adventure.
Bike (2:43:15): I was eager to get out on the bike course, my obvious strength. Equipped with a PowerTap wheel I rented from Race Day Wheels, My goal was to sustain an average power output of 235 watts and a time of 2:30. I would need to average 22.4 mph. I did okay for the first 28 miles, averaging about 23 mph. Unfortunately, I spent too much energy sustaining that speed because my average power for the first half was 245 watts.
When I reached the steep first climb, I really wanted to attack that hill and climb hard. But I was really surprised that the right side of the road was blocked. In their infinite wisdom the race officials decided that the athletes would use the narrow left side of the road. I was pretty annoyed. About half way up, I said “Screw it” and rode on the right side of road with other athletes who were fed up.
After the first tough climb, I noticed my average speed was much lower. I knew some fatigue had set in, but not enough to slow me down that much. After a mile or so, I realized that I was riding into some tough headwinds, which made the bike ride that much slower. After the third hill, I rode about 24 mph average back to transition. When all was said and done, my bike time was about the same as last year’s ride. I think the headwinds basically ruined my race plan. My average speed for the ride dropped to 20.6 mph and average power dropped to 214 watts. Despite my best preparations for the ride of my life, I had no control over the wind. I would have to deal with the extra 10 minutes I had not planned on.
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<rant>I spent pretty much the whole bike course riding on the left side of other athletes, passing them. The course seemed really crowded to me. On one part near the campgrounds by Camp Pendleton there were three riders across the road blocking my way. The one on the farthest left was some jackass woman lollygagging. I yelled out at her: “Pass if you’re gonna pass.” I heard her yell something unintelligible to me as I passed her. I wanted to give her the California Condor, but I was too busy going 28 mph while she was probably going 17 mph.</rant>