Sunday, April 3, 2011

Oceanside 70.3

Oceanside is one of the classic early season races, and usually boasts a stellar field. This year was no different. With a projected start list of 68 male pros, of which probably 8-10 were capable of winning, it was a deeply talented group. I came into the race looking for a solid training day with eyes on Ironman St. George in a few weeks, and I certainly got that.

The swim was a bit chaotic with so many male pros, and I never quite found my rhythm. I got out clean and tried to stay focused on finding good feet, but I just felt like I was going backwards from the beginning. Still, I came out around some other strong cyclists and went to work on my newly dialed Shiv rocketship. Thanks to Joe, Myron, and Jeff at the Specialized truck, the steed was ready to let out of its cage...

Sadly, I couldn't match the bike's enthusiasm, and the legs just weren't snappy enough to be competitive with the strong group of athletes on the back half of the ride. Instead of things getting strung out in the first half of the race, the pack only seemed to grow larger, and although most athletes maintained just the legal distance, the riding was very hard. Between miles 30-35 the group faced a stiff headwind and a series of rollers, and right as the catch was made on the leaders, I fell off the pace. I simply felt flat and did not have the power to match the other athletes in that moment. Coming off the bike several minutes down was a little demoralizing, but I kept perspective and settled into a good pace on the run. By the second lap I was feeling much better, and continued to pick off athletes... I never stopped racing, and the memory of last year's sprint finish kept me on the gas until the line, where I finished in 4:07:33 in 13th. Certainly not my best effort, but a good one for early season. For reference, I had a very similar time last year and finished 7th.

I'm not going to spend a lot of time hashing out what went wrong or why I didn't achieve a result that I was more satisfied with. The fact is that I didn't race particularly well, and there were a lot of other people who did. My congratulations to everyone who took on the course, for the age-groupers who earned Kona slots, the volunteers for making the race possible, and of course to Potts and Carfrae for classy wins.

Only a few more weeks of hard work here in Tucson, and it will be back to St. George for the first Ironman of the year...

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