2019 is off and running after Oceanside 70.3 this last Saturday. I knew going in that my fitness was in a good spot, but I also had realistic expectations for how the race could unfold for me coming from a long Wisconsin winter and 4 months since the last race. It’s exciting when you make progress over a 4 month training period, but without a true test during a race it’s a bad idea to create some sort of high expectation in your head. So, I focused on the process of executing a race I would be proud of and let the rest fall into place. I’d say if I had 1 major goal, it was to have a swim that showed some signs of progress since 2018.
Swim- the beach start was new to me. As much as I would have liked to practice this while visiting Florida the week prior, it just wasn’t the same… at all. I successfully made it through/under the waves and toward the first turn buoy without too much issue other than a short bout of anxiety due to a spiked HR after the run and duck dives. The group exploded around me and there wasn’t an obvious pack to get into. I settled into my usual solo rhythm and things seemed to be going ok. The sun was into my eyes as I turned into the harbor and that made sighting difficult. I had to stop and just make sure I wasn’t missing a buoy. Later in the swim the top pro woman came by (started 2min after us) and that made things 10x easier to the finish because I could just sight the paddle boarder. Note to self: make front group for paddle board escort 😂
Bike- the start was a bit confusing and at one point I went off course on a round about. I managed to jump a curb to get back without any real time lost. Unfortunately I lost a bottle of nutrition in that bunny hop. Nothing I couldn’t survive without. Once settled in I felt good. My power was solid heading out and I quickly caught 9 guys who swam 1’+ faster, half of which magically were able to get on my wheel for the next 30 miles or so. I caught a few more later on and moved into 15th. Nothing eventful from there until mile 40ish when I was able to drop the group I had pulled along most of the ride and put ~2min into them before t2. I was satisfied with the bike effort, coming in with the 10th fastest ride of the day, doing all the work.
Run- off the bike I could tell I had really good energy, so the nutrition was dialed and I was feeling good about running into the top 10. I heard a split that I was 3min behind 7th and I felt optimistic about that based on how I’ve been running in training and off the bike last season. But within the first mile my entire left leg went completely numb all the way down to the foot and my lower back was killing me. This isn’t something I’ve dealt with in the past during a race, to this degree anyway. It was actually a bit scary! I stopped to loosen my shoes, I stopped to try and shake my leg back to life, I tried stretching at an aid station. Nothing helped. Although the leg was numb, my pace was ok so I decided to just “keep myself in the game” for the first loop and hope the leg fixes itself. Unfortunately at mile 7 it was really bad and I hadn’t made up much time at all and a top 10 wasn’t looking great. In that moment I really wanted to stop. Not because I wasn’t going to be top 10 but because I didn’t want to do more damage. But then I saw a man from CAF running on 2 prosthetics and it reminded me of the night before, running the IronKids 1 mile with a 7 year old boy named David who has 2 prosthetic legs and missing half of his right arm. That kid didn’t complain a single time during that run. In fact, he said things like “this is the most fun I’ve ever had!” And “prosthetics won’t stop me from finishing this race!” He did the whole thing with a smile, for 25min of walk/run. It truly inspired me on another level and being reminded of that during the lowest point of my race kicked my butt right into gear. So I decided I could deal with a bum leg and get to the finish. I managed to run 5:45 pace for the last 6 miles. That put me into 13th overall, and just 1min out of top 10 overall. 1:16:30 run.
Recap- Oceanside was a great race and experience and I’ll definitely be back. It’s always good to test yourself against the best in the sport, and this field provided that. I’m happy with the start to the season and look forward to another go at St George. This time without the back/hip/leg issues!! In hindsight there were some warning signs about my lower back and left leg that I chose to ignore. I’ve dealt with left hip tightness for 10 years due to an underlying condition, but this is the first time it has really come to effect me in a race. Some preventative measures and it should be a non issue. It was a good reminder to stay on top of the body work, especially since I’m getting really really very extremely old (33). 😉 As always, another major lesson is to never give up and stay focused on the process. That goes for both this race AND my entire triathlon journey/career. I’m continuing to improve and continuing to have fun. The rest will fall into place!
Thanks for following.