When taking the leap from sprint triathlon to half Ironman, choosing a nice venue makes it all the more satisfying. Oceanside was beautiful. When we went to the expo on Friday, I was a little worried. It was down right hot! The sun was shining and it was a gorgeous day, but I was not prepared to race in hot weather after training all winter in the cold. I had nothing to worry about. Race day was overcast and 65—perfect racing weather.
Oceanside boasts a pretty good pro turnout and it was exciting to see them all in transition prior to the swim. Tom even got a picture of me with Matty Reed. What other sport are you able to race right alongside the pros?! Or in my case, a few hours behind. :)
At the expo on Friday I ran into a friend from Virginia. I had no idea she was going to be out there and this race was going to be her husband's first half as well. We were in the same age group so we met up in the swim corral and the next thing I knew we were in the water swimming out to the start. The water was pretty cold at about 58 degrees, but it didn't seem to bother me too much (which is odd since I am usually such a wimp).
The swim took place primarily in the harbor, so the water was pretty calm. However, the swim goes beyond the breaker wall for a bit and it was quite choppy out there. I wasn't expecting this and felt myself getting a little queasy. I managed to get through the waves and felt the water calm a bit as I was heading back to shore. I was surprised how comfortable I felt swimming, but was sure that it had taken me longer than I planned (50-55 min). Boy was I shocked when I looked at my watch and saw that I had finished the swim in less than 45 min!!
Overall: Mostly calm, chilly waters. You also get some extra buoyancy from the salt water.
There was a short run to the bikes and even though I had meticulously noted where my bike was, I ran to the wrong rack. No biggie—I took off my wetsuit and then went off in search of my bike. My friend had finished the swim at the same time, so we ran out of transition together.
The first 30 miles seemed to fly by. I averaged 18.8 and felt as though I could go faster, but I kept hearing Tom's voice in my head telling me to take it easy and not push too hard on the bike. I am glad I held back a little since the last 26 miles had us going into a pretty good headwind. I was prepared for the hills in Camp Pendleton, but not for that wind. I'll take a nice long climb over wind any day! I saw several people walking their bikes up the hills, but I didn't think they were too bad. One was pretty steep, but it was short--about ½ mile. (The good thing about living where we do is that it is easy to find hills on which to train.)
Funny side note: As we were making the first descent, I noticed a girl passing me with a leaky water bottle. Only it wasn't a leaky water bottle, she was leaky. I have always been intrigued by people who can do this on a bike since I don't think I could ever relax enough to let go. Anyway, I found myself staring at her flying down the hill with this spray shooting out behind her and noticed she was peeing directly onto her rear-mounted water bottles!!! I bet that next sip was bitter!!!
Anyway, after the hills and the beautiful scenery of Camp Pendleton, there was a 10-mile stretch back to transition. At this point I was sick of the wind and just wanted to get off my bike. Unfortunately the wind stuck around until the very end. Ugh!
Overall: Beautiful 1-loop ride with a 15-mile section of challenging hills.
Thankfully I found my rack without a problem this time, switched my shoes and hit the porta-john before heading out for what could be my slowest run ever.
I have to admit that I probably did not focus on my run enough in training. I got about one mile in and had to pull over and stretch--everything was cramping. I started back up and somehow managed to get from aid station to aid station. I had a feeling nutrition would be a challenge since I had never done such a long race before, so I walked through each aid station to make sure I drank and ate . As I finished the first half of the run, I saw Tom and told him I was dying. I seriously didn't know how I was going to finish. As I started the second half of the run everything started to click. I started feeling really good, but continued to walk through each aid station and take my time refueling. When I had about 4 miles left to go I ran past a group blasting Survivor's Eye of the Tiger. I gave them a thumb's up and finished the run feeling strong.
Overall: Gently rolling to flat 2-loop run along the ocean.
All in all, it was a great experience—the best part was that we were staying with good friends and had an awesome time celebrating on Saturday night.