After the mess that was Campeche 70.3, I continued to stay in a funk for the next week or two. I just couldn’t seem to keep up with all the demands of life and catch up on rest. Eventually, though, I was able to hit some good workouts and then actually finding myself bouncing back from them in old form. For awhile I wasn’t sure about the idea of racing Oceanside and risking another catastrophe. Especially in a race that would have 40+ of the world’s best Pro men on the start line. I made the decision to race anyways, doing everything that I could on the day with the cards I had, and looking back I’m glad I did.
The week of the race had plenty of commitments per usual putting all of my shifts at the beginning of the week to have Friday off, getting things ready for our move to our next assignment, trying to find a last minute motel that would allow a baby, finding the dogs a place to stay, etc. Eventually we arrived to Oceanside 5 minutes before the Pro meeting after the 7 hour drive with one quick stop! Still more convenient than 3 flights to an international destination though. After the meeting we got some burritos and tacos with the Vondracoles (Jesse, Amy, and Frankie) and got back to the motel for an early night of prepping for the race and sleep.
My race nearly ended the next morning immediately after waking up. After getting out of bed while it was still dark I nearly slipped and wiped out on a wet floor on the way to the bathroom. Apparently, the ceiling in our room was prone to leaking and it had been raining overnight. Crisis averted after some ninja skills and I safely made it to the toilet.
I rolled out to the race and got everything ready exactly as planned before heading to the swim start. I was a bit nervous about attempting to use my heavily used/torn up wetsuit for another race, but couldn’t convince myself to buy a replacement before the race so I was extra careful putting it on. After a few strokes and getting the face wet, it was time for the Pro men to line up. I was a bit slower getting to the line and ended up not having a front row spot for the beach start, but looking at the large breaking waves I figured there wouldn’t be a lot of group swimming to start out with anyways.
The race started right on time and we were off! I attempted to remember my beach start skills but still found myself a few strides behind most of the group. Once we hit the ocean waves, though, it became complete chaos. I struggled to get through some of the breaking waves and found it very difficult to have a decent turnover and to power through it. By the time I got past the breaking point I had lost contact with most of the group and felt pretty wiped. Once I reached the first turn buoy things began to turn back around some, but the gap had grown substantially in that time. I attempted to keep the pace high and limit my losses as I could. About halfway in the first females began to come by which wasn’t unexpected with them starting just 2 minutes behind with the Female field being just as competitive as the Male field. I attempted not to interrupt their race much and just used it as extra motivation to finish the swim quicker!
I found myself coming out of the water well behind the majority of the Pro Male field which was pretty disappointing. I have been swimming better than ever recently, but it has become apparent that my lack of Open Water practice has impacted my ability to execute in these rougher swims. It’s a lesson I’m glad I’m learning now rather than at my priority races this season, but still not good in the middle of the race. I got out on the bike and got started on what would be almost a completely solo ride.
I didn’t immediately feel terrible on the bike, but I certainly didn’t feel smooth or strong. My goal was to ride strong and steady, but within my limits the whole time. I lost a bit of extra time dropping my chain on a climb about 7 miles in, but attempted to not let it get to me too much. I never truly felt comfortable (but not terrible) until probably about 40 miles into the bike. I had passed some athletes, but nobody that really attempted to put up a fight. After some good climbs leading into the final flat stretches of time trialing I really found my legs! With just a few miles to go, I saw a group of 3-4 athletes and reeled them in quickly as I had finally found my rhythm. On the last downhill after passing them, I got a quick pee accomplished before preparing for the run ahead.
I had no idea what place I was in, or how my legs would react to running, but I was eager to get some redemption from my failure in Campeche. I collected myself slowly building my speed while heading out through transition throwing on my Team Kattouf headband and super cool sunglasses and hit the timing mat ready to run! Just about 10 seconds ahead of me was an athlete that was running at a good clip. I fell into what felt like a quick but sustainable pace and over the first mile pulled up next to him. That mile clicked off at 5:37. I was feeling good, but didn’t immediately go for the pass and attempted to stay conservative making sure to take in fluids at the aid stations as needed. He eventually faded back while I kept on still feeling good.
I have had a lot of 70.3 races (nearly all of them) where I have either faded in the final 5-10k of the run if not completely fell apart. For this reason, I was treading carefully, wanting to run fast and loving the feeling of cruising past fading athletes, but scared that it would come crashing to an end with just a few miles to go. The front of the race was a good ways up the road so I knew it was unrealistic to make up that much ground, but I still wanted to get the best out of myself on the day.
As I kept clicking off the miles the good feelings just kept going! As I hit the final turn around at about mile 10, I was beginning to realize that nothing was going to be falling apart today. I kept the pace high but sustainable until I entered the final mile. I started to open it up gaining confidence the whole way finishing my final mile in 5:21 crossing the finish line in 16th Overall in 4:07:50.
While there were many times during the race that I thought things were going terribly, looking back objectively, this was my best 70.3 race to date. While the swim was admittedly bad and took me out of the dynamics of the race, I was still able to ride almost identically to 2 years ago at this race completely alone (barring the dropped chain). Beyond that, I ran not only a 70.3 run PR, but I bested my open Half Marathon PR by one second clocking a 1:14:56 with the 6th fastest run of the day! This alone helped my beat my time from 2 years ago by about 5 minutes with a higher placement. I also want to specifically thank Epix Gear for continuing to support me since this time 2 years ago with awesome suits, and Team Kattouf for providing me with the nutrition for daily training and keeping fueled all the way to the finish of this race.
We are heading back to Tucson now where I will be entering my final week of work at Tucson Medical Center before heading to our next assignment. I’ll post more details about that soon, but I’m super excited about our next move and the good times to follow!