This was my first time doing this course, and it was daunting for sure to train for it. This course consists of a 1.2 mile cold ocean swim, a 56 mile bike ride that consists of just under 3000 feet of elevation gain, most of which is between miles 25-40, and then a 13.1 mile run with some punchy ramps to climb. The weather in San Diego this time of year is generally mild, but we have had an unseasonably rainy and cold winter here -- which means that our ocean has been even colder than usual, and the roads have a hard time with all the storms as well.
Going into this race, I knew I was well prepared. I had a really good solid training block after Indian Wells in December. I had no unexpected setbacks during the training which was nice for once. The only thing that got in my way was the weather -- but I put my excuses aside and swam 4 days a week, rode on the trainer when I had to, and did the work. All of my long training rides on the weekends consisted of hills and headwinds to be ready for the Oceanside course. I had 7 fellow Body Life Works athletes racing with me for this race. It can be challenging racing with your coached athletes --- it can be difficult to balance your time making sure they are ready and at the same time, taking care of yourself. I felt like I did a good job taking care of everyone along the way!
My friend and athlete Tyler arrived at my house at 4am, and Jerry drove us to Oceanside from there. It takes 30-40 minutes from my house to get to race location. When I woke up, I made myself 1 cup of gluten free oats with 1tbsp of peanut butter and a cup of coffee and ate that. Got
my bottle with Precision Hydration PH 1500 in it to take with me, along with pop tarts and a caffeinated gel for before the swim. I have to thank FuelIN for helping me figure out
race nutrition -- I am still working on it, but each time I learn something and am fueling myself more each time. Jerry dropped us off an we walked to transition to find out bikes, which we had dropped off the day before. I set up my transition area, filled up my tires with air, put my nutrition on the bike. Then I went to say hi to some friends and wish those athletes I could find, good luck. It was very dark. I was racked close to my friend Carlos, and wished him lu
ck. I was able to find my athletes Cassie, Rachel and Julia before the race and wish them luck, too.
At 6:30, transition closed so I went to line up for the swim. I placed myself in 35-37 minute group with David. We were both shivering from the freezing cold air. IRONMAN announced t
he water was 56.2 that morning, and the air temp at the time was around 40 . Due to this, they moved the swim from the beach surf entry start to the harbor. At first I was disappointed but then I was actually relieved to not have to fight the waves that morning. I was so cold waiting to get in the water that I was RELIEVED to get in! The water to me did not feel that cold. Swimming year round in the ocean has most definitely increased my cold water tolerance. It was a very physical swim. I got punched many times, my feet grabbed and my head pushed under. I passed people continuously while swimming and saw so many people stopping. When we turned around to come back, we all fought a current AND a blinding sunrise which made sighting quite difficult. I Just swam following the feet of the people in front of me. At one point I did realize I was really far from the buoy, so I swam back over. Total swim time was 40:51 (1:54/100y pace). I was
a little disappointed in my swim time, as I know I can do better. But, it was fine. 30th in my age group out of the water. Out of the water we had a long transition jog to the bikes.
TRANSITION: My transition was super slow. I don't know why. I just had no sense of urgency. I can't explain why but I took my sweet time. haha. But I poured some hot water on my hands and feet, put my socks on, arm warmers, gloves, helmet. Then got my bike and went on. Surprisingly, I wasn't too cold. 9:31.... again.. SO SLOW! Should have been closer to 5-7 minutes.
BIKE: The first half of the bike course was very familiar to me, since thanks to my friend Ricardo -- I had ridden it several times. For the first 28 miles I knew EXACTLY what was
coming next which does lot for your cycling confidence on a course. I stayed very well in my power goals. I held back so I wouldn't blow up on the run- but rode very smart. I took in my fuel every 30 minutes as planned (PH 30 gel or 3 Clif Blocks) +water with PH 1500 in it as needed, and I peed twice on the bike . We had to ride through a good amount of water at mile 10 - but all was well. Through the tank tunnel it
was SO CLEAR I was stunned! This tunnel is always filled with water, mud, sand. IRONMAN race director and staff did. a great job clearing that. Once I got to San Mateo at mile 28 -- aka " Hell Hill" I buckled down and knew what it was. 1/2 mile or so of 12-15% grade. People were getting off the bikes and walking them up. I kept on pedaling and did NOT overkill it. Got to the top and thought-- I have no idea what is coming now! haha! But, I also knew that there were 2 more significant hills to come and a bid descent with a speed limit or automatic DQ. The course is very beautiful, and as my friend David said - HONEST. You can't just wing this bike course. It takes work to complete it. No doubt about it. The last 10 miles or so are flat, but strong headwinds. I tucked down in aero and went for it. I passed A LOT of people. I came back into transition and immediately heard Dean calling my name -who was their jet lagged to cheer! IT was a welcomed sight. Total bike time was 3:12 with an average pace of 17.8. It's the first 70.3 where I haven't been under 3 hours on the bike, but this course is like that and I was very pleased with my execution and performance on the bike split. 19th in my AG off the bike.
TRANSITION: Walked in.. why?! Again with the lack of urgency, lol. shoes off, running shoes on... sunglasses, go. Time: 5:41. A little long, should have been under 5 minutes for T2.
RUN: MY LEG! MY STRENGTH! WHAT I'VE BEEN WAITING FOR! Or so I thought... oooffff.
Not so fast Mandy. My shins started hurting almost immediately off the bike. This is not something that happens to me. I was definitely
surprised and hoped they would warm up but they were bugging me most of the run. This run course though--absolutely the BEST support. SO many people lined up almost the entire course cheering you on. So many familiar faces from TRI CLUB SAN DIEGO, RIDE TRIATHLON TEAM and BODY LIFE WORKS COACHING. I saw Kristin at mile 4 at the first run turnaround -- she was there to remind me that the run was my strength -- I told her my shins were killing me. She told me to tell them to shut up. SO I did and that helped and I actually settled in much better. However, at mile 8, I stumbled over my own feet and fell. Thankfully, I was not hurt and a nice man helped me up and said "it happens". And I kept running. I stopped again then stretch my calves to try to help my shins (which in hindsight most likely contributed to the falling in the first place...). Shortly after that fall, my stomach started to hurt. Cramping and pain. I tried SO hard to ignore it but I could feel myself slowing down in my pace. I was feeling extremely frustrated as I felt I already had things against me with the shin pain, the fall... now THIS?! Are you kidding me? I was on track for a sub 2 half until this. But I couldn't ignore it anymore. So porta potties became my friend -- and taking that kit on and off and is giant pain in the butt. I knew my times were busted now but I did what I could and was able to run the last 2 miles without stopping. Overall run time: 2:14 - 35th in AG. Not my slowest half marathon ever, but certainly not my best.
FINISH: As I entered the finish line chute, I saw my kids dr
essed in unicorn costumes! I saw my parents, and my husband and I moved over to give them all high fives. Then I made sure to smile big for the finish. NO matter what happens during a race, I am always so grateful to make it a finish line. It is NEVER guaranteed no matter how many of these events you do. ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!
Race Finish time: 6:23, 27th in age group. Not the performance I was hoping for, but a finish nonetheless and I am very grateful!
I want to give a big thank you to my husband and kids for literally never complaining when I'm gone for training. TO my parents for always supporting me and my goals. My friends Sidney and Su
mmer for coming to the finish line when you don't even like triathlon haha! To my friend/athlete Dean for being out there cheering for us jet lagged and injured . To all of the commun
ity in TRI CLUB SAN DIEGO for being the best cheer squad and being at the start of the swim for hugs and good luck. Last but not least a special thanks to my swim coach and best friend Sidney Russell of SWIM OPEN WATERS for continuing to help me be the best swimmer and athlete I can be inside and out.
I also had the great pleasure of meeting and chatting with pro triathlete Sika Henry. She is lovely, talented and using her platform for really good things both inside and outside of triathlon. If you don't follow her, I highly recommend you do!
Thanks Mom for snapping this photo of me, Sidney and Summer along with Izzie and Pepper at the finish line!