IRONMAN California 70.3 Oceanside
The first North American 70.3 for the year is just in our backyard, IRONMAN California Oceanside – a short drive for those in North County and just an hour and a half drive south of Los Angeles. Oceanside is known for its chilly waters, scenic bike ride and top competitive field. This year was no different in the latter, with Jan Frodeno and Heather Jackson both taking the wins in their respective races. The scenery also didn’t disappoint, and it was no surprise given the weather leading up to the race, the pleasantly mild morning and 68 degree ocean water was a nice gift.
The morning fog hanging over transition area as athletes prep their gear intensifying the mood at IRONMAN California.
photo: Andrea Bauer
Champion Factory had an awesome turn out with over a dozen athletes racing across the board keeping Coach Pete busy in the days leading up to and day of the race.
Mike and Topher dribbling nonsense making light of the situation ahead. photo: Andrea Bauer
It was a great feeling to know so many people in transition in the morning of the race – kept things light hearted with a slew of ‘good mornings, have a great race, see you out on the run’ type banter. The transition area was well organized and well carpeted; the All World Athletes got their own bike racks but not own swim wave (which given the sheer volume of athletes racing would have been nice!).
Katie and Leesa happy as can be but ready to get the race underway! photo: Andrea Bauer
The marshalling area was a long chute stuffed full of athletes. Our older dudes went first then the youngsters, eventually onto the women’s waves, then more guys to finish up. A sea of colored swim caps lined Oceanside’s harbor, one pack at a time entering the water to begin their day of racing.
(left) Lynne Fiedler all smiles getting ready to enter the water taking a 2nd place podium. (right) Gabe, senior “sexico” making funny faces as he stuffs his face full of food and makes his way to the starting line. photo: Andrea Bauer
Gina Correll happy as can be as she patiently waits her swim start. Gina and Lynne battled it out to the end and shared the podium together, Gina taking home 3rd place respectively, proud coach!
As I mentioned, the water was a very pleasant 68 degrees. The Aquasphere swim course is relatively simple: athletes head out of the harbor into the ocean, make the turn and head back in to where we started. Of course it gets slightly more complicated when you add in the quite literally hundreds of athletes already in the water that need to be swum around, the rising sun making visibility a little tougher for the later waves, and then the swell that creeps up, also causing more issues if you’re scheduled later.
Topher exiting the water anticipating the bike course. photo: Andrea Bauer
I personally love open water swimming and the seals playing beforehand was a perfect farewell touch as the ladies began their day. Half an hour later, I was also happy to see Aimee at her rack getting her bike at the same time as me for a few sweet words as we headed out on bike. Always inspiring to be at races with her knowing how she juggles family and work commitments for the love of the sport.
(left) Aimee and Katie crossing paths out of T1. (right) Lynne making her way on the bike course. photo: Andrea Bauer
After warm ups that morning Coach Pete and the crew had positioned themselves about a mile out of T1, a top a short sharp hill that reminds everyone they’re now on their bike. What a great spot for a cheerleading section.
Ryan and Lenny make their way out of T1. photo: Andrea Bauer
Rusty heading out of T1 about to take on the bike course at IRONMAN Oceanside California.
From there we headed out to Pendleton; the first part of the course can be deceivingly fast, meaning a lot of people push it too hard, and this is before the fun truly starts. Although this is considered the ‘flat’ part there is enough undulating road to keep you honest. Having said that, it truly isn’t until about mile 20 that the ride truly begins and that’s about when you re-enter Camp Pendleton for the scenic, head-windy, and hilly back half. But this is exactly my favorite: the open countryside and generally good road surface makes for the best part of any course.
The aid stations were well stoked, as you would expect from an Ironman branded race, and although I had sufficient with me, I know some team mates were thankful for their buffet of options – Gatorade, waters, gel, bananas etc.
This back section is quite tough! The infamous climb that happens not long after you turn back in took some by surprise, and those who knew also knew just to put the bike in the smaller gear and do what you can! Many people were walking their bikes up the last part – something you don’t see too often! From there the course winds its way back into the harbor with rolling hills the main theme of the miles. A steep downhill had been strictly marked with a 25m/hr. limit that was being closely monitored; a violation of this rule meant immediate disqualification.
Some headwinds back to the harbor and it was time for a little run.
The course changed slightly this year with the one transition area (or went back to a previous iteration of the course with the one transition area). Athletes would do two laps of the course, still finish in the same spot, and still enjoy the boardwalk run with spikes of hills navigating the famous Oceanside pier.
Big Mike on the run course looking fresh. photo: Andrea Bauer
This is when you really can look out for your team mates, other mates and spectators. Coach Pete and Champion Factory supporters were spread out across the course giving us a boost of encouragement and the bright Champion System kits made spotting our peeps easy as pie. As always I’m very thankful for their custom speed suit – keeping my shoulders protected from the sun is a welcome comfort.
Katie Kyme, overall woman’s amateur winner and age group winner! photo: Andrea Bauer
Eric McElvenny with a PR on the day, now gearing up for IRONMAN Texas. photo: Andrea Bauer
Marq Prince ripping up the run course. photo: Andrea Bauer
There was a close battle going on between our ladies in 50-54 with Lynne just edging out Gina for second place in the final mile. Gabe learnt a lot about drink bottle/nutrition on the course and was my target for the run. You can read about Eric’s race thoughts in a separate blog: always amazing seeing him out on the course! Read further down for a few more team mates input.
The run really creeps up on you, even when you’re expecting it. All that concrete is no bueno on the legs after all that work has been done. But still, you’re running alongside the beach, the sun is shining, blue skies a plenty, the Champion Factory tent was set up not far from the turnaround with more support, red bull is served in the aid stations, mates are all over the course, Pete’s proud as punch to have us all out there, Dre was on photo duty, Mike Reilly on the microphone, all is good, very very good.
Ryan took down the run course in style, making it look easy. photo: Katie Morse
Leesa enjoying the views of the run course as much as we all did to a certain extent! photo: Katie Morse
Tom getting some friendly love and support from a mate. Eric flying out of T1 on his way to a personal best. photo: Andrea Bauer
Coach Pete’s day isn’t over until the last of his chickens are home safely and one by one we started to filter in. Always a safe bet to assume we’ll be over by the food tent – Bull Taco was looking after post race nourishment this year. His support means a ton to all of us, thank you.
Aimee making the sharp turn off the steep downhill back onto the board walk portion of the run course. photo: Andrea Bauer
Lynne and Topher enjoying the pavement in which IRONMAN California Oceanside is known for hammering the legs.
photo: Andrea Bauer
Since Katie Kyme decided to take blog duty and write this post without tooting her own horn, I will start the tooting. While she had to play swim around the rosey, bike around the Gary, and run past uncle Matt, sister Teresa, and grandpa Larry, she respectively took home the overall Woman’s Amateur win, along with, clearly, the age group win. Having a late wave start and dealing with the frustrations of knowing the task at hand, Katie maintained control through out the day and found her way to the top podium spot. As a team, we are continuously blown away and impressed with Katie’s athletic ability in racing and in training. Katie is also an amazing coach and we are happy to have her representing Champion Factory Coaching. Next stop for Katie is St. George Utah along with fellow CFC athletes in tow, right around the corner from that, IRONMAN Coeur d’Alene and we are excited to track her performance there.
^^^Topher is finished with his tooting^^^
Consider it a day in the life of raceboy, as you Aussies would say, my off season was shit…
I broke a toe in January which sidelined me for a few weeks, then 4 days before the race, I tripped trail running which left me with a very sprained ankle and nice gouge in the palm of my hand right where you would rest it on the bars. My ankle was so swollen and tender, I did not think I would be able to race, nor did the doctor.
Pete and I waited until Friday, and the decision was to see what happens, start the race and take it as it comes. I deliberately swam to the outside because I did not want other swimmers to smack my ankle so my swim time was slower than usual.
Exiting the swim was tough as my ankle was very stiff, I pretty much had to be helped up the ramp and had to walk to the transition area. I took it in stride and hobbled over to my bike.
The bike course was a little tough for me on the hills, getting out of the saddle was very painful on the ankle, so I had to sit and be patient. In the back of my mind I was thinking, how will I run 13.1 miles on it? I got through the bike about 15 minutes slower than I wanted and was feeling pretty fresh from not pushing too hard.
|Once out on the run, I felt great for the first 3 miles as I was running 10 seconds faster than my anticipated pace. I backed off a little then at mile 3, my ankle really started to hurt. the sharp turns and steep hills were very painful on the ankle and they reduced me to a walk/limp. Then the compensation started with the hamstring tightening up and my pace dropped about 4 minutes per mile. I could not find my ideal gate as my stride shortened as I felt like I was running in quicksand. At this point, I was concerned about long term damage to my ankle and thought about dropping out. then I saw an above the knee amputee and told myself, pain is temporary, quitting is forever and walked/jogged the second loop. A very humbling day, but given the forced 3 weeks off in February and my ankle, I have to say Pete did a great job getting me across the line only 35 minutes off my projected time.|
Insight from Rusty:
Oceanside was my 2nd 70.3. I felt more prepared going than Boulder. Started in wave 24 which was a long wait and the swim was a mess w a lot of people from previous waves still out in the water. Bike felt good but the hills took a lot out of me, my time was significantly slower than I wanted, plus had two stops to put my chain back on. Run started great but I faded quickly after 4-5 miles. Ended up about 15 min slower on bike and 10 min slower on run than I wanted. But learned a lot: swimming in crowds, get bike ready prior to race, eat something on bike, take salt on run and don’t stop at every aid station!!!!