Monday, April 4, 2011

California 70.3 Race Report

Quick note: I will officially announce winners of the contest on Wednesday!
I love this sport. It makes me so happy, and I'm stoked to be back in the game after way too much time off rehabbing in 2010. Yes, I did the Desert Tri already this year, but that was just a warmup; CA 70.3 was the real test, and it turned out to be one heck of a comeback race for me on many levels. Loved it!!! Oceanside is particularly special because there are so many friends and acquaintances in the race and on the sidelines--this year more than ever. I had tons of fun out there, maybe even too much at times, i.e. I was hooting and hollering up "the hill" at mile 30ish, which probably wasted precious energy. Oops.

So my race: I went 5:15:13 (8th in 25-29F), which is ~2 minutes slower than last year's 5:13:xx and slower than my goal time (I tend to set the bar high lol), but that's OK. I'm content with my race and happy with how much fitness I've gained back. If you read this blog, you know that I'm coming off a long 2010 offseason from injury during which I lost pretty much all my endurance. In Oct/Nov it was still a big struggle to run 5-6 miles alone. But I've been determined to get some SBR mojo back, while training "smarter." I have a long season ahead with two A races, Rev3 70.3 Portland in July and Ironman Canada in August. So by smarter: Not overdoing it, lots of rest/recovery in the plan, more body work but still getting work done and training specific to the races I'll do. Last year I was just "go go go" and probably overtraining, which got me a decent time at Oside, but I broke down shortly after in May. That will not happen this year.

Anyways, onto the whole O'side 2011 experience....

Thursday my NorCal buddy Bryan got into town; he was staying at my house for the race, which I was stoked about. Having another athlete in the house was rad and helps me stay calm. I even had him tag along to Laguna Beach with me Thursday evening while I taught my fitness class at my gym, SPI. Friday AM we did a quick SBR and made sure everything was running smoothly. I was trying a new Speedfil system on the bike, and glad I worked out the kinks. Friday night (uh, like 5 p.m. haha) we had a big ol' dinner at my place. The weather was so nice and summerlike that we even ate outside. My athlete, Marta, who'd be racing her first half and her hubs, Justin, joined us. Good times. I had forgotten my beet smoothie that day, so it was my dessert lol.My plate.... grilled chicken, quinoa, sweet potatoes and veggies. Pretty much the standard fare and oh so yummy.

Saturday morning the alarm was off at 3:30 a.m. Last time I was awake then was in Vegas. This was better (as I said on twitter). The drive from my house to O'side is 35ish minutes so we left before 5 a.m. I had my oatmeal with chia seeds, whey protein and blueberries plus coffee. We got chauffeured in the van. Big timers.Unfortunately I was having bathroom issues. Nothing quality was happening, if you get my jist. Three times, and never completely satisfied. Oh well. But there is a funny story: I got into a porta potty by transition area, did my thing (1 & 2) and went to grab TP. Nothing there. There was not a thing I could do unless I opened the door to the 400 people in line to ask for a few sheets! Uh no thanks. So I just got up and left. Ew! I had my mom grab me some napkins from a deli and finished the wiping process behind the porta potty stand about 5 min later, no joke.

Chillin with BFF Sara! True story: Last year at O'side I went 5:13 and she went 5:15, this year she went 5:13 and I went 5:15! Wow, think we're meant to be best buds? When I'm nervous I act like a psycho, evidenced here:

Before I knew it 7:24 and the start of Wave 16 was approaching.....

SWIM 37:xxMy goal was 34 and change, but I set my time ranges at 34-37:xx minutes. Ugh, got the slower one. The good news: I sighted really well except at the turnaround, and I felt like I was efficient (for me) and didn't waste too much energy. But besides that, holy shit, c'mon. I need to get my swim together. What's more, I need to figure out my cramping issue once and for all. Again, for the third year at the turnaround it was like clockwork: the toes, calves, etc, seized up in cramps. Not debilitating "at-risk-of-drowning" cramps like I've had before, but bad enough where I swam kickless and in pain/fear of it getting worse. So lame because the water wasn't even that cold. Clearly, my perception of the water temp and my feet/legs are in disagreement. Bottom line: I need to do more long, race-pace swims without rest in open water.

Other than that, the water was pretty choppy out there, which made it interesting, but it was overcast so sighting was easy even with the bigger swells (for once, no blinding sun, yay!). Also, I didn't get beat up on much except for start/exit and I was by myself the whole time so never got to draft. Bummer. I got out of the water pissed but motivated to ride and run.

Opted to go sans arm warmers, good call #1. It was overcast but warm enough where I was never cold on the bike. However, knowing that my feet were cold and angry, I took the time to put on socks; good call #2.

BIKE 2:46
I love riding my bike!!!!!!!!! I got on with a smile ready to hammer, not letting the swim get me down. My goal was go 2:44 or faster (last year was 2:44) but that didn't happen. Even so, I felt stronger than ever, which is good because that probably helped me battle against the insane winds and still get close to my goal. After the race some fellow racers said this year was way more windy than last year, I agree. My SRM speed/distance wasn't working, only power and cadence (long story) so I was without those precious numbers and had to race largely on RPE. Not what I'm used to, but I could deal.

The first 25 miles going up old El Camino Real to south San Clemente is one of my favorite places ever to ride, so I was having a blast. I hit the 25-mile marker at 1:05 on my SRM, a 23 mph average. I noticed that I was riding around a lot of the top 30-34 women, who must have passed me on the swim then I got right with them on the bike. I traded spots with some women and we were having fun hollering for each other. At the first no-pass zone at Trestles right before turning into Camp Pendleton, I got stuck behind a very slow dude. I decided to shower him with encouragement in hopes to get him to go faster. Another woman joined my cause. He was still slow. Oh well, it was a short stretch... usually it's surfers I'm avoiding there.

On Cristianitos, photos courtesy of Ben Corona... too bad I was sucking away at my Speedfil haha
Once into CP, the wind began. The direction of the wind made me think that it'd be in our favor (tailwind) for the last 10 miles of the ride, so that kept me optimistic. I saw Sara on a little out and back, and she was ~4 minutes ahead of me. Makes sense because she swam 4 minutes faster, but my bike split was faster so I was on her feet.

Then in what seemed liked no time, I hit The Hill at mile 30ish. I swear it got steeper! But going up it, I just thought of all those hills I've climbed in training, and I felt content with hammering up as hard as I could knowing that I wasn't digging myself into a rut doing so. On The Hill is where I first saw Beth. I wanted to catch her. She told me pre-race via FB to not let her pass me on the bike this year (she started after me), but I forgot that I can't swim, so she actually passed me in the water. Again, I need to learn to swim! I was happy to see her, and we exchanged a few words of encouragement. We traded spots for a long time, and at one point I was ahead and thought I lost her, but she came whizzing by toward the last 10 miles and I never saw her again. I said to myself, "That is a woman on a mission to get to Kona."

Anyways, after the big hill, the conditions were rough until the last 10-12 miles. There were LOTS of headwinds, a few more significant climbs, false flats, crosswinds, speed limits, rolling hills--you name it. But that part of CP is just gorgeous and I love being out there. It makes the time go by fast even if the riding is hard. At one point I saw Whitney so that made me happy too! I just kept trucking, making sure to drink and eat my GUs on schedule. I even ate a bar; and I think that solid food did me well.

There was a second no-passing zone, which I personally think is bull because it's not that sketchy and it's wide road. But I guess I understand why it's there. Thankfully that time I was behind Brandy Bounds and fast peeps, so no complaints.

Finally, as I predicted, we had a nice tailwind once we left the gnarliness inside CP. I could tell my overall speed had slowed from the first 25 miles, it was inevitable, but I had no idea where exactly I was at, I only knew how I felt. It wasn't my ideal situation, but I trusted that I was on the right track. On that last section I had two goals: 1) Being that it was flat, make up for lost speed, but also 2) take some time to spin out the legs a bit in anticipation of the half-mary ahead--my average power had been pretty high (for me) and I didn't want to blow up on the run.

Awkward position and face in this pic... what am I doing?!?!

Stupid me! So I always run with a Garmin for pacing, but not this time.... I was done gathering my things in T2 and running away from my transition about to get going when I realized I didn't have the Garmin. I went back for it. It wasn't there. I spent precious seconds looking for it! Dumb! I finally gave up and ran without it. I later found out I forgot to take it out of my jacket pocket before the race.

So, between the bike & run, this race was all about going by RPE/feeling, which I never do in training so it was a different experience, to say the least. Personally, I do well having the numbers in my face telling me what's going on, I like that and missed having it.

RUN 1:46:11
My goal times for the run were 1:40-1:45. No such luck. However, I went slightly faster than last year, thus PR'ing my half-mary in a 70.3, so yay! The run was a blast (until the end lol), and I heard lots of cheering for me and saw lots of familiar faces on the course, which made life easier and helped the time pass by quickly (thanks to all of you who gave some cheers my way). I was running with one guy, and in a matter of 10 minutes I think I gave a shoutout to about 10 runners; he was like, "How the heck do you know so many people?" I just laughed and said something like, "I work in the industry." I even "met" ER for the first time in person, fitting I suppose :) I tried to run with people who had Garmins and who were my speed, but that never worked out.

The first six miles were good. I had a GU right away and it settled well. I felt strong and like I was hopefully hovering around an 7:30-8:00 pace. But was I? Hm. Maybe at first, but looking at pics of me running, especially from later in the race, I can tell my hip flexors were tight and my form was not what it looks like when I'm running sub-8s. Around miles 7 and 8 I started feeling a little slower. Then the last 5 miles were pure pain. I had been smiling early on, but in the last 40ish minutes there were no more real smiles, waving arms or fist pumps from me. I tried the fake smile thing, but looking at pics, you can tell it was fake and I was hurting haha! I had another GU, which gave me some much-needed energy, along with some of the drinks and goodies at the aid stations aka buffet line.

All in all, although my run time wasn't incredibly faster than past years, I still felt prepared for that long run off the bike more than ever. Plus, I like the run course at O'side minus all the concrete. Having two big loops, so four sections that are 3.2ish miles each, makes it seem not so long if you break it down. I said to myself, "OK, only a few miles until you get to turnaround"... and repeat that over and over.

FINISH 5:15:13
I got a final burst of adrenaline in the last stretch to home. Then some girl in my AG passed me in the last mile and I couldn't respond. Crap. I still picked it up on the last stretch and finished feeling dizzy and in burning pain but content and smiling. Pretty standard for a 70.3. After a little delirium I was back to normal in a few minutes, and then I got that race high where all I wanted to do was chat chat chat with everyone. I saw Beth, James, Sara, Christine Gould, Whitney, friends from CSUF and lots and lots of others... I was pretty much talking to anyone who would give me attention haha. See, triathlon is way better than drugs!!!

With the superstar Kona-bound hubby-wife duo and Hunter... Love Whitney Bryan killed the race!

That night I had planned on going out to celebrate, but Bryan and I ended up drinking beers & wine on my couch instead along with my mom and dad having some as well. No complaints :)


  1. 5:15:13 (8th in 25-29F)!!!! after rehabbing!!!! That is an amazing time!

  2. amazing job out there! you are a frigging rockstar!

  3. Congrats on your comeback! Super impressive. I have been racing sans bike computer for awhile and have started to enjoy it, but need my Garmin on the run to keep me honest.

    How did you like the helmet? I have one on the way to me, but not sure it will get here in time for my race this weekend.

  4. you rock! you are so fast! and always look like you are having so much fun, which is what it's all about :)

  5. Reading this would take me longer than racing a 70.3 so I'm boycotting.

  6. nice work! saw you on the run :)

  7. First of all CONGRATULATIONS!! Second of all, you were too cute saying "nice to meet you" while you were running. :) Love that you are happy with your race and taking things step by step. I am in the same boat as this year is going to be a LONG one... no need to burn out early so we can shit Ironmans later in the year. And the girl who passed you in the last mile is an AZ girl who just ran a 3:08 marathon a month or so ago. ENJOY your rest Tawnee!!

  8. Great work out there Tawnee!!! I was cheering for you all the way from Beantown on Saturday :)). This is just the beginning of an epic racing year for you, I can just feel it!

  9. Rev3 Portland will be my first 70.3. I already know the bike will have hills, hills, and more hills but I'm still trying to stay excited. Good job at the race. I would just love to finish the bike portion in 5:15 :)

  10. Congratulations - seems like a fun race!!

  11. Awesome race report! Ugh! I'm so pumped to start racing this season! Congrats on the great race!!

    Ok - don't make fun of me. But I NEVER trust port-o-potties with TP. EVER. I always have an 'always whipe' with me for races. You never know when you need it :)

  12. Awesome race! And after dealing with a serious injury in the fall! Gives me hope :)

    I got your message, but I felt like a fraud entering the contest :) Congrats to the winner!

  13. Great start to the year! Crazy first race for me too. New equipment, new things in life, always an adventure. Way to get back at it and remember the long term goals. My race wasn't everything I wanted, but I had a killer run. Now I get to work on my bike, surprisingly my weakness as a bigger dude.

  14. Hey Tawnee, nice write up!

    I thought I saw you running at the race, but by the time I thought I recognized you, you were "past" and I thought it woulda been weird had I been that dude that yelled "Go Tawnee" and no one waved/turned around. next time, I'll know!

    Congrats on coming back from itBS, and all that other stuff. Great way to kick off the season!

  15. All I have to say is look at where you came from. I remember reading your blog from way back when and think, you've become damn fast. Good stuff Tawnee.

  16. New blog subscriber, but loved reading this race report. Way to make a solid comeback. Looks like you are going to have a kick-ass season.

    What is up next on the calendar?

  17. Triathlons really ARE better than drugs! I can't wait for my first Half Iron in July. Keep up the work!

  18. great work out there was a tough day in the water and on the bike! See ya at Rev3!

  19. So great to meet you!!! PS- I'm officially moving to california (someday). I'm obsessed!

    Post race we hit up some sushi and then drove up to Laguna Beach for ice cream! Next time we'll go out!

  20. sounds like a solid race to me and a preview of a fast year to come !!!

  21. Hi! My name is Gena and I work for a tri store online. I happened upon your blog and enjoyed reading about your triathlon world! Great finish in SD :) Anyway, I am contacting you to see if you are interested in a simple sponsorship. Please let me know at I just wanted to note that you have been selected as you met our specific guidelines. If you are interested just send me a quick note and I’ll send you more details about the potential sponsorship.

    Happy and safe training

  22. Congrats on your race and recovery. You are going to have a fabulous and fun season. Thanks for sharing such a great race report.