Monday, April 1, 2013

Oceanside 70.3 Race Report

Mmmm, feels good to write a race report! I have a few solid months of training under my belt, and wanted to have my strongest race to-date in Oceanside this year. A lot of things were firing me up to go for it: Fourth time doing this race, it's basically our hometown race, it was the day after my birthday, I have great new sponsors.... the list goes on. In a nutshell, my goals included getting on the 25-29 podium (the 1-3 podium) and a course PR. Result: Got the podium (2nd AG), and a 6-minute course PR (5:07). Next time I'll be looking at sub-5:00 on this course.

Overall, it was a great day. I feel like I raced smart and in control, and my body held up. I don't have one thing to complain about. It was a hard day, as it should be, and a very fun race too, as it should be. I handled all the "hiccups" well I think... in fact, my day was all about "crisis" management and keeping a positive state of mind, starting early on. (I say "crisis" in quotes because nothing that bad happened.)

Waiting to start, with my good friend from grad school
who was doing her first-ever 70.3!
Only one thing worth sharing here. On race morning, in the dark, we were riding our bikes from T2 to T1 with only about 15 min to spare before transition closed. I had my morning bag and bike bag hanging from either shoulder, and one bag slipped to my elbow. It started swaying side to side while we were rolling down a mini decent over the bridge and just like that the bag got jammed in my front wheel, the wheel locked and I went flying over the handlebars. It was a pretty solid crash; plus the bag ripped to shreds and my sh*t went everywhere! John (who also raced) and some others were scrambling to help and make sure I was ok. I was. Thank god. (Oh and thank god I was wearing my helmet because I definitely hit head to concrete.) As soon as it happened mentally I just told myself to stay calm and not get all worked up. I knew I was fine minus a jab to the leg by an aero bar. I was more concerned about the bike. The Shiv is a stud, though, and miraculously it was ok too; just a front wheel adjustment and like new. Other than losing a morning bag, even less time to set up T1, and a bruised quad, all was well. So that happened...

Swim 33:59

I don't like to cuss much on here but FUCK yea!!! Finally, significant progress and hard work paying off!!!! Many things to be stoked about: I swam strong enough for a big half-ironman swim PR (my fastest swim prior was a 36:xx), I was 100% cramp free, and I paced myself wisely (even if I was questioning that in the process) as to not overly fatigue. My watch actually showed 32-something as I stood up out of the water, and as soon as I saw that I was ecstatic for the first time exiting a 70.3 swim. I'll never forget that moment. To be honest, I didn't think I was going to see anything sub-35 while I was swimming because it seemed like there was more contact and banging around for a large portion of the swim than I'm used to -- a combo of aggressive ladies as well as passing people who started before me. I was also unable to find feet to draft off -- I have issues with this; I never find feet. Is it me? Or is it just the random, scattered paces of AGer's? My conservative swimming effort and deep-seeded fear of leg/toe cramps also had me questioning whether I was too slow, but I guess I've gotten stronger because even a "conservative" pace was fast for me! That all said, I felt great in the water and in a good rhythm. The cold didn't bother me at all, and overall I just felt strong and not like I was struggling. Solid swim, great start to the day.
I may look scared here, but this is actually me feeling
on top of the world with a "great" swim.
Slower than normal for me at O-side... maybe it was stuffing all my crap into the bike gear bag.

Bike 2:45 (fastest AG bike split)
The bike was fuuunnnn. Finally being able to race the Shiv was definitely a highlight of the day. I felt so smooth and like a machine on that thing. We've done a really great job dialing in my fit while still waiting for a small frame. In fact, I was even at my fitter's on Friday, race eve, dialing things in last minute, including adjustments to a sick new pair of PRO Missile bars and installing an aero hydration system (trying new things on race day, sure why not?!).

The bike, of course, was typical Oceanside (flat and fast for ~30 miles, then hilly and windy for about ~10miles, then a flat finish; this year more of a tailwind at the end, whew) with good weather, rather warm . The difference I noticed on the new bike was feeling like I was riding more efficiently and not blowing up my HR to hold goal pace and watts. In contrast, I remember feeling like I was blowing up in a couple 70.3s in the last couple years. I was working hard, that is for sure, but in control.

Up until the hills, I was averaging ~21 mph. Then finally I hit the first climb, and it was tough but I expected it. I was riding strong and passing a good amount of people (as was the case on the other big hills). After that hill came the hardest part of the ride -- false flats, rolling hills and a headwind for what felt like forever. When I finally hit the gnarly decent with the no passing zone, my friend Cortney Haile shouted "What's up," and then Brandy Bounds whizzed by. I then realized I was riding with some of the lead 30-34, 35-39 women who had caught up to me (they started a few minutes behind). We all traded spots legally for a while, and I noticed I was climbing the hills a bit faster than some (doing field research for when I eventually move up AGs haha). Finally I broke away from some of them, but Cortney broke away from me (speedy lady). As for my AG, I noticed that starting early on I passed quite a few girls and I felt like I was sitting well in my division. Ya never know though -- that someone could be extremely far out ahead?

The end of the bike included a big highlight of my whole triathlon career. It was that last flat section of ~10 miles back to transition, and I was catching up to a lot of slower men in front of me. At that point a moto with a couple refs rolled up in front of me, giving a penalty to a dude who was clearly drafting. In my mind I was thinking about how I was going to have to start making some passes or suffer going slow. I get nervous around the refs, but I just went for it, having confidence in my bike racing skills, and made about 5-6 solid passes. Shortly after the moto rolled up on me (yikes, right?!), and the lady on the back gave me a thumbs up and said, "Excellent passing. Nice job." It literally made my day to hear that! I think is something a lot of AG triathletes need to practice -- passing and just riding with others during the bike. Even this past weekend I saw some dumb shit go down, including people passing on my right, really?!

Nothing majorly bad happened during the bike, but I did have a couple very minor "hiccups" that I had to manage. 1) A bottle flew out of my Carbon Wing very early on and immediately I lost a third of my hydration with ~120 precious calories of Skratch (I put in ~1 1/2 scoops for each 20oz bottle). My solution was to slow up at all aid stations, grab a water bottle, chug some and toss it; their bottles were too small for my cages so I couldn't keep them. Slowing up for that was worth losing a little time to prevent dehydration, as my other two bottles alone wouldn't cut it. It was warm out and I needed every ounce of liquid. 2) My new aero hydration system, the Xlab carbon thingy, has Velcro straps that kept coming loose! And I kept finagling to fix them so I didn't lose another bottle, inevitably slowing me up. (Next time, zip ties.) Those were the extent of my issues on the bike, so if that's as bad as it was, I have nothing to complain about at all!

Nutrition-wise, besides the loss of a bottle, my nutrition was right on track. I brought extra calories just in case, which I obviously ended up needing! I'll write more on my nutrition in another blog soon, but two bottles with 200+ calories of pineapple Skratch and a two full pre-cut Bonk Breakers worked their magic. Not one GI issue whatsoever, even on the subsequent run.

Last thing on the bike: I was hoping for a split closer to 2:40 to really prove a point that the Shiv is a machine, but oh well. That was my fault not the bike's. It was our first race together, we'll bond more for some smoking fast rides this year ;)

Run 1:43 
Bottle of Skratch in hand. Eventually those
arm warmers came off too, once I remembered.
This is only a minute off my 70.3 run PR, it's 3:00 faster than my Oceanside run PR, and third fastest in my AG, so I am quite happy about that given how I felt for a while. I have no doubt that the bike played a role in a faster run than my past showings here. I got off the bike and until I looked at my Garmin I was running way too fast (sub-7:30) and had to slow up to ~7:50 (a smart pace for me to start at), but I still just felt like I was doing the shuffle. Then a first for me: My right VMO cramped up after the steep up/down by the pier. The poor little guy was vulnerable and that eccentric contraction on the steep decent ruined him. I had to stop to work it out at the first aid station, ~mile 1. Maybe the cramp was also because I rode those hills pretty hard after all, and was a tad dehydrated? Who knows. I was literally concerned that I was going to have to walk more, but I overcame the cramp within a minute of stopping and was totally fine for the rest of the run.

While my pace was ok for me, my run mojo was blah for quite a while. I think it's because I've only been training hard again for 3 months and my body is still getting used to the long, hard back-to-back stuff again. I wasn't letting it ruin my spirits. I just had to keep faith that I could keep it going. I was hitting a low fairly early on into the run (mile 4-5ish?), at which point I saw Mike Rouse. He lifted my spirits like you would not believe. It was at the far end of the run course where there are fewer spectators, so having a moment  with him gave me that new-found spark. Beyond Rousey, I heard a ton of cheers for me out there and some "happy birthdays," which was so nice. Thank you to everyone who cheered :) I love how the Oceanside run has the best spectators and so many friends are always out there!

Finally at about 6.5 miles in, my running legs finally showed up. I'll have to check but prior to that I think I had a couple ~8:15 miles, and was then able to bring it back to ~7:50s and not slow down from then on. I didn't feel like total death anymore either, which was nice; instead it was just the typical pain and suffering, haha. I think the pre-mixed bottle of Skratch I had waiting in T2 for me to carry worked its magic, as did gel #1. I even had a second gel, which sometimes I don't do but I needed it this day. Runs are the only time I do gels anymore. I need calories somehow and they are easy to carry around and mange. I don't do solids running, and I prefer certain gels over what's offered on the course. Ideally, I'd have carry a couple bottles of Skratch, but that's logistically not possible.

I mentioned John raced too. Well I had seen him a couple times on the run, and I knew I was gaining on him. He had started at 7 AM, I started at 7:24 AM, so going into the race it was my goal to catch him ;) He's ok with that, and he know it motivates me in a good way. I finally did catch him, but not until nearly mile 11 on the run. We exchanged some loving words of encouragement, and I went on my way. At that point I had a strong stride leading me home and I knew there were no more hills so it was just about cruisin hard to the finish and enjoying the moment. I knew a course PR was happening unless I started walking. Such a great feeling!
Sprint to the finish. Mmmm, nice.
Finish 5:07
The new finish line down by the pier is so cool! There was an awesome crowd cheering people in, including my parents in the VIP section, ballers! I crossed with a course PR and 2nd AG! Yayyyy. I was pretty thrilled on the day's effort. My last hope is that another girl in our AG felt the thrill of getting the Vegas slot that was rolled down....Note: you can read my full race nutrition breakdown here.

Some post-race lovin' with my babe.

Post-race, pre-awards chill time and beers with Rousey and our crew at Stone,
which is conveniently located across the street from the race.
Trying to look buff.

Fun chat with the 1st place girl in our AG. This is me asking, "Ohhh, so you're a swimmer, right?"
She swam a 26:xx! So even my slightly faster bike/run wasn't enough.

25-29 AG podium. Great to be up there, especially with my buddy Chris Berg, top male.

A huge shoutout and THANK YOU to Specialized, Skratch Labs, Bonk Breakers, 110% Play Harder, Betty Designs, Shimano, Coach Lucho the man, John my love, my family, and my friends... you all helped me get to this start line fit and healthy, and race hard. Can't wait for the races to come!!!


  1. Congrats Tawnee. I scanned the post before reading it and saw the girl next to you, and mused: "those shoulders on that lady ... swimmer girl got Tawnee." ... that pic tells the story!

    Impressive performance! (particularly after the crash before it all)

  2. I freaking LOVE IT!! Now a little break and then IM training time? I'm assuming 1st place girl took Kona? CONGRATULATIONS CHICA and to John as well!!

  3. Told ya, "bad practice, great game". You totally SMOKED the bike, congrats! Thanks for your pre-race pep talk, and you were right, tri is addicting!

  4. Great recap Tawnee! Sorry I missed you out there, didn't have time to be social!