January 22, 2018

California Half Ironman 2009

My plans to be in bed at 7:00 p.m. on Friday so I could get eight hours of sleep before having to wake up at 3:00 a.m. Saturday didn’t exactly work out . . . seldom does. The last time I checked, my clock said it was 11:00 p.m. so I assume I got somewhere between 3 ½ and 4 hours of sleep. Funny how after doing over 100+ triathlons I still have trouble sleeping the night before.

Woke at 3:00 a.m. and had my usual breakfast of an English muffin with peanut butter and jelly, cottage cheese with blueberries and walnuts and a glass of OJ. Still wish I could drink coffee. Life would be so much easier.

Did my final preparations (you know what I mean) and loaded the rest of my stuff in the car. Noticed how calm and warm it was. Fantastic!

Got to the Oceanside pier at about 4:45 a.m. (I hate to be late for stuff.) Got out of the car to unload the stuff and noticed it was about 10 degrees colder and windy. Crap! Oh well, nothing you can do about it other than hope you forgot your bike or something so you don’t have to race. No such luck. Game on!

Got my stuff set up in transition and noticed my Gu flask holder was broken. Took out my trusty box cutter (always a good accessory to have . . . along with some electrical tape) and cut the thing off. Stuffed it into my Bento Box and was ready to go. After racing for over 25 years I don’t think I’ve ever had a race where something didn’t go wrong. Hopefully, this would be it for the day.

Caught up with a bunch of my bros. Everyone was nervous, but in good spirits. Several of us had estimated our finishing times so we could compare notes later. FYI, I predicted 5:15 which would have been an 11:56 improvement over this same race in 2008. Today was going to be a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike and 13.1 mile run.

While my training was fine going into the race I still wasn’t where I could have been having finished IM Arizona in November and having to take time off to recover from hernia surgery. Never the less, I felt good.

The water temperature was 59 degrees and felt cold getting in and swimming to the race start (it was a wave start and we went off with the 18 –24 year old males). I’m guessing there were about 150 of us.

The swim went well but I didn’t push too hard. Got an elbow in the left eye, which filled my goggles with water. Had to stop twice to empty it out. Good swim – nothing to write home about.

T-1 was fast . . . fastest in my age group.

I have been working on my cycling (my weakness) for the past year or so. This has always been my weakness so I was hoping to improve on my time of 3:00 hours from last year. 10 minutes would have been nice. 9:33 improvement to be exact. Pretty good.

I borrowed Russ Jones’ race wheels again (I used them for IM AZ as well). Kinda windy for discs but noticed some of the top pros were using them so I was confident they would be fine. The only problem is that the rear cassette (gears) on Russ’ wheel only has 23 teeth where my normal, spoked, wheels have 25. That meant going up hills was going to be a challenge; and it was. There is one HUGE hill on the course and it took everything I had to make it up. After that my legs were none too happy! Anyway, I was thankful I had his wheels for most of the race and since he’s one of the top sprint age groupers (M50 – 54) in the world, the karma would be a good addition for the day.

My ass was killing me at about mile 45. The OCTC shorts simply don’t have enough padding. Next time, OCTC singlet and another set of shorts!

T-2 wasn’t quite as fast. I normally run without socks (not something you should attempt without practicing that way) so that was my plan on the day. Shoulda wore socks! Felt the blisters forming at about mile four. I think the problem, in retrospect, was the fact I didn’t lace them up tight enough. Oh well!

Saw most of my buds on the run. The run course is two loops so you get to see nearly everyone at least once. Quinton looked great. Larry looked focused. Scott looked like he was having way too much fun. Kirk? Not so good.

I developed a side stitch late on the bike and that continued on the run. Don’t know why they happen and I don’t know what to do to get rid of them. Probably around mile 6 – 7 it went away, however.

The run went fine without any real events. I passed a bunch of guys in my age group on my second loop, but most of them were probably on their first loop of the run course so it didn’t really matter. I did pass one guy that was on my loop. Always gratifying. He made it past me at one point, but faded in the end.

This year we did a lot more running in the sand. Just what your legs need in a 70.3-mile day! I nearly fell a couple times but survived it . . . just like everyone else.

All things considered, I was very happy with my day . . . a PR (personal record).

Overall time: 5:12:47
Overall place: 19/109 (17.4%)
Swim time: 30:57 (1:38 100 yd. pace)
Swim place: 11/109 (10.1%)
T-1 time: 2:48
Bike time: 2:51:01 (19.6 MPH pace)
Bike place: 31/109 (28.4%)
T-2 time: 1:57
Run time: 1:46:06 (8:06 mile pace)
Run place: 20/109 (18.3%)

by Ron Saetermoe

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