Following is the combination of two race reports of Ironman Oceanside 70.3 (April 1, 2017) from Salt Lake Tri Club teammates and Utah Tri Buzz contributors Mary Day and Mandy Oscarson.
Stay tuned for Part II from Mr. Andrew Hall!
Mandy: Oceanside was a great race – from the endless green blanketing Camp Pendleton to the deceptive hills to the amazing volunteers, this is so far my favorite 70.3 venue (out of 5 total venues I’ve been to for this distance). I would highly recommend this race to anyone thinking about doing it (be ready when it opens – it always fills up fast!).
Mary: The walk to transition was chilly. I was surprised at just how cold it was. If I didn’t know any better, I would have thought I was back in Utah. While I was setting up my transition, my fingers and toes were going numb. One great thing about Oceanside is that there is only one transition area.
I got in the water to do a quick warm up. I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t as cold as I was anticipating. I was prepared for the taste of salt because of the practice swim the day before but what I wasn’t prepared for was the taste of fish! One tip for salt water swimming: I had a piece of gum in my mouth to help with the taste, but mint and fish are not a good combo!
The line to start the swim was a long wait. I wanted to get in the water so bad because I knew it would be warmer than the air. As I stood there in the middle of all these shivering Ironman 70.3 contenders the sun rose over the mountains. It was so amazing to be surrounded by like-minded people and feel like the universe was giving us a kiss of luck.
When I was finally allowed to start my swim the calm came in and my training took over. We swam in a harbor so there were really no waves. The water wasn’t very choppy. There were some times where I would turn my head and inhale sea water but that happens at every race. There was one point where I felt a wave roll and it made me dizzy but I put my head down and focused. I was able to keep the nausea away. On the way back to the harbor the sun is right in your eyes. I was told to sight off the buildings and I tried to do that but really just ended up following the yellow and blue caps ahead of me. I don’t suggest that method. The blind leading the blind could end up poorly. I did eventually make it back and was a lot less dizzy when I got on my feet than I expected. I ripped off my cap and goggles- this is when the race really starts for me. Please note, there were no strippers at this race! I was really looking forward to saying I got stripped at the beach but I guess I’ll have to figure something else out.
Mandy: The swim felt pretty easy on the way out, but on the way in, there must have been some current. I also had a hard time sighting, so I just followed everyone too, hoping I wouldn’t get off course. The real bummer about the swim was that the rolling start meant there were ALWAYS tons of swimmers around you, many of them coming into you sideways. A couple of times, there were people on either side of me, coming into me, making it really hard to swim! My time was 10 minutes slower than my pool swim time, 6 minutes slower than St. George 70.3 last year.
Mary: The transition area is very long and narrow, less wide. You have to run down the whole length then back up to your bike and bike out area. Yes, you are barefoot on asphalt and yes it hurts. Everyone joked that the run should be cut short because the transition runs were so long. I swear I ran a mile in my bike cleats. In T1 I decided not to put on my arm warmers. For the first 15-20 minutes of the ride I had deep regrets about that. It warmed up really fast.
Mandy: I was disappointed they didn’t have sunscreen before we headed out on the bike. I opted for my arm sleeves and was saved from a major sunburn because of them! I ended up with lobster hands and went back to my Southern roots with a redneck, but otherwise stayed burn-free.
Mary: The first half of the bike course was so fun. There were some punchy hills at first but the scenery is so beautiful that you don’t even notice. I happen to be in love with the ocean so being able to see it constantly was a huge plus for me. We got to ride through camp Pendleton and the coolest thing was seeing tanks drive around, oh and the military guys in uniform wasn’t too hard to stand either.
|pre-race road trip snacks...|
There are 3 hills that are worth mentioning. The climbs are steep and short-ish. If you are training in Utah and taking advantage of the hills we have you will be just fine. The downhills are so much fun! Every up has a down. My only complaint is the washboard road. It made my arms among other things hurt. At the second hill my left hip flexor was just done. It started to get tight and cramp. I was really looking forward to getting off my bike and being on my feet.
Mandy: Since California actually got some rain this year, everything was beautiful. The hills were alive with green! It was so enjoyable to look at during the bike! I got halfway through and was thinking, where are all those hills people were talking about? At about mile 31, I found them! While not nearly as difficult as St. George 70.3, they were nothing to scoff at. Especially after being sick for 2 weeks and not training. I admittedly had to walk a portion of two of them, hoping to conserve some energy for the run. Like Mary, I couldn’t wait to get off the bike and on my own two feet again. Everything was hurting!
Mary: When you get back to T2 you have to slow way down because they have you ride through the gated hallway they created. I’m just thankful they didn’t make us run the whole thing! I racked my bike, threw on my running shoes, waved to a few SLTC Bees and was on my way. Of course my legs felt heavy and tired and I wanted to go run on the sand and collapse but we all know that is not an option.
Mandy: Luckily, they had sunscreen this time. I had a volunteer lather my neck, face, and legs with that pasty white stuff. I was determined to not be miserable the next day (like I have before).
Mary: Racing at sea level is a whole new ball game. I felt so incredibly good on the first loop. I couldn’t believe the amount of burn in my lungs and muscles that I didn’t have! The run course is gorgeous to boot! The ocean is visible 90% of the time. The crowds are incredible (Except for snoozing Cody Henderson). They line the streets and cheer for you the whole way. They spray you with cool water and blast music for you. There are also surfers and beach goers that cross your path. It’s like you’re doing what you love right beside people that are also doing what they love. Peaceful coexistence at its best!
The first loop of the run felt amazing! The second loop started to hurt and I was running on ‘E’. The crowds and the constant stream of runners kept me going. The best was the last stretch to the finish. The waves are crashing to your left and the crowd is on both sides. Then you get to the finishers’ shoot. Every time I think I can make it with no tears I am quickly put in my place and humbled. I am reminded of what my body has just done and I run under that arch in disbelief every single time.
Mandy: I also loved running next to the ocean and it was great catching up with Mary for a bit (she was a lap ahead of me). There were quite a few times it was just me, the crashing waves, and the pounding pavement. Nothing like good scenery to take your mind off fatigue and pain – I was really feeling the previous 2 weeks of inactivity due to sickness. There were also a few rollers on the run, but by that point, it felt good stretching my muscles on the up-hills.
The first time I went up towards the pier, one of the hand cycle athletes was just in front of me, giving everything he had to make the steep, short climb. Everyone stopped and cheered for him like crazy. The roar from the spectators and athletes alike was deafening. All us athletes formed a semi-circle around him, yelling at him that he could do it, sending out as much good juju as we could – and he did. Tears came to my eyes as I finished the climb and continued – that is what triathlon was all about – cheering each other on. He finished the race a little while before me.
|Mary & Michelle Conover|
The volunteers were A-ma-zing! Always super helpful and polite (gotta love the Marines!). But there was one in particular who made a big difference in my race. He was stationed at the top of a hill on the run course. He always knew exactly what to say to motivate everyone to pick up their pace and keep trucking. More than once, his words to the athletes around me inspired me as much as his words of encouragement to me. Despite feeling like I had no gas in the tank, he motivated me to keep pushing quite a few times. At the finish line, I dug deep and sprinted as fast as my aching legs would take me – nothing beats that feeling!
Mandy: After the race, as I pondered the experience, that one volunteer made me think – how am I encouraging others? Do I just speak softly to the one, or do I belt out the right things at the right time to everyone within earshot? How much more good can I do if I’m not afraid to speak up and say meaningful, helpful things to everyone around me? I made a goal to try to do this more.
While not as fast as I’d hoped for during training, I did accomplish my goal of enjoying the experience and trying to stay in the moment. I overcame only one real time of discouragement on the bike (tears at mile 41), which was an improvement. And I met my goal of finishing in under 8 hours - 15 minutes faster than last year’s St. George. While I didn’t feel as physically prepared for this race, I’d had to fight so much harder to even get to the starting line, that I felt satisfied with my accomplishment. On to Ironman Western Australia (and a few races in between)!
If you’re on the fence, sign up for Oceanside! I’d love to come back and do this one again sometime!
Mary: Oceanside 70.3 is a must experience race! It was so great to have the California sunshine on my shoulders and have oxygenated air to breathe! The views were incredible! The execution was flawless and so, so fun!