Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Oceanside 70.3 Race Report Part II: Bee STING

Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee... pretty much sums it up! Andrew Hall was the fastest age grouper (non-professional) at Oceanside 70.3, finishing with a blistering 4:18.

Here is his report.

Last time I was in Oceanside, I was on spring break in college on a much different mission. It was one of those trips where we couldn’t make it from the rental house to the beach without someone puking in the car. Celebrating Saturday night after the race with the Salt Lake Tri Club was just as wild and will be more memorable!

My trip started with a nice brunch and coffee in Newport Beach, one of my wife’s and my favorite places to vacation. Then I got to be the passenger on the scenic drive down to Oceanside. Wow Oceanside – I’m not sure if it was the bright sun or the excitement from the village. I soaked it all in and started getting excited for the race the following day. I was ready to kick off the triathlon season! But after dropping off my bike in transition, my race was almost cut short. I was hit by a speeding car in the parking lot at the Pro Bike Express trailer. Luckily my backpack took the brunt of the impact from the car mirror, and only my wits were shaken :).

The race morning was like any other triathlon: a little chilly and I was running late. Ironman TV caught me darting through the transition area to give my wife my down jacket and morning clothes bag; she wanted the jacket due to the crisp temperature of 48 degrees. Of course, I didn’t have any time to warm-up, but isn’t the swim just a warm-up in a 70.3? I found my buddies at the front of the race pack and had them zip me up. I was probably about the 30th or so athlete to start the swim. It felt great: visibility was clear, water temperature was comfortable, the group I was with was about the same ability. But of course my right goggle fills up with water immediately. It’s a good thing we have two eyes. I just kept the right one closed for the next 29 minutes. I was happy with my swim time at 28:43, which was my 2nd fastest in a 70.3 race and I thought It was my weakest leg going into the event. I had a great T1 passing people on my way to my bike.

My goals were to keep a target power of about 85% of my FTP, pick off the top swimmers and pros ahead of me, and hold off Rory Duckworth. Well, not all of those happened. Around mile 35, I dropped another age grouper I had been trying to catch for 10 miles, but then I saw a shadow coming up on me. It was Rory and he yells at me, “hop on the train! It’s coming through!” Thank you for the motivation buddy. I was able to keep him within a minute or two for the final 20 miles, but I was going to blow myself up trying to keep his pace. Shortly after being passed by the freight train, I caught Skye Moench, a local pro woman. When I ran into her at the village the day before, we both agreed to a similar game of seeing who could hold the other one off the longest.

You probably know how the run went. When they released the bib list I noticed there was a Christopher Hammer registered right below me: Hall, Hammer. I have never been able to win a race against Chris Hammer. I know he is a faster cyclist and runner than me, but I was hoping to at least run with him and have a good battle running myself into the ground trying to stay with him. Even though Chris Hammer didn’t end up competing in Oceanside (editor's note: Chris instead went to Australia and won an ITU race), I was mentally prepared for the effort to beat him, so why not run my brains out and see how I do? I turned my focus to catching Rory Duckworth and other age groupers in front me.

I had 13.1 miles, but with a two minute deficit leaving T2, I decided I might as well do it right away and set the tone to win this race. I started aggressive and caught up with Rory just after the first mile which I covered in about 5:20. I was excited with how spectator friendly the course was and motivated by the encouragement from my wife, friends, club members and the crowd! I usually hear some splits and comments like “you’re looking strong!”. But I think this run just shocked people. I felt like I was on Baywatch running into the ocean to save a swimmer. People’s jaws were dropping and I heard yells like, “now that is a pace!” or “oh my god, look at that guy go!” With 5K to go I think I might have this race wrapped up, but I’m not turning down the pace. 

chip time 4:18:02

I passed Heather Jackson and think “You got 3rd at Kona!” and Heather Wurtle “You won Ironman St George 70.3!” I admit, I like to complete against women or anyone who is one of the best in the world at their sport. My wife teases me that I could go pro if I was a woman, but I really do enjoy the equality in triathlon. It doesn’t matter if you’re a man, woman, or para-athlete, you have the opportunity compete against one another and be on the same stage with the same prize money. You don’t see that in a lot of sports.

Finish line and time to celebrate! I can’t recommend this race enough. It was a fun and challenging course and the race had great energy. I appreciate my number one supporter, my wife, for making me feel like #1 no matter how I do and the Salt Lake Tri Club Members and friends who I had a fun weekend hanging out and racing with! See you in St. George.


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