This was my first race of the season, and my first race at 55. I was excited to be in Oceanside. Fun highlights besides racing in a gorgeous location: Traveling with local friends who were racing and supporting, meeting Shawn, Mark & Riley from Zoot HQ, seeing PNW and many other Zooters, meeting Zoot pros Ben Hoffman and Sara Karpinski and making a visit to Zoot HQ to shop! I had trained well despite my lingering ankle issue from the sprain in September 2021, and my goal was top 10 in my age group for the race. As always, planning and preparation are key elements of getting ready for an event, but race day happens and things don’t always go as planned. The ocean swim was the toughest swim I had ever done with giant waves to overcome for the first 300 or so yards with limited to no sight of the buoys. At mile 7 of the run, my ankle decided it had enough and went from feeling good to not good at all. Despite it being a tough day, I finished the race under 6 hours, ending at 15th place in my age group. In our group of local friends who raced, I was the last to finish and I was so grateful to see them all and have Diana and Ann at the finish line.
Pre-race Fun & Check Out Swim
I really enjoyed all the excitement at this event, all the pre-race fun with our group of friends, Zoot HQ and other Zooters. It felt like a “big” race with the pros and had a great buzz of energy before race day. The ocean in the sunshine was the best. A trip to In n Out burger was of course a favorite dinner of mine!
The check out swim was brief and harrowing, with giant crashing waves. Diane and Ryan who are much better swimmers than I also thought it was insane. We had some choice words after our 3-5 min swim about the experience! Deborah captured that on video. I understood immediately why other friends of mine had not made it through the swim in previous years. After a great swim in the ocean at Santa Cruz 70.3, I was surprised at how crazy this swim was. Diane and Ryan wanted to try again the next day and I declined, deciding it was better to ask EVERYONE I knew (and other Zooters I met including the Zoot pros) with any insight how to tackle this swim and save myself for the race day swim. Advice I got? Dive under the waves, grab the sand and pull yourself through – repeat until you made it out past the breakers. I thought what? Yay!
Happy to report that we had a fun check out ride and I had a shake out run with zero ankle issues. I felt better, and did my best to forget about the swim anxiety.
Race Morning Up and At ‘Em – 3:30 AM
A decent sleep, and up at the usual race day time of 3:30 am. The great condo we had meant it was just a short walk to transition and it was a stress free morning. Diana and Ann were great support up early with me. I met Diane at the rack and chatted with other PNW Zooters. The new check in procedure since races came back in 2021 allowed us to pick a check in time, so I got my bib with Diane and we were racked right next to each other. Racking next to Diane is always awesome! I love being racked next to friends and teammates, it just eases the anxiety and makes me feel more comfortable as I set up my space. Our rack was near the front of transition which of course was good and bad given the running in and out on both ends and the length of transition. We were there very early so plenty of time to see Ryan and meet other Team Zooters before heading to the swim start. I was anxious about the swim, but I tried to keep calm and remember the tips – dive under, grab the sand, pull and repeat! I tucked my P3 Be Fierce bracelet into my bra, finished my Maurten gel and headed to the ocean.
Swim – Personal Worst, 1.2 mi, 39:17 (20/75 AG)
Slowest 70.3 swim time for me, but mostly just the toughest swim mentally and physically. I did the dive, grab, pull repeat routine and it was exhausting. Not being able to sight buoys until I got past the wall of waves was also stressful. For several yards after I quit the diving routine, I felt like I was lost, trying to swim the swells and struggling to sight a buoy. This was not at al like my swim in Santa Cruz! The swim felt extra long. I kept telling myself “strong, smooth, calm”, “swim is just transportation to the bike”, and imagining Joy being right there beside me telling me to just keep swimming. I could not wait to get out. Finishing the swim in the calm harbor next to transition (where they once held the swim) I couldn’t imagine why they wouldn’t do that anymore. It gave me a minute or two to reset, and I happily made my way to my favorite part of any triathlon swim – the wetsuit strippers! So grateful they had them at this 70.3 it was truly the highlight of the swim.
Similar to Chattanooga and Santa Cruz, this was a longer transition (about .5 mi) where I was circling transition to make it back to the bike rack in bare feet. I could tell right away I was really tired from the swim but I tried to keep my chin up and focus on getting in and out and off on the bike. For this race, we had to wear our bib on the bike because it was through Camp Pendleton. I must have reminded myself 10x to not forget to put the race belt on. P3 Be Fierce bracelet from bra to wrist, I glanced at my mantra tattoos and headed out. Having ridden the bike course in Trainer Road I knew what to expect. It was still a bit foggy, and I hoped it would clear up. I had ridden through the base with Ken when his sister lived in the area a year or so before by getting a pass, so I knew part of it would be familiar. I felt prepared. Nutrition – Maurten gel, Alt-Red.
Bike – Not Quite, 56 mi, 2:57 (12/75 AG)
Not a single mechanical – yay! After the flat disaster in Chattanooga and dropped chain in Santa Cruz, this was a win. Mistake? I forgot to change the screen on my Bolt computer to show my target fields from my Best Bike Spilt race plan. I have always loved this on the bike leg, as it gives me power and speed targets for every segment of the race – helping me to know how hard to push and when to stay in my box. I decided to ride by normalized power and intensity factor having memorized those from my plan. The hills on the course seemed tame compared to the power surges on the course in Trainer Road and I felt strong on the hills. I did not feel 100% from the swim, but I thought I was going to hit my target time or possibly go a bit faster than planned to make up some of the time I lost on the swim. The roads were mostly smooth and I enjoyed the course. Throughout the ride I looked at my arm tattoos. Seeing my mantras right there, as I ride in aero is key for me – reminding me to enjoy the experience and that I can do this thing no matter how the race is going.
Seeing the military at work as we rode by made it more special than other Ironman courses. There were 3 no passing zones and one 25 mph speed limit area on a steep descent, all of which earned you a DNF for violating. I was super cautious and felt good about where I was at, doing some strong riding, focused and passing people on the hills. Encouraging Team Zooters and getting encouragement back was awesome and always brought a smile. I stayed on my nutrition and extra water at aid stations for hydration.
As usual, my math/memory skills when racing were not up to par. I was convinced I was going to come in ahead of my target time, until I remembered it was 56 miles and not 54. You would think after all these years I would have this down, but no. Welcome to old age lol. My goal was 2:52, and I came in 5 minutes slower at 2:57. I was really disappointed as I felt this would be my best leg of the race. But I knew I had rode well after the tough swim and I was proud of that.
Nutrition: Two and a half 24 oz bottles of Infinit, double strength, 500 cal per bottle. 3-4 Honey Stinger mango bloks, because they taste like candy! 2 Salt Stick chewables. Hydrated with water at every aid station, drank what I could before exiting the station. It wasn’t hot and I felt on top of hydration and nutrition.
Not as long as T1, but still .25 mi on pavement in bike shoes. I used to have a goal of leaving bike shoes on the bike in T1/T2, but with my ability to fall on a dime, I’ve given up that goal. The toughest part of T2 was having to stay on the bike and ride in a narrow, twisty chute around transition. I was unclipped on one side and ready to put my foot down at the slightest bobble. At the rack, I quickly got into my run gear. A little sunscreen even though it was still overcast, better to be prepared than sorry. Same routine – visor, run shoes, race belt, grab the hand carry with my electrolyte ZYM. I wondered if I could still make my total time goal, but also knew I had to be mindful of my ankle. I had a great half marathon a month before where I almost got a course PR, so I felt like I had a shot at pulling it off. My legs felt ready to run. Nutrition: Salt pills, Maurten gel.
Run – Mile 7, 2:03 (15/75)
Heading out on the run I felt great, legs flying and I tried to hold it back a bit. I am grateful to always have legs that are pumped to run after the bike. Wearing my Nike race shoes, my feet felt light and my ankle was good. My plan was 1:55. I reigned it in to keep the pace reasonable the first 3 miles, enjoying the still not hot air, and the ocean view along the strand. Katie from AP cheering loudly really made me smile. The sides of the course were lined with crowds, and I was running with a good group. As hydrated as I was from the bike, I knew I was going to have to pee. I was in such a rush to get out of T2 I didn’t stop at the porta potty. Just as the thought crossed my mind to look for a porta potty on course, it was too late. I have now peed my pants on every part of the triathlon except the bike! Oh to have bladder control. Better to be hydrated than dehydrated I always tell myself.
The strand concrete was a bit uneven and cracked so I was mindful of it, but nevertheless I felt a misstep here and there. Luckily, no ankle rolls. Soon we headed up the ramp to the road. It felt steeper than I thought it would, but I powered up it with cheers and smiles from Diana and Ann. I saw Diane running past me on the out and back and she looked like she was flying. Seeing her smile at races always gives me an immediate boost! I saw my AP Racing friend Volker, who is in his 70s, crushing it as usual, so inspiring. As always I got a lift from exchanging “go Zoot!” with PNW Zooters and many other Zooters as we passed each other. Taking it all in, I fed off the energy. I was on pace. I was over half way done and feeling good, and then it was mile 7. I heard a pop sound in my ankle. There wasn’t a sharp pain or any pain at all but the sound was alarming. I slowed down, tried to assess and think through what to do next. I decided I could run but I would take it down a notch. Since the sprain I had been told no hills and no speed work. I had trained that way and kept on running, so I decided I’d walk the ramps and other inclines and slow down. Mindful of my steps, I looked more and more at my P3 Be Fierce bracelet on my arm and my mantra tattoos. I focused on getting to the finish line.
At this point, I was sure my overall goal time and top 10 in my age group were not going to happen. I continued to smile and assess my ankle as I kept moving forward. My ankle started to ache and I had a sinking feeling that when this was done I’d be off running for the immediate future and getting an MRI. As I saw the finish line, I did my best to pick it up and take in the crowds. I got on the red carpet and got a bit lost in a crowd of finishers, crossed the finish and felt a sense of relief. Grateful to finish, worried about my ankle.
As always, it wasn’t more than a couple of minutes and Diane found me. A hug from her at the end of a tough race is the best. We caught up with Ryan and Deborah and soon after Diana and Ann helped me navigate my way back to my morning bag (way up the hill back the athlete village) and the AirBnb. My ankle was really not feeling good now and the long walk was not fun.
Nutrition: Nutrition and hydration was on point. My hand carry with 22 oz of ZYM, and a cup of water at several aid stations kept me hydrated and set with electrolytes. Maurten gels at 3, 6, 9, 12 and another dose of Salt Stick chewables.
5:50, Finish (15/75 AG)
I missed my goal of of 5:38 total time or less (my 70.3 PR time in Santa Cruz). I would have needed a 5:32 or less to get that top 10 in my age group. With the swim and my ankle, I am proud of what I accomplished on a tough race day. Do I wish it would have gone better? Of course. Do I know that I won’t be back to Oceanside to race with that swim? Definitely. Am I hoping to go spectate and enjoy all the fun that Oceanside as a race venue offers? Yes, please!
Post Race Craziness
As we made our way through the airport to head home, it was clear my ankle was not going to bounce back. I was limping and it was swollen and really achy. Bike bags at Seatac came out on the regular luggage turnstile instead of oversized, a bit concerning. We came home to a spring storm, and the power was out at home. I unpacked my bike bag quickly but didn’t get Sassy out of the bag. When the power came back on the next day, a power surge fried my Macbook that I had plugged in (part 1 of why my race reports are way after the fact). I got to make an expensive trip to the Apple store to get a replacement that afternoon. The following day, I asked Ken if he could help me finish unpacking Sassy as I was sorting out the Macbook situation. He said “Your bike is broken” and I lost my mind. It looked like it had been dropped from a high point nose first on the aero bars which were broken and Di2 wires were frayed. After traveling with this Scion bag on Alaska for 4 years and zero issues, I was in disbelief. I filed a claim with Alaska, but it was too many days late. Clearly, this was not a happy week!
My ankle was not good but it was not getting worse, and time off my feet for a couple days really helped. I headed to Cal Poly with Katie that Friday for admitted students weekend and booked an MRI. MRI result was partial peroneal tendon tear and talus lesion. Not good! After getting consultations from a naturopath, a podiatrist, an orthopedic and Michelle at P3, all recommended a PRP (platelet rich plasma) procedure with various other support. The first week of May I had the PRP procedure and followed that by a month in a boot.
I am so happy to say I came through it, and am grateful to have other race reports for 2022! See 2022 Race report summary for the details and race reports.
Other 2022 race reports:
IM California, 142.6ish