Saturday, April 3, 2010

Ironman California 70.3, 2010

The start of triathlon season is finally here! I traveled down to Oceanside, California to race Ironman California 70.3. This is my second season in the sport and Oceanside was my first attempt at the 70.3 distance. Less than two years ago my race was 4 minutes, now it is about 4 hours.
This race is usually the beginning of the season for many triathletes. It is rich in tradition and VERY deep in talent. There were several world champions, veteran professionals, savvy amateurs, and countless individuals that have been busting their tail in preparation for this race. I raced among all of them and I am very happy to have competed in this great event.

Thursday, March 25th
[Travel Day]
Two days out from the race I did a lot of the things the top pros were probably doing. I tuned my bike, packed up, took the day very easy, and got on a plane to San Diego. I also went to work teaching and coaching. I don’t think most of the pros can say they coached the 6th grade girl’s basketball team to a victory before they departed for the race, Go Cougars!
I flew down with Clara, Ramsey, and my good friend Scott Robertson. Traveling with Clara to races used to be a little bit easier before Ramsey, but he certainly gives racing more purpose. We got into Oceanside pretty late but found our rental to be more than sufficient for the weekend, walking distance to the start and a couple of comfy beds.

Friday, March 26th
Strike 1 – The disc wheel I rented does not fit my rear brake, luckily in the future I will own one thanks to Zipp.
Strike 2 – BIKE CRASH!!! It was unavoidable and I went down hard on my right side.
Strike 3, I’m out!– Ramsey decided to eat a pill he found on the floor. A call to poison control later, all was fine and it was just one of my vitamins.
So, this was not exactly how I wanted my pre-race to go. One positive was getting to meet with my new sponsors at the expo. Jake from Zoot got me completely dialed in.
After strike 3 I gave my coach, Tony DeBoom, a call. In his very cool demeanor, Tony set me straight. I felt confident after speaking to Tony but still organized my gear and decided to go to bed before there could be a strike 4.

Saturday, March 27th
[Race Day/My 26th Birthday]
My alarm went off at 3:30AM, it was time to go. The first few steps to the kitchen were very telling. I felt as if I had woken up the day after an extremely hard training day. My body was not happy but I tried not to let it phase me, I was racing no matter how I felt. I ate a breakfast consisting of a bagel with almond butter, a cliff bar, some GU Brew, and a few Advil. After a final gear check, I kissed my wife and rubbed my son’s head for some luck. I rode off in the dark to Oceanside Pier where the race would begin and end.
The transition area was more crowded than I expected for my early arrival. I squeezed my bike onto my rack and went out for an easy jog. My body did not feel great but I knew that when the race started that I would not feel the damage my pre-race bike crash inflicted. After my jog I slipped on my new Zoot kit which is super cool, pulled on my new Zoot wetsuit, and walked down to the swim start. My wave went off behind the pro men, pro women, and challenged athletes. Twelve minutes after the pro men began, we were off!

{The Swim}

I am still having a hard time figuring the triathlon swim out! My swimming has improved dramatically since last year. I have increased my volume and have gotten a lot of help from some great coaches at North Bay Aquatics. Last year I could barely get across the pool and this year I have moved into the fast lane in a very competitive swim program. So, I must say I was disappointed with losing the pack. In my short career as a triathlete I have always felt lost in the swim, definitely not open water savvy YET. I was happy to survive another swim and get to the bike. My transition was solid and I was off on the bike.

{The Bike}
(Coach DeBoom, Check him out at
Coach Tony DeBoom is a really great guy and an amazing coach. After last season I went searching for a coach that would shoot me straight and set me on a course to race successfully in the world of professional triathletes. I guess I was looking for someone with a wealth of knowledge, a positive attitude, and a no bullshit approach to training. Tony was my guy! Tony knew I could run, the first week he coached me I ran a 1:09 half marathon. He also soon realized that I can handle a lot of training. Tony then realized that I needed to do a lot of work with my swim and bike. He has definitely jumpstarted my transition from a runner doing triathlons to a triathlete. We have worked hard to improve the front 2/3s of my race.
The 56 mile bike at Oceanside was tough. There were hills and a hefty headwind, not to mention this was my first time trying to figure this distance out. I am pleased with the outcome and learned a ton. My effort and pace for this race was similar to the Olympic distance bike legs I had last year, which is nice. I wanted to come off of the swim/bike portion in three hours or less and then try to crush the run. Mission accomplished on this but the run is where I would begin to learn a lot about the 70.3 distance.

{The Run}

(Headed to the finish, much learned)

I love getting off the bike with the idea that I am going to run everyone down. Of course, in a race like this, running EVERY athlete down would be unattainable. But, I was content with trying to catch a lot of them.
Triathlon racing reminds me of when I raced track relays. I would usually have the anchor leg responsibilities and would try to run people down. Some of my best times came from trying to get a win for my school. The feeling of a baton exchange is the same feeling I get when I rack my bike, pull on my shoes, and head out to the run course (the anchor leg for triathlon).
This feeling was present for me in Oceanside and probably led to my first two miles being 5:20 and 5:23. After 2, I settled into what I thought would be a sustainable pace for the final 11. Through the halfway mark I was on pace for a 1:13 half marathon, about what I thought I could manage. My form was steady, my mind was clear, and my awesome new Zoot Ultra TTs were springing me forward with each stride. It was not until mile 10 that I realized something was happening to me on this run. I was slowing down and unable to do anything about it. It wasn’t a hurt that I have felt before, just a slow fatigue of every muscle in my body. I took some Gatorade and some water, but it was too late. I was bonking! My final three miles were VERY slow and the duration of them gave me some time to think. Of course, my thoughts were about my race. I thought about the swim, the bike, my nutrition along the way and determined that I took the distance for granted. I made some rookie mistakes from the pre-race crash to the lack of calories consumed. Those three miles will do more for me in this sport than anything else and I am thankful for that. I crossed the finish line in 4:19.21 and finished 21st overall in the most competitive field that I will see all year. I hugged my son and wife, ate about 7 slices of pizza, and walked out of there as a wiser triathlete.

Thank you to my sponsors at Zoot, Orbea, Zipp, Alcis, GU, Fuelbelt, and Suunto. Thank you Tony for your amazing coaching. Clara and Ramsey, I could not live a day without your support.
Escape from Alcatraz is next and I will begin racing as a professional triathlete.
Please connect with me on RunRamsey.Com by setting up a profile and follow my miles and trials.
(Until next time....)

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