Early this winter, I decided to race Oceanside instead of Galveston 70.3 this year. I competed in Oceanside for years as the kickoff to my season. The harder course suited my fitness for this time of the year and I've had bad luck in Galveston the last few years, so I decided to give that race a miss this year.
No surprise, it was cold in Oceanside. I've frozen my ass of many years in the Oceanside harbor and this year did not disappoint. The swim was really cold. Lucky for me, I had my TYR Freak of Nature wetsuit and I managed to come out of the water in 5th place. At that point Andy Potts had a solid 2 minute lead on us.
I guess in California, "a marine layer" really means rain. Luckily I packed my arm warmers, which came in very handy on the bike. Matt Lieto was making fun of me at the start because I kept complaining about the cold and wet, when really I love the hard conditions.
The ride was hard from the start, with Ambrose setting a hard pace early. Just before the big hills, the second group caught up. As soon as the group caught up, Ambrose and Griffo decided to attack. I made the decision to go with them and we managed to put a big gap in the group for about 20 miles, but Lieto and Jesse were able to bridge the gap and come into transition with us. Never have I been so thankful to have Shimano Di2 in a race. I really would have struggled to change gears with my cold fingers if I had normal levers.
I had a really bad transition. My fingers were so cold I couldn't undo my helmet strap. With the quality of runners heading out of transition and me still struggling with my helmet I had a little panic attack and left my PowerBar gels and run visor behind.
I managed to close the gap to the front group quickly. We all hit the first mile hard, with Ambrose and Griffo pushing the pace. I think we went through the first mile in around 5:10. The next couple of miles, Leon and I kept pushing the pace. Everyone dropped off, apart from Jesse. I knew it was going to be one of the toughest runs of my life with these two quality runners still hanging in. The first 4-5 miles, I really had trouble with my feet still so cold. We managed to pull back about a minute on Andy in the first couple of miles, but he held the time gap around 1:15 for the rest of the race. Around 6 miles, just as I was starting to hurt, Jesse put the hammer down and opened up a large gap on us. Around this point, I was really regretting leaving my nutrition behind. At 7 miles, I managed to grab a PowerBar gel and some Coke at an aid station. I yo-yo'ed off the back of Griffo for another mile. Half way through the 7th mile, I got a little bit angry and decided to pull my head out of my ass and go after Jesse. The next few miles, I realized that I didn't feel any worse, so I kept trying to lift the pace. At the turnaround, I managed to close a lot of distance between me and Jesse. Still feeling good, I really worked hard on the small hills to catch him. Just before mile 12 I managed to close up to Jesse. In the back of my mind, I was trying to figure out how to beat him as I knew he was an outstanding runner in college. I love sprint finishes. They have always been one of the best parts of the race for me, so I was looking forward to the battle to the finish line. I decided to go straight past Jesse and just run my own pace. Over the next mile, I slowly kept picking it up. It seemed to work as Jesse faded with a couple hundred meters to go and I was able to hold him off for 2nd.
Congrats to Jesse for putting in a good race. He worked hard on the bike, which I think took a bit out of him on the run. Also congrats to Andy. Leading from start to finish is always impressive. I'm really excited to have such a great finish. I've been training really hard this winter, especially on the run and I'm happy to see that it's starting to pay off. Thanks to my sponsors: Rev3, Recovery Pump, Kestrel, TYR, PowerBar, RudyProject, Pearl iZumi and Shimano for their support.
There's a cool video recap of this race on YouTube. You can check it out here: