Camp Pendleton and IM California hold a very dear place in my heart. It was my first attempt at the IM distance in 2000 and it's where I met some people that I now consider some of my closest friends. And, it's the place our friend Rod was stationed and where our friend Steve still is stationed. It's also a hard, but fair, course, especially the bike, and I've raced there four times, 2000 (DNF at the full IM distance), 2002 (HIM, but different bike course) and 2004. I was excited to go down and race, until the weather turned and the projections were for cold, super cold water, freezing rain pellets (!) and just not a fun time. Have I mentioned that I hate cold and especially cold water?????
I took off Thursday and Friday and drove down Thursday morning. Great idea--no rushing to get there and registered, no dealing with LA Friday traffic (Thursday's was bad enough). Short run on Thursday late afternoon, steak, salad and a little pasta for dinner and I slept great that night. Friday morning I met up with some folks at the Oceanside Pier for a swim. Not sure if I'd call what I did a swim as there was surf and the water was FREEZING (53F). I couldn't keep my face in the water at all, so I got out and was ready to DNS. Or resign myself to the fact that I would be doing a 1.2 mile breaststroke or water polo stroke. Did a short ride on the bike with Brian and felt great on the bike. Still not thrilled about the swim. Got registered, met up with the Slowtwitch crew and saw a number of other people I knew, then it was time to head home, eat, get everything organized and to bed.
Race morning, woke up at 3AM to pouring rain. Went back to sleep until the alarm at 4AM...no rain, just a little cold. Ate and got ready to go and headed out and within 10 minutes it started raining so hard I could barely see. I almost turned the truck around and went home to bed. It quit after a few minutes, but started up again later. Parked, rode to the transition area and I still was not in the frame of mind to get in the water. The one bright spot of the morning--got body marked by Bill Bell.
It was a long wait until my wave could get in the water and I was shivering, even with the wetsuit and three swim caps. Got in the water and started clear at the back and my face was frozen, but once the gun went off, I was able to swim, but had to breath every right stroke. Still can't swim a straight line (I veer to the right). Passed 3 colors of caps, but had no idea of how I was doing and didn't know when I got out as I didn't know what time exactly my wave started and didn't run my stopwatch.
My feet were like blocks of ice so it was a slow, long trot from the water to the bike. I put on arm warmers, long-sleeved polypro shirt, full finger gloves, wind vest (which I had trouble zipping up with frozen fingers, socks--BIG MISTAKE, fleece beanie and helmet. Took off and it started to rain. I just pretended I was riding in Belgium. Socks got wet and that became an issue later on the run (blisters). I rode fairly easy the first half as the second half of the bike is way harder, with the three big hills. It was a little windy early, going up the coast, so I knew the last ten miles into the wind tunnel would be harsh. I didn't have to get off on the big hill (many did and I have had to in the past), and, I passed people on big hill #2 and #3, which is pretty unusual! There is a fantastic long sweeping curved descent after hill #3 and I was able to keep the speed up pretty high even with a strong wind coming from about 1 o'clock, passing lots of people riding their brakes. I also did OK in the last 10 miles into the wind tunnel. The last 15 miles I probably passed 50 people. My time was about 10 minutes slower than I'd ridden here in 2004, but there was better weather then (and I rode a lot harder the first half in 2004, which killed me for the run). I got back to the bike racks and there were only a couple of bikes there! That's a nice feeling!!!
Run: An awesome 9 miles!! 1:18 for the first loop which would have put me at a definite run PR by a lot. Got to 10 miles in about 1:54 (just eyeballing both times from real time as I'd glanced at my watch when I left transition). It was fun seeing everyone I knew on the course and it makes the time go by faster. Got out near the turn around on the second loop and I hit the wall at about 9.5 miles--the Gatorade just sat like a lump in my gut and my blisters hurt. I should have stuck to just water and Gu and Coke. I did pick up the pace in the last 1.5 miles and the last mile was probably the fastest of the day. I'd passed a gal who looked like she was an Athena at about mile 12, so I picked it up to stay ahead of her. I hit the sand and kept running and had to run around many people walking. That didn't help the blister situation, but I didn't care. Hit the finishing straight and through the tape for a 2:39 run which is right around a run PR, so I'm happy with that.
6th in my division (Athena), though maybe 5th because we think the person listed as 5th is a dude. He was racked with us and right next to me and all the ladies were like, "WTF???? Why is there a guy in our rack?" 14th out of 44 AG on the swim. Go figure! That was a big shock.
Comparison from 2004 to 2006 at this race:
48:45 2:27/100 39:42 2:05/100m
3:22:30 16.6 mph 3:27:52 16.2 mph
3:04:41 14:06 min/mi 2:39.19 12:09 min/mi
So, the 7:06 was far off a PR for the distance, but a PR for the Cali course. And after the frame of mind I was in starting the race, I'm happy with the results. I still need to work on my running though and that's what I'll be doing, starting today.