Oilman 70.3 is a race that’s held each year in the fall. It’s a 70.3 mile triathlon. If you’re not familiar with what a 70.3 is the short description is 1.2 miles of swimming, 56 miles of biking followed by a 13.1 mile half marathon as a single race. It’s also often called a half IRONMAN distance race.
At this race I set a new PR with a time of 5:09:46. That beat my last 70.3 time from back in April at IRONMAN Texas 70.3 Galveston by 10 minutes. Needless to say I am pleased with the final time, beating my goal to take off 4 mins by a good margin on a challenging course.
I followed a very similar preparation strategy as I used for Galveston and the full Distance (140.6) IRONMAN Texas. I started a few days early during taper week by setting up an area where I could lay out all by gear by discipline and walk through my race plan. When I do this a visualize what I will be doing in transition and then look at my table to make sure I have the item. This is an easy way to make sure I wasn’t forgetting anything. Check lists also help but I didn’t use one for this race. I then bagged everything up by time period. Breakfast, morning of and swim gear, bike nutrition, gear and computer, run gear and lastly something to put on after the race.
I also like to wipe down, de-grease and oil my bike before each race. With all the training and family activities I don’t clean it as often as I should. Defiantly not as often as my road bike buddies who I’m pretty sure do it every time they touch their bikes.
For this race the forecast was predicting a huge temperature drop for race morning. To combat this I had planned on wearing calf sleeves under my wet suit and having arm sleeves ready on my aero bars. I changed that plan the morning of when it was almost 70 F. Perfect for swimming and biking and just a tad warm for running. I don’t think I could have asked for better.
Always be ready for a change of plan but if it’s not forced on you have a good reason you would change it ahead of time. This will keep you from second guessing yourself and making changes you don’t need. Make a plan and stick to it. Everything sounds like the best idea ever and you have no idea why you didn’t think of it earlier… 10 mins before the race. IT’S NOT.
I based my nutrition plan off what I used for Galveston which was:
Breakfast 850-100- cal
Bike 400-500 cal/hr
Run 90 cal/hr to carry plus pickup
I ended up with the following after taking into account the temperature and what I learned last time.
Breakfast: Ensure Plus (350 cal)
Cliff bar (Chocolate Chip) 250 cal
And an oatmeal and banana squeeze pouch that I picked up at a race for another 200 cal.
That’s 800 cal for breakfast which sounds like a lot until you put it into perspective of getting ready to burn well over 4,000 cal and I’m eating breakfast about 2.5 hrs before that race. It’s equal to a few donuts but better for you.
Bike nutrition: 4 Honey Stinger Waffles (160 cal each) 640 cal total
2 packs of Honey Stinger Chews ( 160 cal each) 320 cal total – I lost these on a speed bump so they were not consumed. (Forced plan change)
2 x 28 oz water bottles with 200 cal pack of Tailwind. 400 cal total
1 x 28 oz bottle of UCAN (100 cal) this was a new trial for me. Yes, I often violate the don’t try anything new on race day rule. I have an iron stomach. It just doesn’t look it.
Total for the bike: 1,460 cal (planned)
Run nutrition: 2 x 100 cal GU’s, pickle juice shot and 2 Salt Stick caps. 200 cal total
Pickle juice isn’t as bad as people think, just take it like a shot and you don’t even taste it. I say that and I read an article a few months back that suggested part of it working to prevent cramps is the bodies reaction to the taste.
Race prep on site:
We chose to stay at the hotel at the race venue because it would be much easier with the kids and I can get a little more theoretical sleep before the race. Thank goodness iPhone changes the time for day lights savings ending or I would have been in trouble.
I began to set up for the morning once we had dinner ordered. I set out my morning breakfast and cloths. Prepared by bike bottles, cut my Honey Stinger waffles to fit in my bento bag and placed my Honey Stinger chews in the storage bin of my bike bottle and applied my Tritats. I then had my healthy dinner of an amazingly good pizza from one of the local shops with delivery. The hotel menus just didn’t look good and the kids were tired. Iron stomach to the rescue. I think I finally got to sleep around 10pm.
I set the alarm for 4:15 which left me plenty of time to eat breakfast and relax letting my body wake up. I also gave my gear a once over and realized I never aired up my tires and now the kids were sleeping next to my bike. I ended up filling them in the hallway figuring if anyone else heard the tire pump coming off the valve through their door they were probably up for the race anyways. It was a short walk to transition where I had plenty of time to rack my bike and pick up my timing chip. As a practice, I always like to walk the transitions from swim-in to bike-out and bike-in to run-out every race to help get my mind-set on my route through transition. For this race I was in the middle of the row which did cause me a little trouble when I returned from the bike because most of the row was empty and I didn’t take note of how far down I was. This wasn’t an issue after the swim leg because I was looking for my helmet which was easy to spot.
Race start (Swim):
Rather than walk a long distance in my wet suit like at Galveston I applied my anti fog to my goggles. I then grabbed my wet suit, swim cap and KT tape and carried it to the swim start where I put it on. The KT tape is to protect my neck from the dreaded wet suit scar. I don’t think I got it in the right spot this time because I still got a small one on one side of my neck.
The start was a beach start where you run across the starting sensors into the water. I lined up on the left side in what you could call the second row of people. My plan was to avoid fighting the guys in front and just swim relaxed through them as they tired out. I’m relatively quick in the water but also acknowledge my tendency to be inefficient when I’m fighting someone to lead. I’m also the worlds worst swim drafter. I just can’t get it right.
The gun went off and we all ran for the water. It’s hard to tell in all the commotion and the wash of people but I’m sure I ran further into the water than most and was able to dive out with a little glide putting me right up even with the guys who were in front of me. I made the first right turn out of the basin with no troubles. On the way out to the first turn buoy I could feel some waves moving through coming in from what would be 11 o’clock. The waves weren’t very big but you could feel them move you as they passed through you.
I believe I was swimming to the outside of the main pack because I could see people to my left and only the occasional person to my right but didn’t really run into anyone until I approached the 1st turn buoy. The 100 or so meters between the buoys was were all the action was. This was like playing pinball to avoid hitting people or getting kicked. Somehow I managed to sneak my way through and make it around the second turn without any incident.
On the swim back in I noticed that I kept pulling to the right while swimming and had to constantly adjust. I was probably doing this on the way out as well and I think it worked as an advantage for the course setup. Not so much on the way in. I was working to sight and adjust my point every 6 strokes and it was getting a little tiring. I did manage to bring it back in for the finish and only ran over one swimmer. I’m mostly sure he just stopped as I came up on him and at that point it was too late.
Getting out of the water was a little more challenging. With tired arms it was like doing your 15th pull up when you can only do 10 on a good day. I made it 90% of the way up the ladder and as soon as I needed to pull my body in to make it over the edge there just wasn’t any strength left. Good thing they had some volunteers working the ladder and a guy grabbed my shoulder and pulled me in.
I was 1st out of the water in the (30-34) age group with a time of 32:36
T1 started after my wet suit was off. This went as planned for a time of 1:44 which is an improvement from what I’ve done in the past. For this race I decided I was biking with socks on after tearing my feet up a bit in April with the sand and salt. There was sand at the swim exit so I didn’t risk it this time.
I neglected to mention earlier that I prepare my bike with the shoes on the peddles using rubber bands to hold them in place. Now if you watch videos of the flying start and then attempt that after swimming 1.2 miles your braver than I am. I wont even try that at a sprint. Between crashing and knocking my back bottles off, it’s not worth the risk.
I set my peddles with the left pedal forward (typically the opposite of what I’ve seen in the flying mount videos) so that as I approach the mount line I can step directly into the left shoe and get a little push from the gearing using my body weight. I then step into the other shoe which should be about to rip it’s securing band to shreds. On race day I also got an added bonus at the mount line of seeing Aimee and the kids cheering. So, Using some mad bike skills while still getting on, racing and doing up by shoes I managed to steer over to give my 3 year old a high 5.
Leaving the resort with lots of adrenaline pumping I powered out the main drive trying to get around as many people from the earlier waves as possible while I had full use of 2 lanes. The unfortunate side of this strategy is that I hit the speed pumps with a little…speed. I lost all my Honey Stinger Chews. Well, all but one and it was good. Luckily that wasn’t the entire nutrition plan lost. I still had the Honey Stinger waffles and mixed high Cal drinks.
When I decided I was doing this race I knew it was going to be a challenge due to the hills. How much of a challenge was the question. Especially with the overall time goal I set for myself. You see I live in a nearly flat location, making hill training consists of using the big ring and small gear at a low cadence. My race day strategy was to spin high up the hills and gear down for the downhills and keep my legs moving. I also loaded a course profile into the Garmin 520 so that I could see the elevation changes coming up. I had heard that there was some false hills that could really steal your energy. I ended up only looking at the profile for about 2 miles when I decided it was to depressing to see how much bigger the upcoming incline was going to be. This was at the peak you see at mile 35. The plan worked well but I lost a lot of speed after the U-turn at mile 30. This was wear the hills got longer and a head wind took its toll.
I maintained the plan and reminded myself to ride my race. I also reminded myself I still had a half marathon after. This is something I have to do because I love to pass the next bike in front of me and keep pushing to the next one. My engineering mind also justifies it by telling me I need to pass because I hit the draft zone. It works until you hit that magic point in a race where everyone left is your speed and those who are blowing past you are either insanely fast or on a relay team.
As I finished the bike I was really feeling the effort of the hills on my quads. This is where I usually cramp during when running. I needed to be careful. I put the bike in a higher gear to get my cadence up and work out the muscles for the last few miles. I did my rolling dismount and entered T2.
I finished the bike leg of the race 7th in my age group with a time of 2:37.2. Average speed 21.3 mph.
T2 was fast with only small issues. I drank a shot of pickle juice to combat the tightness in my quads. As I mentioned earlier I had a little trouble finding my spot on the racks. I also had to stop and get some small rocks out of my shoe that turned out to be my little bag with two salt tabs. Time in T2 was 1:54. Still under the 2 min goal.
This is always the toughest part of a race for me and I concerned with cramping up in my legs, like I did during my first long distance triathlon at IRONMAN Austin 70.3 2 years earlier. I had a goal of running a 9 min pace and with all the adrenaline I was flying out of T2 way to fast.
I spent the first few miles telling myself to slow down and get a steadier pace. I found another runner who was going a pace closer to my goal and told myself I would not pass them unless they really slowed or walked. The run course starts out following roads and a decent cart path. Later on in the loop the path becomes uneven and starts to go up and down. When I got to these parts I tried to stay on the downhill side of the path so I wasn’t going uphill if I could avoid it. I made it through the first lap in one piece and apparently smiling with great support from my little cheer squad.
During the second lap I started to have some trouble and began running out of steam. I took my first Honey Stinger gel as I approached the first aid station after mile 6.5. I started to compensate for my quads by taking shorter strides. I increased my turnover to compensate and began breathing in rhythm with my steps. I took the second gel around mike 8 and the salt tabs at the aid stations between the gels. I was able to maintain this for the rest of the race and actually began to run faster for the last 2 miles. The finish has a bit of a motivational tease. You run past the finish around mile 12.3 with all the cheering then make a small loop out to the main road and back with everyone cheering you in to the finish. I thought it was good from a motivation point of view. Aimee said I wasn’t looking as good when I came by at the 12.3 mile mark and could really use the pick me up.
I ended the race strong leaving everything on the course. I finished the run 10th in my age group with a time of 1:56:0. Average split 8:52/mile
Total time for Oilman 70.3 – 5:09:46
After passing the finish line and collapsing on the ground for a bit I met up with Aimee and the kids as well as the others racing from Tri Crew Cinco Ranch (TCCR). Most of the team took part in some seriously competitive relays with 4 of us racing solo.
Everyone did well and was exhausted. Even Levi who actually fell asleep walking back to the hotel room to get cleaned up. Just for clarity when I say while walking he was walking with us and then we turned around and he was asleep in the grass. I’ve never seem a kid fall asleep walking before but apparently it’s possible. Cheering can be tough. Don’t worry as soon as I walked into the room he woke up ready to go, go, go again.
After getting cleaned up and checked out of the hotel we headed home with a little pit stop and celebration for dinner.
For all the data junkies out there like myself the link below will take you directly to my Garmin file. A review of the race is also posted on Bibrave.com. There are direct links to all my reviews located here.