Matt Hanson | Professional Triathlete
4x Ironman Champion/ 2x 70.3 Champion

Oceanside 70.3 Race Report

OceansideOne of the hardest things to do as a pro athlete is to enter a competition knowing that you aren’t firing on all cylinders. You can only truly peak a few times per year and Oceanside 70.3 was not a race that I was putting as a high priority event. So why do the race? Even though I wasn’t gearing up to be 110% on race day, there are still a lot of things that I should be working on during a race that you just can’t simulate in training. For example, the swim start…especially one with over 40 pros like there were this weekend. Also, you get transition practice under pressure and gain experience riding with a draft legal group, etc…. These are all skills that I need to develop further, so I decided to race in Oceanside again this year.

My “taper” into the race was only about 3 days. I had training as usual for the build into IMTX up through Tuesday, then spent Wednesday aero testing in the velodrome (full report soon). Despite all this, I felt pretty good on race morning and thought I could still put together a pretty decent race.

Race Morning

Everything went as per usual race morning. Woke up at 3:15, drank my two servings of First Endurance Ultragen, got another hour of sleep, then headed to transition. Quickly got my area set up and double checked my bike, then went for a quick jog. They allowed us a few minutes for a swim warm up, but I wanted to make sure I was good and ready when the gun went off. Threw on my Huub wetsuit then got in the water as soon as they let us in to warm up.

OCide swim Swim- 26:24

I specifically marked out someone who I knew was a solid swimmer/biker for this swim. I thought if I could stay with him on the swim, I’d be able to ride with him on the bike as well. I got off to a pretty good start, and was right where I wanted to be…actually about 6 inches too far forward. I caught the heel of my “mark” right in the mouth and it cut my lip and pushed my front tooth back about ¼ of the way. Before you tweet this to #triexcuses, this didn’t slow me down at all, just another flashback to wrestling days! Thankfully I was able to keep on the feet that I wanted to and kept on pushing. Once the pace settled down a bit, I pushed the tooth back into place with my tongue and kept on going. I was working hard, but swimming smooth through the first ¾ of the swim. I lost the feet at the final red turn buoy and surged hard to try to get back on them…probably too hard and I ended up not getting on their feet and going completely anaerobic. The last 4-500 hardly resembled swimming for me. I lost the group that came out at 25 and change and drifted back to the handful of guys in the 26 and change group. Still, taking a lot of positives out of this swim. I managed the start well and stuck with the group I wanted to for ¾ of the swim. I also swam faster this year than last year on a day where most people were nearly a minute slower than last year, a testament to my work with Tim @ Magnolia Masters.

 T1 –

The run into transition is a long one. My HR was through the roof since I went so anaerobic at the end of the swim. While I had a fairly flawless transition, I did not feel good at all at the start of the ride. 

Ironman 70.3 California

Bike- 2:17:50

I just didn’t have any bike legs on race day. The bike and run work as part of IMTX build as well as the strength training I’ve been doing with Bridge Athletic in this last block of training just meant tired quads come race day but my coaches and I knew this might well be the case and were undeterred as this was all part of the plan to build into bigger races to come. In hindsight, I still had hoped I would have been able to put up a better effort on the bike. My power was pretty low and sporadic as I worked my way out of town. When we finally got to the more open parts of the course, I just couldn’t settle into a solid pace. I seemed to have good power at low RPM when climbing, but never really felt comfortable when trying to fly through the flat sections. I certainly didn’t have the bike leg that I wanted to, my power was well below even what I held the first two hours of IMNZ a few weeks ago. For a bit, I was worried about how the run would go. My hamstrings and calves felt fine, but my quads felt completely fried. Again, not really happy with my ride but still learned a few things to make every ride hence forth better. The power:speed ratio was pretty great for this course considering how low my power was, kudos to Jim @ Ero Sports. Definitely gave me confidence that I am in the right position on the bike.

Nutrition wise, the ride was pretty straight forward. I consumed about 700 calories of EFSpro which was a bit under target, but my power was so low that the burn rate was not as high as it normally would be during a 70.3.

T2 –

Again, everything went well here in transition. I racked my bike, threw on my On CloudRacers and grabbed everything else and started getting my Garmin, etc. situated as I was running out of T2.

Run – 1:12:23

Fairly pleased with this run considering how poor the bike went and how I felt at the start. I really had to force the pace early on. My first 5k was the slowest 5k of the day. I was stuck in the 5:40 rut for the first few miles until I got to the first steep uphill ramp. I punched up the ramp and got to the top and felt surprisingly good all of the sudden. My pace steadily improved over the next few miles. I ran the remaining miles to the first turn around at about a 5:20 pace catching a few guys along the way. I got a good look at where everyone was and thought with a great run I might have a shot at finding the top 10. I picked up the pace a bit on the second ½ of lap 1. Shortly into lap 2, I bridged the gap and passed Sebastian Kienle. This was a learning moment for me. I didn’t accelerate through the pass, I just kept my normal pace. I assumed since I caught him, he would just let me go since there was still 6 miles left in the run….wrong. Pretty sure he threw a leash around me as soon as I passed him. He sucked right into my draft and was with me strideOside finfor stride. I would surge and he would respond. I punched up all 3 of the ramps and he was still closer to me than my shadow. Finally, on the last ramp we took a right turn that continued up hill. I kept the surge going through the hill and finally snapped the leash. I burnt quite a few matches punching those climbs trying to get away, but I didn’t want to get into a sprint finish with someone (especially a world champion) who I let sit in my draft for 6 miles either, so felt I needed to get some distance. At the end of the day, this probably cost me a few seconds on the run (but wouldn’t have mattered place wise). It was definitely the right strategic call and the first time I’ve ever had to battle with someone that early in a run. Happy that I salvaged the race with a solid run and learned a few things while doing so.

Overall – 4:02:18-  11th Place

I got what I needed to out of the race. I learned a few new things, executed a few things well that I have been specifically working on, and came away with a PR run for a 70.3 on a course where you have to run fairly stochastically…and did so just a few weeks after a hard run at IMNZ. My run fitness is where it needs to be and my swim is improving. I am really happy with where I am sitting with just under 6 weeks remaining in the build into IMTX. 

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