USTS Oceanside (Sprint)
.75k / 20k / 5k
June 13, 1999
Just being here using a bike from a new friend made the event the best
race of the year. The swim was a COLD change from the warm, calm lakes I
have swam in for 14 years (can you say "Wipeout!"?). The bike was
incredibly flat and fast (did I mention flat?). I set a PR on the run,
complete with a sprint to the finish. The crowds were great! The weather
was perfect. I got to talk to QRMan again, before his announcement.
Final time was 1:27:52, 11th out of 15 in my AG (5th in my AG on the
bike!). It was a great race!
Now, if you have time, the details will be worth reading...
It felt like being back home for a race. I lived in North San Diego
county for 8 years before moving north to Los Angeles (actually,
Lancaster for those who know the area). I finished high school in Vista
and went to college at Palomar Jr College and San Diego State
University. My wife's parents and brother still live in the area as does
my brother and his family, and some aunts, uncles and grandfather on my
wife's side. For Tri-spouse, who grew up in North County, she was home
So why would a BOPpin' tri-geek from Atlanta be in Oceanside for race?
Heavenly intervention! Oceanside was the first part of a family vacation
that included a trip to Oregon for my grandparents 50th wedding
anniversary. I did not know about the race when we planned our vacation,
nor did I even consider it since I could not even imagine the logistics
of getting a bike from Atlanta to Oceanside to Salem, OR and back to
Here's where it gets good. I had to withdraw from a the
Powerman/Whistlestop duathlon in Birmingham earlier this year, when our
the date for church choir's Easter special was moved up a week. It was
tough for me to give up a race. A week after I made that decision I
received the USTS schedule in the mail. Hmmm... what's this? A USTS in
Oceanside the one weekend when we'll be there? Nah, there's no way to
work out getting the bike there, the trip to Oregon, etc. That's just
"Why don't you post something on the internet about renting a bike?"
Tri-spouse asked. Sure, why not. It was a long shot, but I had nothing
to loose. The next day I got an email from Steve Fredericks, an RST
regular and Marine stationed at Camp Pendleton. He offered to let me use
his training bike for the race. Remember, our vacation plans, airline
tickets, etc. had all been made BEFORE any of this happened. To have a
race fit into the schedule, a bike loaned to me by a guy who only new me
from RST... you get the idea.
Before the Race:
June comes and we're off to California. We have some fun at Sea World
and visiting family. Steve not only lets me use his bike, he delivers it
to my in-law's house where we were staying. He's a great guy and I'm
looking forward to racing with him at IM California next year! But, I
get more than the bike. He brings a pump, tools, neoprene hat, energy
gels, etc. That was awesome!!! I was stoked. This was going to be a
The next day, however, was not so great. As I put my pedals on Steve's
bike and hopped on for a test ride, one of my bike shoes fell apart...
literally. The bottom had separated from the main part of the shoe.
Argggh! Where would I find a shoe repair place on Friday night who would
also be open on Saturday. Well, more heavenly intervention. There was
ONE cobbler open who could have the shoe repaired by noon Saturday. Sure
enough, I was able to pick up my better-than-new shoe on the way to
packet pick up.
The Bally/Baywatch Expo was amazing. The Oceanside Pier area was
transformed into a Tri-geeks paradise. Hi-tech bikes, wheels,
accessories and clothing was everywhere. Unfortunately, I did not have
much time. I did have time, however, to spend a few minutes talking to
Dan Empfield (then, QRMan). He even offered to loan me a QR Redstone or
TeQuillo for the race (part of that "ride like the other side" promo). I
eagerly accepted the offer, but later changed my mind. If not for
Steve's bike, I wouldn't be doing the race. QRMan understood which was
Race morning was VERY early. The sprint race started at 6:30am. I
quickly set up my transition area and pulled on my wetsuit to try out
the water. BRRRR!!! It was supposed to be about 62, but felt colder
(later I found out the water was 58). I warmed up quickly, then returned
to the beach to get ready for the start.
I was in the first wave. The national anthem was played, and then we
were off. We ran into the cold Pacific and began the swim. It had been
10 years since I had really done any swimming in the ocean, but I
remembered how to dive under the waves. However, I had forgotton the
weird feeling of swimming at the crest of a swell and reaching with my
hand for water and finding only air! Even so, I got into my rythm
quickly. It was hard to see the bouy, but I followed the crowd --
actually, I kept bumping into people which told me I was going about the
right way. Before I knew it I was making the turn back to the beach. At
this point we were beyond the breakers, but it did not take long to get
back into the waves.
SMASH!!! Woa! Where did that come from? I was caught off guard by a wave
breaking right on top of me. Oh, yeah. I forgot about the waves...
SMASH!!! Before I had regained my bearings and could think about trying
to catch a wave in I was wiped out by another. Well, twice was enough.
My swim technique was quickly changed to enable me to look for waves and
try to catch one. I had not body surfed in 10 years and it showed. I
don't think I caught a single wave. No problem. I was soon walking up
the beach. I looked at my watch and was disapointed to see that the
timer had stopped. I guess I hit someone on the the head harder than I
thought. Fortunately, Tri-spouse was on the beach and gave me my split
(she times me to know when to look for me finishing each event). My time
was around 15 minutes which was pretty good for me. Officially, my swim
split was 15:34, 10th out of 15 in my AG.
Next was the bike. As I ran into transition the crowds were cheering.
This was sooo cool! I've never done a race with so many spectators. I
had remembered to pull down my wetsuit to my waste exiting the water so
now I just had to pull it off my legs. It came off easily. Since I had
worn my tri-shorts and singlet under the suit I only had to put on the
socks, bike shoes and helmet to get on the bike.
Steve's bike felt great. It was the perfect size for me. It took only a
bit to get used to the shifters on the down tube (my QR has grip shifts
on the aero bars). The bike was two loops and featured a short, but very
steep climb at the start of each loop. I was so pumped that I stayed out
of the saddle until I reached the top. One guy passed me on the way up
the first lap and a womanr passed me just after the turn at the top. No
one else passed me the rest of the bike. I was flying!
The roads along the strand are a rough concrete with many holes.
However, it was not difficult to dodge them. I passed a lot of people --
too many to count. I was having a blast. As I neared the turn back to
transition the crowds cheered me on to my second lap. I briefly saw
Tri-family and the in-laws as I slowed for the sharp turn and downhill.
Lap two went quickly. I did not know how fast I was going since I did
not have a bike computer on Steve's bike. But, as long as I was passing
people and not being passed I felt I was doing great. I finished the
bike in just over 38 minutes, which turned out to be a 19.6 mph average.
I have only once ever biked faster than that in a race. My split on the
bike was the 5th fastest in my AG. Wow! For a short time I was elevated
from BOP to MOP to FOP(?) status! That was a first for me.
Back into transition, change into run shoes and off I go on the run. My
timing chip activates the beep on the timing carpet as I exit
transition. The crowds are still loud. Plus, the winner has not yet
crossed the finish. That is most unusual. I usually start my run just as
the winners are fininshing. I'm really doing great!
The run starts up a steep, but short hill. Some people were walking up
the hill, but I felt too good to walk. I gave it everything and rounded
the corner at the top passing others. Tri-family was there to cheer me
on, but I was feeling a bit tired. Fortunately, there was a water stop
ahead so I walked it and got some much-needed water. With water in me I
I usually run about a 10 minute/mile pace, but I was definitely running
faster than that today. The run was a two lap course. Many top age
groupers were finishing the race as I passed by transition for lap 2.
Transition was a busy area. The Olympic distance race was underway with
swimmers, bikers and runners from both races keeping the area hectic.
Somehow, the organizers managed to keep the sprint and Olympic
competitors separate. Anyway, I walked that steep hill as I began lap
two. The second lap seemed to take longer. Plus, there's that steep hill
just before the finish -- a run up, turn around and run back stretch to
get a few more tenths of a mile in the course. I round the corner at the
bottom and the finish line is in sight.
I'm running a little slower by this point. I have been passed by many
people, which is normal considering my slow run pace. But I think I may
have passed a couple. As I near the finish, another guy catches me and
encourages me to run with him. OK, that will be fun. As we run side by
side, we play that game of cat and mouse. I'm feeling good so I really
turn it on. By now the announcer has seen our "competition" and is
calling the crowd's attention to us as we sprint to the finish. I pass
him a final time and never see him until after we finish. I'm running so
fast and smooth it feels effortless. I cross the line in full speed
finishing the run in under 30 minutes. My run split ends up being 29:38,
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