Race Report - USTS Nationals @ Oceanside (Oct 25th) - long

Race Report - USTS Nationals @ Oceanside (Oct 25th) - long

Post by Pat Bru » Tue, 03 Nov 1998 04:00:00

For those of you who missed (read: chose not to go) the USTS Nationals, you
missed one of the best races I've done in a decade.  It easily rated up with
'88 Hilton Head (where they had to change the swim course because even
Richard Wells couldn't make the turn at the buoy).  This course easily had
the toughest 40K bike course I've ever ridden in a triathlon-- much tougher
than USTS Las Vegas or Boulder Peak.

The race started at 7am, but fortunately the time change (from Daylight
Savings to Standard) occurred early that morning so we had an extra hour to
sleep.  Unfortunately, it was raining when I got up and apparently this was
the first rain in Oceanside for quite a while, so the roads were going to be
slick.  I had driven the bike course the prior evening & knew this could be
a little dicey with the combination of all the cornering, fast winding
descents, embedded road reflectors and pylons.  So I wiped all the
grit/dirt/grime from my rims and readjusted my brake calipers.  Now the rain
had almost stopped and it was just barely misting.  Got to the marking area
about 1.5 hours before starting time so I could get a could warm-up and
practice cornering on the steep/wet descents.

The transition area was off the "Strand" which is a narrow paved roadway
right on the beach.  In order to get from the Strand to the main streets of
town, there was a very steep, but short (about the length of a long
driveway) incline.  For the bike finish, you had to ride down this steep
incline and make a right angle turn at the bottom while navigating through
cones.  We were warned at the pre-race meeting that this is a very
"crash-susceptible" spot, so I wanted to practice the corner a couple of
times.  Riding up it was no piece of cake either, in our info packet we were
advised to keep our bikes in our lowest gear in order to negotiate this
hill.  Heeding the advice, I put my QR into the 42 x 21 and grunted up the
hill.  Yep, grunted... no spinning here.   I warmed up for about 10 minutes
and rode back to the TA.  I did a quick bike inspection and noticed that my
rear brakes were rubbing.   So I rode back up the "hill" and sprinted to the
van to get my caliper wrench.  Realigned my brakes and raced back to the TA.
Rechecked my brakes and the calipers weren't aligned left to right.  What's
going on here?  Crap, my rear wheel had slightly pulled out of the drop outs
(presumably caused from the previous hill grunt).  Reseated my wheel and of
course, my brakes were no longer aligned.  I now had 20 minutes until race
start.  Raced back up to the van and finally got everything working in good
mechanical order.  When I got back to the TA, I found someone had taken my
spot.  Fortunately, "the someone" was still there and we were able to make
room for each other.  Body Glided all the important areas and headed off
with fullsuit in hand for the last porta-potty stop.

THE COURSE.  The swim was a roughwater 1.5K swim in the Pacific... followed
by a very technically challenging and hilly bike course followed by a fast,
flat looped run course.  This course epitomized what I expected in a
championship course and was extremely spectator friendly.  Spectators could
watch the swim from the pier and then watch from the street above the
transition area to see you go out and come back on the back; as well as, see
you 3x on the run.

The 1.5K ocean swim was around Oceanside pier.  There was also reports of a
southern swell from a storm just off of Baja which means that we'd be
swimming against a fair current.  The surf was moderate ~4-5 ft. (from a New
Mexican's perspective) on the way to high surf warnings later in the day.  I
was in the third wave (5 min after the over 50s & relays, and 3 min after
the 29 and under men) and competing in the M 30-34.  I watched and learned
from the first two waves how the fast swimmers negotiated the surf.  We did
have the pleasure of having the likes of Tony Richardson and Scott Molina
racing in our wave (M30-39).  The gun sounded and there was a mad dash to
the water, which was soon followed by everyone losing their momentum as the
waves crashed ashore.  My wife said we looked like penguins.  Soon I was
diving under the waves, staying streamlined and kicking vigorously.  As you
went down in the swells, the distant buoys marking the course became
invisible.  As we rounded the first buoy, we already were passing many from
the previous wave.  About 2/3's of the way, my right foot started cramping
from the cold water (63 deg F).  In fact, the rest of the swim was spent
trying to relax, with a moderate kick and keeping my toes pointed towards
the bottom.  As I neared the end of the swim, a giant wave crashed over my
head.  It felt like someone had literally jumped on my back.  I treaded
water to regain my composure and saw that 6 or 7 others had the same
experience.  I got out of the water with about a 29 min split... about 10
min slower than my fresh water time.

When we ran up to the paved Strand (which led to the TA), I stopped a pulled
off my fullsuit before it dried too much.  I usually have to sit in order to
quickly remove the suit and today was no exception.  One leg popped out fine
but on the other, the suit rolled around the ankle which made it very hard
to get off as well as very time consuming.

Zipped over to my bike and ran it out of the TA.  Hopped on and rode up the
steep drive to the main road.  I'm sure glad I practiced this.  At this
point I had no idea where I was in my wave but I guessed I was in the top 10
somewhere.  The first 3-4 mi of the bike was pretty flat.  The main
technical challenge was that you had to ride through a narrow, one-lane
tunnel by making a right turn into it, and the tunnel was complete with
speed bumps.  After that, the course was mainly rollers until you hit
Foussat (i.e. Fool's Hill).  In the course descriptions and the course
talks, they always repeated the phrase "you'll appreciate the bike course
later".  Sounded sort of ominous and I knew why when I drove the course, in
fact, I was pretty sure that a 42x21 was not going to be a large enough
gear.  I had to adjust my bike strategy so that I would save some energy on
the flats in order to be able to push the relatively big gear up some of the
hills.  As it turned out, Foussat was the only place I needed the 21.  My
strategy worked for Foussat and my cadence up the 10% average (with 12%
rises) hill didn't drop below 60.  Halfway up the hill, I passed my swim
training partner Christian Krueger.  I didn't realize that I had just ridden
into the top spot for our wave at this point.  I kept spinning the hills and
trying to keep a reasonable pace for the rest of the ride.  The next major
hill was Hill X, where ESPN2 filmed the street louge for the X-Games last
year.  Surprising, this hill wasn't as tough as I thought it would be.
However, I didn't hammer the hill since I knew we still had to ride up the
other side of Foussat.

The RD had a great idea.  A biker with an orange vest was going to ride with
the leader from each category.  That way the spectators and the other racers
knew who the "rabbit" was.  When I left the TA, I noticed the biker start
following me and this was the first time I realized that I was in the lead.
The run was 3 loops with the first loop being ~1 mi and the other 2 being
slightly more than 2.5 mi.  Right away on the first loop my quads cramped.
This is pretty typical for me and I can run through it.  No exception this
time either.  About a 0.5 mi in they cramped and about 100 yds later, I was
back at full stride.  Usually this is a one time affair, but today it
happened at least 4 or 5 times.  I kept on running hard and was able to hold
off the second place challengers while posting a low 35 min split.

All-in-all this was a racers course-- physically tough, fair, technically
challenging and best of all fun.  My wife and kids thought it made for the
best spectator course as well.  This is a race not to miss next year!




Race Report - USTS Nationals @ Oceanside (Oct 25th) - long

Post by Fred » Wed, 04 Nov 1998 04:00:00

Great race report Pat. I was really glad you posted it as I had to go to
Indiana unexpectedly to be with my Mother as she went through open heart
surgery, so I cancelled my entry.
While preparing for the race I did the bike course twice and also found it to
be quite a challenge. The worst part for me was when making it to the top of
Foussat, thinking that the hill was finally over, I realized that the left turn
onto Mesa continued even further up the hill!
 Congratulations on your win.

               Steve Fredericks
               Oceanside, CA


Race Report - USTS Nationals @ Oceanside (Oct 25th) - long

Post by BPSulliv » Wed, 04 Nov 1998 04:00:00

Pat - A new standard in race reports. Details, details, details that will help
others on the same course. I missed the race weekend because I was out of town,
but you can be sure I'll be there next year in the relay, or the swim, or both,
and watching the studs race in the championship.
Brian Sullivan


Race Report - USTS Nationals @ Oceanside (Oct 25th) - long

Post by rur.. » Wed, 04 Nov 1998 04:00:00

<snip>This course easily had

> the toughest 40K bike course I've ever ridden in a triathlon-- much tougher
> than USTS Las Vegas or Boulder Peak.

After driving the bike course, I was really worried about it!  Lots of hills!
It turned out to not be as bad as it looked.  I think the Wildflower Olympic
bike course is a bit tougher, but Oceanside is in the league.  More courses
should be like this!

Ron Urman

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Race Report - USTS Nationals @ Oceanside (Oct 25th) - long

Post by Ricardo Gonzale » Wed, 04 Nov 1998 04:00:00


>All-in-all this was a racers course-- physically tough, fair, technically
>challenging and best of all fun.  My wife and kids thought it made for the
>best spectator course as well.  This is a race not to miss next year!

Amen to that.  The field was kindda light (387 AGs), and very polite; which
made for a most enjoyable race.  Save the "usual"  jostling rounding buoys,
my sole scare was a very slow rider that wandered toward the centerline
of the chicane at the bottom of Foussat; just as I started to pass....
Forget about bringing down the heartrate on THAT downhill....
The bike route, when I drove it the day before, indeed seemed worse than
on race day.  Fortunately, the sun had come out and dried it pretty well by
the time I got out.  But, the sand along portions paralleling the
entering T2- got my full attention; better a few seconds lost in caution,
a fall.   Gads, now I'm thinking my age...
Man, those people were fast !
My SO video-taped part of the race, and what impressed me most was
seeing the specially-abled athletes coming out of the water.  Somehow,
in my prior races I had never noticed.   That's courage and determination
written all over them !
The pro men started just as I finished, so it was great to catch their whole
race.  Oceanside is a great venue, with clear access on three sides of the
transition area.  Seeing the pro men and women in transition was a
revelation in efficiency.
Just to get the full effect, we went to the awards banquet.  The one hour
start was no problem:  great view and drinks from the top of the Hyatt...
We sat at a table with students (not all raced) from the U. of Arizona and
some good laughs.  The audiovisuals were tainted by overly intrusive and
repetitive Diet Coke ads.... just as you were enjoying eye-catching stills
qualifying races...Blam, for the ump***th time, the same stupid diet coke
There, got it off my chest.   The food was good, the humor too.  Dual MCs I
think worked great.  Indications into the hall of fame brought out the humor
of the "founders of the sport", and also contrasted their tuxedos with many
sweatshirts and shorts in the crowd....
I didn't find complete results posted (gripe #2).  However,
this was one race where I didn't mind finishing in the second half of my AG.
I just hope to qualify for next year's race !
If you go, try to stay the following day to check out the local towns.  We
at Carlsbad, and found it very quaint and peaceful .