Oceanside Course Preview

Yay!!!! Oceanside 70.3 is almost here! This is my favorite Ironman 70.3 race for a variety of reasons; I can just roll out of my own bed on race morning, I can eat home-cooked meals in the week leading up, and get to avoid any sort of jetlag or risk of colds that can come from travel. Also, the course itself suits me perfectly, with Oceanside typically having cooler temperatures, or at least a cloud cover through the morning, as well as having rolling to hilly bike and run courses. Having raced Oceanside a couple of times, as well as living here and training on the course, I thought I'd offer a few insider tips that could be helpful on race day!

Weather: I LOVE this race because it tends to never get too hot. Despite SoCal's pretty consistent 70 degree weather, we get the sun shining through more towards lunchtime and after. Often, the hottest time of the day is late afternoon, as we can have a pretty significant cloud cover at the coast on the mornings. This is perfect for me, being from New Hampshire, and someone who often struggles at super hot races. With that said, the swim can be pretty cold and if it's a pretty brisk morning, it takes some people a bit to warm-up on the bike. If you struggle in the cold, this might be a race where you consider arm warmers for the bike until you get your blood flowing.

Swim Course: Ummm actually I can't think of anything I like about the swim course. Haha. Or rather, ANY swim course. Just kidding! I've really been working on my swim over the off-season and I don't dread it (as much) anymore. The one tip I can offer for the Oceanside course is even though it might be dark when the swim waves start, the sun ALWAYS comes up when you've made the turn-around and are heading back into the pier and exit area. Even though it will be dark at first, I'd recommend wearing tinted goggles because it can be a serious struggle to sight straight into the sun on the way back. Also, the swim is an out, left turn for about 100-200 meters, and then another left to head back in. Those 200 meters or so out by the breakwater can get pretty choppy and rough but it doesn't last long, so don't get discouraged for that little section!

Bike Course: One of my favorite bike courses out there! This bike is a perfect mix of rolling hills and flat sections where you can really crank it. There is one big climb around mile 40 that really isn't that bad, but it's what follows that can get to you if you push the hill too hard. Right after the hill, you hit about mile 45 and then 50 so you start thinking in your head that you're almost done! But typically, those final 5-10miles can be the hardest, as there is almost always a pretty bad headwind. You've just ridden 50 miles, you're starting to think about the run and trying to gauge where your legs are at, and then this major headwind can hit you, so just be ready mentally.

T2: So, the course has changed this year and there are now two transitions with T2 being right across from the Oceanside Pier instead of down by the harbor. When you come in on the bike, you are directed across the bridge that used to be a part of the run, and then down onto the strand for about 500 meters. Then, you will make a left up Surfrider Dr. to get back up onto Pacific St. about a quarter of a mile from T2. My one tip is to know that the left you have to make only a quarter of a mile from T2 is a pretty steep hill! So make sure you've downshifted and that you also haven't slipped out of your bike shoes yet. Wait till the top of the hill. Wattie and I went down to the course today and took some pictures to show the hill.

Run Course: The run course has also changed from last year, which I think should be pretty cool because now we are directed up and down the pier itself. This also adds more hills to the run, which is good for me :) Love those hills! Here are some more pics of a few of the hills added to the course, including the Oceanside Pier ramps that we run down and then back up, two times! There is also an added hill to go down and up (two times!) on Seagaze Drive. Again, see the pictures Wattie took, which I lightboxed! haha. My main tip on the run is that most of the course is concrete and is wicked harsh on the legs. I don't know that I would recommend racing flats on a course like this, unless you know your body can handle it. I know I'll be in my Zoot Ultra TT's, which are a great combo of lightness but still some stability and cushioning that I know I won't turn up too sore.


This article is missing a few key considerations…..Swim Course: There are 18 or so waves with 3 minutes in between. This means virtually no warm up in cold water. Use the 3 minutes wisely, don’t dilly dally, get in the water and use the first couple hundred yards of the race as a warm up. As you reach the boat basin exit near the swim turn around, you will be closer to open ocean water and will encounter large swells. Best if you eat breakfast early so you see it again in the water. After you complete the turn around and head back, they lesson. Bike Course: This bike is a not perfect, its technical, difficult, and dangerous in some sections. When this was a full Ironman course, a cyclist lost his life life on the final down hill. It’s steep and fast so be careful. It should be a no pass zone with marines telling you to slow down. As you leave T1 heading north, you have 3-4 short but significant hills before turning inland. Once inland a few miles, you have a long South bound stretch with 3 significant hills; the first being the steepest but shortest. Don’t be macho and try to be the first to the top. There will be many bikes behind you that will catch you anyway and many in front you wont catch. Stay in the saddle and conserve energy you will use later in the race. Wind? Plan on it. Every direction you turn seams like head wind. After the final decent, plan on a 10 mile headwind back to T2. T2: has changed but other than T2, not much is different. Run Course: The run course has also changed but very little and only enough to accommodate the new T2. The run here has always been the cherie on the ice cream. It’s flat, fast, and friendly because you see all the other runners. Its very scenic and broken up between the strand and local beach residential homes. Before you know it, you’re at the turn around. If you conserve energy on the bike, this is a PR run course Easy course? Not but very enjoyable, if you race smart. -Tony Troccoli Coach-Tony.com
Tony Troccoli - March 30, 2012, 12:24 AM
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