Featuring the beautiful scenery of the Pacific Ocean and the small but equally beautiful mountains on the Camp Pendleton Marine Corp Base, the Ironman 70.3 California also enjoys great support from the United States Marine Corps, local residents and triathlon fanatics.
In order to maximize the experience for you—and especially your performance—there is some critical information you should know before you toe the line. This article is meant to be a tool to prevent any surprises for you on race day. I am confident if you follow these guidelines and keep the following information in mind, you will have a solid race performance.
Let's start with the basics and go over the distances. A half-Ironman consists of a 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, and 13.1-mile run totaling 70.3 miles. Sounds fairly simple, but even if you've done a 70.3 race in the past, each race presents its own logistical challenges and physical demands, unlike other similar events. These differences and challenges are important to recognize and prepare for, perhaps just as much as training for months is important to prepare you.
Arriving at the Race
When you arrive in Oceanside, make sure to get there early. It is always better to have more time than you need than need more time than you have. Don't create stress when you can easily avoid it by getting up early and getting to the event with plenty of time.
You should be there at least 90 minutes before your wave starts. This may sound like a long time, but with so many people, smaller tasks take longer. This includes longer lines at restrooms, traffic, body-marking and setting up your transition spot. Chances are you will also see some friends and get talking with them, only to realize time has flown by and your race is about to start!
Also, the later you get there, the tougher it will probably be to find a transition spot you are comfortable with. A general rule to follow is to figure out what time you need to be there and how long you think it will take to be there at that time, and then add 45 minutes. This will ensure you have enough time and not be stressed trying to get to the start.
The transition area opens at 4:45 a.m., with the first wave of male pro's going off at 6:40 a.m. From Interstate-5, you should take the Mission Ave. exit, and head toward the ocean. You will see people directing traffic for parking. Since you don't check your bike in the day before, you will have it with you that morning. Hop on your bike with all your things in your backpack and get riding to the transition area.
Make sure you have your helmet on! If an official sees you riding to the start without a helmet, they can disqualify you before the start. That would suck, to say the least. So put that helmet on anytime you are on your bike.
A question many people have is how much of a warm-up should be completed before starting the race. A great guideline is to never start a race without a sweat going, (full-Ironman events excluded.) Remember, the swim is only 1.2 miles, which is not much longer than an Olympic-distance swim. If you normally warm up for the swim in an Olympic-distance tri, you should warm up for this event.
How should you warm up? If you're the type who always likes to get in the water and splash around, you're in for a surprise at Oceanside, because you are not allowed to get into the water until just before the start of your race! You won't even get to touch the water with your toes until about three to seven minutes before your wave starts.
You can't even get in the water the days before the race because of boat traffic in Oceanside Harbor. So if you are a person who always relies on a nice swim warm-up, you need to be flexible and come up with a "Plan B."
A simple jog on the course is a lot easier and recommended. The event can be crowded with people, making a bike warm-up not only difficult, but dangerous. Plus, if you take your bike out, you may come back to find there is less space in your transition spot than before.
You do not need to jog far, just enough to get a sweat going and feel warmed-up. Also, hold back and save the intensity for the long race ahead.