Every year NEMS votes to choose an early season 70.3 as a team destination event. This year was the fabulous and very popular Oceanside 70.3 just outside San Diego, CA. This event historic
ally sells out incredibly quickly so thanks to our team having Ironman TriClub status, we were afforded the ability to register for the race before it was open to the public and we were in!
We had 7 NEMS members race: Ryan L’Italien, Catherine McNamara, Mike Dreyer, Rick Bolling, Cari Talbot, Bill Caldwell, and our fearless leader, Mr. NEMS Vice President himself, the one and only, Jim Piper. We were also fortunate to have a top-notch coaching/cheering section from Sarah Crane, Rhonda Piper, Neal McNamara, Kim Bolling, Posie, Max, and Zoe L’Italien as well as multiple members from Catherine’s family who happen to live in the area. For a race that was 2,542 miles away, Northeast Multisport was seriously represented!
As is custom, we all met up for “The Big Breakfast” the morning before the race to eat until we couldn’t eat no mo’! This was the first time we had all gathered together since arriving the day prior and there was a lot of race talk, a lot of jesting at what each other was eating, and a lot of laughing. Mike Dreyer’s bike had taken a detour on the way from New Hampshire to San Diego and hadn’t been delivered by the airline yet so we were giving him some crap about it probably having been sold for parts by now. For not having his bike or wetsuit
(that was in the bike bag as well) he was certainly a good sport about it. Fortunately, his bike and wetsuit did arrive safely so with that, we were all ready to go! After breakfast most of us met up at the Athlete’s Meeting and did some perusing of the vendor booths and some of the race sponsor booths who also happen to be sponsors of Northeast Multisport. At this point all of our bikes were checked in, breakfast was digesting, we had our athlete briefing, and we were off to rest with feet up.
Swim 1.2 Miles:
Race morning came fast and the weather was perfect for us New Englanders who had been living through this never-ending winter. It was cool and crisp and yet felt warm to us. Perfect racing weather! The swim was in the harbor and seals lined the perimeter watching for the race to go off. There were also several big-name pro’s racing so there was definitely some “Fan-girling” and “Fan-boying” happening as we set up in transition. Because the bike course was only one lap, we weren’t going to get the pleasure of being smoked by them as they lapped us on the bike so this was definitely the only glimpse we common folk were going to get of the tri-gods.
The swim was a self-seeded start and Bill Caldwell was the fastest NEMS male out of the water with a super speedy time of 30:55 with Rick Bolling (33:06) and Catherine McNamara (34:23) smoking the swim as well. Despite concerns about water temp and the fact none of us had swam in open water in 6months, everyone had a solid swim and start to the race. And with that, we were all out of the water and onto the bike!
Bike 56 Miles:
The majority of the 56mile bike course took place on Camp Pendleton, a U.S. Marine Corps Base that usually restricts access to the public. For security reasons we were not allowed to pre-ride the course, we had to wear our race bib numbers during the bike, and no spectators were allowed. It was worth it though because the course was absolutely beautiful as we rode along the Pacific coastline and mountains. There was some construction along the course and there was actually a 1,000ft downhill section that had a 25mph speed limit. This speed limit was heavily enforced with timing mats and we were told at the Athlete Briefing that after the race they were going to run a file from those timing mats and if you crossed from point A to point B at over 25mph it was an automatic disqualification. They also told us that the year prior 33 athletes were DQ’d for this violation so they were serious about it. I am not sure what the DQ rate was for this year’s race but what I do know is that all of us NEMS athletes are fantastic rule followers. No one from NEMS was DQ’d. Ride on!
The bike course only had 2,500ft of elevation which wouldn’t normally be considered a lot except for the fact that the majority of it came between miles 29 and 43. There were three distinct climbs and before each one was a posted sign that said “Enjoy”. Once we reached the peak of the third climb the headwind started and despite the last 13miles being pretty much downhill, you had to work to maintain speed. As for the NEMS athletes, the fastest bike was completed by Rick Bolling who rode it in 2:54:18 and he was the only NEMS member to break 3hours. Bill Caldwell, Jim Piper, and Ryan L’Italian were tight all coming in within 30seconds of each other at the 3:10 mark. Cari Talbot had the fastest (and fortunately only) flat tire change of the group and got right back on course so with that, all NEMS athletes were safely off the bike and onto the run.
Run 13.1 Miles
The run course was a two-loop out and back. It was an interesting course as a good portion of it took place on the boardwalk along the beach so the crowds were decent size and the energy was great. We were very fortunate that the sun stayed behind the clouds most of the day so the run didn’t get too hot for us Northerners. Our club was given a tent location in the area called “The Hot Corner” and it was a premium location for spectating so Sarah and Rhonda were there with cameras and loud cheers of encouragement as we ran by. Due to the layout of the course we were all able to high five and cheer each other on during the run which was great. The NEMS uniforms make it so easy to see each other on course which is a huge boost during a race. Bill Caldwell was the only NEMS member to break the 2hour mark with a time of 1:53:48. Cari and Rick came in very close to each other at 2:00:42 and 2:01:50 respectively but it is worth pointing out that Rick looked like he enjoyed his run a hell of a lot more than Cari did. The most upbeat and happy looking runner on the course had to have been Mike Dryer who was all smiles as he came by The Hot Corner.
T1 and T2: As the author of a blog post you are afforded a lot of liberties so I decided this blog would not be complete without giving myself an award for
something since I did not have the fastest time in any leg of the race nor in the overall results so I dug and I dug and I finally came up with the fastest transition award. So with that, I would like to congratulate myself, Cari Talbot, on the fastest combined transition time for the race with a time of 7:54. Second place going to Rick Bolling with a time of 10:05 and Bill Caldwell in 3rd with 10:47. To the rest of you, what the heck were you doing in there for so long?
A team race is not complete without a lot of food and festivities to break down how the day went for everyone. We all gathered in one of the condos and shared stories and beers and had a lot of laughs. A special shout out in this section has to go to Ryan L’Italien for managing through the chaos to get us all to shut up long enough so he could order the damn pizza. We were loud and ADHD was high so major kudos to him for not killing us in the process. And a huge thanks to Kim Bolling for going to pick up the pizza. Without her we would have had an all-liquid dinner and that would not have been good for any of us!!!
This was my first team destination race and I can’t recommend it enough. To have the opportunity to travel with other NEMS members that you may or may not know and get to know them better over the course of a long race weekend is amazing. We now have stories and shared experiences that we can talk about always and if you are in a situation where you have the ability to sign up and race in one of these early season NEMS destination races you should really jump on it.