2011 Ironman California 70.3 Race Report

mission accomplished.

I want to start this post by saying thank you to everybody out there for the comments on my blog, facebook, twitter, text messages, and phones calls wishing me luck before the race and congratulatory messages post race.  I really appreciate it and it’s not taken for granted.  I feel really lucky to be doing what I am doing and have the support I do all around me.

An extra special thanks goes out to Kiet for featuring me on his blog.  check out his blog for a bunch of great posts and more “10 Questions” with other athletes.

rewind to a year ago.  i watched beth crush her dreams and snag a Kona slot at this race.  I also watched a bunch of friends race and it inspired me to start running again after a 4 month hiatus, and ultimately jump back into triathlon.

I won’t front… I went into this race wanting to win.  Even though Ironman Texas is the main goal for the first half of the season I wanted to do well in my hometown race and try get those qualifying slots for the “*” races I mentioned in my blog here.  I knew it would be tough.  a lot of fast guys come out for this race and my AG is super competitive.  I had a lot of confidence in my training leading into the race thanks to Dirk.  I knew I would just have to race my race and basically go all out to make it happen.  No holding back.  The days leading up to the race I started getting really amped to race… a feeling I haven’t felt in a really long time… a good thing!


mellow.  I woke up super relaxed, rested, and ready to go.  I had my new standard pre-race meal.

2 slices GF toast, one with Nuttzo and one with PF Nuttzo, banana, & cinnamon…. and a little dark chocolate because Jordan Rapp said so.

we got to the race and everything went smooth, caught up with some friends, and I was super stoked that it wasn’t cold… AT ALL!  I was in the 3rd wave (wave 11) of my AG (30-34) so the whole race would be in front of me.  It makes it hard to really know where you are so my only goal was to try to catch everybody.

pre-swim with danielle.


Way better than expected.  My goal was to try to swim sub 30 and I thought I had it in me.  the water was warmer than expected and I lined up right in front.  the swim was comfortable.  I got on some feet for the first 500 or so and then they got away as we zig-zagged through swimmers from previous waves.  I just kept my head down and stayed smooth and consistent, and never felt like I was swimming hard.  At the the turn around I was feeling good and just kept on the same pace, no slowing down or fade.  when i got back to the boat ramp I wasn’t sure on the time but glanced at the clock and  I knew it was sub 30.  good start.  the the swim was a big PR and also the most comfortable race swim I have ever had in wetsuit.  thank you ZOOT!

swim time: 28:55


I couldn’t wait to get on the bike, especially after a good swim.  it’s what I had been visualizing all week.  just clipping and going for it.  i felt really good from the first pedal stroke and was pushing it.  I rode hard through the base and campground and was brining a lot people back from previous waves.  I was right on pace.  I went through the first 25 miles in 59 minutes.  based on previous years times and where I feel my bike fitness is right now I thought I could ride between 2:20 – 2:25.  when we hit the back side of base we also hit the hills and a solid headwind that would last pretty much the rest of the day.

I was stoked about the hills but not the wind.  I am not going to lie… I was getting pretty demoralized out there.  I was pushing hard straight into headwind and felt like i was going backwards.  I was still passing a lot of people and  staying on top of the watts/HR but the speed was lower and I was watching my “goal” time slip away from me.  I just tried to stay positive though hoping that the wind was taking it’s toll on everyone.  Nobody passed me during the ride.  I yo-yo’d with a couple of guys that I passed but I would eventually ride away.  I rallied for the last 12 miles to make back to transition in just under 2:30 and not too stoked.

I worked harder on the bike than i ever have in a race of this length and for the first time, as I rolled back into transition, was wondering if actually may have ridden too hard to put together a good run.

bike time: 2:29:15

avg/max/norm PWR: 241/695/246

avg/max: HR: 170/190


quick transition and then it was party time.  i was really looking forward to the run and trying to bring people back.  i had no idea what place i was in but knew if I even wanted to make the podium I would have work to do.  I was also looking forward to seeing all my friends on course… the best part of a hometown race.  I had my garmin and just tried to run at just below 6 min pace.

I was feeling pretty good and taking calories through the first half of the run and moving, but still no idea of place.  about a mile in to lap 2 i saw Jim and he told me I was in 6th coming off the bike but i had no idea how many, if any, guys in my AG i had passed… i was just running hard.  i gotta little lazy through mile 9 & 10 (6:12, 6:07) running towards the final turn around.  not sure what was going on.  there were a lot of people on course by then so I was still passing a lot of people but wasn’t staying on top of the pace.

at the final turnaround I could see Matt Acona (fast dude!), who was in my AG and who I passed during mile 2, closing in on me.  he caught me with just over 2 miles to go.  this was good… he was running well and we ran shoulder to shoulder, pushing the pace, until the final right turn heading to the finish… and he dropped me!  full-on.  I was hoping he was in a earlier wave than me but I didn’t want to ask him.  i just wanted him to make me run harder.

after crossing the line right behind him he told me he was in the first wave in my AG (they started 6 minutes ahead of me) but still had no idea of where i was place in the race.  Stoked on the run (a 70.3 pr) but still know I have a faster one in me.

run time: 1:18:37

total time: 4:20:28 (1st AG/35th overall)

After talking to some people after the race I still wasn’t sure what place i had finished in.  I walked through the food tent and at the end they had tent set up and were printing out your “results receipt” right on the spot, good addition WTC! When the guy printed mine out and handed it to me he said “congratulations on winning your AG”.  To say I was stoked would be an understatement. A win, a Kona & Vegas slot… my own dreams crushed… mission accomplished.  I only ended up winning by 47 seconds and I unknowingly made  the final pass in the last 2 miles when I was trying to hang with Matt.  If he wouldn’t have pushed me to run harder the final 2 miles the result very well could have been different.  Thanks dude… for blowing me to pieces in the final 2 miles!

I headed back to the finish line to watch beth come in and met up with dirk.  after a quick german bear hug from the dirkinator we saw beth roll across the finish line, puke every where, winning her AG, and was the top female amateur overall.  We did it!!

post-race after confirming that we both won our AG’s with hunter and tawnee.

after the race we bolted home for a quick shower before heading back to claim/pay for our Kona and Vegas slots & the awards.

me and a bunch of big, fast guys!  such a close race.

after the awards it was time to celebrate.  first we hit pizza port to celebrate with a bunch of friends, including with Trevor who crushed the Xterra Renegade race earlier in the morning.  Nothing like pitchers of  racer 5 IPA after a long day!  Then we hit Beachside for the “after party”.  Luckily everybody (me) kept their shirts on.  We had such a good time… so many people there just having fun and actually not talking about racing or triathlon too much…. a good thing!

some of the ladies I am lucky enough to hang out with.  beth was in rare (well earned) form!  she loves a skinny pirate.

another PR was set on saturday.  me and beth stayed out until after 11:30 pm and didn’t go to bed until after midnight… probably more impressive than our races!

the best part about racing on saturday… sunday recovery days!  we slept in, lounged around the house and then rolled to Pannakin for coffee and to meet up with Bryan and RJ.

nothing like an iced mocha on a perfect, sunny, sunday morning.

after hanging out for a bit we headed north to watch our friends, including Sergio and Morgan, race the Carlsbad 5000.  good times hanging out and watching some super fast races and just soaking in the sunshine.

well i guess that’s it… I could be happier about how things worked out this weekend.  Beth and I have been working/training really hard under dirk’s watchful eye, but having it all come together on the same day, against a lot of tough competition, blew my mind.

after some recovery time including a the Padres home opener tomorrow and a work “meeting” at Stone Brewing on Wednesday we’ll start the final block of training before Ironman Texas.

  24 comments for “2011 Ironman California 70.3 Race Report

  1. April 4, 2011 at 2:00 pm


  2. April 4, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    Sounds pretty epic! Congratulations to both of you – and good luck with Ironman Texas!

  3. April 4, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    Way to kill it! You guys should be SUPER proud!

  4. Stephanie
    April 4, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    One word: awesome!

  5. April 4, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiick RR buddy! There really isn’t much more to add to it other than what you said, and what others said. Just an awesome, awesome day! Congrats on everything to you both!

  6. April 4, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    KILLER JOB!! You guys are doing so awesome. Can’t wait to reading the winning reports from Kona. Keep it flying!

  7. April 4, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    HUGE! Nice race dude, well deserved and very inspirational

  8. libby
    April 4, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    super huge congrats to you and beth!!! what inspiring performances from both of you! way to dominate it for team dirkinator. so fun tracking you guys from FL!!! you guys are going to have a crazy amazing season with all those “*” races already booked and ready to roll the first week of april!!!! you guys blow me away!!!!!

  9. April 4, 2011 at 6:52 pm

    Sick race report James! It was great seeing you on Saturday and hearing you and Beth cheering on sunday! It’s looking like 2011 is going to be a great year! Can’t wait to see more from you guys!

  10. April 5, 2011 at 1:23 am

    Way to go James! Congrats to you and Beth! Awesome job!

  11. April 5, 2011 at 6:39 am

    Way to kill it!

  12. ChicagoTriFan
    April 5, 2011 at 8:56 am

    Great RR! First off, congrats to you and Beth for both winning AGs. That will sure totally transform your season and sure takes a lot of pressure off for Texas! Can’t wait to follow you both as you prepare for Kona. I like the way both of you seem to know how to kick back and kick ass. Both of you do a tremendous job of describing race situations and I am truly happy it paid off for you both this weekend. Mission accomplished is right! Could you possibly have asked for a better result? Well done and well deserved!

    I am a very longtime reader of your blog and really enjoyed your Steelhead report and was glad to see you refocus on Triathlon again.

    More than that, I am also a fan and admirer of Matt Ancona and I was watching the race and refreshing 30-34 constantly rooting like crazy for Matt, who is one of the nicest guys I know and has encouraged and inspired so many beginners like me. I am super happy for you but I’m glad Matt made you work for it, and I am sure vice versa. I look forward to some great races between you both. I wish you both the best!

    Good luck to you and to Beth and have a great season!!

  13. April 5, 2011 at 9:02 am

    Way to lay it all out there and come in with the Win! Enjoyed seeing you out on the run ripping it up! Congrats on the Kona/Vegas slots

  14. April 5, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    Awesome dude! Congrats on the Kona and vegas slots. Definitely inspirational to head into tonight’s training.

  15. Kiet
    April 5, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    Well earned James, you make it look easy but anyone who follows you know that it only looks easy because you of all the hard work. Way to move yourself up ahead of Bek Keat with the 10 questions. Absolutely inspiring.

  16. Kevin
    April 5, 2011 at 7:28 pm

    Congrats on a great race from the “Results Receipt” guy! Well deserved trip to Kona!

  17. DMack
    April 5, 2011 at 11:15 pm

    Great write up and an incredible effort from you both! Congratulations!

  18. April 6, 2011 at 4:14 am

    you are super fast!! I love it! and that race kit rocks!!

  19. April 6, 2011 at 7:08 am

    Awesome race report!! Just found your blog, and loving it. Great race, and congrats on the duo kona & vegas slots. Can’t beat that! :)

  20. Tawnee
    April 7, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    First off, good job on keeping your shirt on. We all know how crazy you get at after parties around all those sexy triathletes ;)

    That’s a pretty incredible story about your run. I figured you had won by a huge margin! Glad I got to see you and Beth, hopefully I’ll be there in Kona again to watch you guys in action.

  21. Chris
    April 7, 2011 at 9:06 pm

    You really race with a 170+ HR on the bike?

    • April 8, 2011 at 6:16 am

      chris… yeah i do. I am able to sustain a pretty high heart rate, it’s just how my body works…. always been that way.d

  22. April 14, 2011 at 9:52 pm

    Alright, you gotta tell me more about how the Nutzo stuff taste. Is it only available online?


  23. Rick V.
    May 1, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    Well done, congrats! PS – best race suit in triathlon.


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