Oceanside Half Ironman – April 2024

The Oceanside Half Iron was one of those iconic races that I had kept on a mental list of triathlons to eventually do.
This was for a couple reasons. One of them because it’s “local” to me here in Southern California and would only be a short drive. Another was that it’s a race that’s talked about a lot (or at least seemed to be) at one point as a must-do event.

So in Summer 2023 I signed up for the 2024 event as soon as it opened up. This race historically would sell out quickly, so I knew I wouldn’t have a ton of time after it opened up to decide if I was going or not. I think it sold out in about three days this time around – slower than previous years I tried to get in. And while I really enjoyed the weekend and the race as a whole, I think this course is a one-and-done for me. The Oceanside 70.3 is (or has been) talked about as a great first-timer race, an “iconic” course, and one you shouldn’t miss. I’m not entirely sure I agree with all those statements.

So let’s get into my race weekend recap

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TEN YEARS of #PrincessMen – and three races again for me

I can’t believe it’s been TEN years.

Wayyy back in the summer of 2014 I was training for my first Ironman Triathlon and pitched the idea of dressing up for the Disney World Princess Half Marathon to my friends. And here we are, a decade later, still running it!
And it’s continued to be an amazing experience that is now filled with tons of friends we’ve met over the years. And 2024 was another race weekend filled with people coming to say hello and laugh about years past when they’ve seen us, or showing us old photos they have with us from the last time they were at the race several years ago!

And this year was another triple-race-weekend for myself, and this time for Chris and Naidymar as well!

So let’s just jump right into my recap of 2024 PHM Weekend!

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Year Nine of the #PrincessMen – and three races for me

So it’s literally the end of the year and I’m incredibly overdue in writing out my 2023 Princess recap! Seriously though. I’m already booking hotels, cars, and making plans for 2024.

This was our 9th year on racing the Disney World Princess Half Marathon as the #PrincessMen and it really was another great year in Orlando with everyone.
Also this year I was signed up for the Princess 5k – since it was Jasmine themed I HAD to be there, right? Plus, the medals and artwork this year I really liked.


So let’s just jump right into my recap of 2023 PHM Weekend!

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Morro Bay Inaugural Half Iron

Morro Bay is one of the newest Ironman 70.3 (half-distance) locations. And 2023 was the inaugural race at this location.
While I hoped to have a better performance, personally, overall I still ended up having a great weekend.

I originally started talking about this race last summer with family and friends. But no one was too quick to commit to anything.
And I ended up signing up in January thinking that I would be able to fairly easily prepare for a half distance. I had just come off an entire summer of training for Ironman California, so I figured I’d have a lot of endurance/strength already built up.

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The California Ironman: Sacramento – a rough day

After cancellation in 2021 due to weather, ’22 just wasn’t the year for me

I’ve put off writing up this race report on Ironman California for six months. It was just a rough day and I didn’t have a particularly good race, personally. I finished, sure, but it was just a rough evening for me by mile 120 (out of 140) and took a lot of the fun out of it.

And now that it’s been six months we’ll see how much of the overall weekend I accurately remember, haha!

But let’s get to it! I need to just finally get this down on paper for myself at this point, too.

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The Chicago Triple Triathlon 2022

After four years of waiting to do the Chicago Triple Triathlon I was finally able to race! And it was every bit as fun and exhausting as promised.

Sometime about 5 or 6 years ago I stumbled on the website for the Chicago Triathlon. I was looking for tris that sounded fun or interesting. And the two things that stuck out the most about it were that the International/Olympic distance race has an entire underground section as part of the course; and the second thing was that they offered a triple-race challenge option.

The Triple Challenge: It’s simply “all three races in two days”. The first event is on Saturday morning, the Super Sprint. And on Sunday you race in both events that day, the International first, followed by the Sprint. It sounded awesome.

So why the delay in racing this event after learning about it? Well, at the time I first read about it, which was around summer 2015? I was already booked up with a busy following year in 2016. I had the ESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ, Tahoe Ragnar Relay, and several other events. And then in the couple years following I simply could not justify the cost due to moving back and forth from SF to LA for work a couple times.

I was finally in a position to do the race in 2019. You see, in 2018 I would race my last full iron distance with my mom In Chattanooga before she retired from full tris. Then Chicago 2019 was going to be my “big race” (in terms of cost, not particularly distance). But while out on a training bike ride just two weeks before Chicago a flock of geese flew across my path while I was tucked in aero position doing about 24/25 mph. Despite trying to swerve last minute I was hit, knocked out briefly from the impact, and broke my collarbone when I hit the asphalt. The 2019 race year Chicago was forced to cut the swim – so while I didn’t like dealing with a broken collarbone, I’m glad I didn’t get all the way out there to have a triple-duathlon.

In 2020 and 2021 there were deferrals due to Covid, as you may have guessed.

But hey, 2022!
This was finally my year to race in Chicago!

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The #PrincessMen return for Year 8 – after 7 was cancelled

Eight years have gone by since this started. Wild. I honestly would have never thought we’d still be doing this event, as princesses, after 8 years.
But here we are.

After the 2021 Princess Half Marathon Weekend was cancelled due to Covid, there was definitely a lot of excitement about the 2022 race as it approached.
The question of whether or not we would be running was only briefly a concern after realizing a lot of our group intended on running again. So, we signed up during the Summer of ’21 to race IN February 2022 – a year we also expected to be absolutely packed with people who were upset at not racing in 2021.

For those who want to check out some of my past event write ups, you can do so HERE.

Heading in the 2022 race weekend I was probably the least trained up I’d been in a while. However, that’s relative since I spent Summer and Fall ’21 training for Half and Full Ironman races.
So while I only ran about 6 times in January and February prior to the race I wasn’t too worried since we never run very quick. I also I raced in the Disney World Wine & Dine 2021 Half Marathon in November. And during that race even though I stopped several times for selfies in the parks, and one character stop with Kronk, I still put down a 1:45 race time. PHM is never a hard race in that sense. The real challenge is trying to see people, enjoy the weekend, and deal with very little sleep.

So let’s get to it: 

Year Eight: 

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The Starr-Lopez Wedding at Clos Winery, Morgan Hill

Last week on a warm Friday afternoon at Clos Winery, in Morgan Hill, was the Starr-Lopez wedding.
And while all weddings are special, this one was also very unique for me personally. 

You see, Stephanie is the youngest of three sisters. And I had the privilege of doing photography for Nicole, and Michelle, before her. So to be asked back a third time by the Starr family was something very flattering and special for me. So it was a little bit reunion for me seeing some old faces – I also know the Starrs from school – and a lotta bit celebration of course celebrating Enrique and Stephanie.

Their wedding was beautiful. I had never been to Clos, however I’ve shot several weddings in the Morgan Hill and South San Jose areas and lighting there can be really beautiful – albeit a bit tricky at times also. So I was looking forward to an outdoor setting. Now for anyone keeping count, it’s been several years since I photographed a wedding. But Stephanie had no problem with risking me being a tad rusty for a ceremony. I still shoot, of course, but I never really advertised wedding photography so it’s far less common a booking for me.

I’ll just roll right into photos from Enrique and Stephanie’s wedding rehearsal and wedding day – save for jumping to the end of the night to share this shot:

I had posted this on Facebook recently and said I’m so glad we got a group shot at the end of the night. From left to right: Chris, Enrique, Nicole, Michelle, Stephanie, and Will. And me in the back.
And in order of weddings, was Nicole/Will, then Michelle/Chris, and now Stephanie/Enrique.
It’s been very, very cool to be a part of all their weddings and I’m really happy to have a last-minute, end of the night photo with everyone after the last wedding for everyone. Honestly as we were all leaving I had said it looked like it was too late to get this. But Nicole and Stephanie knew it was important to me and tracked down Will and Enrique who were helping family get loaded into cars so we could take a group shot!

And with that, click to read on!
I’ll add details and info to captions where I can:

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Half Ironman Memphis – Last one with the family

I recently finished the Memphis Half Ironman in Tennessee with my family. My last “Family Iron”, which is a little bittersweet… but what a hell of a race to wrap up with.

For those who don’t know, my Mom and Step Dad are the two people who got me into doing Triathlon. They moved into this sport after being extremely active in road cycling, and prior to that mountain biking, and (for my mom) marathoning.
I have past Race Reports that touches on this. I think I mention it every time actually. But this was going to be my mom’s retirement-from-long-distance-tris race. I won’t be surprised if she squeezes in an Olympic here or a Sprint there. But this Half Iron distance was going to be her last “long” race. And while my mother has raced in three other full-distance Irons and I think six or seven? half-distance Irons she would be racing this race nine-months post-hip-replacement! Crazy, right?
And being able to do events like this with my family over the years has been very cool. So this last one would be that much more special to complete for my mom after surgery early in 2021. I was also set to later compete in the Full Iron Sacramento with Jay as his final full-distance before he retired from long events, but that got cancelled due to weather. So now he and I have to suffer through another Summer of Iron training to race in 2022.

The Memphis Half ended up being no easy race, either. Weather reports as the weekend approached focused on just how bad the weather was going to get. From “chance of rain” to “it’s definitely gonna be raining” to “you’re racing in a storm, guys..”.
Memphis made us work for it.

Here’s a great example of what I mean with the weather. Pouring rain and look at my posture…. sitting upright, stiff, and aware. one hand on the brakes and even my expression is basically saying “yeah, this is sketchy..”. I had my sunglasses on because the rain was so hard it hurt your eyes when it hit your face. ha!

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The #PrincessMen – Year 6 | 2020

Twenty Twenty.
If there was ever a lead up to an all-around strange weekend it was the 2020 Princess Half Marathon.

Writing about it after the event, and completing this blog much after the events of 2020 and Covid closures, it’s almost eerie to think about the feelings and all around attitude of that weekend. Coupled with the crazy weather we had with temperature shifts between the 5k (which we didn’t run), the 10k, and the Half. And also considering this weekend was a fairly short weekend for all of us.. I can’t help but consider this race memorable for so many reasons.

I was a year into a new job and a new company, and extremely busy back home at work. I was actually getting calls and emails during my vacation – which was frustrating to me since these trips go by so quickly already.

But we had pretty much the whole crew back again for one more race.

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