Big Kahuna Triathlon - Triathlon1/2 Ironman

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Santa Cruz, California
United States
Firstwave Events
Total Time = 5h 16m 24s
Overall Rank = 121/653
Age Group = M 30-34
Age Group Rank = 23/78
Pre-race routine:

Showered, dressed, ate, biked to Depot Park. Set up transition, listened to my ipod, made a pit stop, suited up and walked down to the beach. Talked to a few other triathletes - surprised how many of us were first time HIM'ers. Talked to 2 guys who were doing their first open water swims ever (probably soemthing they should have practiced...)
Event warmup:

I was worried about the water - I had not done an ocean swim before, and I hadn't been in my wetsuit in over 3 months due to water temps back home. I had stuck my foot in the Pacific a few times during the week and didn't know how the cold temp would affect me. I waded straight into the ocean and water felt fine in my westuit. I had planned on double swim-capping for a little extra warmth, but it was uncomfortable so I only went with one. Only swam maybe a 100 yards before getting back out of the water, satsified that I would be all right.
  • 30m 54s
  • 2310 yards
  • 01m 20s / 100 yards

I guess saltwater and a wetsuit help me out - about 8-10" faster than my other races this year! I felt good, got into a good breathing rhythm quickly and was able to draft and follow bubbles ahead of me. At one point I poked my head up and was pretty sure I saw a couple sea lion heads looking at me from about 25 yards ahead. Very cool, but reminded me of my huge fear of sharks. I found myself looking down into the murky green depths of the bay imagining something large and grey with black eyes and white teeth coming for me. Not sure why this didn't make me panic, but it reminded me of one of my coaches telling me that I put my head down too far, so if I concentrated on keeping my vision more forward I couldn't see the darkness (or my imaginary Great White friends). Found myself a little of course when I located the first buoy, but got back on quickly. I had been drafting and following some bubbles of swimmers ahead of me, but lost them (or passed them) about 2/3 of the way out along the wharf - not sure if I was following people who were also off course or if I drifted too close to the wharf after I lost them. I made both buoy turns smoothly, and did breast stroke for about 4 strokes heading back to shore to see where everyone was exiting. I felt like I must be swimming ok because I was starting to pass green caps (wave 5 min before mine) before even hitting the first buoy, and I only saw one purple cap (wave 5 min behind) pass me about halfway back to shore along the wharf. Found a couple of other orange caps to draft and follow for the last 1/2 of the way back to shore. I did struggle to relax and not push the pace - I wasn't planning on this being my best swim ever, my goal was to make it out of the water in about 35', conserve energy and not be eaten by a shark. Mission accomplished :-)
What would you do differently?:

Not watch Jaws so many times as a kid. I think I could have swam a bit more relaxed, and I have some swim form kinks to work out. My navigation could have been better, but I also think the course could have been better marked. Overall happy with my first ocean swim and coldest open water swim for me so far - managed to stay calm, breathed well and swim fast (for me).
Transition 1
  • 06m 37s

Not sure how long the run from shore, along the sidewalk and to the park was, but it felt like a long time. I was definitely light headed coming out of the water and when during the run to transition. Took me a little while to get my suit off my arms, but there was plenty of time to do it on the run. My plan was not to rush in transition, but I did have some trouble getting my suit over my heels. I decided to put socks on for the bike to keep my feet warm, but left my gloves and arm-warmers, since I was feeling ok temperature-wise coming out of the ocean. Also took one gel and some water before heading out.
What would you do differently?:

At least put on the gloves, and I think the arm warmers would have been a good idea - the bike was grey, cold and windy! The central coast weather was much colder than I expected all week, and I think this day was the coldest. Not exactly the 95 degrees and high humidity I had been training in all summer in southeast PA!
  • 2h 48m 8s
  • 56 miles
  • 19.98 mile/hr

I would have liked a little sun and a little less wind, course ended up just a little colder than I was comfortable with. I definitely found myself pushing harder than I should have on the way out, and had to work to back off a bit. Previous race reports had mentioned a lot of flats on the course, and I did see quite a few tire changes taking place. I had a few bobbles - I dropped my accelerade bottle when taking it out of my Xwing cage - my hands were a little numb and the bottle was wet and slippery, so I stopped and walked back to grab it. Getting back on the bike I couldn't get my right cleat back into the pedal. Concerned that I had mud of a rock stock in them, I stopped again to check the shoe - I didn't see anything major, but wiped some of the roadside dirt off the cleat and got it to pop back in. I had been worried about calories and hydration due to bonking during training, and took in 4 gels on the bike and 2 servings of accelerade, but only my aero bottle and 20 oz from my other rear bottle - I think the heat training and the coolness here may have allowed me to get away with less water. I did stop once on the way back to refill my aero bottle with my rear bottle. Due to my hand numbness and the moisture accumulation on the bottle, I decided not to risk another drop and pulled off to fill it. Hydration must have been fine because I peed on the bike 3 or 4 times. Hand nubmness did become an issue with shifting, also. I had some trouble deciding when to stay aero and when to sit up during climbs - I noticed in a previous race that if I sat back on climbs, I would pass people who were staying aero on climbs. The opposite seemed to happen here. I made it into the end and decided to stay in my shoes and clip out due to concerns with my hands muscle coordination and the short run into transition.
What would you do differently?:

Live in Cali to train on the beautiful hills and awesome climbs :-) Gloves at least,and probably arm warmers would have helped my comfort. I also changed my bottles on race day - rather than pack my usual bottles, I decided to buy some Gatorade bottles with sucky-mouth toppers, mostly because I didn't want to lose any of my bottles at the exchanges. Stupid because I think they plastic on the G bottles was more slippery than my regular bottles, and also because I never ended up using the bottle exchanges. Need to work on my bike handling so that I'm more comfortable getting bottles in and out and swapping them. I don't know that I ever got very comfortable at pacing myself at this distance during training - more experience with this and more training will help.
Transition 2
  • 02m 38s

As I noted above, I decided to stay in my shoes and brought my bike to a stop before dismounting. Run into transition was ok, got my bike shoes and socks off and traded in for a fresh pair of running socks and my running shoes. I think I took another gel..can't remember. Got race belt on with no issues, and helmet/glasses off.
What would you do differently?:

Not much - maybe HTFU a bit more, but was more focused on not forgetting anything important.
  • 1h 48m 6s
  • 13.1 miles
  • 08m 15s  min/mile

Running had been my strong point my first 2 seasons, but had become a comparative weakness this season due to improvements in the other two disciplines and my lingering posterior tibialis tendonitis. I think due to some hiking and strolling along the beach during the week, my ankle had been bothering me quite a bit the day before, but it never became very painful during the race. I started off feeling strong, but this had happened during training so I tried to back off. First mile was about 7'40", which is just below my half-marathon effort from 2 years ago. This didn't seem like a good time to set a half marathon PR, so I managed to force myself to back off and stick to about 8'/mile (according to my Garmin, which measured the course at 13.42 miles). I decided if I hit the tiki feeling strong, that I would push the pace. I stopped at every aid station and took a cup of water and Heeds. Used the 2 gels I brought with me around miles 3 and 8. I was fading once I hit the tiki, and focused on just trying to maintain my pace. I got very jealous of the runners who were passing with perfect strides and good form, but I did manage to pass a few in my age group. Around mile 10.5, I got a second wind (more of a breeze, actually), and picked up the pace. Due to my ankle injury, I never made it over 11.5 miles during training this summer, so I was careful not to push it too far and crash. As predicted, about 12-12.5 miles in, my energy faded, and I slowed again. My ankle had only been complaining at about a 3/10 during the race, but as soon as I hit the sand it upped to about 7.5/10, and made me grit my teeth to get to the finish.
What would you do differently?:

Not much - very happy with how the run turned out - I was worried I may hit the wall around mile 5-6, but was able to maintain a pace I was happy with. If I can get my tendonitis straightened out during the offseason, I think there is definitely room for improvement on this leg. I think holding back a little more over the first half of the race to stay fresher and faster during the last half would be a good idea, but I have trouble doing that on race day :-)
Post race
Warm down:

Got ice at the medical tent, some muscle milk, a bagel and a banana. By this point, I was freezing cold, so I shivered my way back to transition (about a half mile walk) to get my warmer clothes. I sensed Liz was antsy, so we didn't stick around for any other post-race activities, but packed up and headed back to the motel.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Experience - my first time at this distance, and there are some things on the bike and run that I can improve. Training - I need to work on this distance on the bike and run more to improve my endurance and my pacing. Decision making - the water bottle thing was stupid, and not taking gloves/arm warmers on the bike was also dumb. I've ridden in enough cooler weather to know how it affects me, I think I was in denial that it would stay that cool for the entire morning.

Event comments:

Only a couple of complaints - the swim course could be better marked - I couldn't imagine doing well on this course if it were my first open water swim due to the lack of obvious buoys to navigate with. It would be nice for transition to be a little closer to the swim exit point, and maybe a little less sand to run across at the end - but those are minor issues. Overall I thought it was a well run, well organized event with lots of aid staions. The medical tent was very efficient, food options were great afterwards and the entertainment was fun (although I couldn't find a massage tent...)

Profile Album

Last updated: 2010-06-11 12:00 AM
00:30:54 | 2310 yards | 01m 20s / 100yards
Age Group: 20/78
Overall: 105/653
Performance: Good
Suit: Xterra Vector Pro X2
Course: Not exactly what the website showed, and a bit ambigously marked on race day. We were instructed to swim "between the two sailboats", past the wharf and "you'll see the buoys, keep them to your right". Past the wharf were two buoys a bit farther out. Unfortunately, if you stayed along the wharf, you were a bit inside of where you needed to be. Once around the next buoy, a paddle boarder instructed you to swim back past the wharf to shore, which again, if you stayed next to the wharf, you probably wouldn't have been very close to the actual exit point (a muscle milk sign)
Start type: Run Plus: Waves
Water temp: 57F / 14C Current: Low
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting: Good
Waves: Good Navigation: Average
Rounding: Good
Time: 06:37
Performance: Average
Cap removal: Below average Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Yes Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed: Average
02:48:08 | 56 miles | 19.98 mile/hr
Age Group: 32/78
Overall: 143/653
Performance: Good
Wind: Some
Course: Out and back north from Santa Cruz along Highway 1. A lot of flat and low grade sections, but also a couple of relatively short climbs that make you work. I think we had a tail wind on the way out, and on the way back became a head wind with some cross.
Road: Smooth Wet Cadence: 92
Turns: Average Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Average Hills: Average
Race pace: Hard Drinks: Just right
Time: 02:38
Overall: Average
Riding w/ feet on shoes Bad
Jumping off bike Bad
Running with bike Good
Racking bike Good
Shoe and helmet removal Good
01:48:06 | 13.1 miles | 08m 15s  min/mile
Age Group: 23/78
Overall: 100/653
Performance: Good
Course: Out and back along the coast - starts out paved, then low grade climb for a short distance inland, on some unpaved trail for a couple miles, turn around at a big tiki! Lots of aid stations. Last about 1/4 mile on sand.
Keeping cool Average Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Below average
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 4