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Ironman 70.3 Santa Cruz - Triathlon

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Santa Cruz, California
United States
65F / 18C
Total Time = 5h 26m 47s
Overall Rank = 412/1979
Age Group = F30-34
Age Group Rank = 13/101
Pre-race routine:

After Pucon 70.3 in January, I wanted to register for an early fall race -- I figured that would give me enough time to make some run improvement and also knew work would be busy in the late spring / early summer timeframe. Unfortunately, the work schedule got pushed back and we were crazy busy from the end of June through the end of August....not exactly ideal, but we made it work by rearranging my training schedule to put all the key sessions in the morning and keeping the easier training in the evenings and hoping I could make them. In the end, I think there were only a handful that I missed altogether. Honestly, it wasn't until I was about two weeks out from the race that I realized I was only two weeks out from the race! It was kind of nice to not stress about the race, but it did suck a lot to have so much work stress for a long time, and that did concern me a little -- I was hoping that my body was able to absorb the training stress while managing the life stress, and I did have one minor freak out (during a four hour ride) that I had screwed myself over and might as well scrap the race!

I flew out to Santa Cruz Friday, picked up my packet, reassembled my bike, and went for a short run. Saturday morning, I went for a short run and short ride at the start/end of the course, dropped off my bike, and drove the full bike course -- I could tell it would not be a fast course, but it looked like it was going to be a lot of fun! Kept off my feet for the most part on Saturday, and had an early dinner with a glass of red wine, and then crashed early.

I actually slept really well that night. Got up in the morning, had a bagel with peanut butter....had some time before I needed to leave, so I closed my eyes and visualized my race and mentally prepared myself for the day. I was a little nervous, but mostly excited and ready :)

I walked a little over a mile from my place to transition, pumped up my tires, and got everything laid out and ready to go. Transition closed at 6:30, but my wave didn't start until 7:42, so I had a lot of time to kill (which is my least favorite part of the "race"....the waiting game is when I get most nervous, as I know everything will be fine once I get going!). We watched the pros come in from the swim before making our way over to the swim corral.

Event warmup:

They did allow athletes to get into the water for a warm-up. I was a little cold and was undecided if I should do it or let it be a surprise at the start of the race, but decided I should get in. It was probably a good decision....coming from Houston and having not felt water cooler than 82F since May, it was a shock to feel water in the hight 50's! I probably only swam for about five minutes, but it was enough time for me to get used to it. Then I got out and lined up at the race start with a few minutes to spare.

  • 38m 17s
  • 1900 meters
  • 02m 01s / 100 meters

The horn went off and we all ran in. We got fairly lucky with the lull in the surf at the start of our wave and didn't have to fight through it (though I wouldn't have minded, since it doesn't bother me). I wanted to start swimming fairly hard for a couple minutes and then settle into a manageable effort....I don't think I ever did much hard swimming, and even my "manageable" effort was pretty relaxed (as evidenced by my time!).

I was feeling pretty good and I was staying "in the moment". I often find my mind wandering to "ugh, I feel like we've been going forever....are we almost finished yet?" places and I've been working hard to not do that. I didn't do that at all in this race, so I was pleased with that. It probably helped that I knew there were five yellow buoys, one red buoy at the turn, another red buoy at the next turn, and finally five orange I just kept counting them down and making forward progress.

About the second orange buoy on the way back in, I noticed that I had to pee, which I thought was strange as I'd already gone a few times (and once just minutes before we started). I tried to go while swimming, but couldn't make it happen without stopping, so figured it would either go away or I'd finally pee on the bike ;)

I used to be a 32-34 minute HIM swimmer, but recently have been more like a 38 minute HIM swimmer, despite putting in a decent volume (more now than I did back when I was faster...). I don't know what's happened, and to be honest, I'm really disappointed in it. I'd like to get back to where I used to be, but I don't know how. What I do know is that what I'm doing is not working, so I need to figure something else out, as this is not satisfactory to me.

What would you do differently?:

Figure out what I need to change in order to get back to where I used to be. Part of me wonders if there is a large mental component to it, since I was a better swimmer when I knew I was a crap runner and figured I'd blow myself out on the swim-bike legs and limp it in on the run....and now I'm trying to save myself for the run?? But I had a crap swim during an aquabike last year, so that kind of negates that theory...

Transition 1
  • 05m 41s

This transition had a really long run from the swim exit to the transition area (my Garmin says 0.44 miles). When I got out of the water, I stumbled and almost ate it....somehow managed to save it and continued on my way. After exiting the beach, it was a long run over rough asphalt. I was cursing (maybe some out loud even) because my feet hurt so bad! It was a very welcome reprieve when I finally made it to the transition area (on turf).

I made it to my bike with no issues and saw very few bikes gone from the rack and only one or two girls in the area. I was surprised because I knew my swim time had sucked. My feet still had a lot of sand on them, but I decided not to worry too much about it -- shoved my feet into my socks and shoes, then put on my sunglasses and helmet. With the fog and moisture in the air, my sunglasses were covered in condensation and I couldn't see through them. I pulled them off to wipe them off a bit and promptly dropped them....I thought this was a really bad transition, but in comparing it to the top girls in my AG, it was pretty comparable.

Finally grabbed my bike and ran with it to the mount line, clipped in, and got on my way.

What would you do differently?:

The whole thing could have been smoother, but it wasn't all that slow. I've been watching a ton of ITU racing recently, so maybe I'm ready to try having my shoes already clipped into the pedals (but probably not the whole flying mount thing!)

  • 2h 50m 31s
  • 56 miles
  • 19.70 mile/hr

Biking is my favorite, but things were just not clicking on race day. I was thinking/hoping that being in a later swim wave meant that I would get some draft legal / slingshot opportunities, but it turned out that it mostly meant that I'd spend the entire ride either burning matches by surging to get through draft zones within the allotted 25 seconds, or soft pedaling to stay out of draft zones. Early in the ride, I felt like I was riding like an idiot (too many surges) and was inevitably going to pay for it I think that played with my head in a bad way and I ended up riding way conservatively. I didn't see any big pelotons and really didn't see too much blatant drafting, but the vast majority of people were definitely not riding legally. I understand that it's tough to do so with this many athletes on the course, but it is still a little irritating to see people who either don't care enough to know the rules or don't care enough to follow the rules, while I was trying my hardest to ride legally, even if it meant surging or soft pedaling.

After analyzing my power file, it turns out I wasn't riding anywhere near as spiky as I'd thought, with my peak 1 minute power being only 90% of threshold and my peak 30 second power being right at threshold, and the next five best 30 second powers being under 95% of threshold. Knowing what I know now, I really wish I'd tried harder to stick with my power plan and not let these things get into my head!

Power plan was to ride in the mid- to high-150's for the most part, could push a little harder if I found someone going at a good pace and could stay 12m behind, but still get a little draft benefit, and up to 170 for climbing. Early in the ride, my power was down at 152W and I wasn't feeling good....RPE was not in line with power or HR and I convinced myself that I'd blown out my legs....and despite the fact that power and HR were in line with one another, I couldn't convince myself to ignore RPE and stick with the plan. By the end of the ride, my power had dropped to 146W....I knew I'd under biked, but I still had this nagging feeling that I'd screwed myself and was just hoping I could run.

As per usual, everyone passes me on the ascents (it's not that I'm bad at ascending or that my power to weight ratio is particularly bad, but I work hard at holding steady power, while others seem to really throw down while climbing!), while I pass a good number on flat terrain, and pass just about everyone on descents -- I think this is due to the fact that a) I try to maintain power on the descents if/when I can, b) I've worked hard at improving my aerodynamics, and c) I'm pretty fearless when it comes to descending quickly :)

There was one big climb on the ride, followed by a technical descent that looks like it would be fun as shit to ride! However, I don't trust other cyclists' skills and took it very conservatively. I'm actually somewhat surprised that there weren't any crashes (or at least I didn't see or hear about any) here. On the way back to transition, there were a few climbs that were steep enough to need to shift into the small chainring. On one of them, I managed to drop my chain and could not get it back on without that sucked a lot! I wasted some time getting it back on and then restarting on the ascent.

Since it was cool and a little misty, I didn't drink anywhere near as much as I normally do (granted, that's normally in the heat and humidity of Houston!). Also, I still had to pee and despite trying a number of times, I could not go on the bike. I swear, I need to do an entire bike session devoted to learning to pee! I was forcing myself to drink, trying desperately not to screw myself any further for the run....I had two bottles of Skratch on the bike and drank probably 1.5 by the end. I did eat three Honey Stinger Waffles.

What would you do differently?:

Trust HR and power over RPE and trust that my training has prepared me for the surges necessary to ride legally. Learn to pee on the bike :)

Transition 2
  • 01m 59s

Nearing the end of the bike course, I pulled my feet out of my shoes so I could dismount and run into issues here, other than a couple people lolly gagging around the dismount line. Ran to my transition spot and saw I was the first bike back on the Again, I know my swim split sucked and I didn't have a stellar ride, so there's no way I'm leading this race for my age group (I wasn't....but apparently they had the fast girls on a different rack?? I mean, I know they had more than the one rack since this one had about 50 bikes on it and there were over 100 in my AG....but did they somehow put all the fast girls on a separate rack? I know the AWA's had three digit bib numbers versus the rest of us in the AG having four digit bib numbers, so I guess they were racked in a different area, which tbh, is bullshit).

But anyways, I racked my bike and decided to do something I've never done before....I sat down and peed in transition. I'm completely shameless....I have no problem peeing in my wetsuit (even when I'm not in the water) or in transition (it was grass/turf, so it wasn't completely obvious), but somehow can't go on the bike. I probably could have gone while running, but I didn't want to risk it, nor did I want to waste the time going to a porta potty.

I ditched my sunglasses, which were foggy the entire ride and driving me nuts! I had meant to take my M2 sleeved top off, but I forgot and ended up being kind of grateful since it was a little cool out and it also meant that I had a pocket for my gels, which I don't in the Kiwami one piece suit. Grabbed my hat, race belt, and gels and ran out of transition while squaring these things away

What would you do differently?:

Learn to pee on the bike :)
  • 1h 50m 19s
  • 13.1 miles
  • 08m 25s  min/mile

As part of the race plan, Marc told me "TRUST YOUR RUN!!!!!" He also said that I have a lot of run strength and to not be afraid to use it....and to get into a rhythm and try to pick people off one by one. I kept repeating those things in my head throughout the run. He'd said to go out at an 8:30 pace for the first 10 miles, and then just go for it on the last 5k. I asked about HR caps and he said he's tending to trust pace over HR, but reluctantly gave me some numbers to go by (I was worried that I wouldn't be able to hold on at 8:30's and that I'd blow up if it was too hard and I stubbornly held on...). Literally as soon as I started the run, I ignored HR and ran based on RPE, while watching pace as a gut check. I was slightly faster than an 8:30 pace, but I felt good and thought I could hold it.

I started picking people off one by one and I was actually really enjoying the run! I've never made up places in the run, so it was nice to be passing people and feeling good!

There were a handful of slower miles (4, 5, 8, and 9) where it must have been net uphill and a handful of faster miles (6, 7, 10, and 11) where it must have been net downhill, but for the most part, they were ticking off around an 8:20.

I took gels around miles 4, 7, and 10, and grabbed water at each aid station. There was a small section on the way back from the Natural Bridges Park heading toward Cliff Dr where things were feeling a little rough. I knew I had less than a 5k left to go and could get through it. Shortly after, I saw a girl in my AG and wanted to pass her and not let her see I was hurting. Passing her gave me some confidence and I was back in a good place again. I talked with her after the race and she told me I was "flying", which is something no one has ever said about my run before! She said she tried to hold on, but had to let me go. Looks like I pulled away by about 40 seconds in the last couple miles, so that's pretty cool.

The last minute of the run is down a steep hill and then onto the beach. I had a couple friends who were cheering me on as I was making the descent and I knew at that point, I'd set a new half marathon PR (as part of a HIM, even!) and was so happy. I veered over to give them high fives, so that was fun! I crossed the finish line with the announcer calling out my name and knew I'd achieved my goal of having a good run split and holding on for a PR! I got choked up and cried....I no longer cared that I had a crap swim and very mediocre bike -- I had a great run and couldn't have been happier!

What would you do differently?:

Nothing -- I'm so happy with this run and the improvement I've made. I know I still have more in me and am really excited to continue to improve

Post race
Warm down:

Cried a little, grabbed a bottle of water and space blanket, made my way up the hill to my friends, got choked up a little more, and then cheered on finishers for the next 30 minutes before I desperately needed to get some dry clothes on!

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Swim issues that I haven't yet pinpointed, confidence in my biking (or maybe confidence in my run off the bike??)

I'm really considering some of those swim-run races to help improve both my swimming and running....we'll see what I decide for next year

Event comments:

WTC consistently puts on good races, but also consistently has very mediocre food after. And as always, I wish there was a better / more consistent way for them to enforce drafting and position rules on the bike.

Last updated: 2016-09-13 12:00 AM
00:38:17 | 1900 meters | 02m 01s / 100meters
Age Group: 30/101
Overall: 782/1979
Performance: Below average
Suit: Tyr Hurricane Cat 5
Course: Rectangular course around Santa Cruz pier / boardwalk
Start type: Run Plus: Waves
Water temp: 0F / 0C Current: Low
200M Perf. Below average Remainder: Below average
Breathing: Average Drafting: Below average
Waves: Navigation: Average
Rounding: Average
Time: 05:41
Performance: Average
Cap removal: Average Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed:
02:50:31 | 56 miles | 19.70 mile/hr
Age Group: 12/101
Overall: 443/1979
Performance: Below average
Wind: Some
Road: Rough Dry Cadence:
Turns: Average Cornering: Below average
Gear changes: Below average Hills: Average
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
Time: 01:59
Overall: Average
Riding w/ feet on shoes Average
Jumping off bike Average
Running with bike Average
Racking bike Good
Shoe and helmet removal Below average
01:50:19 | 13.1 miles | 08m 25s  min/mile
Age Group: 18/101
Overall: 412/1979
Performance: Good
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Average
Mental exertion [1-5] 3
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: Average
Race evaluation [1-5] 4

2016-09-14 11:38 AM

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Houston, Texas
Subject: Ironman 70.3 Santa Cruz

2016-09-14 1:01 PM
in reply to: #5198788

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Bronze member
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Santa Cruz

Amazing half marathon PR! Way to go!

2016-09-14 8:36 PM
in reply to: #5198788

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ann arbor, michigan
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Santa Cruz
That looks like a well executed race, start to finish. '

Very impressive.
2016-09-15 11:59 AM
in reply to: wannabefaster

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Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Santa Cruz

Wow, well done!!! Congrats on some amazing execution! 

2016-09-15 8:24 PM
in reply to: #5198788

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Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Santa Cruz

Great job - pretty rare to have a HM PR in a 70.3!

2016-09-16 12:18 AM
in reply to: GoFaster

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Houston, Texas
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Santa Cruz

Originally posted by GoFaster

Great job - pretty rare to have a HM PR in a 70.3!

hehehe, that probably says something, right?

Thanks!  I'm very happy with my run effort for this race.  I've now signed up for another race (Austin 70.3 at the end of October....despite having never heard anything good about it) with the plan to "over bike" and see how it affects my run.  I'm happy to experiment and sorta hopeful that I'll find that I don't need to ride as scared as I feel like I need to!

2016-09-16 7:44 AM
in reply to: ligersandtions

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Eugene, Oregon
Bronze member
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Santa Cruz
Sounds like a strong all-around race despite the various struggles, and congrats on the run. As for having to pee, my guess is it's the cold water. That never fails to trigger it for me. Some kind of reflex--maybe it's the body trying to warm up the wetsuit? Cold air will do it too. I start running in winter (at home), and five minutes later I have to pee. Have also never been able to pee on the bike. Swim, yes (at least in open water. Have to admit that despite swimming competitively as a kid, I don't recall ever peeing in the pool!). Run, of course. No way in h....would I stop on the run. I would probably never be able to get back up. But not on the bike. I don't know what the trick is either.
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