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Big Kahuna Triathlon - Triathlon1/2 Ironman

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Santa Cruz, California
United States
Firstwave Events
59F / 15C
Total Time = 5h 40m 5s
Overall Rank = 384/817
Age Group = M40-44
Age Group Rank = 52/97
Pre-race routine:

Totally sleepless night. Might have gotten 90 min. of shut-eye, if that. I was really keyed-up about this race, and more than a little nervous about the 1.2-mile ocean swim in 55F-water.

So, got up and got dressed around 4:30am, got all my gear together, had a breakfast bar and some water, and headed out the hotel room door at 5:15am and rode down 1.7-miles to the Transition Area.

Got my Transition Area set-up, and hit the head twice. Had two GU gels and water. Walked around looking for anyone I might know, but didn't find any BT'ers or any of my Olympic Club teammates.

Just milled about checking out bikes, and trying to keep my mind off the swim. About 6:15am, suited up in my wetsuit and walked the 1/4-mile or so to the surf-entry point to await the Race Day Instruction meeting.

I'm glad I had though to wear sweatpants to the setup. As its chilly in the pre-dawn hours in Santa Cruz. In fact, I probably could've used a sweatshirt under my windbreaker.
Event warmup:

Jumped into the frigid 51F-water (per water-temp charts) to get acclimated. First few strokes literally took my breath away, and I had a hard time breathing. This did nothing for my swimming confidence by the way. But, the water that seeped in was eventually warmed up by my body, and provided a fair insulation for my wave.
  • 35m 47s
  • 1931 meters
  • 01m 51s / 100 meters

This was the scariest Open Water Swim of the year for me. I didn't have any opportunity to practice any Open Water "Ocean swims", and needless to say none in 55F-temperature water.

The stress was palpable to me in the week and day before this race. It was no small cause of concern, and there were moments where I didn't know if I wanted to toe the starting line--as I like to have practiced everything before race day. But, I know I wasn't going to be able to not race today.

Neverthless, I turned in a surprising (to me) performance. Swimming a pretty fast pace--while staying completely aerobic. I was seriously anticipating a 40-42 min. swim time, so the 35:47 I swam was a welcome bonus.

While waiting for my wave, I overheard two soundingly veteran racers of this course analyzing the previous waves. They had determined that the currrent (judging by the boats and course-corrections by swimmers in the previous waves) was moving from left-to-right. They both agreed to start out wide-left to avoid unnecessary course corrections. I followed suit.

One thing I had problem with was cleaning out my goggles after the warm-up. They had fogged up, and repeated attempts to clear them out with ocean water and de-fot them with spit (defog drops being back at my bike rack) failed to get them clean. One waiting swimmer was nice enough to splash some fresh water on my goggles for me to help me get the very find sand out.
What would you do differently?:

Practice in the Race-day environment, at least once or twice. Use a neoprene hood under my swim cap, would even consider booties (are they USAT-legal?). I had brought mine, but in a bonehead maneuver forgot them in my Transition bag. Bring freshwater and de-fogger to the swim start--even if it means losing my bottle of de-fogger (Note: whatever you do, don't try to clear out fine-sand filled goggles with your fingers. My outdoor shaded goggles are not ruined by the scratches).
Transition 1
  • 06m 37s

The T1 included the 1/4-mile run up Pacific Ave. from the Swim Exit to the Transition Area. I stashed a pair of beach flip-flops at the Swim Exit, so as to prevent stepping on foreign object that could be a potential race-ruiner.

I thoroughly washed off my feet with a purpose-filled water bottle, dried them, and put on socks and my cycling cleats. Put on my arm-warmers, as I had read it can get chilly on the bike. Didn't quite need gloves, but glad I had the arm warmers. Downed my first Gel, and hit the start button on my indispensable Powertap computer. I was pretty close to the bike Exit, so I ran in my cleats to the Exit.
What would you do differently?:

Not much.
  • 2h 51m 56s
  • 56 miles
  • 19.54 mile/hr

Okay, my plan for this bike leg was to keep my average Watts at below 185. I knew, of course, the occasional out-of-saddle effort and shorter steep grades would require more juice, but for as much as possible to goal was to keep the AVERAGE below 185. Due to the flatness of much of the course, I was able to keep the real-time Watt readings in the range of 135-160 and maintain a good pace. Towards the end of the ride, I let it rip (that is let my real-time Watts exceed 185, up to 250) a little.

Nutrition Wise: the plan was 1 Accel Gel (Gel with protein) at top of every hour, 1 PowerBar 4x Sodium at every 0:20, and 1 GU Gel at every 0:40. Worked like a charm. Had no cramps or melt-down on the run--as I consumed sufficient calories, electrolytes, and sodium on the bike.

I consumed approximately 2.5 Aero Drink bottles--not quite as much in training, but then again this bike leg was in fairly cool weather.

Made 1 pit-stop on the side of the road.
What would you do differently?:

Not much.
Transition 2
  • 02m 40s

Had to make a quick pit-stop in the port-o-potty before heading out of T2, figuring there wasn't going to be much opportunity to go out on the run. Very glad I did.
What would you do differently?:

Not much.
  • 2h 03m 2s
  • 13.1 miles
  • 09m 23s  min/mile

I felt very strong on the run until about mile 8. The power-savings race-plan on the bike paid big dividends on the run to this point. Kept my HR in a good zone, and paced myself.

At about mile 8, my hamstrings and glutes started screaming. I dialed the pace back a bit, and this helped, until about mile 11-12. At mile 12, I had to stop and stretch twice to avoid totally locking up.

Nutrition-wise, whatever the aid stations were selling, I was buyin'. Water, yup. HEED electrolyte drink, sure. Hammer Gel, ok. Walked about every other station.
What would you do differently?:

More long bike+run bricks prior to any HIM. But, hey, with a PR 1:55 for the standalone-half-mary, how could i complain about a 2:03 half-mary at the end of Half-iron distance race?
Post race
Warm down:

Walking around the finish area, finding wife and kids (well, one of the kids, as my daughter Jordan ran through the finisher's chute with me).

I walked down the 51F-water, and waded in it for about 5 minutes before heading up to rinse-off in the outdoor showers, grab my bike and gear out of the T/A and stow everything in the car.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Leg strength and stamina.

Event comments:

Awesome race. Perfect "first" HIM for anyone considering going this distance, as the bike is fairly flat and so is the run. And, when the weather is somewhat cool like today, you get fast times.

You need to practice cold-water-ocean swimming prior to this race. Its not an absolute requirement (obviously, I didn't); but it would be a big confidence booster.

As a bonus, Michellie Jones raced this race today, and we all saw her around the T/A and on the course. Very cool to have the reigning Kona champ at your race.

Last updated: 2006-11-09 12:00 AM
00:35:47 | 1931 meters | 01m 51s / 100meters
Age Group: 0/97
Overall: 446/817
Performance: Good
Suit: Full (Quintana Roo Hydrofull)
Course: Out-and-around the Santa Cruz Wharf. Three buoys set at the far end of the Wharf, that had to be kept to your right.
Start type: Run Plus: Waves
Water temp: 55F / 13C Current: Low
200M Perf. Average Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting: Below average
Waves: Navigation: Average
Rounding: Good
Time: 06:37
Performance: Average
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed: Good
02:51:56 | 56 miles | 19.54 mile/hr
Age Group: 0/97
Overall: 369/817
Performance: Good
Wind: Little with gusts
Course: Rolling hills, with 2 or 3 significant grades (not quite "climbs" in the cycling sense). Nothing serious. Exactly the type of course I practice on all the time.
Road: Rough Dry Cadence:
Turns: Average Cornering: Average
Gear changes: Good Hills: Good
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
Time: 02:40
Overall: Good
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike Good
Racking bike Good
Shoe and helmet removal
02:03:02 | 13.1 miles | 09m 23s  min/mile
Age Group: 0/97
Overall: 368/817
Performance: Good
Kept HR at around 159-162, with occasional spikes on inclines up to 167. Did not let my HR exceed 167.
Course: Easy rolling-footpaths, with some dirt trails. One or two long, tough grades. Nothing terribly brutal.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 5
Physical exertion [1-5] 5
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] 5

2007-09-09 10:23 PM

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SF-Bay Area
Subject: Big Kahuna Triathlon

2007-09-09 10:40 PM
in reply to: #957475

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SF-Bay Area
Subject: RE: Big Kahuna Triathlon

Transition Area in the pre-dawn hours 

The Santa Cruz Wharf 


Last 1/2-mile of the 13.1 marathon is on the sand...cruel! 

Company (my daughter, Jordan) down the finisher's chute 

Ah, the pain is almost over... 

The Tiki finisher's charm/medal/token 

2007-09-10 12:03 AM
in reply to: #957475

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Extreme Veteran
Kuna, Idaho
Subject: RE: Big Kahuna Triathlon
Way to go speed racer!!!
2007-09-10 5:42 AM
in reply to: #957475

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Subject: RE: Big Kahuna Triathlon
Wow... Nice work, Ron!!  That was some wicked swim in the cold water.  Nice pace on the run, too.  Congrats on your first HIM!
2007-09-10 11:18 AM
in reply to: #957475

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SF-Bay Area
Subject: RE: Big Kahuna Triathlon

Thanks, guys and gals!  Turns out the water was 51F yesterday morning.  Sheesh!

Living on Motrin and fond memories this morning!


2007-09-10 7:46 PM
in reply to: #957475

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San Francisco
Subject: RE: Big Kahuna Triathlon
great job on your first half IM and a nice time to boot!  Bummer we didn't get a chance to meet up.  Nice race report and great pictures!

2007-09-10 9:23 PM
in reply to: #957475

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Melbourne FL
Gold member
Subject: RE: Big Kahuna Triathlon

Awesome Ron, Awesome!!!  Sweet times all around and finish.  And you gotta love that swim!  Way to listen to the vets on that swim start.

Congrats on a great race.  As I see it there's only one club really left to get into, it's the 'Pee on the bike' club, LOL Wink


2007-09-10 9:50 PM
in reply to: #959263

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SF-Bay Area
Subject: RE: Big Kahuna Triathlon
Donto - 2007-09-10 7:23 PM

Awesome Ron, Awesome!!! Sweet times all around and finish. And you gotta love that swim! Way to listen to the vets on that swim start.

Congrats on a great race. As I see it there's only one club really left to get into, it's the 'Pee on the bike' club, LOL Wink

Thanks, buddy!  Your nutrition tips were instrumental.

I'll save my petition for "Pee on the bike" club 'til when I think I can podium (hey, I can dream right?).  LOL!  Until then, I'll keep mine evacuation-free.

2007-09-14 12:35 AM
in reply to: #957475

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Subject: RE: Big Kahuna Triathlon
Nice race man! Glad to see another rookie half iron person out there that had a good day.
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