FINALLY... my first triathlon of the season! It's a nice little race in Santa Cruz put on by Finish Line Productions... I think they did a great job organizing and I'd do it again. This was a warm-up race so I could gauge fitness and work out the kinks prior to Big Kahuna in a few weeks. The last time I did a race was Honu in June 2011... but while I was definitely out of practice (noticeable in T1), I am now in a lot better shape and did much better than I expected!
Pre-race: dinner of salmon, rice, avocado and green beans. Prepared my overnight oats (recipe by Hillary Biscay.... so tasty and easy! I added raisins instead of bananas) and popped it in the fridge for breakfast the next morning. Was in bed by 9:30 but I can't seem to fall asleep before 10 regardless of what time I'll need to get up!
Up at 4:40 am, ate my overnight oats for breakfast, loaded up my gear and headed out at 5:15. Picked up a friend from the tri club and drove 1.5 hours down to Santa Cruz. Found a lovely available parking spot, where the very friendly policewoman directing traffic said I could park and wished us luck... and we came back to find it was a no-parking zone and I got a ticket!! Grrrr...
Set up transition area, drank half of my Ultragen and headed down to the beach for a pre-race dip. I was pleasantly surprised to find the water was a few degrees warmer than it is up in San Francisco... cold, but not bone-chillingly so.
Garmin swim time (actual swimming) 27:10. Official time 30:35 which included the extremely long run from the beach to transition (like 2 or 3 city blocks).
This was a beach start with plenty of room for everyone to spread out and not beat each other up, so I lined up 2nd row center and charged out of the corral at the start. A wave came in right when we got to the water and almost everyone dropped back... I'm proud that I continued to charge ahead with a couple other gals, so I had some pretty clean water and got a decent head start. Alas, my swim fitness needs some work, and a couple women passed me on the swim. Other than that first wave the water was pretty calm... very nice swim conditions, and I was pretty sure that I wasn't too far behind the leaders.
T1: Official time 2:35.
This is where I need some work! Even though I practiced this the day before, it's a different beast during a race. I'd brought some hot water to rinse off my cold feet, couldn't get the top of my thermos off, then forgot to dry my feet and got one sock wet, took off the sock to dry my feet, put on my socks... good grief. Just get on the bike already. :-) Haven't yet tried sockless and really should.
Bike: 1:12:54. My Garmin had the distance at 22.5... definitely short.
My stretch goal was to keep 19 MPH avg pace, and I came in at 18.8... close enough to make me happy! This was four loops on the bike, and my plan was to just blow it out. Last weekend I did the Marin metric century (60 miles) followed by a 25 min run, and I was pleased to discover that even though I rode hard in between aid stations it didn't affect my run. That was enough of a confidence builder for me to decide to go hard on the bike during this race. I managed to keep heart-rate in high zone 3/low zone 4 the entire time, and keep the pace mostly the same for all four loops (although the last one I started lagging a bit.)
I had to laugh... one guy just hated it when I passed him. He'd pass me back, and sure enough, 10 min later he'd slowed down and I re-passed him. This must have happened at LEAST 6 times during the race. I did pass a couple women in my AG early on, and then I was mostly alone with the guys (whose wave went 5 min after mine) so I had no idea where I was in the rankings. But I knew I'd been out of the water maybe in 5th or 6th, and I passed a couple women, so I figured if I kept up the pace I *might* earn a podium spot.
Nutrition: 1.5 bottles w/1 scoop EFS and 1 scoop CarboPro each; one Bonkbreaker bar, one gel 10 min before the run
T2: 1:25... better, but still room for improvement!
This was a HUGE PR for me. My stretch goal pace for this was 8:45 and I came in at 8:38. The carrot of a potential podium spot was a nice motivator. This was a lovely run course along the coastline, and the sun finally came out after the first mile or so. I didn't really look at my Garmin much... just continued my effort I'd set on the bike of "hard enough to sustain but not totally blow up." I think I had a bit more in the tank if I'd really needed to turn it on.
Nutrition: other than 1 cup of water at the start, I didn't take in anything else. My stomach was sloshing a bit and I felt fine energy-wise.
Here's the run course view (source: virtualtourist.com)
Overall: 2:40:52, which is a 25 minute PR from the last Olympic on a similar course (Pacific Grove). I'll caveat that by saying that the bike course was shorter, so it was probably more like a 15 - 20 min PR. But my bike pace improvement (from 17 MPH to 18.8) and my run improvement (from 9:00 to 8:38) is huge. I'll take it :-) And it was good enough for 2nd AG! (not sure where 1st and 3rd went... I was the only one around to claim my prize.)
Honestly I'm not sure what I'd do differently. I feel like my nutrition was spot on, I was able to line up near the front of the swim without freaking out, my pacing was good... other than needing to work on swim fitness and T-times, this felt like a good race overall.
Next up: Big Kahuna 70.3 in Santa Cruz on 9/9! Can't wait. I could possibly pull out an hour PR at that distance. AND... I just signed up for Miami 70.3 on Oct 28... geez, my season just started! gotta take advantage of my fitness.