I was traveling for work a few days before this race and managed to catch a cold. Not an ideal preparation for a race at all. But when you have forked out a lot of money to do the race and have trained for several months to prepare for it you end up doing some stupid things, like doing a 1/2 IronMan at the tail end of a cold.
The race didn’t allow race packet pickup on the day of the race so I basically spent ~4 hours to go down to Santa Cruz on the day before the race just to pick up my race number, swim cap, t-shirt and time chip.
The race was scheduled to start at 7am. The transition area opened at 5am. in order to not get a really crappy spot in the transition I was up at 3.30am to gobble down some breakfast and then start the 1h30m drive down to Santa Cruz. Found parking really close to the event and got a decent spot in the transition area.
Swim – 1.2 miles (1.9k) – 00:39:13
The first thing that hit me was obviously the 57F water. It was pretty cold and I immediately started thinking, how am I supposed to do this for 40 minutes? It took about 2 minutes and then I was hot.
The swim route was really cool. Basically swam around the famous pier in Santa Cruz. That also made it somewhat easy to stay on straight line as you had the pier to your left the whole time. At one point I stopped and switched to breast stroke just to get my bearings on a buoy that I needed to round. Another guys did the same thing and said “is that really the buoy we need to round, that’s far man!”
The cold didn’t really help during the swim. I kept coughing underneath the water the whole time and this made breathing normally pretty difficult. I was also really sick of the really salty water at the end of the swim.
I finished pretty far down in my age group but I was at least not the last one. This was also the absolute longest swim I have ever done so that felt like a pretty good achievement in itself.
The swim ended with a 400 yd. (370m) run up to T1.
Bike- 56 miles (89.6k) – 02:53:01
The bike ride had a few initial miles in the city of Santa Cruz and then basically went ~25 miles north on HW1. The scenery was nice but the weather made it a bit grey and dull. Although the overcast sky made it a bit more boring it was nice not to be blasted by the sun.
This route on HW1 is pretty straight and doesn’t really have any hills, it’s more small rolling hills that pretty much go unnoticed.
I made progress sin the filed, passing lots of people in my age group and lots of other people also that had beaten me in the swim.
There were a few accidents from what I could see. Pretty early on there were two guys that I think had collided and were down and had medics taking care of them. Another guy was down and was waiting for the medics to come.
I go to the turnaround point after 27 miles (43.2k) and had been pushing around a 21 mph (33.6 km/h) pace up until that point. I felt good and pretty strong still My cold at this point was actually not affecting me all that much. I did the 180 degree turn to start going the 27 miles (43.2k) south on HW1 back to Santa Cruz. I immediately hit a wall. The headwind was really strong. My pace almost immediately dropped to an average of about 17.5mph (28 km/h). The mental game started to come into play here. Feeling that good in the beginning of the ride only to later hit a wall of wind and feeling like you basically stopped and knowing you have 27 more miles to go was not easy. I tried to keep as low of a position as possible and just keep pushing.
I finally made it back and was at this point feeling the cold affecting me much more. Lungs were burning a bit and my nose was really runny. So much in fact that I started to bleed from blowing my nose too much.
Got through T2 pretty easy but I did run the wrong way for a few sec but was directed by volunteers where to go.
Run- 13.1 miles (21k) – 02:16:28
As always it was tough to start off the run after being on the bike. But hey, what’s new with that. That’s just the way it is and after a while that really strange feeling goes away and it feels alright again. I was really troubled here by my runny and bleeding nose. This was really annoying and mentally irritating throughout the whole run.
I started off the first 4 miles (6.4k) on a pretty decent pace and with the goal of beating 2 hours for the run. After these first 4 initial miles I started to get a sensation of cramps in my quads and decided to slow down. This has happened before and slowing down prevents me from really cramping and basically forcing me to quit the race. So I did and the cramps didn’t really flare up all that much. However as soon as I tried to crank up the speed again I started to almost cramp again. This forced me to keep a much slower pace than I wanted.
I then reverted to run a bit slower and hope that I would be able to really pick up the pace toward the tail end of the run, similar to what I did 2 weeks earlier in Santa Barbara where I basically ran the last 3 miles (5k) with a 7min/mile (4:20/km). This didn’t happen. I was too tired and was still about to cramp. I had at this point started to tell myself that it’s better to keep running, slow, and be able to finish the race rather than cramping up with several miles left to go and be forced to either quit or just walk the rest of the race.
The last 0.5 mile (800m) of the running was on the beach. This was a surprise and I was not that happy about it. If anything would make my cramps flare up it would be running on the beach. However I made my way to the wet packed part pretty quickly and was fine. The finish line was on the beach and as soon as I finished I realized that I had beaten 6 hours. That was at least somewhat of a goal so that was a victory.
All in all a good race. It was the first time ever I swam that far, it was the first time ever I biked that far and it was the first time I ran that far after doing the swimming and the biking. So all in all I am happy about the race. It could have gone a whole lot better with a better preparation and above all not catching that cold.
I finished 299/621 that finished the race. Don’t know how many DNF.
I finished 34/51 in my age group.
Now let’s double all these distances and do that in June next year! Sounds good to me!!