Santa Cruz Triathlon – Olympic Distance

September is always a great time of year in the Monterey Bay area, specifically in Santa Cruz. This year proved to be especially active with a near record amount of triathlons.
Originally signed up as a volunteer for this race, I quickly switched my status of volunteer to age-grouper after Ironman 70.3 Lake Tahoe was cancelled the week before.
Introducing the 32nd annual Santa Cruz Triathlon. New to the 2014 version is a new race director and a brand-spanking-new bike course that takes the riders out of T1 along West Cliff Drive…great way to announce your introduction as race director, Jennifer!
As a member of the Santa Cruz Triathlon Association #SCTA, I knew this race would be both full of race participants from the team and volunteers to pull one through strongly to the finish. And let me tell you, we represented well!!!!!
Race morning was on par for September and perfect hoody weather – 58 degrees and foggy. We strolled into transition at 6 AM to find the perfect rack for the quickest transition.
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All set up, it was time to head down to the water. The walk takes about 15 minutes to the swim start and along the way I met up with Anthony and Ashley and we chatted away our nerves. My corral, 30-39, was the 3rd starting wave. Unfortunately, I started having a mini panic attack right before sprinting into the water.
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I tried my best to stay in front of the body smashers for the first 1-2 minutes but I couldn’t get away from them. At one point I was clunked on the head pretty good, which in turn loosened my goggles enough that water got into my right lens. I kept the water in there until 11-12 minutes into the swim thinking that it’d be a quicker time overall…just too much going through my head. So then I thought back to all the times that I swam around the wharf on Friday’s with the Westend Wine-O’s and I immediately became relaxed and got into a groove. I rolled over on my back, got the water out of my goggles, reset them, rolled back over to my front and then got my rear in gear. Rounding the wharf I picked up my arm turnover and finished the swim in a PR of 26:06.
Exciting the water, I spotted Sara and gave her a high-five as I stripped the top-half of my wetsuit in prep for the .5 mile run back to transition. I passed a few swimmers on the run as I knew my heart rate wouldn’t jump too high from this quicker-than-normal trot. Got into transition and was out with my bike fairly quickly. Ran up the hill to the mounting line, swung the leg over, put my feet on top of my cleats and started peddling. Now, I utilize Specialized Trivent triathlon cleats because they allow the most amount of airflow, they’re the quickest on and off and I love the feel of them. Unfortunately, I ripped one of the straps earlier this year at the Vineman Full Aquabike so now my right cleat is a bit more difficult to slip my foot into. Slipping both feet in is a process that should take 15 seconds, but this time I spent a good 45 seconds on this. This caused frustration for the first mile and potentially is why I went out too hard.
West Cliff Drive is such a beautiful stretch of any course that it is difficult not to stare out at the edge of the world into the Pacific. My goal was to drop a 65-minute 40k. I pushed it hard the entire split, even on the hills up to Davenport and back. There was well over 1,000 ft of climbing on this 40k course that played into the overall times of every cyclist. Not one cyclist was able to post a sub 60-minute 40k.
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My ride time of over 68 minutes was another PR and I was quite happy rolling into transition once again.
Slipping my feet out of my cleats and on top of them, I was push-peddling the last 150 yards until I was able to jump off my bike into a run with my bike. I have really worked on my transition from the bike to the run and it showed with a :32 second transition time.
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I fueled myself properly on the bike with enough water/Gatorade mix and a full GU Chomp packet with 200 calories. I had a salty caramel for the run that I planned to take around the 20-minute mark. I knew this run was going to hurt and I went out hard in excitement for the pain!
To name the list of the friends and family that I saw out on the race course that cheered me through to another PR on the 10k with a time of 44:19 would easily double the size of this race report. I cannot begin to thank you for your words of encouragement out on the course (especially yours, Andrea ).
At mile 5 I was passed by a runner with a 31 on his left calf, which meant that he was in my age group. I somehow knew it in my mind that he was now in 3rd place and I did all that I could do to push for the next 60 seconds to keep up with him (I was thinking IronWar in my mind), but his pace was just too fast. I couldn’t keep up!
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I crossed the finish line with another PR of 2:22:19 and a giant smile across my entire face! Another successful triathlon in a beautiful place with my best of friends.
Recap of the day provided some details:
– Training for Ironman Arizona is a blast! But I really enjoy shorter distance triathlons in which your pacing is more about pushing to the limit rather than fueling for 10+ hours.
– In training for Ironman Arizona, I don’t hit my top end too often so it was hard to find my redline at this race and even more difficult to determine how long I could stay there.
– Losing out on Ironman 70.3 Lake Tahoe allowed me an additional week of taper, which saved my body and prepped me for a fast race but hurt my time overall because of too many “soft” days leading up to it.
– Belonging to the family Santa Cruz Triathlon Association and how crazy we are is absolutely incredible and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Thank you to all that helped me along the way! My beautiful fiancée, Sara! My parents for understanding my need to move out to California. #BioSkin for the recovery sleeves that I immediately put on, #SaltedCaramel for the pickup at mile 3! #IAmSpecialized for a beautiful (and fast) bike! Thank you, Spokesman & Wade Hall, for providing assistance out on the course!

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