Ironman Santa Rosa

Since I’m not a fan of a “race report”, I wanted to put together a “race synopsis” and an overview for anyone interested in my race and/or interested in racing Ironman Santa Rosa in 2018.

Because I raced Ironman 70.3 Santa Rosa in May, I was already accustomed to a lot of the unknowns surrounding an Ironman-type race: parking, Ironman Village, bike drop off, run/bike gear drop off bags.

Sara and I drove up on Thursday. Went through athlete check-in and then had dinner with some Hawaii friends. The goal for Friday was to get just enough of a workout in to ensure sleep that night came easily…so 400 yd swim, 20 min bike and a 15-minute run with three striders at the end. My head hit the pillow at 9ish and I was asleep by 9:15 or so. I was up at 2:10 before my alarm and I went about my morning routine: coffee x 2, muesli with chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, almond butter, bananas, blueberries. Everything bagel with more almond butter for the bus ride over to the swim start.

Rode the bus to the swim start and I sat next to Roxanne and Crystal. It was comforting to sit next to friends and not some stranger making nervous small talk.

Swim: 1:03:24. This was a 2-loop swim. First loop was right around 30:30 and then I merged into loop 2, but not after I tried a dolphin dive which turned into a mini-belly flop and my heart-rate monitor fell down to my belly! I bet anyone watching got a good laugh out of that one! Significantly more people on the 2nd loop. I swam harder, but my time was much slower. Fell getting out of the water and cramped (thought my life was over!)

T1: 6:19. SUPER long run up the ramp. Couldn’t clip shoes onto the bike or have your helmet next to your bike so be prepared to run with your shoes on.

Bike: 5:20:08. Ended up being right around 110.5 miles. All the climbs are at the beginning when your heart-rate is the highest so get that under control. Saw a bobcat run across the road at mile 15ish. Pretty much hated life from mile 40 thru 90. Wanted off the bike. Hamstrings were firing in the wrong way. Neck hurt. Power was slowly dropping. Once you get into Santa Rosa you then have 2 loops to complete. Some of the roads are in horrendous shape, but you just pick a line, get out of aero and really pay attention for 2-3 minutes. At mile 90 I realized that I had 22 miles left and I could get off the bike in about 60 minutes and my energy perked up.

Special Needs is at mile 68 which was a bit far for my nutrition. I went through 4 bottles of EFS Pro (6 scoops per 24oz bottle), countless gu’s and Clif block’s and plenty of water.

T2: 4:47. Love the bike catchers. I stopped my Garmin as I approached them and literally threw my bike in their direction. I was SO HAPPY to have gotten off the bike.

Run: 4:07:07. The plan was to run 8:30’s for the first 8-10 miles with a 10-second walk at EVERY aid station that first lap (it was a 3-loop run course). I ended up walking every…single…aid station. All 30 of them. I had a total of 4 different miles slower than a 10 min/mile pace. Near the end of lap 2 the wheels started to fall off. I saw Sara and all I could muster was “my legs really hurt”. Once I started that third lap I knew that I had to somehow pull it together as the last 7+ months of training is coming down to this last lap and if I can pick it up, if I can somehow find the strength to pick up my speed, to not throw up, to not lose focus, to understand that I may go over that line, that edge…but I had to try. So miles 20 through the end (when you normally hit “the wall” my pace was:

20 – 9:23

21 – 9:48

22 – 9:21

23 – 9:21

24 – 9:23

25 – 9:21

26 – 9:03

Mind you, that’s with 15-20 seconds of walking at every aid station to drink (in order) water, Gatorade, cola, water, ice (to put in my hat/tri-suit).

Left turn, right turn, right turn, around transition, left turn, one last left turn and then…the Ironman finisher’s chute. I saw my beautiful wife and she ran alongside me for a few hundred feet and then near the finish line it was SO LOUD!!! So awesome!

I finished my 2nd Ironman in a time of 10:41:45. Super excited about the time that I was able to produce and for all three splits. I finished 115th overall out of over 2,500 athletes.

 

Last thoughts about Ironman Santa Rosa:

None of my times were a surprise. If you do the training, nothing on race day should really come as a surprise. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to run 7’s or even 8’s the entire race. I knew that I wouldn’t hold 230 watts for the duration of the ride either. Be realistic.

Respect the distance. Training for an Ironman is a full-time job. You must eat properly to fuel yourself (I’m a vegetarian), you must sleep enough to let your body recover (I got a minimum of 8.5 hours of sleep per night with most nights closing in on 10 hours of sleep), you must do the bike workouts. You don’t have to do a long-run every weekend…I didn’t. My longest run was 16.5 miles. But the stronger I was on the bike the less fatigued I would be on the run.

Get used to apologizing. You will become a basket case. You will lose patience. You will explode. You will yell. You will scream (inside a car without anyone in it). These are ALL normal…but you have to learn to say “I’m sorry”.

 

Tips if you’re thinking about racing Ironman Santa Rosa:

In 2018, the race is on May 12th. A perfect time of year. We were super lucky this year with the water being 76.1 so we could wear wetsuits (.1 degrees higher and it would have been speedo) and the temp maybe reached 87 during the day. It has consistently been over 90 degrees and even surpassing 100 degrees most of July. May is a much better month for the race.

Pay the $40 for the Tri-Bike Transport to take your bike on Friday (the day before the race) to T1. This will save you a 45-minute one-way drive and a lot of stress.

The sun peaked over the mountains on my 2nd lap. The fog was creeping over the water and made it hard to see the buoys at times. Find the right goggles to see orange/yellow buoys in a dark, hazy environment.

Run your tires at 100 psi. For races I normally go 105-110, especially if the road is smooth enough. But for Santa Rosa, there are some horrible roads and even the regular roads have enough bumps, ripples, nitches to allow losing time at 100 psi over changing a pinch flat (which I saw a few).

Elevation (according to my Garmin’s) were 2,736 ft for the bike and 292 ft for the run. The run is three-loops. There are 10 aid stations per loops so that’s 30 aid stations over 26.2 miles.

There is a weird out & back section on the run where the trail has a few quarter size rocks that don’t feel good when you step on them. About 40% of this run is on fire-road type trail, so minimalist shoes may produce uncomfortable feet by the end.

 

In all, a much better venue than Ironman Arizona and I’m so glad that I raced this. The experience I gained from the Santa Cruz Triathlon Association’s camping trip in April helped me with the May 70.3. Then another bro training weekend in June (in the 95+ degree heat) really helped me for the Ironman in July.

 

Thank you to all of my training partners. Thank you to my coach. Thank you to my family. Most importantly, thank you to my wife, Sara Doinidis. I’m sorry I was a basket case leading up to the race J

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