Santa Rosa 70.3 2017 half recap

Prior to the race.

The focus of the winter and the early spring training was getting ready for Boston while maintaining a decent amount of bike fitness. That amounted to about 45 miles per week of running and about 100 miles per week of cycling. I did not swim at all until the week of taper before Boston, so in total I got in maybe 12 swims before the race. I felt reasonably ok about being able to race the bike leg, but the swim was likely going to be a struggle. However, since it was a wetsuit legal event in a lake I was fairly confident that in the worst case scenario I'd be looking at about 40 mins. 

Friday before the race

Got into Santa Rosa at around 11am. Found parking, and headed into the athlete's village. Picked up my registration, got the swag and met up with my buddy Brad who got there the night prior. We decided to head to the lake and survey the area after dropping off the bikes. It took about 35 mins to drive there - most of the drive was along a very pristine wine country with plenty of faux Italian/French architecture. Got to the lake, parked in the overflow parking, got my gear into the bike bag, pumped the tires and headed to the T1 area.This is what it looked like from the top:

The lake was looking awesome, by the way:

Noticed that my rack was towards the end of the transition, which meant a longer run from the lake. The ramp leading to the lake looked as fearsome as portrayed in the race director's videos he was posting on Facebook. It was steep for the first few hundred yards and the concrete was kind of rough and definitely cold. The view of the ramp from T1:

I could only imagine how unpleasant it would be after hundreds of feet will splash it with water on the morning of the race.

By the way, all 3 of those pictures were taken from the Facebook group page where they were shared. Hooray for full disclosure!

Headed back to Santa Rosa, dropped off my running gear and had a quick lunch at Mary's pizza shack (it was a decent bet that we would carb up there) with Brad who was by the way coming back to racing after taking a year off. I ordered a sandwich with cheese and meatballs. It was quite filling actually and reasonably tasty. After that I went to find my friend Cynthia's new house in Santa Rosa where I was going to crash for the night. It was about 3 miles from the starting area. Hung out with the incredibly hospitable Cynthia and her husband Shawn and their 12 month old, had a bit more food at around 6:30pm and headed to bed at 9pm. Felt asleep quickly which was a bit unusual for me - normally I toss and turn all night before the race like a rookie. This time - a total fucking blackout. Good!

Race day

Got up at 3:10am, had 3 slices of raisin bread with peanut butter, 2 bananas and a can of Starbucks doubleshot espresso with cream. Drove to the mall parking lot near the start, got the bag, and headed towards the shuttles. The looked long but somehow 5 minutes later I was aboard a shuttle. A lady next to me was very visibly nervous and could not wait to tell me that she did not know how to swim freestyle and was going to breast stroke her way through. I had my doubts, but assured that this was totally doable, I'll probably burn in hell for a bit for this.

Got to T1 and got out of the shuttle. Holy shit, the parking lot was literally swarming with triathletes! The porta potty lines were ridiculous too. Went in, got the tires pumped, packed my nutrition and salt tabs, filled the water bottle... left myself about 20 mins before the start at 6:25am to get to a toilet. Well, not so fast! I got done at 6:22am and had to haul ass down to the boat ramp only to find the line of people already entering the water! Quickly chomped a GU packet, washed it down with some Gatorade and 18 minutes later started swimming with my feet were already frozen solid. 


The sun was in my face and had trouble seeing the first 2 or 3 buoys. The water temps were in the low 60s but I got used to it after a minute or two. But then we turned right and suddenly everything was clear and I got into the rhythm, despite some chop and the swells coming in from time to time. To be honest, there were so many people in the water that I did not even bother to sight and just followed the bubbles in front. The pace felt easy and the whole lake was a giant draft. Before I knew it we crossed back under the bridge and exited the water. The swim took 40:01, uploaded here. Ouch.


I was kicking myself for not bringing with me a pair of flip flops to wear on the way out of the water. Plenty of folks were smarter than me... I actually ran up that ramp and sort of jogged to the top of concrete path all the way to the parking lot. Along the way was trying to pull the wetsuit down my ankles but it was not budging, Have to mention that it is a roughly .25 mile run - the ramp is .22 miles and my bike rack was towards the end. I had to run AROUND the edge of the T1, not straight to the bike racks. I got to my bike in T1 and pulled the wetsuit down hard - and the legs cramped big time! Finally I got it off and had to make a decision about the arm warmers. I was shivering bad so the wind vest was definitely a go, but I could not see myself spending anymore time putting those things on. Grabbed the bike and ran to the exit. T1 time was 8:59.


This was my first race on my Cervelo P3, so I was a little bit cautious not knowing what to expect from the bike in terms handling and the position. I got it in mid April and by the time I had it all built up and fitted... was just not enough time left to test it out in real conditions. I had a few issues with the seat post slipping, and the 11 speed chain already popped once... all of this was weighing in on my mind.

The exit was crowded. Some tall dude in front of me got on his bike but was probably in too high of a gear - and so he toppled right over into the ditch. I stood on the pedals and pushed through the short incline and was off to the races. Grabbed a quick gel with double caffeine and crossed the bridge. The powermeter was acting up and my right foot was having trouble clipping in. Finally I got to the descent out of the lake and was able to relax a bit. The descent was quick and fast but I  was not rushing it since I was too cold to go hard or react to the emergency braking situations. 

The first 10 miles went by quick. Got out of the lake park, rolled along the wineries on Dutcher Creek for a bit and eventually got to the 1st climb. It was a bit steep, with some sections of the grade in the 8%+ range but nothing killer. After that it was again more rollers and a few flattish sections. Basically the old Vineman route in reverse. Got to the 1st aid station and refilled my water bottle and dropped the vest. I was mainly fighting the road surface up until mile 26 or so, which was where we hit the second climb. Again no problemo.

After that there was a long stretch on Westside road which was all rollers and that was one section of the course that I knew really well from my past rides in that area. I started to feel some fatigue once we turned onto Laguna road and was feeling kind of hot and cold for the rest of the ride. Nutrition wise I was sticking with my plan of 3 squares of Clif Shot blocks every 20 mins, a 3rd of a Clif bar and 1 Salt Tab every hour on the hour. There was a stretch of some really terrible pavement on Guerneville Rd at miles 45 through 49 or so. I was nearly nauseous from the road vibrations. The final 4 miles were back in Santa Rosa and were very very crowded with cyclists going 3 rows wide in a single traffic lane. I just hung in there and cruised to the finish. Ride time turned out to be 2:48:30, uploaded here. Most importantly, I felt ready to make up some time on the run.


Easy peasy - shoes left clipped in, ran up to the rack, parked the noble steed, swapped the helmet for the hat and the number belt, put on my Cliftons and ran out. It took me a good 40 seconds to get to the end of T2 - 2:54.


I felt great, really did. Running on a smooth bike path,  along the side of a nice stream in a mostly shaded area was a big plus. I was passing people the entire 13 miles, no joke. Felt had a crazy good vibe going all the way through maybe mile 10 and by then I started to get a bit hot. Was taking Gatorade and water every station and Cola every 3 stations. Had a bit of a panic through mile 8 when I realized that I am heading towards the finish line... finally saw the turn around like 0.3 miles from the finish. Phew.

The second lap was also pretty fast sort of following the first lap. Started fading a bit around mile 11 and 12, but I never felt like the wheels were going to come off. Was still passing a ton of people. Kicked up the last mile and finished strong. Run time - 1:29:02, uploaded here. Overall 05:09:26, for the 39th in the 40-44 age group out of 343.


Ate 2 slices of pizza and 2 bananas and a Cola, chatted with some folks, got my gear bags and my bike, showered and drove to my buddy's house in San Carlos where I had some sushi, some wine and a damn good company of my old friends. Crashed at 10pm, had a great breakfast in the morning with my hosts and then drove back to LA with 3 (!) stops to stretch the legs.


I might return next year for this race when it happens in July. Well organized, and if the roads are somehow fixed up - it will be a killer little race. 

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