August 14, 2012

Santa Cruz International

Day two of the Triathlon Santa Cruz weekend was extremely similar to day one, in fact, much too similar for my taste.  The slight difference was that Sunday’s race was double the distance of Saturday, and that John Dahlz was racing. JD is one of the fastest triathletes in the bay area and didn’t race on Saturday so was basically in perfect position to tear us “two-dayers” to pieces. Having him on the start line was fantastic and great for all of us as athletes.

The race started exactly the same as the day before but this time Dylan and I had JD on our feet out of the water. This time I didn’t sprint to T1, but I did have about a 10 second gap out on the bike. I was able to maintain that lead until the 2nd of 4 laps when JD came flying by me. I tried everything I could to go with him but I had nothing in my legs. I legitimately thought for a bit that I had a flat tire because he was putting so much time into me on the next couple laps, but alas, he was just very strong. On my Garmin I was getting splits and was shocked to see that I was riding faster than the previous day which was half the distance! Not only that, but Dylan McNeice and Eric Clarkson were gaining ground on me every lap as well. By the time we were coming into T2, JD was about 30 seconds up, Dylan had passed me, and Eric was right behind me (Eric had the fastest bike split of the day by almost a minute!). 

I was prepared to destroy myself on the out and back run to catch JD, but when I went to rack my bike there wasn’t another bike on the rack (I was right next to JD) and so I asked Eric “Where’s JD?” and while I finished throwing my shoes on and started to head out on the run I see JD just coming in to rack his bike. Apparently he had gone the wrong way into transition and lost his 30 second gap on all of us.

After that it was back to “maintain form” mode, and this time the challenge was 10k. I started off running the same pace as the day before and by 2k in JD had bridged the 10 seconds he was behind me out of T2 and was running right on my heels. I put in a few surges and was able to drop him about 4.5k into the run. I had to run a 3:09k and  a 3:06k to drop him and after I had a gap I kinda put it into cruise control and was really working hard to stay relaxed and maintain my new run form as I was getting more and more tired. I ended up keeping my form, but my pace gone up to 3:22, then 3:30 which allowed JD to come back within reach. I had looked back with 500m to go and I saw where he was and knew I would be able to hang on until the finish. I ended up crossing the line about 3 seconds in front of him which made for the most exciting Triathlon Santa Cruz finish so far.

I was completely surprised by my splits from this weekend, especially since I changed my run form drastically, I was sicker then I have ever been my entire life the week before the races, then had a major training week leading into the races. On Saturday we weren’t slouching either, we were racing hard, but on Sunday I had faster pace splits in the swim, bike, and run for double the distance! Intense weekend with a great group of athletes!

Santa Cruz Sprint

The Triathlon Santa Cruz weekend is a great training weekend, as well as solid race experience for such a small race. These are the only races in Santa Cruz that have an actual elite field and prize money - which makes them a must race for me!

The race is a 20 min ride from my house, so race morning I can just ride with my backpack down there and am ready to roll. The Sprint race is on Saturday, and the International distance race is on Sunday which makes for some interesting racing. This year there were five male pros racing on Saturday, and six male pros racing on Sunday. Small fields, but pretty solid competition on the men’s side, and even more so on the women’s side. Some of the elites racing included: Annabel Luxford, Becky Lavelle, Marissa Ferrante, Kathy Rakel, Lauren Brandon, Barrett Brandon, Dylan McNeice, Eric Clarkson, and John Dahlz.

The men and women start at the same time and race together because the fields are so small, but this makes it a very fun environment. Everyone is literally joking around until the final seconds before the sendoff, but once the gun goes off there was no more silly business and it was full on until the finish.

I had a solid start to the 750m ocean swim, mainly because the field was so small, but also because there were no waves and a 20m beach run out to the water which is my favorite type of start. Dylan McNeice and I started on different sides and so the first 200m we were swimming stroke for stroke to the first buoy. I had the inside line so Dylan hopped on my feet and we were off. We swam fairly quick and exited the water with a nice little gap to the next athletes. 

At this race there is a 500m run from the beach to transition, so I did my best to capitalize on that. I literally sprint with my bare feet and wetsuit halfway down all the way to T1 and luckily it paid off. I got a little gap out onto the bike and time trialed the best I could for the next 20k. It was interesting riding my Specialized Shiv because I only ride it a few times a year for my Non-Drafting races, but I felt really strong and was happy with the new BG fit position I had gotten from Family Cycling Center. Riding that bike with a proper fit and my Rudy Project Wingspan TT helmet felt amazingly fast, and I was able to maintain my 15-20 second gap into T2. 

After that I was trying to run consistently, while maintaining my new run form. I was using my Garmin to get splits and I was hitting 3:15k pace for all 5 kilometers and didn’t lose my new form at all which was the biggest win of the day for me. I ended up extending my lead at the finish and maintained my SC Sprint title while getting a great “warm up” for the SC International tri the next day.