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.