Big Kahuna Triathlon

Big Kahuna Ironman – 4 Weeks

It was a relaxed week of training for us, as we tapered our workouts in anticipation of the Tri Santa Cruz Olympic Distance Triathlon. To say the least, we had a crazy weekend in Santa Cruz. It started when we arrived at our rented room at a Bed & Breakfast that I can say we will definitely not be going back to. If you happen to look for a place to stay in Santa Cruz, don’t go to the Cliff Crest B&B. The pictures tell a different story from what’s inside. It’s a motel at best. The last thing we wanted to do was spend the night before a race in one of the most uncomfortable spots around. It only added to what is the hardest thing about races, the waiting.

Maybe more than any other race I have ever done, except my first marathon, the waiting for this race was killing me. I really wanted to well in my first ocean water swim triathlon and the first at Olympic distance. It seemed like the hours never ended and every smell, sound and sight seemed to be at level 10. Walking around downtown Santa Cruz never appeared crazier. I just wanted to get to the race and get into it. I had a lot to prove to myself and trying to stay patient was not easy to do. I literally walked around counting to 200 over and over in my head as a rehearsal for the counting drill I would do at the start of my swim wave.

That start countdown couldn’t come quick enough. It was a cool, cloudy and drizzly morning with hundreds of athletes surrounding little Cowell’s beach. When it was finally time to start, I really stuck to my plan and it worked. I hung to the back and away from the first buoy. Let the fast swimmers fight themselves and then wait for the calmer waters to start moving forward. While also, counting every stroke in my head to keep my mind off the mayhem. The double swim cap and ear plugs kept me warm and the first out and back lap went faster than expected and smooth as wax. The second was slower and tumultuous because by then all the swim waves were in the water; but I finished it and I had the type of energy I wanted heading into the bike leg.

Tri Santa Cruz

The bike leg was where I nailed it. Averaging just under 20 miles an hour and catching a lot of the racers that had left me trailing in the water. I am convinced now that a full aerodynamic set up is in the future for me. So I can start to take advantage of my strongest leg which also happens to be the longest. I know that even with a year’s worth dedicated swim training I just don’t have the build to be among the fastest of the swimmers. However, I have the perfect build for cycling and the confidence to boot. If the course is hilly, even better. My lighter weight makes climbing easier for me so I know that getting faster and faster on the bike will be a key part of my future success as a triathlete.

The run went about as well as a run can go after swimming a mile and biking 22 of them. They weren’t my fastest splits or slowest but right where I expected to be. I probably could have saved some energy from the bike leg for the run, but the run was only 6 miles along the Santa Cruz shoreline. So I figured I couldn’t catch that many people unless I ran sub 7:00 minute miles, and I just didn’t have the legs for that pace after 23+ miles of swimming, biking, and transitions. I still caught and passed a few people, which further moved me up the rankings. I think that I will focus on saving energy for the run in the Big Kahuna since it is 13.1 miles to the end. There my run times will come in handy.

All in all it was a great race. I had a mental goal of sub three hours and stretch goal of 2:45 or better. I hit my stretch goal. I am so glad that everything came together so nicely. Angela and I completed our first Olympic Distance triathlons just 4 weeks before the Big Kahuna in September. Angela set a new swim PR for herself and finished just shy of three hours; most of that time she can make up with faster transitions. My friend Eric set a PR for himself also finishing under three hours for the first time at the Olympic Distance. Nothing is guaranteed, but I am feeling way more confident about the race now.  Just for reference, the overall race was an out and back two lap swim totaling just under 1 mile, an out and back 4 lap bike totaling 25 miles and an out and back 10K run. Below is the training plan for next week along with the Strava map of my race.

Week 9 Training Plan:

  • Day 1 – Rest.
  • Day 2 – Steady Swim.
  • Day 3 – 1 hour bike.
  • Day 4 – Swim/Run Brick.
  • Day 5 – Track Workout.
  • Day 6 – Rest.
  • Day 7 – 3+ Hour Bike.

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