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Santa Cruz 70.3 Race Story

I’ll be honest, I didn’t want to write this story! Not because the race was bad or there was something I didn’t want to share, but mostly because my mind is and has been elsewhere for the last 2 months – prepping for Kona! But I know my Crazy Ass Fans would go 100% Ape Doo Doo if they didn’t get a race story so here it is – as quick and dirty as possible!

Swim – I swam fast. It was good.

If only every race could be a 58 degree salt water wetsuit swim with a long beach start run and even longer run to transition – I’d be front pack every time! Booyah! As coach Matt said, “You were in second place for the first 25 meters!” And as we both acknowledged, that is because there was a 30 meter beach sprint into the water with some dolphin diving which as you all know I OWN. After being passed once we started swimming and exchanging some friendly bumps with Hoffman (“dude, you veer right” he correctly said later), it was cool to see that if I get a decent start, I can hang with the group as the swim didn’t actually feel too bad after that.

That's me in second place 25 meters into the swim. Nailed it.

That’s me in second place 25 meters into the swim. Nailed it.

Bike – I rode decently, but also felt like poo and it wasn’t that awesome.

The bike started well as I bolted to the lead of my group (Richie, Ben, and Drew) by riding on top of my shoes for the first couple of minutes waiting for a “slow down” time to put them on. I led the group through the first 5 miles or so of windy streets, trying to get the legs to turn on a bit, feeling a little stale due to what I thought at the time was the cold. When we hit the highway, Drew took off hard and I plugged in behind him for a long time covering gaps. We passed some peeps and the group got longer as it felt mostly comfortable/normal with a few surges for that first 15 miles or so. I decided I’d try to make a move on the one big climb coming up at mile 19. And when we hit the climb I realized that that was, maybe not surprisingly, everyone’s plan. For those watt geeks out there, I rode about 450 watts for just under 5 minutes and still got passed by Ben, Richie, and Drew! Probably didn’t need the 3 water bottles considering it was cold as nuts. Anyway, the worst part was that it actually felt even harder than it should have and that’s when I knew that my legs were gonna be a bunch of bananas all day.

Legs a bunch a bitches! Photo via Oliver Baker / Triathlete Magazine

Legs a bunch a bitches! Photo via Oliver Baker / Triathlete Magazine

Ben hammered the descent and I got caught up behind Drew and Richie so I had a big gap to bridge once we hit highway 1 again. That’s where I burned another of my quickly diminishing matches. Once I (and all of us) caught Ben a few miles later things calmed back down with some surges here and there, but nothing that felt too crazy. We got passed by Michi and Justin who were rolling like freight trains, but I was surrounded by great runners that I figured would catch, so I mostly tucked in tried to keep it chill as I knew my legs were already feeling it a bit more than I’d hoped.

Eyes on the prize. Or, just trying to finish. Photo via Oliver Baker / Triathlete Mag

Eyes on the prize. Or, just trying to finish without anymore pain. Photo via Oliver Baker / Triathlete Mag

Run – Actually a pretty solid run, but damn it that last mile!

After fumbling around forever in T2 with cold ass hands (Ben and Richie wore gloves, SMART!) I had about a 15 second gap to make up on the run. I burned another match eventually catching Ben and Richie with Cody and Denis a little after mile 1, and thus began a long long long ass group run with a bunch of fast dudes while I felt mostly tired as balls. It felt like we were rolling and I was certain we’d be gaining on Michi but when we passed Bevan Docherty about 5 miles in he said we’d actually LOST about 10 seconds! Cray Cray!

Oh boy oh boy oh boy! Lots a fast runners running fast! Photo via Triathlete Mag / Oliver Baker

Oh boy oh boy oh boy! Lots a fast runners running fast! Photo via Triathlete Mag / Oliver Baker

I focused on trying to “win” the race within our group, and actually got a bit of a second wind and pushed the pace as we cruised on the trails on the outskirts of the run course. It’s clear that my legs really like trails as that was the best I felt the whole run. Not sure what that says about Kona, but oh well! As we came back into town the last few miles, I still felt relatively confident that I was doing alright – we had dropped Richie and we thought, Denis, as well. But the miraculous Frenchman somehow bridged his way back to our group with a mile to go – and then BLEW IT OPEN (as Ben said, “looking casual AF”) with a smack down that broke Cody and broke me even worse. It was clear my legs just didn’t want to go any faster than 5:35 pace, so 5:15 was out of the question. Once I was gapped I shut it down and jogged it in, no need to bury the needle to save some ego and 20-30 extra seconds on the run split!

As I rounded the final corner, I saw Lauren holding Jude above the finish chute and was cognizant enough to give him an epic High 5, which was without a doubt the highlight of the race and the weekend for me, and apparently for him as well!

High 5 FTW!

High 5 FTW!

Jude is stoked!

Jude is stoked!

Overall – In all honesty, would have liked to feel better, but a solid hit out on tired legs.

My training going into this race has been the hardest (by which I mean biggest, most consistent load of riding and running) I’ve ever done. I knew this not only from the volume of stuff I’ve done, but also from how fatigued I’ve been. I hit it hard through last weekend, including my last big double run day, and I hoped that a couple of days of backing off would snap me back, but it just wasn’t enough obviously. I still finished really well in a solid field and am super proud of the effort, and I don’t think I could have done anything differently to finish any higher, those guys were on it on Saturday! It just would have been awesome to feel a bit better, like I did at Wildflower 3 weeks prior to Lanzarote.

But the plan and build is different this time around, more load, more miles, and I have an extra week. I know there is some GREAT training in there – some of the best training of my life – now I just need to mostly rest up and let it come out! I’ll do my best to make that happen the next few weeks. The first step of which involves doing less work on my computer and more napping!

Thanks as usual to all you guys for following along. Massive thanks to Lauren, Joyce, and Jude for the support all weekend. And as always, thank you to my AMAZING sponsors who make all this stuff possible!

  • Descente – Thank you so much for your support. The new kit worked great! And the new training gear is dope! So stoked to be part of your team.
Really digging the new Descente Cycling stuff and my new Red Bull helmet!

Really digging the new Descente Cycling stuff and my new Red Bull helmet!

  • ROKA – Dudes! Anything that makes me front pack means that Maverick X wetsuit is lethal! And of course, the new Phantom Aviators were GOLDEN! LITERALLY! 
The full lineup of performance casual styles from ROKA. Kona & Vendee available soon.

In case you missed it, my own signature Performance Aviators launched last week! Check em out!

  • Jaybird – Thanks for the support as always guys! You’re the best. Stoked for the new product launches coming up!
  • Red Bull – Thanks so much guys! Dug the new helmet!
  • Dimond – The super bike was fast as usual, wish I could have pedaled it a little harder! Thanks so much guys.
  • Refuel – Massive thanks for the support guys! Check out their new Intrepid Charger, this thing is my favorite!
  • Picky Bars – Every time I leave the office doesn’t burn down. Thank you for keeping that record perfect.
  • Powertap – Again, the P1 pedals and Joule combo were dope! Thanks guys!
  • Knight – Thanks for the support this year guys! As usual, the wheels were super quick and thanks Scott for getting my bike dialed pre race!
  • Also, thanks to supporters – Tririg aero bars and brakes, Zealios Sunscreen, Ice Friction drivetrain treatment, Ellie, Jay and Nick at Rebound Physical Therapy (keep me injury minimal!) for all the help!
  • Coach Matt Dixon of purplepatch fitness (& wife Kelli) – 4 weeks to go. Lets do this!
  • Like I said above friends & family always.

9 comments to Santa Cruz 70.3 Race Story

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