Doing the toughest one day endurance event in the world, was just a thought in my head over 2 years back. And here I am writing my very first Iron distance triathlon race report.
I did things that to me seemed insane and crazy just a year back. Half-Ironman, UltraMarathon, Century rides and lots of climbing and swimming. Continue reading
Having done two 70.3 HalfIron distance triathlons before, and the second one just 3 weeks back, I came into Big Kahuna with anxiety, because –
1) This is an ocean swim Triathlon – my first Ocean Triathlon race.
2) Havent had much mental rest, and any planned training, since the last tri.
To have an overall finish time of 6 hrs, no expectations basically. My first triathlon finish was in 6hr:18mins, second one in 5hr:59mins, and now I would have been happy with a just under 6hr finish.
Goals for each segment of the sport-
1) For the swim I was targeting a 45 mins, compared to my last swim time of 42 mins, because I was not able to get much swim practice since my last event.
2) On the bike, a sub 3hr finish would be great.
3) On the run, a sub 2 hr finish would be awesome, running off the bike is still not easy.
4) In Transitions, reduce the time as much as I can. But this Big Kahuna course, has a long T1, because there is a quarter mile run from the beach to the Transition area.
Anyways, I woke up at 3:30 am, not from a sound sleep :). Well, that is normal !!
Packed my stuff in the car, my bike, my transition bags, air pump, bottles, and some breakfast to eat on my way. Drive to Santa Cruz was 40 mins. Again, courtesy my friend, who texted me the address of parking lot, just by the transition setup. This was supercool, except for the fact that the Parking Pay station was not working.
This is from the early morning, transition setup.
The transition area closed at 6:45 am, for everyone to gather at the beach, for pre-race instructions, and a small prayer the Hawaiian style.
The website said the water temperature was around 60 F, not bad. The swim was around the wharf. Water was not bad, but the barking of the sea-lions was a little scary (am being honest !!). And here is the swim map, courtesy my friend’s Garmin (mine only measures bike and run)
Best swim timing so far of 36 mins – Mission 1 accomplished 🙂 !!
Now there was this crazy run to the T1, barefoot, with the wetsuit on, and heart-rate pumping high :(.
Here is the Garmin capture from the beach to the T1 (courtesy my friends Garmin – Saurabh)
The bike course was pretty scenic. The bike course starts with a little hill, and then you are on CA-1 in just 3 miles. I did not munch on the bike for the first 7-8 miles, except for taking in some GU drink. Generally, people tend to eat as soon as they are on the bike, and this tends to over-eating, which later on during the run part causes stomach upset.
Remember, your digestive system does not work well, because the blood flow is mostly to your muscles. So take the food, slowly, and in little quantities. I kept myself to eating gels, Roctane GU, chews, and some home made energy bars (diced into squares) as real food.
The beginning of the bike course was not well for me, as my muscles were tight, and wasn’t feeling well. I guess once I saw the 10 mile mark, made me realize that I am competing in a triathlon :). lolz!!
Strava Bike segment- http://www.strava.com/activities/81155720
Time : 2:53:09 – damn happy with the bike finish !! overjoyed 🙂 Mission 2 accomplished.
About the bike course, it is pretty scenic. As you ride on Hwy-1 for the entire course, except for first 3 and last 3 miles. Great views of the ocean, and cliffs, and beaches.
Off the bike, into the Transition, put on the running shoes, and my run start was pretty good. I did pop-in a salt capsule. However, the dreaded side stitch happened yet again, after the 1 mile mark. And I had to take a walking break till mile 3. I tried deep breathings, slowed down, jumping on the left side, and anything to reduce the pain. I finally started running by the third mile. Once I was on the run, I did not stop, just kept the momentum. I knew I wasn’t running fast, but I was actually passing most of the guys, who passed me during the first 3 miles. Key ingredient is to keep a steady pace, so as not to hurt yourself.
Part of the run course was on the trail, which I loved. This was a loop run, and here is a view from the cliff drive, of the run course-.
The finish for the run was over a quarter mile run on the beach. This seriously was the most difficult part :(. Key again is to run on the wet sand to get more solid surface under your foot. And also dodge as many kids and their sand houses as you can :). Basically to make your finish strong !!
Run time – 2:00:52. Just in 2 hrs !! mission 3 accomplished !!
Strava segment – http://www.strava.com/activities/81155707
Overall stats: 05:44:00
A A big thanks to the Volunteers !!
My first ultra marathon.
I picked my first ultra distance, as the ‘SMALLEST ULTRA’. A distance of 50Kms, or 31.25 miles. Really not much, if you have completed a marathon, but when most of the minds shut down after 20 miles of running, and you only need to push for another 6.2 miles, the 50K calls for another 11.25 miles of running. Added to it, the obstacles of hills, elevation, and rugged terrain.
I signed up with CoastalTrailRuns, who organize trail races, across the bay area, by the California coast.
Coming to the course description, this is what the 50K looked like:
Elevation gain – 6320 ft
Single Track – 42%
Dirt Road – 44%
Asphalt – 14%
I would say this was my first event, where I wasn’t feeling any butterflies in my stomach. I infact slept well for two nights. I was not at all thinking or looking at the course. Rather, for the entire week I was actually logging 40 miles per day on my bike, and 5-6 miles on the run on alternate days. Remained calm and composed, I would say.
A night before, I had set up my bag with all the things I would need, like- extra clothing, running clothes, body glide, and some gels, and water bottle.
The start time was 8 am in the morning, so I left home around 5:45, enough time to reach Marine headlands. Whether I enjoy the workout in SF or not, but driving their early morning is always fun :).
Reaching Rodeo beach, the parking was around a mile away from the start point, so we got a shuttle drop to the location. The weather was cloudy, and quite cold, that I had to wear layers. I was expecting the weather to warm up, and so I wore a make shift arm warmer, made out of cutting the closed end of used woollen socks :). They serve the best, and just incase you want to get rid of them you can trash them.
Reaching the registration tent, around 50 mins prior to the start of the race, gave me enough time to move around, sink with the weather, use the bathroom, and call my parents as I had nothing else to do during that time.
The race start was right on time. The course starts with an elevation gain of 800 ft. Without letting my running emotions get over me, I kept my nerves, and started slow, even walking the steep sections. Being my first ultra, I thought I will pace myself on my own, and as I feel good.
After the steep section, I started to pick up a little pace. My running form was – smaller steps, quick rotation. This always helps me get into a rhythm and I eventually start passing people on the way.
The first food-aid station was at mile 4, just ate a 1/4 PBJ, some M&Ms, and nuts to keep me going. Beyond this, at every aid station, I consumed a salt capsule, and PBJ with some table salt. And consumed 20 oz of electrolytes every 4 miles. And I never cramped throughout the run.
The course was amazingly beautiful, incredible views
It was awesomely windy, and cold.
As much as I loved going uphill, the downhills were quite demanding. The rugged terrain, had lot of gravel and stones, which need focus and patience while coming down. By the end of 30K, the downhills had almost taken a toll on my quads.
This is me at the 30K aid stop, stretching before starting on a half marathon :).
I piggybacked on a runner for the second part for a good 2 miles, she was doing her marathon. And this helped me with some company and pace.
After the 36th km aid stop, I almost walked the 2 mile climb, which had a grade of +10%.
Once the 2 mile climb was over, I picked up the running pace, and enjoyed the muddy trail –
You can see from the picture above, how foggy it was in the woods. Looks like it had a good rainfall.
The last stretch was either downhill, or flat. And let me say, after running a big distance, your quads will not like you running downhill.
As the finish was getting closer, the happy emotions were setting in. If you would have asked me how was I feeling, the honest reply I had was ‘I AM JUST FEELING HAPPY’.
This is me crossing the finish line. Finish time was over 6 hrs, but now when I look back at the whole course and my run, I definitely can get the same course done in under 6 hrs. Even, 5hrs 30 mins won’t be an overstatement.
Strava link- http://app.strava.com/activities/67162287
Feels good to own this –