Race Report – Big Kahuna 70.3 HalfIronMan distance Triathlon

Big Kahuna Triathlon - Half Ironman distance

Big Kahuna Triathlon – Half Ironman distance

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.

Goal –

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.

Athletes entering the T1 setup

Athletes entering the T1 setup

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.

Athletes gathering for the swim start

Athletes gathering for the swim start 

They do it the Hawaiian style

They do it 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)

Swim Part of Big Kahuna Triathlon

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)

Run upto the T1 – a quarter mile

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.

Big Kahuna Triathlon Bike Course

Big Kahuna Triathlon Bike Course

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.

View during the run course

    View during the run course                  

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-.

Big Kahuna Triathlon - Run

Big Kahuna Triathlon – Run









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 !!

The finish line

The finish line

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

Overall Finish time

Overall Finish time

A   A big thanks to the Volunteers !!

I ate the best bagel ever !!

I ate the best bagel ever !!

Nothing possible without them !!

Nothing possible without them !!


HITS Napa 70.3 Triathlon – My race report

All the best for the swim !!

All the best for the swim !!

Went into the race nervous, excited, and a bit scared!! Normal isn’t it?

Had trained hard, but never kept any time goals, except for finishing the race within the cut off time.

But based on my training, and my nature, I made up the following time goals.

Swim ~50 mins

Bike ~3h: 45mins

Run ~2h

Arrived on the pre-race day for the packet pick-up, and look for the parking areas, and understand the logistics. I had to be clear on this, as I did not had the luxury of anyone driving me around.

On the race day, first thing I did waking up at 3:30am was to eat my bowl of grainless cereals, with berries, and a banana. Would have loved some coffee, but had none. Drinking and eating early helped me clear out my bowel movement. Prepared my water bottles with nutrition drinks. Set up the car, with my bike, and all the bags.

Driving up to the race site was crazy, because of the windy road and race-day traffic. Funny thing was, that my friend Jeff arrived to support me way earlier than I was in the parking lot. Took me around an hour to reach the race site, I had to park my car away from the transition area, and then carry all my gears, packets, bike, bike pump. Doing this I ignored the fact that my stuff was scattered in two different bags, especially my race tattoo, race number on the helmet, even my towel.

Still reaching the transition area, with all the important things in hand 40 mins before the start, was good. But for all future races I will keep atleast an hour in hand.

30 mins before the start of the race, I put on my wet suit, using good amount of body glide.

Prior to swim start

Prior to swim start

The swim start was pretty haphazard, and even though I knew what it would be like, I did panic for the first 50m or so. Water was not that cold, but I kept popping HITS703my head up and down, rather than moving ahead. Controlling my nerves, I started with breaststroke and kept doing it for a good 25m or so, till I understood the brawl going on in the water. Though I had no thoughts in my mind of winning the race, or beating anyone in the swim, but as I started passing some of the swimmers, I gained confidence. Now it was just the regular spotting of the buoy, breathing every two strokes, and getting good thoughts into head. End of the swim was a little funny, the support boats and the buoys both were in orange color, and I took one of the boats as the buoy, and assumed that to be the last buoy to be touched. Did realize it soon enough, and finished my swim strong in 46 mins.

Asked the strippers (they are called ‘wetsuit strippers’ 😉 ), to rid me of the wetsuit.

The first transition into bike was awful. I realized that I forgot my towel, and so picked up the socks to dry my feet. I was totally blank at that point figuring out what needs to be done next. Eat or not to eat, drink or not to drink. Ate some nuts, and dark chocolate, they provide a ‘feel-good factor’ to me. Took a leak, just before exiting the transition area. I guess that did cost me 2 mins ;), so a total transition loss of 10 mins. Not to mention that I did not put my Garmin into Multisport mode, and did not start it way beyond the bike start line.

I started easy on the bike, ate alittle of Cliff bar and some water. The ride starts with a good climb, so it was pretty easy for me to move ahead of the pack. And as soon as I saw some downhill, I switched gears to go faster. The route had 6 cat-5 climbs, and lot of rolling hills. One thing that I did do well in the ride was, to controll my temptation to go real hard. Hammered on the flats, and kept spinning on the bigger gear while downhill, but did not let myself tire. The plan was to go all out after 35 miles. I kept myself fuelling with Roctane, and energy gels every 45 mins. In the last 18-20 miles I went all out, sometimes joining a pack, keeping myself just behind them, and using the downhills to move past. Passing riders, who transitioned into bike way earlier than I did, was quite confidence boosting. Finished a good ride in 3h:09m.

out of T2

out of T2

I did the mistake of not taking in salt capsules, which cost me 6-7 mins in the first 3 miles of the run. Suffered bad cramps, even causing me to stop. Thanks to the guy, who pushed me for the run, I actually ended up finishing around 30mins ahead of him J. The run course had rolling hills, but I kept a consistent pace. Continued to eat pretzels, oranges, and drink water, consumed only two Roctane gels on the run. Finished my worst half-marathon in 2h:08mins.

Finished the full course, in 6:18:00, damn impressive for me J. Chatted with strong people on the run course, funny that most of us were having thoughts of eating “Denny’s”.

nobody said it was easy !

nobody said it was easy !

Final times

Swim: 00:46:05.947

T1: 00:10:15.742

Bike: 03:09:24.711

T2: 00:03:57.705

Run: 02:08:25.267

Overall: 06:18:09.372

Quick look at the mistakes that I don’t intend to do again-

  1. Always keep the things in just one bag for the Transition.
  2. Never ever forget a Towel, or a Transition mat.
  3. If using Garmin, put it in the MultiSport mode.
  4. Use a Transition Basket- it is useful to dump things.
  5. Take salt tablets before T2, not during T2.
  6. Legally you are not allowed to help anyone on the bike, which I did L. Helped a lady struggling to mount her chain. She was still on her half way mark, and I was about to finish L. Don’t even remember the face.
  7. Carry a fuel belt, for your own nutrition.

Most importantly, whatever is happening, let it happen. It’s your first, so enjoy the race moment. Will work on winning the goals in the next one, as this is an adventure, not a destination !!


Still swimming

Yes, after spending $40 on swimming shorts, I have been more regular in the pool. Try to dip in 4 times a week, and spend 40-45 mins per swim session.

I must say, that my strokes are improving, am getting more powerful on my strokes, getting faster (especially the last two swim sessions). What I have still not been able to do is to flip after completing a lap. Breathing is improving, but yet not there.

8 months of swim break, and 3 weeks into the pool, this ain’t no bad !!

Anyways, sharing a swimming lane. Its always tough for me to share the lane. Fear of hitting the co-swimmer, or blocking

Swim training 2

his way, or going to the extreme side so as to enter the other lane, has been there. I have learnt two things here-

1) If you swim with a slower swimmer in the same lane, you are better off to get more of the lane. However you need to be cautious of his swimming style.

2) If you swim with a faster swimmer in the same lane, you need not be cautious of his swimming style, or hands hitting you, because they take care of it :). However, they tend to occupy the lane most of the time, as you are slow.


Till I swim………