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Santa Barbara Triathlon 2017 race report

A little over one week ago I completed the Santa Barbara Long Course Triathlon. As you may be aware this race is neither a Half nor an Olympic.. It is somewhere in between. The swim is “advertised” as one mile, the bike 34 miles, and the run 10 miles. The venue is the lovely “American Riviera” at the main beach / base of the State Street. Think of Los Gatos at the beach….


I was going to race in Tahoe on that weekend, but decided against it due to several factors: 1. didn’t want to go alone, 2. altitude, 3. altitude. SB was a much easier decision because several Santa Cruz Triathlon Association members were planning on racing and most important was my daughter is attending summer courses at UCSB… So I could visit and race…. much better.

This race was at the end of a 3 week heavy training block in preparation for IM70.3SC. So no taper into Santa Barbara… just a two-day back off before. I was concerned about running 10 miles off the bike.

This year I am trying to put more focus on a solid warmup. I want to be breathing hard and sweating (or something close in all 3 sports) I usually start with the bike. I then rack the bike and go for a run. I try to build into race pace efforts. I then set up T1 and head to the beach for stretch bands, build some ins-and-outs, then swim race pace + efforts.

The 50-54 year olds (40 of them) had their own rack in the middle of the transition area under a large palm tree right next to the sand (important for remembering where my bike would be). I did not recognize anyone but my neighbors were polite but not overly friendly. There were a lot of fancy bikes filling the rack and my competitors appeared fit and prepared. I set up quickly and made my way to the beach. The weather was muggy but high fog / overcast. The water was 68-70 degrees and the visibility was 6-10 feet. The sandy bottom sloped very gently for about 25 yards until swimming depth. There was a small swell in the water which would prove important later.

SWIM: 2200 yards on Garmin, 0:22:17

We lined up at the top of the sandy berm and I was able to secure good positioning directly off the 1st turn buoy. I had a good start and high-stepped into the water. I did 4 dolphin dives through the shallows, each one gaining precious yards, and improving my position. One swimmer came up on my right to about my hip / shoulder, and I sensed one on my left. I was first to turn and dove into it hard right. I was able to stuff / pinch off the swimmer and gain a solid body length. I was now leading the wave. This did not last long as someone made it clear they wanted to be up-front. This swimmer looked fast … so I let him up and promptly sat on his toes, immediately saving 30% of my output. I stayed behind him, at times struggling to stay in his draft, for almost the entire length of the swim. We arrived at the final left hand turn and 100 yd sprint to the beach. I was in second and first was 2 body lengths ahead. I was about 25 yards off the beach when I felt my self being lifted up. I was feeling a wave! I increased my stroke rate then surged forward and up. I pulled my head out the of water, extending one arm, and rolled gently to the right. I was bodysurfing! I flew past the swimmer in front of me and popped up and ran across the timing mat. WHEW!

T1: 3rd fastest

pretty quick. did not foul up or fumble. Mounted my bike and into my shoes quickly. So far so good.

Bike: 34.7 miles, AVG 20.2 MPH, Hilly and Technical

Thought I was in 1st… but somehow Skaggs was ahead of me and I never saw him again. If you want to race a course well then you should know the course well. I did not preview with course and had no idea what was around each corner. This forced me to ride a little conservative so as not to ride harder than the terrain allowed. I have to say the course is good, but not awesome. there were sections of narrow coned off paths crowded with bikes, sandy sections during turns, steep switchbacks, and bumpy / poor tarmac downhills. There was also a LACK of course volunteers / marshals. This means at times I was unsure if I was on the course…or unsure where the next turn was. I was passed at about mile 20 into the bike thinking I was in 2nd, but I was really in third. This motivated me to work really hard to stay with this guy. I kept him close for about 5 miles. He then disappeared riding well. Again alone with the last long climb and descent into transition. My nutrition was OK, but thought I could of done a better job. It was still cloudy / foggy, sometimes wet, and very muggy. The roads were dry. I was thinking about the suffering that would come next.

T2: 5th fastest somehow? I put on socks.


9.8 miles 1:15:18 7:41 pace

Starting the run, a long run, while on the podium bubble is not a fun experience. Surprisingly my legs felt good. I looked at an early pace marker and told myself to hold back. Too fast! The run was flat, next to the beach, on a smooth and straight path. about 2 miles into the run we began to make a gradual, stair step, type ascent for the next 3 miles. It was still cloudy and muggy. Aid stations were plentiful and well stocked. Again I had no idea what the middle 1/3 of the course looked like. It was tough running with some steep up and downs and sharp turns. At the turn around I was looking forward to the net downhill section for the next 3 miles. My legs felt good and I was getting in my nutrition just fine / pace was good. However I saw someone that I recognized in transition, someone who looked about my age, someone who was running well…. UGH! I really began to increase effort and started to feel intermittent near-cramps in my left quad. Kept the gels coming with sips of water and water over the head … Now the sun was out and it was HOT! Flying down the last hill I could see the finish about 1.5 miles ahead, but I could also hear footsteps that were unfamiliar. Sure enough I was passed. I tried and failed to counter. I was now in 4th…. I dug deep trying to minimize the losses as the finish chute came into view, then I was passed again and relegated to 5th. I felt pretty spent .. have to say. I then did a 20 min float and swim around after crossing the finish line. It was so NICE. chatted some, ate some, then grabbed my gear and headed out..

Post Race:

5th / 38 in AG, 40th / 384

Best part of it all was the run and swim effort. Bike was so-so. Not bad way to cap off a heavy training week.

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