Race Recap Time \ Santa Cruz’s Sandman Tri
The night before the Sandman I was at work. We weren’t that busy with equine patients requiring care so I spent a good chunk of time researching my biggest worry. Great. White. Sharks. In June, two dozen juveniles had been spotted in the bay. July, a dead white shark washed up on shore. Last summer, a man was bit and killed in the bay. That’s it. I’m not swimming. Then there was the cold water temperature. I was informed after looking online that this time of year was warm between 65-70 F. Spoiler Alert: it was not. It was 58 F.
However, I had roped my college friend Ben into doing this race with me and he was going to be at the house by 5:30am to head up to Santa Cruz. Peer pressure wins again. Honestly, I would have thought I’d be more exhausted after having worked a 10 hour shift. I came home changed clothes quickly and Paul helped us load the bikes and gear into the truck.
Race Morning: 5:30 am
The drive from Monterey up to the state park where the race was being held took us about 45 minutes. This race does have a $10 cash parking fee so be sure someone in your group has some money! On the drive up I ate my usual race breakfast of oatmeal and a banana. There was an intense fog when we arrived, which is very typical for this part of California, and part of me wished the swim would get cancelled. It did not. We squeezed into our wetsuits and then tentatively went for a warm up swim.
Swim Start: 8:05 am
I thought I had warmed up sufficiently, I had not. Looking back this is obvious but the water was so numbingly cold that at the time I could barely stand the 5 minutes I was in it. The men went off first and we started 5 minutes later. We ran into the water from the beach and fortunately it got deep enough to swim comfortably very quickly. I felt like I started out okay but immediately the cold water takes your breath away. Still, I knew what was going on and remember to just take a slower stroke and breathe deep.
I made it to the first turn buoy which was at the end of the historic sunken cement ship. Then my world slid “off screen” like I’d been drinking all night. The horizon was moving all over my field of vision and I felt like I was going to vomit. It was scary and I tried to look around for help but couldn’t see anybody. I felt a little scared but floated on my back for a bit and hoped for it to pass.
Nothing changed and I told myself I had to make forward progress so I tried to continue on to the next buoy. I couldn’t sight for the life of me because everything was spinning. Yet, I made it to the 2nd turn and started heading back towards the beach. It was such a struggle that between the nausea and cold the last thing on my mind was Jaws. Which, is a win. You made a right and swam along the beach for a while. It wasn’t until this point I started to get my stride together. That being said, I still came out of the water pretty disorientated and with my classic calf cramps. I miraculously finished in 19:51 (1:46/100m) … who knows?
T1: 8:29 am
T1 was a little bit of a struggle. The air temperature was sitting around 60 F and it never warmed up after that. I had a hard time up through the soft sand and an even harder time getting my wetsuit off. Ben had been racked next to me so I could immediately see he was out on the bike already when I got there. I was a little disappointed with my transition time of 4 minutes.
Bike Course: 8:33 am
The bike course felt like a climb the whole time. It started out with a steady climb and continued into one continuous climb-flat repeat. There were plenty of other ladies to give me people to chase which made the beginning go fast. Fortunately, there wasn’t bad wind to deal with but it didn’t warm up either. In the future I will definitely pack a wind breaker or sleeves. Something to help warm me up and keep the cold air off me.
You spend much of the second half of the bike heading back down your big climb which is great for making up some time. Just be aware that right before you come back into transition you will face an incredibly steep downhill that can be clogged with car traffic. They will make you slow way down since there are large speed bumps to go over. If you’re not careful I could see people going over their handle bars. I felt like I was going to!
Overall, the bike course is not closed but you don’t really have car traffic to contend with. It isn’t until the very end that you feel like you’re avoiding cars some. I was lucky in that I fell in with a guy who I was leap frogging with most of the race. I’d pass him on the climbs and he’d pass me on the downhills. It always irritated me when he’d fly down by me and encouraged me to work harder on the hills. I finished the bike in 48:47 averaging 16 mph. Not great.
T2: 9:21 am
I felt great flowing through T2. I made it in a great 1:35 but it also helps the transition area was super small.
Run Course: 9:23 am
Newsflash – it was still cold at this stage of the game. I thought the run was going to be through soft sand and I was dreading it! While I was SLIGHTLY relieved to find out that there was a nice hard pack shoulder to run on I was still apprehensive on how it was going to go. Once, I hit the hard pack I was good to go. It’s a simple out and back run (my favorite!). You start going under the pier you swam around and it was especially exciting to see Paul up there cheering. I finished the 4 mile run in 30:33 (avg. 8:15/mile) for a total time of 1:44:55. The run actually went by pretty fast and you run over the ups and downs of the sand & surf. Just look out for any dead marine life like the seal I passed!
Post Race Party … or Nap
I didn’t feel like this was my best race and I finished frustrated that I could have done better. Ben and I posted the exact same finish time… okay fine Ben, you beat my by 30 seconds! I still made it on the podium for my age group which was exciting. I wanted to finish higher overall but I’ll take this for my first and maybe only race in this region. For a cold day filled with cold water and cold air it was fun looking back on it. After awards Paul, Ben, and I went to brunch at Avenue Cafe. There was a bit of a wait and I promptly fell asleep waiting for our table. I was in such a zombie state during brunch I can’t even remember what I ordered. Paul and Ben told me the food was very good however! We highly recommend it for a post race refuel.