Ironman Santa Rosa Race Report
Tim and I woke up early and drove the bike course. I mapped out the hills, the flats, and where the bad pot holes were (pretty much everywhere). It really helped me visualize the bike course for race day. Later, Tim and I met up with my coach, Kimberly and we went to the athlete briefing and the opening ceremonies. It was so inspiring to hear about other people’s Ironman journeys. We all went out for pizza and had another early night.
Friday: Day before race
I met up with Kimberly and we went for a 20-minute shake out bike ride to make sure our bikes were working. The bike course was gorgeous. We road by so many vineyards! We were both getting excited for race day! After that, our families drove us to Lake Sonoma so that we could test out the water. It was 75 outside so the water felt amazing! It measured at 66 degrees which was perfect! We practiced swimming to the first buoy and practiced some turns. Our bikes were racked and we were ready for race day! Tim, my parents, and my in-laws all went to the Olive Garden (as usual) for an early prerace dinner. When we got back to the hotel, I put my tri tats on and tried to go to bed. I was in bed by 8:30 but the up stairs neighbors were so loud I didn’t fall asleep until 10pm. I still got almost 6 ½ hours of sleep.
4:20 Alarm went off and I was up! I started with foam rolling and doing my band exercises to wake up my muscles.
4:30 Tim and I met our families for breakfast. I ate an English muffin with peanut butter and took a banana to go.
4:50 We were headed towards Lake Sonoma. I ate my banana and snacked a little bit on a cliff bar.
5:30 We arrived at Lake Sonoma. We were able to park up on top but there was pretty heavy traffic. We finally found a spot and we marched down to transition area. I went straight to my bike to pump up my tires. I deflated them Friday since it was so hot! I must have been nervous or something because I could not pump up my front tire. It didn’t help that I was being hustled by several other triathletes for my bike pump. Finally, one guy helped me. Then asked if he could use it, of course I said yes. But then 3 of his friends wanted to use it. There was a shortage of bike pumps and I heard people were waiting a good 40 minutes to their hands on one. I told them I had to go do race prep and couldn’t wait for them… I met Kim in the bathroom line and then dropped off my base salt in my T1 bag.
6am Kimberly and I got in our wetsuits and headed down to the swim corral. We lined up at the 1-hour mark and said bye to our families. We danced and laughed until it was Go time! This was the first Ironman race I had ever done where I wasn’t nervous and didn’t feel like I was going to throw up. I just wanted to go out there and have fun!
Age group 7th
6:40 The gun went off and the first group sprinted into the water! I put my goggles on and got my watch ready to press start. They lined us up 5 at a time and sent us off 5 seconds apart. Before I knew it, I was running into the water and started swimming. The water was a lot warmer than I anticipated! Almost immediately, I saw Kimberly! We smiled at each other and kept swimming! Eventually, I lost her. I think she went left and I went right. The first loop went by fast and I was feeling really good! When I got out of the water my watch said 31 minutes! That was a new 1.2-mile swim record for me! I also saw Kimberly come out of the water right in front of me so I screamed her name! Then we drove back in for our 2nd lap! The 2nd lap was crazy! Since everyone was now in the water, we started lapping people. I saw people doing backstroke, breast stroke, and doggy paddle. The first red turn buoy was the worst. We were all spread out until we had to turn and then everyone meets up to cut the corner. Towards the end of the swim I saw Kimberly again! I swam so hard so we could get out of the lake together! We ran out smiling and having the best time!
The Lake Sonoma boat ramp is incredibly steep. It was .2 miles up a steep hill. Kimberly and I walk/jogged until we got to the wet suit strippers. They peeled off our suits and then we had a little bit further to run up. I got my bike bag and ran to get changed into my bike clothes. I stepped into a pile of sand with my wet feet so a volunteer brought me a cup of water to wash my feet with. Aren’t volunteers the best?! Then I ran out to go find my bike, after a quick porta potty stop. I ran out of transition and was ready to start the 112-mile bike ride! I was just hoping for no flats!
Age Group 14th
Starting off the bike I saw my family right away! I waved at them as they cheered me on and I was off again! I sped down the hill that led up to Lake Sonoma going 30+ miles per hour. When I got down the hill, I heard something click on one of my tires. Another biker informed me that I had tape on my tire. I pulled over and took it off. A bike mechanic was right there and made sure I was okay. I told him it was just tape and was okay. About 10 miles in Kimberly passed me! She seemed to be in good spirits. We said a few words and she grinded past me up the hill. We got into some really bad roads along the eastside of the bike course. I had to come out of aero to dodge giant pot holes. My hands were vibrating as the roads were so bumpy. About 40 minutes in I started my nutrition, sipping on water and eating my CLIF bar. I grabbed a Gatorade from an aid station and pedaled away. About 30 miles in we reached the famous Chalk Hill. It wasn’t too bad, but I had to grind up the hill for a good 5 minutes. Coming down I hit 40 miles per hour! We road passed some gorgeous vineyards! The sun stated coming out 1.5 hours into the bike and I was feeling good. Until I started to cramp up! Not again! This has happened at CDA and Oceanside now! The worst side cramps I have ever experienced! I tried to breath through it and drink water. I got behind on my nutrition because I was afraid that it would sit heavy in my stomach and make it worse. I kept stretching it out and just coasting along. 15 miles later it got a little better and so I started eating my CLIF bars again and continued to drink water. At mile 40-45 I noticed a tri bike out in the vineyards covered in dust. Then I saw a biker, face down in the field. He was not moving. 2 other bikers were out there with him. I started to tear up. How horrible that this could happen to someone out here! I just prayed that he would be okay! I stayed super conservative around corners and down the hills. Gaining a couple of seconds was not worth my life. At mile 56 I stopped to use the bathroom and was off in probably less than 2 minutes. At mile 70 my chain fell off going up a small hill. Luckily, it was an easy fix. I slipped it back on and was on my way again. At mile 80 I got to Chalk Hill on lap two and my chain fell off again! This time it was really stuck! I tried pulling on it but could not get it out! Bikers went by and a couple asked if I was alright. I told one guy my chain fell off. He said “sorry” and pedaled on. I was beginning to think that no one was going to help me and I would be stuck here just watching people ride past me. I started crying and feeling really defeated. Finally, this nice gentleman got off of his bike and yanked the chain out! I told him thank you and that he was a life saver! He said to pay it forward and we got on our bikes and continued racing. I probably waited on the side of the hill for about 4 minutes. I decided to not shift into my small chain anymore and not risk that same situation from happening again. Luckily, there weren’t any more big hills left. I really pushed it the last 30 miles. Most of the race I wasn’t hitting the power I was supposed to maintain so I started to make a better effort to hit those numbers. At mile 100 I heard a big pop! It sounded like a fire cracker. 12 miles to go, I hope it’s not a flat! I stopped to check my tires and they were both fine. I must have hit a rock. I grinded out the last 12 miles and sped into T2! I was so ready to be off my bike!
I hopped off my bike and started to jog. I gave my bike to a volunteer and told him to keep it. I was only kidding though. I got my clothes bag and changed into my tri shorts. I kept my run top and socks on and sped out!
Age Group 10th
I saw my family right away! Tim told me that Kim was still 10 minutes behind me. I was so confused. I never saw her again on the course. How did I pass her? Later I found out she crashed her bike and had to stop at an aid station to get bandaged up. I was glad to hear she was okay and that made sense why I didn’t see her. I was feeling good and checked my watch to see a 9:45 pace. But I had a long way to go so didn’t want to burn out. My calf muscles started to seize up so I took some base salt, hoping the electrolytes would help the cramping. I ran one mile and then walked for about 30 seconds. Same thing for mile 2, I ran for about 9 minutes and walked for 30 seconds. When my legs felt better, I kept moving at around a 10-minute pace. I drank water at every aid station and switched between eating grapes and pretzels. The run was almost all in the shade which was very nice since it was 70 degrees. The course was built like a maze though. Throughout the 3 loops, I never really knew where I was. You were either running into downtown Santa Rosa or on a trail. I tried to stay in the zone and run with the people around me. I seemed to find a group that was moving at around a similar pace so I just kept moving. At mile 13 I went to the bathroom and ran out with only 13 more miles to go! At mile 18-20 is when I usually start to fall apart so I was nervous to see what my body would feel like. To my surprise, I was doing really well! I didn’t have any serious fatigue or cramping. I was even hitting some 9 minutes miles! I realized I was going to hit a new Ironman marathon PR and was stoked! That really drove me to not walk and to pick up the pace when I could! At mile 20 I started taking in Coca Cola to give my body a little boost. At mile 24 I felt so good! This never happens! I said out loud 2 more miles! When I got down town I knew I was almost there! I turned the corner and saw the red carpet and was so ecstatic! I crushed that marathon and finished my 3rd Ironman!
Ironman Santa Rosa was an amazing experience! It went a lot better than I could have ever imagined. I still have a lot to improve but I am happy with how I performed. Going into this race, I had only run up to 14 miles and biked up to 80 miles. However, I just did Ironman Arizona 5 months ago. I have the miles on my legs so my coach and I focused more on intensity. I think it paid off because I had my best race yet! I had so much fun racing! I am so glad that my husband, Tim could be there and cheer me on every step of the way! I am so grateful that my Dad and Step mom could be there! To my in-law’s Jon and Maria, I am so glad that you could both be there and be my personal photographers! Thank you, coach Kimberly, for coaching me through my 3rd Ironman! I don’t know what I would do with out you! I am so glad we were able to race TOGETHER and cheer each other on!
Things that went well:
1. My mental game was the strongest it has ever been. I thought I was going to have to walk a lot more on the marathon. And I could have. But, I didn’t. When I felt good, I held my pace. When I needed to rest, I did. But, not for too long. This is a race after all!
2. This was the best I’ve done with my nutrition at an Ironman. I made sure to stay hydrated. I drank a bottle+ of water every hour on the bike. I drank water/Gatorade/or coke at every run aid station. I stayed ahead of my nutrition on the bike. When my stomach cramped, I made sure to drink plenty of water and eat when I felt better. I got off the bike with a healthy stomach and ready to crush the marathon! On the run, I listened to my body and ate what my body needed at the time. I was over sweet gels and needed pretzels and grapes. It got my body to the finish line feeling healthy and strong.
3. My swim! I had an excellent swim! During my training, I only swam 4K yards maybe 3 times. But intensity has helped me get fast! I was ecstatic to break 1:05!
Things I need to work on:
1. Strength. I need more time in the gym to get stronger. In order to be a better, faster, and stronger athlete, I need to gain more muscle. I will start focusing on this now that my Ironman is over. I am hoping to get more time in the gym lifting weights and getting stronger. I know this will help my bike and swim time tremendously.
2. Biking. I need more experience biking. Out of the 3 disciplines I know this is the one I need to work on the most. I can cut off more time on the bike than I can swimming and running. I need to work on climbing up hills and gaining more experience out on the road.
3. Run speed. My run has improved a lot over the last year. But I know I still have room for improvement. I am gaining more experiencing racing and that is definitely helping. I need to continue to work on my run form to make sure I am being efficient.