Tri Santa Cruz: Recap and Review

Finally, I have made some time to write up a post recapping Tri Santa Cruz!

On Sunday morning, Linh, Amy, and I got to Santa Cruz early in the morning and set up our bike rack area. All of the spots had our numbers on the rack, and we had space about two feet wide to set up our stuff. 

Amy came to check to make sure all of my stuff was ready for the transitions (such as laying out my sunglasses, helmet, shoes and socks for the bike leg). I am 100% a noob, so it was really helpful to have a friend there to check for me. 

We got our wetsuits on and then took a picture at the finish line that we would cross in just a few hours.[Photos courtesty of Linh].

Tri Santa Cruz 2 

We made our way to Cowell Beach, which was around a quarter mile (or less) away. Brought my flip flops so that I would run back to the transition area with them on (instead of barefoot). 

Got to warm up in the water for about 10 minutes, and the water was not that cold. It was the same as when we went to practice OWS the week before.

BTW, I know we’re not supposed to wear anything new on race day, but I bought the skullcap when I picked up my bib and I’m so glad I did. It was SO comfortable and it stayed in place without me having to adjust it at all during the race! Kept the pink swim cap in place, too (the one that people have to wear depending on their wave). 

Tri Santa Cruz 1 

I don’t have a waterproof watch, so I don’t know if we started right on time or anything. In any case, when we started, I was a little overwhelmed with all of the arms and legs and different colored swim caps in the water. Our wave kind of converged with the wave before us, and there was a whole lot of splashing going on. We were to swim two loops around the buoys. My second loop was SO much better and I got into a good rhythm. I made sure not to go too fast because I only swam like five times this whole year (and once last year), so I didn’t know how long I could swim before having to rest. 

Luckily, my pace was good and I didn’t have to rest at all. I got out of the water, ran to my flip flops, and ran to the transition area. The 1500m swim (probably more because I don’t think I was swimming a straight line) and the quarter mile run to the transition area: 31:25. 

My transition was taken nice and slowly. I wasn’t planning on placing AG or anything, so I took my time while I took off the wetsuit, ate some yummy wafer thing from Powerbar, drank a bunch of water, and put on my socks and running shoes (I’m a bike noob, so no clip-in shoes for me). This took 3:05. 

My first attempt at getting on the bike made me stagger, haha. My legs felt weirdsies. I got going on the second attempt was good and I got going up the tiny little hill that lead us to the loops on the bike course. We were to do four loops, and there were people zooming passed me for the first two loops. They had those fancy bike helmets and bikes, staying low on the aerobars. 

I’m such a noob that I couldn’t even take my hands off of the handlebars… that meant no water. It didn’t matter too much because I wasn’t biking that quickly. I definitely felt more comfortable on the third and fourth loops, passing a lot of people as I went (and by then, all of the super fast people were already running their 5K/10K). 

Biking (~40K): 1:21:32. 

Transition 2 was pretty quick since I just had to take my helmet off, drink water, put the bike up, and then run. 1:35. 

I was so happy to be on the run already. This meant that I would definitely be finishing my first triathlon that day! Weird thing… I felt like I was going super slowly… like 9:30 pace. My first mile was 8:00 pace. “Okay… I guess I will just try to keep this pace and hope to finish my 10K in less than 50 minutes. No pressure, though.”

The 10K course is the same as what we run for the Santa Cruz Half marathon, so I knew what to expect. 

I definitely didn’t pressure myself into running too too hard. I was feeling pretty tired, and though my pace felt super slow, I was suprisingly running okay splits:

Mile 1: 8:00

Mile 2: 7:53

Mile 3: 7:48

I was super impressed with the mile markers. They were right on and my Garmin beeped exactly with their mile markers! I got to the 10K turn around, and took my time. I ate a Powerbar gel (soooo liquid-y. I forgot about that), drank water. I even stopped and asked where to throw my stuff away. The volunteers were fantastic! They just told me to throw it on the ground and that they’d take care of it… and they were all smiling and cheering me on! 

The rest was just about running at the same effort and think about picking up my knees and taking quick steps. I just thought about keeping up a high cadence. 

Mile 4: 8:00  (because I stopped at the water station)

Mile 5: 7:46

Mile 6: 7:38

Mile 6.2: 6:40 (for last 0.2 mile).

That’s right. My Garmin read exactly 6.20 miles, and the official finish time was 48.24.

My finish time for the whole thing? 2:46:01.

Tri Santa Cruz 3 

SO HAPPY to finish my first tri event, and even more happy about the 10K time. I was expecting it to be around 55 minutes, hehe. 


Dudes. Only one of us placed in AG… Amy! She got 1st in her AG, on her very first Olympic distance Tri!

Tri Santa Cruz 4 

Tri Santa Cruz 

I got 7th in my AG… out of 8, hahaha. Oh, well! Now I know that I can finish it and I can train a lot more on the swim and bike legs (my run was a bit faster compared to some of the other girls in my AG).


Race review:

This race was very well-organized with plenty of volunteers! I never felt lost or confused during any of the legs or the transitions. I also felt like there was enough fuel and water offered along the course. 

I was most impressed with the volunteers… they were all smiling and super encouraging! The organizers must have given the volunteers a butt-load of candy, rainbows, and sunshine. 

The course itself is very beginner friendly. The bike course is flat and fast (or in my case, just flat). If a biking nooblet like me could get through the course without any issues, then it’s definitely good for anyone! I liked the 10K course a lot because there were no huge hills (except for the first one in the very beginning, haha), and lots of tiny rollers. I looove tiny rollers along the run. 


For next time, I am considering just doing the aquathlon and training like mad for the swim portion. Though I’d like to get better with the biking, I don’t really enjoy it that much. All it made me want to do is take a nap with an ice pack between my legs… but that’s probably because I only trained like three times on the bike. MY FAULT. 

We’ll see 😉


Triathlons… have you TRI’d them? Love them? What is your favorite distance?

What is your favorite leg of the Tri?

Have you ever been to Santa Cruz, CA?

10 responses to “Tri Santa Cruz: Recap and Review

  1. Very nice job! That first run mile after the bike is so deceptive, isn’t it? I have made the mistake of running it too hard because I felt so, so slow, and pay for it later.

    Biking is something that I learned to love. It took a while 🙂

    Very strong, effort. Congrats!

  2. You are the first person I know picked the Olympic distance on your first triathlon. However, I am not surprised at all with your physical abilities. Considering that your training was less than a month and borrowing someone’s else bike, your finish time is fantastic. I can’t wait to see how you will perform next year when you actually put on your game face. 🙂

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