Santa Barbara Long Course Triathlon



            It’s been a long season thus far.  I haven’t had the results I have wanted and I knew I was capable of more.  It just hadn’t come together yet, until today.  I finally got my first overall win at the elite level.  I have been getting ready for Ironman Wisconsin for about a month now.  Cliff, my coach, thought it would be a good idea to race Santa Barbara as a taper race and to see where my fitness was, going into IM Wisconsin on September 12th.  Let me say, I am glad I raced in Santa Barbara.

            I got up to Santa Barbara Thursday night.  Luckily I work in Santa Barbara occasionally so I had an excuse to get there early.  I rode the course Thursday night, where I really had time to enjoy it.  I knew on race day my head would be buried in my aero bars and there would be no enjoyment of the scenery.  The Santa Barbara bike course may be one of the most beautiful courses I have raced.  I took it all in that evening and that ride really made me appreciate my surroundings.

            I went for an ocean swim Friday morning.  It was COLD!  I’d say around 57 degrees.  My Xterra Vendetta wetsuit ( keeps me warm, but I knew that this cold water had the potential to suck a lot of energy out of you on race day; I was going to have to plan my race accordingly.  I worked all day Friday up in SB, went to dinner with Cortney and fellow pro Mac Brown.  The restaurant wasn’t too good, but I tried my new prerace meal: cheeseburger, fries, and a few diet cokes.  Why, you may ask?  I had this meal last week before one of the biggest training days of my life, and I never felt better, so I decided to try it for a race.  We got some fro yo after dinner and turned in for the evening.

            Race morning, I didn’t stress too much over details.  I got to the race start about forty minutes before the gun, got set up, put on the wetsuit, and hit the water.  Knowing the water was cold, a warm up was crucial.  I had to get my body ready for the initial shock.  I warmed up with Mac and Daniel Brienza, another elite athlete, for about 20 minutes.  As I swam, I thought of my strategy.  I was going to have to conserve energy. If I went all out, I would waste a ton of energy, and have nothing left for the tough bike course, and the challenging run course.  I would try to find a set of feet and hang on for the mile swim.

            The gun goes off!  I charge into the water, hammer to the first buoy, make the turn and settle in on a nice, manicured set of toes.  I stayed there until the final turn where the water got choppy.  I finished the last 500 meter on my own, remembering not to push it too hard.  I came out of the water in 25 minutes, which is really fast for me.  I am not a swimmer, but I felt great coming out.

            The bike course is hilly.  I have been honing in on using wattage as of late and I love it.  It is a great gauge of where I need to be.  I tried to keep my watts above 320 for this course.  I have been putting in long miles, so I didn’t think I would have a problem pushing it for this 34 mile course.  I tried to stay on it the whole time.  There were several steep climbs, but I powered over them pretty well.  I was psyched about where my current fitness is.  I came into T2 in 6th place.  I finished the bike in 1 hr 30 min.

            Knowing I had some ground to make up I flew through T2, and started to push my run pace immediately.  It was a ten miler, and I knew every step would count.  At the first aid station I asked a volunteer how far up the leaders were.  This guy kind of laughed and said, “A long way.”  This really lit the fire.  Didn’t this guy know who I was?  I thought, “I am going to show this guy!  He has no idea what I am capable of.”  I think I was just looking for something to give me that extra drive, and that was it.  I came up to mile 3 where fellow pro triathlete Ian Mikelson was waiting on a bike.  He told me I was 2 minutes out of 1st.  I worked my way up to 2nd place by mile five.  I saw the first place guy, Daniel.  He was about a minute up on me, I was digging deep, but I wasn’t faltering. I knew I could keep pushing the pace.  Mile 6, I was 30 seconds down, mile 7, 20 seconds down.  As I came up on mile 8 I decided to go for the pass.  I was feeling the pain, but I knew Daniel was hurting as well.  I knew that if I passed him strong and made it seem as if I had a lot left in the tank, I would hurt him mentally as well.  I was hurting big time, but my focus was intense.  I passed him, and increased my pace to sub 5 min/mile.  He stuck around for about 30 seconds, but eventually he faded.  I put my head down and finished strong.  I believe my run split was around 52 minutes. 

            I am psyched with my current fitness.  To be able to keep pushing the pace like that, and finish strong proves to me I am in good shape and gives me a great boost of confidence going into IM Wisconsin. Post race was great.  The interviews, the press, the publicity, etc.  I want to get used to that.  I have to remember that feeling, and aim to duplicate it every race.  I love the tactics of racing.  That is what makes it fun.  It is a game, and it brings a huge mental aspect to a sport that is mainly thought of as physical.  I wanted to mention that my current bike fit is amazing, I am the most comfortable I have ever been, and my run off the bike is stronger than ever, this is due to Nate at ,  thanks man.  RACE HARD!


1 Comment

  1. 10 miles in 52 minutes? That’s ridiculous…Congrats. Jim!!!

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