Ironman Santa Cruz 70.3(ish) Race Report

I can’t believe FIVE MONTHS have passed since Ironman Santa Cruz 70.3! I also can’t believe I did TWO half Ironmans in one year… I’m officially crazy. I feel blessed to have a healthy body that can carry me for hours, as well as friends who drag me along and motivate me along the way. I am also grateful for In-N-Out cheeseburgers after the race. Santa Cruz was not by best race, as I was a bit undertrained and my nutrition was off, but I still loved it in a weird way and of course have already signed up for a few tris next year and am looking forward to training for my first full Ironman… More details on that later, but for now, here are my thoughts on Ironman Santa Cruz 70.3.

For those who don’t know a half Ironman (HIM or Ironman 70.3) is a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike, and 13.1-mile run.


Packet pick-up went smoothly after getting to Santa Cruz early enough on Friday. We wandered the merch tent and checked into our Airbnb and ate delicious burgers. Saturday, the day before race day, we got a little bike ride in and then a short transition run, on which I tripped over a speed bump and scraped up my knee and hands really good. Always a bonus. Grr. Thankfully I got some Tegaderm and hoped for the best. We scoped transition and dropped off our bikes, easy peasy. I have to tell you, though, that my nerves were starting to get the best of me… The swim venue had to be moved because of a red algae bloom, so I didn’t get a shakeout swim… Oh well. This was shaping up to be a great day, right?


The day started out at a lovely 3:15 a.m. because my friend’s alarm went off at 3. We got ready, ate our breakfasts (bagel for me; since it was so early, I didn’t have my banana and GU and Snickers till later), and headed out…

…which meant we got a fabulous parking space and were able to hang out in the car until we had to make our way to the swim start. I had mixed feelings about getting there so early… On the one hand, no parking space issues. On the other, more time for me to get worked up! And, boy, did I have the time to get worked up!

We waited and waited… Then race officials informed the athletes that due to fog the race would be delayed till 7:20 (originally a 6:50 start), and if they couldn’t provide a safe swim, they would modify as necessary. 7:15 rolled around and the fog didn’t roll out, so that’s what they ended up doing, shortening the swim to approximately 750m and moving it to near the swim exit. I ate my banana and sucked down a GU. One of my friends moved up, and my other friend moved back, and I was suddenly alone… Okay, not really, but it felt that way! All of us just wanted to get this over with! Let’s do this!

Pre-race obligatory selfie!

Before the swim


I had a decent swim because it was so short! I hadn’t been getting enough swim volume, so I was really quite nervous about the swim. I knew I could finish the 1.2 miles, and maybe even PR the swim because of the saltwater, but you never know. I didn’t mind swimming in the ocean (p.s. It was my first time actually swimming in the ocean), and since it was shorter, I had zero time to think of the things that could eat me. The only predators were other triathletes! I got kicked in the face and shoved around, but that is the fun of it! I ended up swimming 16 min and change for 872 yds (according to Garmin). Not too bad..
The run to transition was about a half mile (what is UP with long transition runs?!) and I had stashed a pair of shoes, which I was glad about. Sure, I would’ve probably been fine, but I was paranoid about cutting my foot again, like at Santa Rosa 70.3. It took me like 5 seconds to slip them on, and it was worth it and made the run easier. I wasn’t going to win the thing anyway! Found my spot, wetsuit off, and then socks, shoes, arm warmers, glasses, helmet, GO!


This bike is interesting… It’s right along the coast, which is really cool if you can see the water… I could not until the run. It had been unseasonably warm so the fog was super thick. Oh well. The course was pretty rolling with maybe two steeper climbs if I recall. More climbing than Santa Rosa, but not bad whatsoever. It wasn’t really cold on the bike and was starting to warm up. I tried to get down a lot of liquid and take my nutrition, but I think since the race moved up the start time, everything was thrown off and it was hard to recover. I ate my Snickers with Almonds at mile 30 this time instead of a treat at mile 45. Uh-oh… And then there were a couple sketchy stretches and idiot cyclists (is a simple “on your left” too much to ask?) and cars on those stretches–yikes! I did get a big PR (probably because of the shortened swim)–that’s pretty much it. I did have to stop and stretch my back once, but I’m pleased. Time was 3:10:54 (~17.6 mph). Definitely room for improvement, but I’m game for that. I want to go sub 2:45 at some point. Also I need a tri bike. I feel the need. The need for speed.

T2 was normal… Switched my shoes, threw on my hat and reapplied sunscreen (I still burned), grabbed my belt, and got outta there.

on the bike
Off on the bike!
On the bike at mile 16!


In a nutshell, the first 3 miles were decent, but I had to go. Yep, that kind of go… This was definitely not like Santa Rosa… Mile 3 was about a 14-minute mile. Yep. The thing that sucked was that my feet FELT FINE! Grr. I was trying to stave off a bonk the whole half marathon. Sigh. I will conquer you, 70.3 half marathon!

It got warm around mile 5, which is exactly where I saw my friend I was racing with. That was huge. He was at about mile 8 and looked great and almost pulled off a sub-2 half marathon. I somehow rallied after that and ended up with a decent time for a half Ironman half marathon (2:23 something), but blah. I met some great people who helped me going and the views of the ocean were wonderful. I just wish I had felt better! Lots of things to work on in the off-season.

on the run

I think I’m yelling something along the lines of, “I killed the bike” to Sara right now…



When I hit mile 12, I. WAS. DONE. I hauled it to the finish line (great job, Whit–why couldn’t you have started running this speed 5 miles ago?) One of my friends gave me a high five before the finish. Awesome. And just like that I was done with my second 70.3 in 2017. Who am I?? ?

Final official time: 06:04:44! (Something to shoot for on a course with the full swim distance) ??

Gender Rank: 286 | Age Group Rank: 46 | Overall Rank: 1286 (kind of middle-ish)

It was an incredible day even withe the setbacks!! If I can do it and hit my goals, you certainly can. All you have to do is train!! 

Author: Whitney

Runner. Cook. Editor. Blogger. French Fry Connoiseur.

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