My first official race in the Elite division is over and I’d say it was a success. While I’m still an amateur, my coach encourages me to race with the next level whenever possible. I’m sure doing so will result in several humbling experiences, but it’ll just be fuel to my fire.

Despite the race being held during the height of summer, the weather of Santa Cruz is always a bit different from Silicon Valley. The morning fog made for rather cold and wet conditions – which really aren’t my favorite. Oh well, the race goes on.

For the swim, we had a two loop course next to the Santa Cruz Pier. I tried going for a warm-up swim, but the water was a bit too cold to loosen up in. Instead, I did arm circles and similar dry-land exercises to get ready. Then we lined up for a beach start and ran out.

Adrenaline is wonderful thing, in that it distracted me from the cold water. By the time we reached the first buoy, there were five athletes (including myself) getting away from the group and the water temperature didn’t matter. By the second turn, the top two guys were opening a gap and I was trailing at the back of the pack. The third turn was on the beach, so we got to battle waves and thick clusters of seaweed coming in and out of the water. The standings stayed the same on the second loop, so I exited the water in 5th.

Transition was 400 meters from the swim exit, so I got to see what barefoot running is all about. I guess it’s alright, although I doubt it’s intended to be done on concrete. Anyways, I passed one guy on the run in and passed another in transition.

Thanks to the fog, the roads were wet. I was also a bit cold due to the swim, so I did what any rational person would do: hammer the bike! The course was a flat 4-loops, with a few tricky turns coming back in along the coast. After completing the first loop, I knew how to take the turns and where to push the hardest. As a result, I recorded the third best bike split, which maintained my 3rd place standing.

Transitions are becoming a specialty of mine, especially T2. Hey, it’s free time! Why not take advantage of it?

The run course was an out and back along the coast. I went out hard, but I couldn’t feel a thing since my feet were numb. The only opportunity to see where I stood relative to the leaders was at the turn-a-round and by my estimates, I was a little over a minute or so back. By now, my feet felt better and I was running strong, but I was never able to see either of the lead guys coming in. I came in strong and finished 3rd in the Elite division and 3rd overall. It also turns out that I had the second best run split too.

Overall, I had a good race. I know I’m capable of a faster run, but colder weather definitely hampers one’s potential. Best of all, I came home with a check! I broke even (and then some) for the weekend.