My Favorite Things: July

Its been a while!  You’ll notice a heavy workout gear trend this month, and that is because I am getting ready for my second half ironman this year in Santa Cruz.   Here are five things I have been loving lately and have been a huge help in my training and racing.

  1. S’well Water Bottle
    I have a plain black one.  When I did beach side yoga in San Diego a couple weeks ago, the outside of this bottle was hot to the touch.  I was certain that the water inside was going to be unrefreshingly hot as well, but I was wrong.  Not only was the water still cold, there was still ICE in it from dropping a few cubes in that morning!  My water stayed cold pretty much the rest of the day at the beach.  I was impressed.
    swell
  2. Qalo ring
    Hi I just got married and feel the need to tell everyone!  Sorry not sorry.  I also exercise a lot, like long distance running, biking, swimming a lot.  I would hate to lose the ring that my husband custom made for me, or smash it like I almost did a couple months ago when I crashed my bike.  Qaloring lets me keep a ring on my finger without worrying that I’m going to lose it or break it.  It stayed on during my whole half ironman triathlon in May even!  They come in lots of cool colors and designs, so definitely check them out.
    QALO-Workout-Ring-Gym
  3. Goodr Sunglasses
    So my friend had these cute sunglasses that miraculously didn’t bounce on her face while she ran.  Not only that, but they were lightweight, and polarized, AND only 20 bucks!  I immediately bought some and haven’t worn anything else.  Every single person who has tried on my pair instantly orders some of their own.  I have the bright pink and blue ones.  Finally, running sunglasses that don’t look like running sunglasses!
    Goodr_Grouped
  4. Coeur Sports Athletic Wear
    I’ve been doing triathlons for going on 8 years now, and this is a great time to be in the sport because women are finally getting stylish, functional things!  Coeur makes triathlon, cycling, and swimming apparel.  I have a triathlon top/shorts set from Coeur Sports and it is so comfortable.  I wear the top as a normal tank top.  Another thing that blew me away was the quality of the materials they use.  My tri suit is black, and I’ve worn it in two half ironmans now, one with an ocean swim, one with a freshwater swim, both very hot runs, and the fabric doesn’t show the crystallizing salt (if you’ve done one of these, you know what I’m talking about).  It looks just as good wet and salty as it does when its clean and dry.
    IMG_5365
  5. Defeet Socks  
    I love socks, especially fun socks.  I don’t know what it is, but new cycling socks are what make me wanna ride my bike on those days when I don’t feel like it.  My favorites right now are these DeFeet sprinkle socks from Ten Speed Hero. Defeet is well known in the cycling world and should be better known to the general public because they are stylish (you can wear them with dress shoes gentlemen) and wicking.  And they have lots of fun patterns!
    sprinkles

 

Whats your favorite training gear these days?

-jules

I Went There: A Weekend In San Diego

So I don’t have enough money to drop everything and be a travel blogger (unfortunately), but I DO have friends in cool places.  One of these places is San Diego, where my friend Jessica is a resident MD – casual.  In the event that you too are going to San Diego for a weekend (which, I highly recommend), then here would be a semi-local’s perspective!

Saturday

I flew in late Friday night just so we would have all day Saturday together.  First thing we did was wake up, eat a quick breakfast, and head on over to Pacific Beach for a morning yoga class.  This class is FREE (but donations are appreciated).  It is put on by this yoga instructor nicknamed NamaSteve, and it is SO good!  He makes yoga fun, and its a good workout.  Apparently Saturday mornings are the tougher class, and Sundays are the more relaxing class.  It starts at 10 a little ways down from Crystal Pier (you will see at least 100 people on a hillside overlooking the ocean rolling out their yoga mats for this.

We were going to get a bigger breakfast after yoga, but it was so hot and sunny that we opted for something lighter instead.  We walked down from where yoga was to Kono’s Coffee, which not only has really good coffee, but they do smoothies too.  After that we sat on the beach for another hour or so, soaking in the sun.

IMG_5372After the beach, we did a little shopping, made dinner at home, and then we were going out for the night.  So I’ve been to San Diego three times now, and every time I only go to one bar: Shout House.  It is a dueling piano bar and it is just so fun I go every time.  We got there around 9 and there was already a line to get in and limited seating – I’d say if you are interested, go around 8.  They start playing around 8:30, so then you’re more likely to get a table and seats.  We were there until it closed. Seriously, it was that fun.

Sunday 

So I flew out Sunday night, so we wanted to take it easy that day.  We woke up late and made a pancake breakfast of champions, and then headed out for the day.
Our first stop was Balboa Park, which I had been to but only briefly.  I really wanted to go and take it all in.  We stopped into the botanical garden first, which is a beautiful greenhouse with a bunch of different types of plants.  I took so many pictures! We just walked around the park for a couple hours really.  There’s food, and often there are some musicians and street performers.  It was a good day to be outside and stroll around.

After Balboa Park we headed into Old Town to get some tacos.  So honestly the best place for tacos is at Oscars in Pacific Beach, but we wanted to walk around some more and maybe do a little shopping, so Old Town it was.  We went to Cafe Coyote, which didn’t have the best tacos that I’ve had in San Diego, but they did have huge margaritas and warm homemade flour tortillas, so I was happy!  Afterwards we walked around all the little shops that all have the same touristy things.  We were in such a food coma we were basically sleep walking!  By the time we had walked all over it was time for me to go back to the airport.

IMG_6350

Can’t wait to visit again 🙂  What are some of your favorite things to do in San Diego?

-jules

My Favorite Breakfasts!

You didn’t ask for it but I’m gonna share anyway: my favorite breakfasts!

So in case you didn’t know, I’m a working woman now.  Also in case you didn’t know, I like to eat.  It gets pretty hard to keep up a triathlon training schedule & full time work schedule AND feel like you’re eating enough healthy food.  Here are a few of my favorite breakfasts that keep me going during the week:

  1. Avocado Toast.am a millennial.  This breakfast can all be eaten on a slice of bread, and is packed with protein and good fats to keep me full until lunch.  Here is how I like mine:
    • A slice of Dave’s Killer Bread, toasted.
    • A light spread of almond butter.
    • Half an avocado, mashed.
    • Hard boiled egg, sliced on top.
    • Healthy sprinkle of salt and pepper.
  2. PB&J Smoothie.  This one is probably the easiest!  The frozen fruit in this smoothie gifts you a dose of fiber, and peanut butter packs some protein.
    • One cup of frozen berry mix.  Right now we have one that has blueberries, strawberries, cherries, and blackberries.
    • 1 ping pong ball sized blob of peanut butter.  The natural stuff tastes better in this.
    • A drizzle of honey.
    • Whatever liquid you want, we have been doing coconut water, but almond milk would work too.  Definitely don’t use juice, too sweet.
  3. Oatmeal.  I know I know, this is less exciting.  For me, oatmeal is more about what goes inside.  Some nut butter and some other crunchy things make the oatmeal texture much more palatable, and keeps me going til lunch time.  I go for a sweet & salty combo as well.  Here is what I put in mine:
    • Oatmeal (duh).  Get the plain minute-oats, to make it quick.  Steel cut is better if you are a morning champ though.
    • A spoonful of peanut or almond butter.
    • Dried cranberries.
    • Mixed nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts, & cashews)
    • Sunflower seeds.
    • A drizzle of honey.
    • Sprinkle of sea-salt.

 

How do you like your avocado toast?

-jules

What You DO Need and What You DON’T Need For Your First Triathlon

Hallo!  So I have been doing triathlons for about 8 years now.  I did my first one waaaay back in the fall of 2009, a sprint in South Carolina.  Triathlon is a demanding sport, in that you need so many things just to do it.  Luckily I was on a very supportive college club, and was able to figure out what all I needed to complete my race.  In case you don’t have a training group or more experienced friend, here is a list of the things that you either would need, want, and definitely do not need, for your first race.

Alright, so here are some things you definitely need to complete your first triathlon:

  • Something to do 3 things in – ideally a tri suit, but you can also wear a swim suit + shorts or jammers.  Guys, make sure you check the rules, sometimes you can get away with just wearing jammers, but some races require you to wear a shirt.
  • Goggles
  • Bike (ideally a road bike, but any bike will do)
  • Flat repair kit & extra tube
  • Helmet – You will not be allowed to race if you don’t have a helmet.
  • Running shoes & socks
  • Wetsuit depending on water temperature
  • Water bottle
  • Flip flops that you don’t mind losing (so you can walk to the swim start and ditch them)

Okay, so that was the basics.  Now here are some things that aren’t necessary, but are totally worth the expense for your race experience:

  • A tri suit – Tri suits move in the water like a swim suit, have a little bit of padding and pockets like a bike kit, and are dry by the time you’re on the run.  You can get good deals on tri suits on Swim Outlet, or REI.  Also, ladies, there are a bunch of women’s specific brands that make cute ones!  Check out mine from Coeur Sports, or Betty Designs.
  • Swim cap (however they are usually required an provided by the race if its an open water swim)
  • Bike shoes/pedals – shoes that clip into your pedals make you a more efficient cyclist, saving your legs precious energy for the run.
  • Quick laces for running shoes – Okay you have done two workouts for the day and you are onto the third.  Transition is chaos.  You can’t get your feet into your shoes and your brain is not communicating sufficiently to your fingers.  This sounds crazy, but believe me, you are going to be so happy to just slip your shoes on and not have to tie them.  I personally like Yankz the best, but there are a ton on the market.
  • Race number belt – You technically only have to wear your race bib during the run.   You definitely can’t wear it for the swim, because its paper, and I don’t love having the number flapping around while I’m biking.  With this, you can grab your race belt, and clip it on while you’re on the way out of transition.  Bonus a lot of them have little loops for you to stick energy snacks into.  There are bunch available on Amazon.
  • Your own sharpie – So that you don’t have to wait in line for body marking.  Race mornings are stressful enough, and you can get ahead of the porta-potty line 😉
  • Towel – Just to wipe your face and dry your feet off a little bit before you head out on the bike.  Nice to have, especially on cold mornings.
  • Your own bike pump.  There will be a mad rush by everyone to use the 2 bike pumps provided.
  • A good friend/significant other that will be your race sherpa and carry all your things.

Alright, and finally, here are some things you probably don’t need unless you are a professional athlete or trying very hard to set a PR.  If an overzealous store rep is trying to talk you into buying these things for your first race, trust me you don’t need them:

  • A triathlon bike – while definitely more efficient, if its your first race then a road bike will be just fine and more versatile.  If its going to be a windy course, aerobars that you can attach to your road bike is a wiser purchase.
  • Aerohelmet.  These things have shown to take only seconds off time in a perfect wind tunnel.  Us joe shmo’s who are just in it to complete the race won’t feel the benefits of an aerohelmet.  Save your money.
  • The lightest bike components.  Stick with the middle of the ground components for your bike like Shimano 105, or SRAM Force if its your first race.  These are good, reliable components, and worth the splurge.  Anything above that drops only grams off your bike, which again unless you are a pro, you won’t really feel the benefit of.
  • Compression socks – two words: placebo effect.  They don’t actually help with your race performance.  They are better to be worn afterwards if you are experiencing some aching and swelling.

 

Have a race coming up?  Is there something that I missed?  Comment below!

-jules

I Had a Destination Wedding: Part 1

Hello!  If you have been following me on instagram, then you would know that I’ve been planning my wedding for the past year!  Mason and I got married Sunday, June 18 at an all inclusive resort outside of Cancun, Mexico.  This first post will be about why we chose to do a destination wedding, and how we planned for it.  Also some FYI’s if you are thinking about having a destination wedding.

So, why a destination wedding?  We’ve got a couple reasons for this:

  1.  This first bullet was mostly my opinion, and Mason was wonderful and obliging: I felt that having a huge wedding would overwhelm me, and ultimately take the enjoyment out of the experience.  I thought having a destination wedding would narrow down the guest list significantly, and it did.  We had about 40 people attend our wedding, which was the perfect number for us because we got to spend a lot of time with our close family and friends.
  2. Weddings are so expensive.  According to The Knot, the average cost of a wedding in the United States is about $35,000.  Holy cow.  Thats just for one night.  I was up for paying a lot for a wedding, but not that much, and not for just one night.  We paid about 10k for our wedding.  Keep in mind that included our wedding night, as well as a welcome party, rehearsal dinner, farewell brunch, and a week of honeymoon on the resort for us.  We just got more bang for our buck.
  3. Finally, we chose a destination because everyone would have had to travel anyways.  Our friends and family are all over the country.  We decided instead of making them travel to small town North Carolina or Pennsylvania, we would choose a vacation spot.

What was the first step?

  1. We had to pick a location quickly, so that we could send out our Save the Dates.  You want to send out Save the Dates early if you are doing a destination wedding, so that your guests can save up and plan for it.  We got engaged in June, and had decided on a location and sent out our save the dates by the end of July.
  2. We went through a website that a few people I knew from work used, called DestinationWeddings.com.  This website links you up with a travel agent, who then helps you pick a resort based on your expectations, and then helps your guests book.  After talking to our assigned travel agent, we decided we wanted an all inclusive resort, a fun, party atmosphere, and lots of activities to do.  Based on that we decided on the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya.
  3. Next, we quickly created a wedding website with an FAQ’s section to field questions.    Believe me, if you choose to do a destination wedding, you will get a lot of questions.  We thought the resort was a good deal because it was all-inclusive, but many friends were in sticker shock and we had to face some negative feedback.  My saving grace during this time was that for every friend that was a little upset or critical, there was a friend who was truly excited, and who will tell you that its your day, so stick to your gut.

What was planning like?

  1. We had 2 main people that we were interacting with: our Destination Weddings travel agent, and then our hotel group wedding planner.  Planning was mostly just emailing back and forth with these two people, and referring all guest questions to them.  Also keeping track of deadlines.  There were a lot of deadlines for us to remember, like when everyone had to be booked by, the last date to cancel the rooms we had blocked off that didn’t get filled, the final day to pick and pay for decor.  I wish I had put all of these into a calendar because I tried to keep them in my head and then had to dig through emails to verify.
  2. We didn’t really start planning until January, when the resort group connected us to our USA wedding planner.  Every resort is different, but for the Hard Rock Hotel, which is part of the AIG group, you are connected to a USA based wedding planner, until the last month before, when you are transferred to a wedding day coordinator on the resort.
  3. Also, a bonus of our resort choice, we got a comped trip down to preview the resort and meet with the wedding day coordinator.  This helped us visualize the location, and also meet the onsite vendors for lighting and flowers, etc.
  4. Overall, planning was pretty easy.  It was nice to just have a couple vendors to choose from, rather than having to do a lot of research.  We just would get like a catalogue of lighting options, and pick our favorite.  Same for food, we just got a lot of menu choices, and we picked what looked best.
  5. The downside to having only a few vendors however, meant that we missed some things that we really wanted.  I really wanted a beach bonfire vibe, but none of the vendors provided things like a fire pit, or yard games, or things like that.   You can choose off-site vendors, but there is a huge fee you have to pay to the hotel to bring them on for the event.
  6. Also, some of the things were obscenely expensive, just because they can take advantage of the fact that you are traveling and don’t really have another option.  We experienced this with sound and florals.
    • For a small group, we just wanted a couple speakers at each of our events to play background music, for which they wanted to charge us $2600.  Don’t do that.  We bought two Beats Pill speakers, synced them up to one iPod, and it was plenty loud enough.  We send one of the speakers home with my parents and we kept the other afterwards.
    • Flowers were also very expensive, with it looking to be about $2000 for bridesmaid bouquets, boutonnieres, and small centerpieces.   I didn’t want to spend that much on flowers that I wouldn’t even be able to take home or send home with the bridesmaids.  So I made my own bouquets out of faux flowers from the craft store.  My mom got some pop-up paper lanterns that we could put the bouquets in after the ceremony and those became our centerpieces.  She even put some color changing lights inside.  Doing this saved us $1800 and looked much prettier.  I will post pictures of these in my part 2 of this post, when I go into more detail about the day of on the resort.

What did you splurge on & what did you forgo?

  1. Going off of the last section, because we were traveling very far, we couldn’t just make a ton of decorations and bring them, so we had to be strategic.
  2. We decided that photographic memories were very important to us.  We splurged by flying out our own photographer, Paige Nelson, to document the occasion.  She was great for the destination wedding, because she was present at every event, not just the wedding.  So we got professional photos of our welcome dinner, rehearsal dinner, and the wedding.  She was also super sweet, and go with the flow.  Can’t sing higher praises for her, and I can’t wait to see our photos.  We also splurged on an hour of videography, so that we can have a recording of our ceremony, and we got a Photo Booth for the reception, because they are always always fun.
  3. For decor, we decided we didn’t need much since our ceremony was on the beach, and the reception would be in a beautiful gazebo on the hotel property.  While on the resort, you can tell who had expensive weddings, because they had a dance floor outside, chandeliers hanging, all matching colored napkins and table clothes and seat backings.  We didn’t feel like we needed all of that because the venue itself was beautiful.  Instead we just splurged on the lighting.  We sprung for twinkle lights, and a light up LOVE sign.
  4. We saved money by nixing all of our flowers, except for my bouquet and some corsages for the moms.  I made bridesmaids bouquets and the groomsmen boutonnières, that I will have pictures of in my next post.  The bridesmaids bouquets doubled as centerpieces for the tables, which we gifted to the bridesmaids afterwards.
  5. We also nixed all the sound equipment.  Like I said before, they were going to charge $2600 just to have a speaker and mic for 3 hours.  My dad is a musician and does this stuff all the time and was appalled at how much they were charging.  FYI a sound system that will reach about 50 people is about the same decibel range as 2 Beats Pills (which I got a discount on through work).  We got that, and my dad got a portable mixer with wireless microphone on Amazon for 30 bucks.  So instead of paying $2600, we paid about $300 total, and got a Pill for us and a Pill for the parents to keep.
  6. Overall, doing the destination wedding saved us money too.  Because we had enough people staying at the resort for our wedding, we got our ceremony and all of our catered events comped.  We just had to pay for the lighting and decor.  That means we got our welcome party, rehearsal dinner, reception, and farewell brunch, with all of the food and open bar (not to mention a different menu for each event!) included in our cost of staying at the resort.  We basically paid for our honeymoon, and got our wedding for free.

I will wait until we get our wedding photos back from the photographer to post Part 2, which will be what wedding weekend was like for us, and some things to consider if you want to have a destination/resort wedding.  If you want to read about our experience visiting the resort before we started planning, click HERE.  OR preview what our wedding was like by following my instagram.

Planning your own destination wedding?  Have any questions about our experience?  Just need to rant, bride to bride? 😉  Comment below!

-jules

Race Report: America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride

Okay, so I wouldn’t really call this a race, it is more like an event!  But either way, the first weekend in June, as part of Team in Training, Mason and I participated in the 100 mile route of America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride, an aptly named ride around Lake Tahoe on the California and Nevada border.  Since this isn’t your typical race, my report format will be a little different than my past reports, but here is all the info you will need if you plan on participating in this wonderful event:

About the Ride:

  1. There is a 72 mile route that just goes clockwise around the lake, and then there is another 100 mile route that goes around the lake and does an out and back through historic Truckee, CA.  We did the 100 mile, so that is what this post will be referencing.
  2. This event takes place at Lake Tahoe, which FYI is at an elevation of about 6000 feet.  Now, physiologically, elevation shouldn’t start bothering you until around 7000 feet, which is about what the top of the climbs of this ride sit at.  However, if you are not a conditioned athlete, you can start to feel the effects as low as 4000 feet.  For this reason, I would not recommend this ride for a beginning cyclist.
  3. There are 2000+ extra people in Tahoe this weekend, so I definitely recommend getting in Friday instead of Saturday.  Two benefits to this are: first you get to beat the traffic, AND you also get a day to hydrate and prepare your body for the elevation if you aren’t used to it.  My husband and I live at sea level, so we had mild headaches the first day, just from dehydration.  You want to be well hydrated for this elevation.
  4. ALSO keep in mind that that is 2000+ people at roll-out in the morning!  We rode with some AMBBR veterans and rolled out a little early, ahead of the crowd.  We missed the start line excitement yes, but we also got to head out at a normal pace.  I recommend studying the route and doing the same.
  5. Piggy-backing off of bullet 2, this ride has quite a bit of climbing, with about a total of 4800 feet of elevation gain over the course of the ride.  The first “big” climb is up to the Emerald Bay scenic overlook, and is about 800 feet.  Its about a 2 mile climb starting at mile 11.  If you are a climber or are exposed to some climbing, I would say this is not a hard climb.  I never had to get out of the saddle, I just spun right on up it.  If you are a flatlander, another reason to get some hills on your legs.
  6. There are well stocked aid stations every 20 miles or so.  They have fruit and snacks and beverages and the nicest volunteers!  I stuffed so much nutrition in my pockets before the ride and I hardly ate any of it because there was so much support offered on the course.  You’ll find your first aid station at the top of the Emerald Bay climb.
  7. After this climb, its pretty much easy downhill for 20-30 miles.  If you are pace-lining, then you will be flying!  You won’t start going uphill again until about halfway, and it will be more of a headwindy false flat, so your pace team will want to make quick rotations.
  8. At mile 70, you get lunch.  And its a legit lunch.  Sandwiches, brownies, chips… definitely fill up because you have 30 miles left, and its going to be mostly uphill.
  9. Right out of lunch is a short but steep climb, and then its rolling until you hit around mile 80.  That starts the second big climb.  Again, I wouldn’t say this is a hard climb, its just long.  If you aren’t used to climbing, this will be challenging for you.  If you are used to climbing like we are, then it will feel like a long false flat.  Again, I never had to stand up for this climb.
  10. The last 12-15 miles are mostly downhill! Yay!  There are a couple rollers in the last 5 miles, but again if you are pace lining, you can use the momentum from the downhills to get over them.
  11. This ride ends at 98 miles.  Go ahead, be that OCD cyclist and ride around for 2 miles to hit 100 😉
  12. There is a huge expo when you finish, with shops selling last season cycling gear for royally good deals (Mason got a new jersey and bibs for 20 bucks, and they are good!).  Theres also lots of food and beer, so go ahead and get that first recovery meal, you earned it!

Other Logistics:

  1. Book your hotel SUPER in advance, and get a place that is close or biking distance to the start!  Parking is very limited in the town, so you won’t want to have to deal with that.  This is a major Team in Training event too, so many of the nearby hotels are already pre-booked for Team in Training participants.  There are lots of little lake houses you can probably AirBnB, and lots of nice hotels to stay in town.  The race starts on the California/Nevada border, and you might want to stay on the California side, as the hotels are a little quieter.  Here is why: gambling is legal in Nevada and not California.  So most of the hotels on the Nevada side have casinos that are lit up and playing music all night, and allow smoking indoors.  Not exactly what you want right before a 100 mile bike ride.
  2. There is a really great bike shop in town that is well stocked and ready for this event!  We forgot to pack our bike pump and they had exactly what we needed.
  3. Weather is highly variable in Tahoe this time of year.  It was 48 degrees at roll-out, and then reached 78 degrees by lunch time.  Wear lots of layers, and they will have drop bags at the aid stations so you don’t have to carry them with you.
  4. Speaking of drop bags, they just put your number inside of them and leave them in a pile based on the aid station they got dropped at the finish.  It was very hard to find our bags.   If you feel like carrying it, bring some brightly colored duct tape, or something to make your bag stand out after you drop it.  This will make your life easier at the finish.
  5. Finally, as the race is on Sunday, don’t be us.  Don’t drive back home that night and go to work on Monday.  Take another day and enjoy Tahoe, as it is truly beautiful.

 

Pictures to come!  (they are on my other laptop)

Have you done America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride?  Are you doing it next year?  Have any questions that I didn’t cover?  Comment below!

happy riding,

-jules

Race Report: IM Santa Rosa 70.3

The girl is officially back into triathlons!

So back story:  I was on my collegiate triathlon club in undergrad.  Thats how I first learned about the sport and got into it.  I took some time off during grad school and just focused one exercise for fun, not for ‘training.’  Once I moved to California, in order to get plugged in with a community I joined a triathlon club, and did my first triathlon in 4 years last fall, IM Santa Cruz 70.3

After that race I got hooked again!  I signed up for Santa Rosa 70.3 later that month.  This time I decided to take it more seriously, and even trained with a coach, which has made a world of a difference, something that I may blog about later.

ANYWAYS.  Here’s what I thought about IM Santa Rosa 70.3.  (Also sorry, I didn’t get many pictures for this one, so you’ll just have to take my word on some things.)

Packet Pickup Day:IMG_6801

  • You’ll notice I said “packet pickup DAY.”  Packet pickup and bike drop off is a full day event.  You’ll wanna get started early.  The event is on Saturday, and we did packet pickup Friday afternoon.  I was rushed and stressed out of my mind!
  • I recommend picking up your packet on Thursday, and here is why:  The bike drop off is 30 minutes outside of Santa Rosa.  And you can sure bet parking is tight.
  • You have to drop your run bag off at the packet pickup in town either Thursday or Friday, so if you are planning on going for a shakeout run, bring some backup shoes.
  • Again, bike drop off is 30 minutes outside of town, and its super helpful to have a race sherpa, so that they can drop you off, you run your bike in, and they can circle the car because unless you are there first, you probably won’t be able to find a place to park.
  • Thursday or Friday is the only time you will have to get a swim in before the race, so if you need to do that, do it now.
  • Packet pickup is located at the run transition, so when you drop off your bag, I highly recommend taking note of where your bag is in relation to surroundings!  Or bling out your bag with some brightly colored duct tape or a balloon so you can spot it amongst the 2 THOUSAND other bags there.

Swim:IMG_8842

  • I woke up at 4 AM, and stuffed a dry bagel, coffee, and a clif bar down.
  • Please head the race planning committee’s advice and take advantage of the shuttles that will take you from downtown Santa Rosa to the swim start/bike transition.  I got on the bus around 5:15 and we barely made it in time because of all the people who didn’t take the shuttle having to find a place to park.
  • If you do drive there that morning instead of taking the shuttle, parking is going to be very difficult and you will have nearly a mile walk up hill from the parking lot to the swim.
  • There were plenty of porta-potties and while the lines looked long, they moved fast enough.
  • The swim is a rolling start, and while you can seed yourself by standing near some ‘pace’ signs, the signs were not spread out enough so I couldn’t really stand with my seeded time.  It was 40 minutes between race start, and me getting into the water.  Be prepared to hurry up and wait when it comes to the swim.  Also you can’t really get in the water to warm up, nor do you want to since you’ll be standing there 20-60 minutes before you can swim again.
  • Air temps were chilly, but the water was mid-60’s which was warmer than the air, and its nice freshwater.   They had to change the direction of the swim for us to minimize chop.  The swim is a big L, with 3 major turns.  I had a hard time spotting the yellow buoys after the first turn, but no problem seeing the orange ones on the way back in.
  • Because people are generally not good at seeding themselves, I was either crawling over or being crawled over the entire swim.
  • Also bring some transition sandals to leave at the swim finish!  You have about a quarter mile run up the steep boat ramp, and the concrete WILL hurt your feet.  I learned that lesson after Santa Cruz.  People were complaining about their feet being raw on the run because of that.

The Bike:IMG_3300

  • After the swim, I just put a long sleeve bike jersey over my wet tri suit and pulled some gloves on, and I would say I was just right, if not a little too warm by the end of the ride.
  • You won’t be coming back here, race organizers will bring your items to the finish.  I stuffed everything else into my bike bag that I got from packet pickup so that it was all together, and gave Mason my extra ticket to keep so that he could pick up my things for me while I was running.
  • This ride is faaaaast!  I was in tail wind basically the whole time.
  • There are some rollers, one short climb near the beginning and another short one towards the middle.  If you live in a hilly area (note, not mountainous, just hilly) this course will be a breeze for you.  If you are used to riding in the flat lands, might want to get a couple climbs under your belt just to get used to what that feels like on a long ride.
  • There will be a lot of riders with you on the bike course (you know, unless you’re winning) so be very careful that you are not drafting.
  • The course is beautiful, through wine country.  I wanted to stop and take a picture so many times.  There wasn’t much on the course as far as aid and support, so make sure you have plenty of water and your own snacks on you.

The Run:IMG_5356

  • Hopefully you remembered where your bag is!
  • The run was a 2 loop paved/trail run right near downtown Santa Rosa, with the first loop being 9 miles and the second being 4.  I actually really liked this format because you got a lot of crowd support, and when you came back after the first loop you knew you only had 4 miles left.
  • The run got hot, but luckily there was an aid station every mile.  After the first few miles I took gatorade and water at every mile because I could feel myself fading.
  • I found a run buddy!  I recommend doing this if its your first 70.3 or maybe you haven’t had a successful run for one of these yet.  I saw a girl that was running up ahead of me and possibly going the same pace.  So I caught up to her, introduced myself, and we ran and chatted the whole run.
  • This is the best time for you race sherpa to see you, because parking so hard at the lake, and much of the bike course is hard to get to.  Your support crew is best dropping you off at the shuttles and then getting some more shut-eye before seeing you on the run.

Overall:IMG_5365

  • This was a great race, and possibly a PR course due to the super fast bike leg and strong crowd support on the run! I finished comfortably around 5:49, 17/83 in my age group.  I’m looking forward to coming back and dropping some time next year.  Maybe theres a podium in my future?
  • Having a race sherpa was super helpful for this one.  I don’t know what I would have done without Mason there!
  • They had my favorite post race food at the end: fresh watermelon.
  • Also its in wine country, and the race is on Saturday, so you  have all Sunday to recover with a nice glass of vino.IMG_5385

Did you race Santa Rosa 70.3?  Or do you have any questions/ something I didn’t cover?  Comment below 🙂

 

Happy race day

-jules