Ironman 70.3 Santa Rosa Race Report

By in Triathlon

New location. Still great experience.

Ironman Santa Rosa 70.3 was truly the perfect warm up for race season. Early races give athletes the opportunity to shake out the cobwebs, test their current fitness and enjoy racing again after the long winter months of training.

I approached this race with one thing in mind. Push at every opportunity that presents itself and find out how I will react. My mind has been under intense training as well with my meditation practice reaching 45 min daily. In addition to the physical workouts, getting this session in to collect myself and sit my thoughts has been a walk down a road that goes deep, very deep. Self-discovery is at an all-time high.

We checked into our AirBNB late Thursday night which was located close to the main transition area in downtown Santa Rosa. It was so perfect for Jess and I, and easy for Clark to hang out in.

Decided to get up to the lake and get in the water to see just how cold it was, as there was a lot of online chatter about this issue. But turns out, it was not that bad at all. After you get your face in the water, it was fine. Also gave me a chance to test out the new XTERRA Vengeance wetsuit. They say don’t use anything new on race day, but for me, after 13 years in the sport, I’m comfortable with whatever the outcome is. I’m absolutely detached from the result but committed stronger than ever to achieve my goals. How can both co-exist? That’s something you’ll need to find out from listening to the podcast.

Race start was at 6:30am, which means breakfast needs to be in my body before 3:30am. Wake up call? 3am. Getting this key breakfast into your body sets the tone for your day. Since I’ve done this routine, I have had NONE, absolutely no nutritional issues in my race. If I have slowed down, it’s only due to my fitness and sheer will of whether or note I truly want to succeed. This is the mental component I’m working on daily. [ WHAT IS MY MORNING ROUTINE? COMMENT BELOW ]

Walked downtown to pick up the shuttles heading to the lake. It’s a 30-40 min bus ride and time flys by pretty quickly. Once off the bus, you’re dropped right at T1 so get your bike stuff on your bike (which is already racked from the previous day) and drop off your morning clothes bag. It’s a downhill walk to the swim start, about 3-5 min walk. I jumped in the water with Jess right when they were about to begin the rolling start. I got my face wet, a few strokes to loosen up, and walked right into the line at my estimated swim time (30-35min). Not too long after, I was in the water. Swim course changed to be clockwise, 1 loop, under the bridge and back along the shore. Swim was awesome. Really first open water swim since Ironman Louisville 2016.

Felt calm and strong, and used my Tower 26 sighting skills to stay straight and in line with the shortest distance between the buoys. Exited the water and ran up the boat ramp. There was a carpet layed out which was helpful, but with the mass of people on it, I chose to run grooved pavement on the sides. My feet were numb anyway from the cold water, so it didn’t matter. A few minutes of discomfort is really nothing to give attention to. Ran to the top of the hill, and around the outskirts of the transition zone. Found the bike, put on some sleeves because the descent comes quick and still early in the morning with a brisk chill.

Bike is fast, a bit rolling, nothing too major. Wind was behind us until we would head west and that only happened 2 or 3 times. I kept my head down and rode hard. Used my new Garmin 520 computer to monitor my watts for the race, using the Stages Power Meter I attached last December. Not much outdoor riding done in the lead up to this race, and actually, this was the 2nd time I was outside on the bike! Been digging the trainer rides with TrainerRoad. Keeps me effiicent with my time and just a bit safer than being out on roads I have yet to become familiar with in SoCal. That will change soon.

Pushed to the final 5 or so miles and stayed in aero. Although my mind wanted to sit up, I knew that being in this position gave me the best change to have the best time. I speak to this on podcast 55 and so much more about the race too. Off the bike I flew into T2.

T2 is along, well, was for me because i was literally the last number on the rack before the RUN OUT. So I ran the full length of 2 blocks or more with my bike in hand and barefoot. Racked the bike, emptied my bag and off I went onto the run. But first, I did hit the portojohn before leaving transition to relieve myself, the first time since before the swim. I did have to pee on the bike, but knew I was close to transition and could wait.

About .5 miles into the run I realized I didn’t have my watch. Now I don’t normally run with a watch, but had decided to collect some data of my own for this particular run to use and reference for the full Ironman in July. But didn’t happen. So actually I was glad to be free to do my thing. Which is running. Out there on the run course I just had so much fun. I was clicking off miles, smiling at other athletes, was told to “move over” by smoking Joe Gambles. We were running at one point on the wrong side of the trail. Thanks Joe!

Flying through the course, I had a moment about mile 6 or 7 where I thought I might be pushing too hard, and that I might fade at the end. This, this moment right here is when you get in the gap. My thought was to ease up. But my thoughts are not me. I let the thought appear, watch it go by, and then continued on my way. Never giving it the attention it wanted. This is where the true YogiTriathlete makes itself known. I think I might have even increased my pace per mile. I was feeling great, and passing people left and right. I finished the run strong and had no idea of my time. I thought I did way better than I actually did on the run come to find out later. But super happy with the mental strength building that occurred, and I’m sure there will be more learning this season as I approach each race with a push, push, push mindset.

I loved this race. And will be back for more next year. I loved the swim, the bike, the run, the town the volunteers. It all came together quite well after it was moved from the River. Being mostly flat, it’s a good race for first-timers and those that want to involve the family too. It’s in wine country, how could you not have a blast!

Next up, Ironman Santa Rosa, Ironman Wisconsin and Ironman Arizona.

Go Big, or Go Home.





  1. Bike Focus – Continue to build my bike fitness so  I can run to my potential
  2. Swim consistency – is working, continue with this
  3. Confidence in the run, push the bike, I will be able to run fast


  1. Chung Siedlecki 5 years ago

    Can you share the AirBNB that you stayed at? I’m not familiar with the area and my husband will be coming to support me. What was the pros and cons for the location? Thank you in advance!!

    • Author
      Brian 5 years ago

      We stayed here: My wife and Clark, our golden retriever, come to all races, and since she isn’t racing any longer, Clark comes all the time. So we stay close to the action, and this place is about 4-5 blocks from the main race venue. It’s a short walk to catch the shuttles in the morning, I don’t recommend driving up to spectate, but instead staying in town waiting to see you come off the bike. Have a great race! And let me know if you have any other questions.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *