“Rog-nar” long drive to Santa Cruz Aquathlon Nationals race

Finally a national championship that is within reasonable distance – Santa Cruz.  This particular race you can earn a spot for the world championships as an amateur.  I did the math and found the most cost-effective and flexible solution is driving up and sleeping in the car, considering I have no days I can take off work.

Research has proven long periods of sitting is bad for your health, even if you exercise.  So let me tell you what I do (and you can too). I call it ‘Rog-nar’, based off the ‘Ragnar’ run relay challenge where you drive while others run, until it’s your turn.

A) Every 60-90 minutes do some small activity, burning about 100 calories (not that I need to worry) .  All should take less than 10 minutes, and yield no sweat. They are mainly done at gas station during fueling.

  • run a mile
  • walk half a mile and do sets leading up to 200 push ups
  • jump rope 10 minutes
  • swim if there is a nearby pool 10 laps

here is an example of one of the gas station run arounds:

B) Eat / Hydrate while driving. You have to do this sitting anyways, why not knock out 2 birds with 1 stone?

  • Salads are challenging, especially with stick shift.  My favorite from anywhere you can find chain is subway… triple meat pastrami-provolone melt on top of a spinach salad.
  • Ready to eat snacks such as Quest bars, jerky and carrots work better
  • I do my best to support local joints.  I had a great lettuce wrapped 50/50 bacon beef burger with blue cheese that was lettuce wrapped from Good Ole Burger in Paso Robles.

C) Plan the route to avoid traffic jams!  Since this passed through Los Angeles, I decided to avoid 3 hours of rush hour traffic by passing it after 6pm at night, then sleeping in the car in a city 10 miles outside of it (first Glendale, then on way back Huntington Beach).  In the morning I would do a 10 mile run, and be back on the road after my body being refueled.

Starting Thursday night, and finishing midday Friday, I end up in Santa Cruz and do a 3 mile shake out run to packet pick up.  15 miles total of running for the day, and I did the same for the ride back.

Now onto the race:

The race is a 1500m swim, then 10km run.  It is hard to simulate conditions you don’t have locally, such as sub-60 degree water – which is freezing.  So I had to compensate and use extra warm swim gear for the race (neoprene booties, thermal neoprene cap, ear plugs).  A small price to pay in speed for a gain of confidence to complete the course. Swim isn’t my strength so I thought it is fine to lose a little time there, as long as I hammer on the run.  Unfortunately being a quick trip I had no time to explore the area as a foodie and tourist, which is much more pleasurable with Bessy (she had to stay back home as she has a new job).  So I stuck with what I knew, whole foods market for pre-race dinner, Starbucks & chocolate for race morning.

Come race morning it is great to see Tri Club SD members to socialize with, easing the nerves.  Thankfully the sun was out strong to warm the swim start by the pier to 60*, but the other side didn’t go above that as it was in the shade.

So I had a good first half, and there was an outgoing tide making it quick, but coming back you are fighting it, and staying in cold water longer.  My teeth were chattering and lungs tightened up, my asthma inhaler in the morning didn’t help much.  I finish getting my ‘survival’ swim goal but not time (wanted 24-28).  Transition to run, where I have a long picnic (aka wasting time) thanks to removing the extra gear. I thought it was ok since I still was on track for a World’s spot.  Lets make it up on the run!  Or not… still lungs tight, and now dizzy, I was stumbling the first 2 miles like a drunkard.

The run pace didn’t improve much from there, as I was being passed by guys twice my age.  A horrid 43 minutes when I should have hit under 40 (which I did easily in training).  Maybe I didn’t push hard because there was no pressure, as I had the guaranteed spot? Or did arriving the night before with just 12 hours to spare before the race not acclimate me? So many questions.

At least at the finish, all the TriClub SD people got together again to cheer each other.


All in all it was great to be on a course with a high level of competition, some of these folks putting down times of Olympians. As the world of swim run is exploding in Europe, we can use more of these events here, put on by USAT.  Much cheaper than triathlon, no worries about a bike. Its just YOU and the elements… pure racing.


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