Tag Archive | mermaid series duathlon

Mermaid Series Sprint Duathlon 2014

Ever since I did this race in 2013 with my beach cruiser, I’ve wanted to do this race again with a real road bike! So, a couple weekends ago I did 🙂 Read to find out how this race cation went!

photo 1This year not only did I have a road bike to race with, but a friend as well! We made a racecation out of it, staying in a local hotel in Capitola.  Since I like to “race in style”, instead of having a stylish beach cruiser to ride, I decided to race in full blown sparkle…head to toe! I did wear triathlon shorts and an exercise tank underneath though to reduce the possibility of chafing 🙂

And since this is a Mermaid Series, I of course decided to wear a sparkly outfit that resembled Ariel! My friend said I’ve done too many Disney races….but hey, at least I got lots of compliments during the race!!! I dubbed myself the official mermaid motivator, since many people said the sparkles made them smile (which is what I was hoping for!).

Packet Pick-up and Transition Set-up

This year, my friend and I picked up packets the day before at Whole Foods, which was very quick and easy. Last year I picked my packet up before the race, which was also very speedy 🙂 The next morning, we left the hotel around 6:30 and walked our stuff to the transition zone to set up. This year they had fewer areas labeled for each age group, so there was more freedom in where we could park our bikes.

We then headed back to the hotel so I could finish getting ready (aka fully blinged out) and to avoid standing in the cold 🙂 This was a nice treat compared to last year since I had to just wait.  About 1hr before the race, we went to the start line to warm up and take pics 🙂

1.5mi Run + T1 Time: 16:10

My friend and I planned to start together, but I told her to go for it since I was just going to go at my pace and have fun in my sparkly outfit 🙂 The first quarter mile was pretty much straight up hill, getting to the top, turning around to go back down the hill, running along the beach, up another hill, and into the transition zone.  I went a bit faster than my long distance pace since I didn’t want to push it too much before the bike portion. I read that the course had changed and that there would be a hill about half way through. Once I got to the transition zone, I spun my number around, swapped my running shoes for my bike shoes, put on my helmet and gloves and was off running to exit the transition zone to mount my bike.

12mi Bike Ride +T2 Time: 48:54

So the majority of the bike course was fairly straightforward, light hills, some tight turns, but it seemed that the “hill” wouldn’t be too hard. Well THAT was a bad assumption because even on the lowest gear, I went SO SLOW up the hill!! Plus the hill was in the shade from redwoods on both sides and on a not well maintained road (reminded me of my Tri for Fun Series Races, only up a huge hill).  And once I got to the top for the turnaround, I went fast, but I had to avoid eating asphalt since I could have easily hit a road crack wrong or an unseen road hazard on the shaded road.  Scary!!!!! It was a morale killer on the way back since I felt like I started out so strong and then fell short on the hill.  Even if I had done more biking, I have NO access to hills, so I would have still had a hard time either way. Once I got to the transition zone, I transferred back to my run gear to finish the race.

2.5mi run to the finish. Time: 25:45

 The run is pretty much the same as the first leg, only the turnaround is farther along Cliff Drive.  My legs were fatiguing after running up the hill and near the top I saw my friend heading back already! I weakly cheered her on since I was already pooped and still had like another 1.5mi to go. Slowly but surely I made my way around the course, across the sand and through the finisher’s chute! After the race, we got some delicious food provided by Whole Foods: yogurt, granola, fruit, banana bread and coconut water.  They also offered pancakes, but I wasn’t hungry enough to eat those on top of the huge yogurt container.

Post Race Fun

After we ate Whole Foods food, foam rolled (oh yea there was a foam rolling and The Stick station at the post race expo!), and showered, we walked to a nearby cafe to get some lunch.  Then it was off to the spa to have some beauty treatments! My friend got a massage and a facial, I just got a facial, but we both got the special tea service after both of us finished.

The next morning, we headed off to Monterey to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium (courtesy of some free tickets I got!). We loved checking out all the creatures under the sea (it really floats my marine bio boat!), especially the tentacles exhibit! If you get the chance to go, you should!!!

Have a great weekend!


Mermaid Series Sprint Duathlon: Recap Part 2

Continuation of race recap, click here if you missed Part 1.

Duathlon Part 3: 2.5mi run (click image to enlarge)


All I have to say is that practicing the bike to run transitions REALLY paid off!  Previously I had difficulty with that, but flushing my legs out during the last 1/4mi of the ride and walking through the transition zone gave my legs enough recovery before I started the run. Then I was off, down the small hill to the first water station, around another turn and then up the hill I started with.

This second leg went along the same course, just farther down before the turnaround which had another water station and ladies handing out mini Luna bars.  I felt slower than my during first run, but still faster than my half marathon race pace…until I hit the sand for a second time.  Overall I still felt great, so I just kept trying to push myself since I was close to my ‘dream finish time’ of 1:35.  When I got to the finishers chute, they called out everyone’s full name and location! It was pretty cool having your name announced like the elite athletes when they finish!

Time: 1:36:15! Only 1min 15 sec away!!! Victory for me and Electra (my cruiser)!

Post Race Fun


After I crossed the finish line, I was tired and needed water, but a lady stopped me so the volunteers could take the chip from my ankle (totally forgot about that, its $30 if you don’t return it!).  I grabbed water and headed to some shade to stretch. Lo and behold Santa Cruz CORE was giving free 5min massages! I only had to wait 5min for someone ahead of me to finish, so I killed time by getting food.

Whole Foods sponsored the post-race food tent and they had a nice spread! Freshly made pancakes with syrup, slices of blueberry muffins, pumpkin bread (which I regret getting since it had a very bitter aftertaste, too much allspice I think), orange juice, bananas, and make-your-own trail mix! Mine consisted of choco chips, almond chunks, cashews and pretzels! My stomach didn’t feel like pancakes.

Time to get my massage! The lady went over 5 min, so I tipped her what little cash I had (couple bucks). After the massage, I stretched a bit more and then checked the posted results.

Screen shot 2013-10-06 at 7.29.48 PMThe printout ranking system was confusing since I ended up thinking I did WAY better overall (out of 110 participants) than in reality when they were finally posted online. But I DID place 4th in my age group! Had I been 5 minutes faster, I would have placed third and won a box of Luna bars! But hey, I still finished before lots of other competitors WITH MY BEACH CRUISER! My Electra 7speed  is now a certified bada$$ bike.

It was getting hotter and I was feeling icky in my sweaty, sandy race attire, so I headed back to the transition zone (~5 min walk from finish area) to grab my stuff.  I still wanted to look around, so I went back to the finish line, changed, and wiped myself down with face wipes and stretched again on my towel. Have I mentioned how much I love bringing a towel to sit on after events to stretch? Its a must!  Before I donned my compression socks (another post race must) I used the handy beach showers to douse my legs (I was now in short shorts) in cold water for a mock ice bath. It felt SO NICE in the heat!

Oh, and check out the bling! They give out little pendant necklaces instead of large medals, how cute is that? Plus I LOVE the shirt material, its a polyester/spandex blend, because its so soft/yummy feeling to wear.  So I decided to get another shirt from the official Mermaid Apparel store (good prices and super cute designs).

Racebling Post Race1

Final Thoughts

Overall I’m VERY glad I decided to participate in this duathlon since it is a smaller event, efficiently run, has nice bling/shirts, offers a decent post-race food spread, and has lots of people to cheer you (a mermaid athlete) along the runs and through the finish. This is a wonderful race for new duathloners (like me) and I highly recommend it!!! I would love the opportunity to do this race again, but on a road bike (when I can afford one post grad school) to crush my cruiser PR 🙂 My goal for that future race would be to place within my age group!  Generally speaking, I really want to do more duathlons in the future 🙂

P.S. Even though I don’t have a proper road bike or bike shoes, I wanted to do this race on my junky old cruiser just to prove that if you really want to get out there and try something new using what you already own, YOU CAN! And you can still do well! Who knew I’d place 4th in my age group? Don’t get me wrong, I was TOTALLY at a disadvantage being on a cruiser and having to work harder just to keep up (hills especially), but I had so much fun!! One lady (jokingly) asked to ride in my basket (how fun would it have been to carry a stuffed dog in there?). Note: This race allowed road, mountain, hybrids and cruisers (bikes with gears essentially, just not tandem or recliners), but its always good to check race rules before pulling a cruiser stunt like me 🙂

Thank you Mermaid Series for a wonderful experience! Thank you volunteers/police officers for giving us bikers the right of way and for also supporting us athletes! And thank you sponsors, especially Whole Foods, for all the goodies you provided!

Would you ever do a ‘du’ on a cruiser?

Related Posts: Mermaid Series Sprint Duathlon: Recap Part 1
Mermaid Series Sprint Duathlon Training Recap

Mermaid Series Sprint Duathlon: Recap Part 1

Hey Everyone! On Sunday, I finished my first ever duathlon, woot woot! I’ve split the recap into two parts for easier digestion.

Mermaid Series Start

Packet Pickup and Transition Set up

There is limited parking in Capitola, either permit or 2hr maximum zones only, so I parked at the Capitola Mall and biked to the start about a mile away.  I didn’t pick up my race packet Fri or Sat, but it was super easy and fast to pick it up early that morning.  Then it was time to make my way to the transition zone (~5min uphill) to set up and drop off my stuff!

Once there, I had to look around to find the area for my start wave ’34 & under duathlon’.  Fortunately I found an empty bar so I was able to set up on the edge! I brought a backpack full of my post race stuff, so I didn’t have to lay anything out on the ground. Just had to put the stickers on my bike and helmet, chip around my ankle, helmet/water in my basket and apply lots of sunscreen!

Transition Zone

Transition zone

After I finished prepping my area/stuff, I headed back down to the starting area to use the restroom and eat/hydrate before the race. P.S. It was FREEZING cold in the morning! I’m glad I wore capris and a short sleeved tee with my running sleeves since it kept me from being too too cold before the race began (and I didn’t want to lug a jacket).

Sprint Duathlon Start


The triathlon and duathlon start was at the pier: the triathloners started on the beach, while us duathloners started on the pier. By the time I got there I still had an hour to kill, so I watched the sunrise, warmed up/tried to stay warm and watched the Mighty Mermaid Triathloners (olympic distance) swim around the buoys! Chilly chilly water! Plus I heard there was a massive fish death and many had accumulated near the start area…must have been lovely to swim through dead fish!

P.S. I’m a total nerd and I love to map out the courses before I run or bike them! Gives me an idea of where I’m going as well as the elevation profile.

Duathlon Part 1: 1.5mi run (click image to enlarge)


At 8:15 we were off, up an immediate hill to the turnaround. The original route is above, but instead of heading down Stockton, we turned under the pier and ran along the beach to Monterey St. I was NOT expecting sand during the first run, only during the last part of the final one! Slowed me down a bit since there wasn’t much wet sand to run on…

When the race first started, lots of people were practically sprinting and blowing by me. While I did maintain a faster pace than usual (until the sand), once off the beach I started passing people up the hill to the transition zone.

Time: 14:45. MapMyRun said I had an avg pace of 9:12min/mi.
Transition time: 1:42min. Someone moved my backpack under my bike and smushed their bike up against mine so I had to move my stuff, take down my heavy bike and then put my backpack back in its correct spot. Added an extra 30seconds.

Duathlon Part 2: 12mi ride (click image to enlarge)


Once out of the transition zone, I mounted and sped out to start the bike course! I gave myself a little time to recover from the hard run and then pushed myself until the first big hill around mile 3. Having such a large, heavy, bike I had to get off and walk.  Even at the lowest gear and stand pedaling, I wasn’t able to go anywhere…this was where many people passed me on their sleek efficient road bikes.

Duathlon Split timesIf you look at my MapMyRun split times to the left (click to enlarge), you can see where I hit/recovered from the hills.  That first one was the only I had to walk up, while the smaller ones I was able to manage stand pedaling on gear 1. Near the turnaround, it was fairly level so I was able to achieve ~16.5mph on the straight aways!

Along the way, around 10 people made a comment about how they loved I was on a cruiser! I told them I was here to have fun on the only bike I owned and thanked them for their words of support (like ‘awesome’ ‘so cool’ etc.).

Time: 53:38 min. Yay!!! I was secretly hoping for something under 55min, so I accomplished that goal!
Transition: 1:10 min. Just had to rack my bike, remove my helmet, and head out of the transition to run! I forgot to take off my sleeves at that point since I was getting warm (and so was the weather), so I just tied them to my fuel belt around my waist. I think there are awkward pictures of me during the race since they had photo ops about a half mile after each transition zone, you know, when you are adjusting your fuel belt, fueling, applying sunscreen etc….oh well!

Then it was time for the final stretch! Come back Wednesday for Part 2!

Mermaid Series Sprint Duathlon Training Recap!

Hello everyone! FYI I will be competing in my my first ever duathlon on Sunday Oct. 6th! Here is more information about the Mermaid Series Tri/Du event and how I trained.


Before I ran my first half marathon, I was looking for events that would keep me motivated once I accomplished that huge goal (without necessarily having to do another half!).  And in perfect sync with my lifestyle, I learned that the Mermaid Series does an annual tri/du event in Capitola for women ONLY! This race is ideal for a duathlon newbie like me since 1. it’s all women, 2. no course time limit, 3. it’s close by, and 4. I can compete with my beach cruiser since they are flexible on bike styles!


PLUS they offer preparatory clinics for first time tri/du athletes as well! *cough* none of which I attended because it would mean another ~$40 and I had other plans arranged before I found out about the clinics.  Even though this cute graphic says ‘triathlon 101 and swim clinic’, its meant for both since you can still learn about the proper transitions, like bike to run. I do know how to properly rack my bike (though it will be awkward with my cruiser) and I don’t have to change shoes/clothing.

mermaid_apparelIf you females in California (San Diego or San Francisco) or Arizona (events offered in those places) need additional convincing, check out their cool loot! Participants recieve fitted performance shirts with an awesome design and finishers earn a super cute pendant necklace! Even though they’ve posted a picture of the necklace on their FB page, I’m going to wait to show you until after I’ve earned it 🙂 but the design of the short sleeved shirt is on the right!

For packet pickup, they offer the option of Friday, Saturday (different location each day) as well as race day.  Since I don’t want to have to drive an extra 60 miles round trip, I’ll be getting to the event extra early to pick up my stuff (shirt, bib, chip and transition bracelet).


During the week after the half marathon, I gave myself a rest since I pushed myself hard to get my 2:33 time.   Even though I wanted to ‘hit the ground running’ and pick up where I left off with my ambitious half training, I found myself extremely tired nearly this entire month.  From half marathon recovery (with deep tissue massage) to thesis work, actual ‘work’ work, and applying for a fellowship (so I have a ‘job’ after I graduate), I had a hard time keeping even a 3 day/week exercise schedule.  I did walk my dog alot and still stretched every day, but we shall see how I actually do during my ‘du’.

Du Training Calendar 2013

P.S. I did bike/runs during August and July (see Disneyland Half Training), but those were more like small prep for September when I added them together 🙂

duathlontrain_2013My longest training session was a couple weeks ago and if you look to the left you will see the distances/times for that day. The duathlon course is 1.5mi run, 12mi bike, 2.5 mi run, but my favorite running loop is exactly 2 miles, so I just made it easy on my brain to do 2 miles each run. Note: this past Sunday I tapered since I was tired, so I walked most of the ‘run’ portions and biked a shorter distance.

As for estimated completion time, its hard to say.  My long bike ride route is circuitous with lots of sharp turns, considerable dirt/sand trail, and some light hills so I’m guessing my actual biking time could vary the most. On that non-linear route I average 11-12mph, but on straight aways if I push myself a bit I can get 13-14mph.

So assuming not much changes (except having a more efficient bike route), I’ll end up with a finishing time around 1:45.  Realistically, I think the best I can do is 1:35, if I really push my cruiser and myself on the runs. I guess we will just have to wait and see on Sunday!

Anyone else racing this weekend? Let me know!