This is a long one!
Vineman 70.3: Race Recap
One year ago today I completed in my first 70.3 event. After years of enjoying the occasional sprint triathlon I decided it was time to try my go at a longer distance event.
From the time I dedicated myself to completing a 70.3 to actually accomplishing it took almost a year. In the summer of 2010 I registered for and began training for the Soma Half Ironman in Tempe. After almost 12 weeks of focused training there was an unpredictable event at the Tempe Town Lake where the 1.2 mile swim was meant to occur. The damn broke and there was no longer a lake to swim in. This news came to me the same weekend that I'd just seen 3 very good friends complete the amazing Imogene Pass run in Colorado. I'd just watched these friends cross the finish line of the most challenging event I'd ever seen and was inspired and motivated to get to my big event. The news of the empty lake deflated my spirits temporarily but then I got refocused when I learned that the event would go on as a Duathlon instead of a tri. I continued my training and started shopping for another 70.3 race. Several friends recommended the Vineman race in Sonoma County. Just a few short weeks before the Soma Duathlon was to be, the event organizer cancelled the race due to poor turnout. Again I was deflated and discouraged so to keep my spirits up I signed up for the Vineman 70.3.
The only down side was that I had 9 long months to go. The upside was that I'd already established some great base training and I still had 9 months of solid training time!
When the time came for us to pack up and head to California for the race I was full of nerves and excitement. Josh and I traveled with another couple to share gas and travel expenses. We drove to the quaint town of Guerneville CA and set up camp at the River Bend RV and Camping.
And yes, we camped! Have you ever priced hotels in Sonoma County?
With our queen sized air mattress it hardly felt like roughing it! The day before the race Josh and I checked out T1, took the bike out for a spin, did our gear drop at T2, and checked out some of the local sites.
Race morning I woke up dark and early for my typical race fuel breakfast. A big bowl of Josh's special oatmeal full of oats, molasses, raisins, honey, flax, wheat germ and who knows what else. It is filling and has been a successful pre race fuel for many of my mountain bike events. The only thing is that you have to eat at least 2 hours before racing. Then about an hour before race is the time to chug down my protein shake and an emergency c packet. The whole morning is spent making sure I'm well hydrated as well. Before I knew it it was time to take the short 3 mile ride to the race start. I'm so glad I was able to ride to the start because the traffic in this small town was horrendous! By the time I got body marked, got my bike racked, and used the port-a-loo, it was go time!
Getting Body Marked
The swim start
I'm in the middle getting swallowed up by a group of men that started in one of the waves behind me.
This was a fantastic swim course. The water was warm enough to go without a wet suit which was imperative for me. I've tried very hard to enjoy swimming in a wetsuit but the feeling of being zipped up in a neoprene coffin has never left me. So warm water swims only for this girl! We swam in the Russian river which was somewhere around 8 feet deep in the deepest parts and as shallow as 2 feet in a few areas. Nothing quite like dragging your fingertips on the bottom of a riverbed! After almost 50 minutes I was out of the water and onto the bike. (I know, a slow swim. But I can only go up from there!).
T1 was easy. No wetsuit to strip off. Just saddle up and ride! Josh had managed to catch some pictures of me on the swim and I was excited to look for him on the bike course. The weather was gorgeous! Cloudy and a few sprinkles of rain while on the bike course. The bike course was point to point on twisting country roads that weaved us passed dozens of vineyards. I took the time to pick out which ones we would need to stop at the next day for a recovery drink! I did the course on my aluminum road bike. Never took the time to hunt down aero bars but I did put on Josh's SLR race wheels. I was pleased to pass several cyclists in full aero gear and enjoyed passing tri bikes on some of the climbs. I fueled with Gu and a bottle of Hammer Perpetuem while on the bike. I even made a quick port-a-loo break around the 40 mile mark. I managed to complete the 56.4 miles in just over 3 hours averaging 18mph. I never did see Josh on the course but no time to think about that. Time to run!
T2 was a maze of bike racks and running shoes. I managed to find my tape marker on the concrete that pointed me down the correct isle. Quick change of socks and laced up my Newtons. I'm pleased that both of my transition times were right around 5 minutes, and that includes getting into and out of the maze that is the transition zone. I'm no pro but I think all those days of sprint tri's helped make transitions quick and easy.
The run has never been my strongest event and honestly I'd never even run 13.2 miles before this date. I think my longest training run was somewhere around 11 miles. The run started out on a beautiful tree lined country road and there were water stations at just about every mile marker. A few miles into the run Josh showed up on his bike and snapped a few photos!
I also learned why I didn't see him on the bike course. He said I was too fast for him!
Another pit stop!
I told myself that I would run until the half way point and then I could run/ jog/ walk to the finish line. The turn around for the run course was actually on a large vineyard. Running amongst the vines I passed the 7 mile marker and knew I was on the home stretch. During the run my stomach began to get a bloated bubble feeling that goes along with hard effort and tons of water and race fuel. I've experienced this after a mountain bike race has ended but never while running. This slowed me down a bit. Also, after the tree lined country road there was a huge stretch of run that was in full sun. I'd gone from swimming, to getting rained on, to drenched in my own sweat and began to just feel tired of feeling wet. I nearly cried when I saw the mile marker that told me I had 1 mile to go!
Crossing the finish line felt amazing and Josh found me quickly. My run was 2:35 minutes for a total race time of 6:42:23. Faster than I really expected but slower than I'd secretly hoped for! Of course there was a ton of post race food which I nibbled on enjoyed sitting in the shade while we waited for our traveling partner to cross the finish line.
I was so pleased to have accomplished this challenge. It was amazing and gave me faith in my ability to push my body, dedicate myself to a task, and to feel proud of the strength of my body despite not always loving my size and shape. Can't wait to do this again!!!
We finished our trip with a relaxing post race day.
We rode to town for breakfast so I could get some "active" recovery.
Then we went and checked out some of the local vineyards! Yum!
Josh doesn't drink wine but God bless him for being a great DD!
At some point we crossed paths with this mini burro. I want one! It's the only way I will ever be able to say the words "I have a tiny ass".
We finished the day with a trip to the coast where we ate seafood and walked on the beach.
Vineman 70.3, we will meet again!
Good luck to everyone who is competing in the Vineman 70.3 today and the Full Vineman at the end of the month.