**Warning** This race report is rather long, so grab yourself a cup of your favorite beverage, sit back, relax and enjoy my Vineman 70.3 Race Report
Let me preface this race report by saying that this was my first attempt at the half iron distance, I had previously done only Sprint distance triathlons. I decided last summer that I wanted to try a 70.3 race in 2011. After doing some research, I decided on Vineman as my first 70.3. I waited up until midnight on November 1, 2010 and signed up...and got in!
We left Los Angeles at 5am and made it to Windsor by 12 noon. Since I wanted to get in a swim at the river before the race, we made the 15 mile drive out to Guerneville. Once we got down to the river, I put on my wetsuit and waded into the water. Temperature was very comfortable and I headed upstream. I decided to swim to the bridge and back (about 300 yds) and once I got to the bridge, the water was waist deep. I stood there and talked with a few other swimmers and headed back. I decided to do 2 more swims (both with and without the wetsuit) and we walked around Guerneville a bit.We headed back to Windsor, checked in at the hotel and then decided to go find a place to eat dinner.
Tina and I went for an early morning walk around Windsor, eventually walking by the high school where workers were setting up T2 and the Finish line. After breakfast, we headed to the school for the mandatory meeting and packet pick up. The "meeting" was nothing more than a 22 minute video talking about safety and rules including "drafting" (remember that for later). I got my race packet, timing chip and t shirt and headed for the Vineman merchandise tent to buy some hats, etc. I had to drop my running gear at T2, so I found a spot I thought I could remember fairly easily and claimed my space. We left the school and headed back to Guerenville so I could drive the bike course. Just a few miles into the bike course, I noticed that the roads were not in great shape. These are lightly traveled, county roads and with California's current financial crisis, they don't get a lot of attention. I knew I was going to have to pay attention on the bike and dodge a lot of crappy road. The bike course has some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen. During this time, I was munching on a bagel and noticed something in my mouth that didn't feel right...I broke a piece of tooth off. Fortunately, there was no pain and I didn't think it would affect my race. The course took about 2 hours to drive and once we got back to the hotel, we headed out for an early dinner, then off to bed.
Sunday - Race Day
We were up at 4 am, so we could be on the road to Guerneville by 5 am. We made it out to Guerneville just as T1 was opening. On the way in, I got body marked and luckily, my wife was standing next to me as I forgot my age. I found some space and started to lay out my stuff. I was going through a mental checklist and hoping I didn't forget anything. I got into my wetsuit and waited for my wave to be called. I was in the 5th wave and didn't have long to wait...before I knew it, I was in the water waiting for the horn to blow. My strategy in the swim was to start in the back to avoid the "washing machine"and take it easy. The horn sounds and I let the group go ahead of me. I start swimming at a nice, easy pace. About 200 yards into the swim, I am now in the crowd...WTF? How did this happen? Either, I was swimming fast or they were swimming slow, in any case, I didn't want to be on someones feet and get kicked in the face. I slowed my pace a bit and headed towards the shore a bit until I got some clean water ahead. At the turn around, the water was about knee deep and it was easier to walk the turn than to swim it. On the way back, there was a bit of a current that made the 2nd half of the swim a little quicker. Before I knew it, I saw the swim exit right in front of me...out of the water I went.
Swim - 41:24
I grabbed a cup of water on the way in and decided to take my time. I didn't want to forget anything and I needed to pack up all of my swim items into the plastic bag so I could hand them to my wife on the way out. I saw Rebecca on the way out and stopped for a quick picture. I took the advice of every Vineman race report I read and ran/walked my bike to the top of the hill before getting on it. That was great advice!
T1 - 7:39
I started out at a comfortable pace while I got situated on the bike. I was really conscious of the drafting distance and I spent a lot of energy and time focusing on that. I made it to the first turn off which was pretty hairy and sure enough...someone had already crashed and was being tended to. The bike course was beautiful and I started passing people and increasing the pace while still focusing on drafting and potential penalties. About 20 miles into the course, a group of guys on tri bikes, basically forming a pace line, wheel to wheel, passed me and right behind them was a course Marshall. The Marshall didn't even bat an eye at them, so at that point, I decided to pick up the pace and not worry so much about drafting. Things seemed to be going well and I thought that a 3 hour bike was possible. I stopped at the last aid station for a potty break and then hit it pretty hard until Chalk Hill. It wasn't that it was that big or long of a hill, it was just at mile 45 and I was getting tired. I ate the last quarter of a PB&J sandwich (I ate 1/4 every 10 miles and supplemented it with Gu) and tried to pick up the pace for the last 10 miles. No such luck...I watched the 3 hour mark slipped by and then 3:15. I pushed hard the last couple of miles and reached the high school and T2.
Bike - 3:21:14 (16.70 mph/avg)
It was quite a distance from the dismount line to the bike racks and it seemed like it took forever to run that distance. I racked my bike and emptied my run bag onto the grass. I sat down and put on my compression sleeves and shoes. I talked with another racer who offered me some sunscreen, which was a reminder to grab mine and apply it liberally. I put on my water belt and visor and headed out with a quick stop at the porta potty before leaving transition.
T2 - 8:09
As I headed out on the run, I saw my wife taking pictures and seeing her smile gave me bit of energy that I desperately needed. The run course was made up of rolling hills (some challenging) and some flats. (I wish I would have driven the run course as well) The first 6 miles seemed to go very well, I hit every aid station (there were 12) and took on fluids and a gel. I also ate a few pretzels each mile from a bag that carried with me. The course was changed a bit this year, it ran around the perimeter of the winery and that was on dirt and gravel. By that time, the sun had finally made an appearance and it was getting warm. I started feeling tired so I started breaking down the last 6 miles by mile. I would run to the aid station, walk while taking on fluids and gels (about a minute or two) then run to the next aid station. It worked well and before I knew it, I was at the last aid station with 1.1 miles to go. My pace picked up a bit since I could sense the finish was near. I hit the finish chute and had the finish line in my sights. I crossed the finish line, hands raised! I finished!!
Run - 2:20:12 Finish Time - 6:38:38
I saw my wife behind the barrier and posed as she took a couple of pictures. The finish area had a lot op people mulling around and eating. Vineman puts on a pretty good post race meal (chicken sandwich, pasta salad, fruit, etc) all of which was fine and dandy, but how about some gatorade??? None to be found...they had water, iced tea and soda. I grabbed some fruit and a water and headed over to the transition area to meet my wife. I gathered my bike and we walked back to the off site parking lot where she had parked the car. Once back at the hotel, a quick shower and a beer and we headed out for some wine tasting. After all, we were in Sonoma and I could leave without wine tasting. One of my twitter peeps suggested Truett-Hurst Winery, so we decided to give them a try. They had some very nice wines, they specialize in Zinfandel's and syrah's. Since it was so late in the day and most wineries close at 5pm, we decided to go right to dinner. We tried KC Downtown Grill in downtown Windsor. Once back at the hotel, I decided to head down to the hot tub, where I sat and chatted with other racers about the race. It was interesting to hear what they thought about the race, course, etc.
Since this was my first attempt at the half iron distance, I really didn't have any expectations other than finishing. In the back of my mind, I said I would like to come in under 7 hours, which I did. It was a great experience, one I will never forget, but the journey to get there was even greater. I have met so many wonderful and supportive people over the years. There are so many people I need to thank...my wife and family, my coach, my running/riding partners, my friends, my twitter/facebook friends, and A Runner's Circle family... I couldn't have done it without all of you....so from the bottom of my heart...THANK YOU!
So what's next you ask??? Nothing! Actually, I have the Disneyland Half Marathon on the schedule and that is it. I'm not going to do much the rest of this year, I need to give my body a break and I need to take care of things in my life that I have put on hold for the better part of the last year. In the coming weeks, I will sit down and figure out some kind of maintenance plan so I can try and stay in shape. I will also try and figure out 2012 as far as racing...at this point, I am leaning towards "not much", since I am shooting to run the Goofy Challenge in January 2013. I need to decide if I want to run the LA Marathon again, but at the very least, I will volunteer with Craig and his SRLA kids once again.
Oh yes...the broken tooth...I had it looked at on Tuesday morning and fortunately, it was only a wisdom tooth, but it was beyond saving and had to come out.