Vineman 70.3 Race Report

Race: Vineman 70.3
Location: Santa Rosa, California
Weather: 83 and sunny

This time last year I had just started my medication and couldn't bring myself to venture down and spectate the race even though I had a very good friend racing it. This year however was a different story. I'm back and expecting to kick ass. The only way this race is going to be deemed a success is for to PR, failure or a sub par performance is not an option.

Pre Race calories: 250 (PB&J, 20oz smoothie)

It's amazing what one can do in the water with a "fully functioning" shoulder. I have been extremely patient waiting for my shoulder to heal so that I can finally race the swim. Finally, after months of holding the reigns tight it was time to let them go.

With intentions to race the swim a solid warm up was vital. Being in the last swim wave (don't even get me started on this) at 8:36 allowed for plenty of warm-up. With the morning air temperature in the low 60's, the water temperature in the low 70's was very welcoming. I jumped in the water about 15 minutes prior to the start of my wave to begin the warm up. Six minutes before the horn I hopped out, gave my brother a pound, and lined up in the corral.

As my wave entered the water I wished Scott a good race and made my way to the start line. This river swim ( Russian River) is interesting. First the river is dammed so I would need to swim against the "current" on the way out (there was no noticeable current) and secondly the depth of the water ranged from 6 feet to just over 2 feet! The race directors had marked the deepest parts of the river with buoys but they were 20 feet off of the red swim buoys and I had no intentions of swimming longer than I had to.

I positioned myself right next to the inside buoy and planned to stick on that line for the entire swim. There were only a few athletes next to me and they didn't really look like swimmers which raised some concern. There was definitely a group of swimmers about 15 feet to my right and I debated on sliding over so I could draft them from the start. The debate quickly came to end when I realized I would have to tread water for a few minutes and my shoulder is no longer fond of those motions. With that debate now over my attention was on the task at hand, racing.

There was a lot of contact for the first 100 yards with everyone trying to get out in front and into position. Despite the constant contact I felt very comfortable and under control. For my first two races this year I didn't even try to draft, now here I am 150 yards in and still with the main group, 200 yards, 250... and then I started to slide back from the true fish but there was still a big enough group I could still draft on. By the turn around I was sure that I was on my way to a new PR for the swim. I had pushed the pace all they way out to the turn around and had no lingering thoughts of my shoulder or blowing up.

The turn around was interesting because it became extremely shallow, like touch the ground with your hand shallow. It was so shallow that as I took a breath I saw at least 25 people walking! I had trained to swim the 1.2 miles and this was the swim leg so, there was no way I was going to stand up and walk. I had to alter my stroke a bit to avoid scooping up sand and rocks but only for a short while. With in 30 yards the depth of the water increased and everyone was back swimming. I'm on the fence on how I feel about people walking during the swim, is it cheating?

On the return trip I was still making solid progress. I was moving through previous waves steadily and had thoughts of exiting the swim. I believe my pace might have slowed a bit on the return but it was not a thought I was at all concerned with. Usually just prior to exiting the water I have flash backs to last year and how shitty my body felt. For the first two races this year I had that fear when exiting the water. This time that thought never even crossed my mind. Hand to sand, feet down, LETS GO!

Previous Swim PR: 34:14
Vineman Swim: 33:14 . . . NEW PR! I'm very happy with the improvement and I'm confident that I can drop this time even further.

I immediately heard my brother cheering me on and encouraging me to go faster as he ran alongside me through transition. It was great to have him  there and to hear a friendly voice. Spectators don't realize just how much their cheers help an athlete. Looking at previous transitions times of this race they seemed to be on the longer side (averaged around 4:30). This might be a result of this race being point-to-point.  With a point-to-point race athletes have to bag all of their swim gear into a bag prior to leaving transition so that it can be transported to the finish line. As I reached my bike, I turned on my Garmin, stripped off my wetsuit, placed my water bottle between my aerobars, slipped on my shoes*, buckled my helmet and I was off. For some reason at this race the WTC said that shoes were not allowed to be clipped in(extremely annoying). The exit out of T1 onto the bike course starts with a quick, short incline that most people walk up because it proves too difficult to clip in and start pedaling. As I approached that incline I heard my brother yelling at met to, "send it" (He's lives in California and is a climber so excuse his climber lingo). I'm on it. I jumped on my bike, clipped in and was off.

T1 Time: 2:58

At the top of the incline I started my computer and settled into the bars. Having some seriously ambitious goals for this ride I was going to need to rely on my power meter to get me there. . . if it worked!!! ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? My Garmin wasn't working. OK, no biggie, stay calm, just try restarting it. FAIL. Fine, I'll just ride conservatively for the next few minutes and then try it again. FAIL. Again. Fail. Again. FAIL. Here are my choices, mentally shut down and have a horrible race or ride based on RPE and make something of it. The choice was easy, GET TO WORK. I knew the specifics of my coach's game plan and was familiar associating effort with wattage so there was a distinct possibility of having a great ride. I really enjoy utilizing a power meter at the beginning of the race so as not to get caught up with my adrenaline, it acts as a great limiter. Through out the 56 miles I stayed on top of my nutrition and RPE. I knew I had to slowly build my effort so I did my best not to get carried away. I will admit that I felt a bit lost without the Garmin, I had not idea of the race time, mileage, watts etc. Without a functioning Garmin there was no need to be staring down at it. Too often while racing athletes are too focused on the task at hand and forget about the beauty that surrounds them and I admit I'm at fault for that. For the first time in a long time I was able to lift my head up to "smell the roses". For the next 56 miles I was able to sporadically taken and enjoy the beauty of this bike course. The landscape of wine country provided an unforgettable biking experience.  There were quite a few people that flatted along the course and a couple of crashes. The big hill on the course, Chalk Hill, shouldn't be any concern to anyone. Through out the 56 miles my legs felt great, energy levels were high and I was looking forward to getting after the run. Calories consumed: 800-850 liquid calories

Previous Bike PR: 3:10
Vineman Bike: 2:56 . . . NEW PR . . . I'm nowhere near satisfied with this time and it is not a true reflection of the bike work I put in preparing for this race. I will have a bike split that truly reflects my abilities at the next race.

I needed to go to the bathroom and had zero intentions of stopping at the port-a-potty. As I racked my bike and sat down to put on my socks I took care of business, problem solved. A quick squirt of the water bottle and I was off. I started off flying, 6:15-30 pace. What the hell was I doing?  Who did I think I was? This was way too fast and I had to slow down. I briefly saw my brother who ran next to me for a bit cheering me on, certainly an emotional and mental pick-me-up. For the duration of the first two miles I repeated the following process; check my watch, be in shock, slow down. My legs felt great and I was running fast, effortlessly. I felt so good that I debated of just going for it on the run. After a five minutes of debate I realized that my pace wouldn't be sustainable for the entire run so I better find and get focused on my race pace. The half way point on the run comes at Le Creme Vineyard. Athletes run about a mile or so through the Vineyard before embarking on the second half of the run. As I entered the Vineyard the temperature was certainly rising and my pace had slowed a bit. but as soon as I hit the trail through the vineyard my pace quickened and I had a surge in energy. I'm really going to have a great run. Exiting the vineyard and approaching mile 8 I started to feel it in my legs. Not a big deal though, maintain your effort level, cadence and hydration and all will be fine. Miles 8-10 I has to endure a little suffering and started to play some mental games with myself to stay focused and to keep pushing. Miles 10-13 started to get long. I walked through the aid stations and my pace was steady but had slowed. I wasn't happy with my pace but was very happy that I didn't resort to walking or just cash in my chips. As I entered the finishers shoot I heard my name called out, I crossed the line and I had a medal around my neck. I did it, I gave it what I had.

Previous Run PR: 2:01
Vineman Run Time: 1:56 . . . NEW PR My reaction to this run, BLAH.  I'm once again confident that I can cut a significant amount of time from here by the start of my next race.

Previous 70.3 PR: 5:53
Vineman 70.3: 5:32 . . . NEW PR I'm certainly happy with the improvements but nowhere near content.

Next scheduled race is Toughman Half in September.

A HUGE Big Up to my coach, Matt for all his hard work and guidance.

Countless Thank Yous to my wife, Melissa for her patience and support leading up to and including the race.

Shout out to Scott on a great race and a new PR.

Big Up to my brother Jon for coming up and being a super fan at the race. I believe his first triathlon experience was memorable and he left a little inspired (wink wink)

To Ignite Naturals, the best nutrition products on the market .


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